Formula One's new era began with an enthralling Bahrain Grand Prix. Lance Stroll worked his way up the field and finished 12th, while Nico Hülkenberg put together a clean race to finish 17th despite his lack of experience with the AMR22.
It's early days and there's lots to learn about how we can extract more performance.
"It is a shame we were not able to fight for points today, but we will benefit from completing our first race and understanding more about these new regulations. It is early days and there is lots to learn about how we can extract more performance in time for the race in Saudi Arabia next weekend. My initial impression is that it could be an exciting season of racing because it appears that you can follow cars more closely and today I had some great battles with [Alex] Albon and [Mick] Schumacher. It was challenging to keep temperatures cool and manage these new tyres, too, but we now have some useful data to work with over the next few days."
It was interesting to be back in a Formula One car for a Grand Prix again.
"It was interesting to be back in a Formula One car for a Grand Prix again, especially in such a busy race with lots going on around me. It was not easy to manage the tyres and drive with a changing fuel load. The car balance was changing a lot too, and it is not easy to prepare for this until you start racing. We knew that today was likely going to be the most difficult day in the car for that reason, which proved to be the case. I think I put together a good race, all things considered, with only the one mistake when I outbraked myself into Turn One. It was a more challenging race after that. I will be on standby should the team need me again and I am hoping that Sebastian makes a speedy return to racing."
It was always going to be hard to achieve a strong finish from our starting positions.
"Both our drivers were required to lift and coast at various points during today's race, but they did it proficiently and we were therefore able to bring both cars to the finish. A P12/P17 result is not what we wanted, of course not, but it was always going to be hard to achieve a strong finish from our starting positions. Nonetheless, Lance drove well to convert his P19 grid slot to P12 at flag-fall, and, having not raced in Formula One since November 2020 [the Eifel Grand Prix at Nürburgring], Nico also did a good job today. Our car currently lacks pace - clearly - but we will endeavour to put up a better show in Saudi Arabia in a few days’ time."
Your guide to Bahrain
Insight and Speed
There are several new factors for the team to consider for 2022. New regs means all drivers now have a free choice of starting tyre compound, potentially opening up more strategic variance. Pirelli has also opted to go one step harder in its allocation compared to last year's race, bringing the C1, C2 and C3.
It's not just tyre shake-ups that could influence the race's direction because Bahrain is prone to early and late Safety Car periods. A Safety Car interruption has happened in each of the last five Bahrain Grands Prix, occurring within the opening or final five laps in four of those events.
These new cars appear to be able to follow more closely through corners but benefit less from the slipstream along the straights. Bahrain's three DRS zones should therefore prove beneficial. In 2021, there were 55 overtakes following the first lap. A key focus for engineers early in the season will be analysing the difference in overtaking compared to previous campaigns.
Unlocking the Lap
Two key corners can make or break a lap around the Bahrain International Circuit. Our official Cyber Security Partner SentinelOne delivers the perfect approach to a lap of the track.
The first corner in Bahrain is crucial: blasting down a 1.2km straight, the 120m braking zone is particularly long, with drivers needing to shed roughly 241km/h (150mph). Getting the approach right is essential as it has a knock-on to Turns Two and Three and, in many cases, can set up a pass into Turn Four. This is arguably the busiest part of the lap.
Turns 9-10 may look straightforward, but this combo is one of the most challenging corners on the whole calendar. Turn Nine is a flat-out kink, which reduces the load on the left-front tyre, but Turn 10 arrives quickly and requires plenty of mechanical grip. With the heavier, 'lazier' cars, expect to see lots of understeering moments at the exit.
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