Finally, Formula 1 was back in action for the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, the first this season, and its FP1 was concluded on Friday with Pierre Gasly fastest of all for AlphaTauri.
It seemed like forever since we last saw F1 cars running in anger in a race track, and what made the wait feel more difficult, was the fact that we are welcoming a totally new breed of F1 cars, built to new technical regulations, with “Ground Effect” being the name of the game, that is before “porpoising” made its debut in pre-season testing both at Barcelona and Bahrain, and simply stole the thunder from “Ground Effect”.
The biggest absentee at Sakhir was Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who on Thursday was announced to have contracted Covid-19, as fellow German Nico Hulkenberg suited up to replace him at the wheel of the AMR22, as it would be interesting to see how fast the Hulk can adapt to the new car without any track time in it.
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) March 18, 2022
Ferrari looking good, Red Bull and Max Verstappen formidable, while trouble at Mercedes – allegedly – and not to mention shifts in the midfield’s pecking order which are yet to be clearly defined, but with FP1 over, we took one step closer towards putting the jigsaw puzzle together with the final pieces starting to fall in place, to form the final picture of how the F1 2022 competitive order would look like.
However, FP1 was much more another shakedown session for the teams, Ferrari sporting an aero rake on the rear of the F1-75, Esteban Ocon’s Alpine losing a side pod on the installation lap bringing up the Red Flag 8 minutes into the session, and Mercedes even losing a part of its bodywork from George Russell’s W13 at some point. Valtteri Bottas suffered with a misfiring engine that kept him in the team garage and was out on track in the final seven minutes.
How they finished the Bahrain FP1
Pierre Gasly lead the first practice session of 2022 in Bahrain with a lap time of 1:34.193, and was followed by Charles Leclerc in second 0.364s off the pace.
Third went to Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz in the sister Ferrari with a lap time of 1:36.611 and Mercedes’ Russell was merely 0.018s behind in fourth.
It was the reigning Champion Max Verstappen who took fifth at the end of FP1 over half a second off the top time as sixth went to Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin a further 0.072s behind.
Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton took seventh 0.750s off the pace of the leader, with it being anyone’s guess if Mercedes are still sandbagging or in actual trouble.
Hamilton debuted a new helmet design in Bahrain with a predominant yellow color.