Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

Verstappen puts Red Bull quickest by six-tenths as testing ends in Bahrain

2022 F1 season

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World champion Max Verstappen capped off the final day of pre-season testing for the 2022 Formula 1 season by setting the overall fastest time.

Verstappen used the C5 tyres – the softest available – to finish the sixth and final say of pre-season testing fastest of all. Charles Leclerc was second quickest in the Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso third fastest for Alpine.

Sergio Perez had set the early pace in the morning session as Red Bull introduced a revised RB18 for the first time on the final day

As the sun began to set, Verstappen headed out onto the circuit on a new set of yellow-walled C3 tyres and became the first driver throughout the three days to breach the 1’33s barrier, lowering a new fastest time of a 1’32.645.

There was a brief red flag stoppage when Mick Schumacher spun his Haas on the exit of the final corner. Replays showed that Schumacher had just selected a ‘push’ mode on his VF-22 before losing the rear of the car under the throttle entering the main straight. Thankfully for Haas, Schumacher avoided the barrier and was able to immediately pit before the session was quickly resumed.

Approaching the final 90 minutes of scheduled running for both the session and the pre-season, a number of teams opted to take advantage of the cooler temperatures under the floodlights and run qualifying simulations on the softer tyres.

In the final hour, Valtteri Bottas was forced to pull his Alfa Romeo off the circuit after experiencing a problem with his C42 while making his way slowly around the circuit on an in lap. After a brief red flag, the session resumed with just under half an hour remaining.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Pictures: 2022 pre-season testing day six
Verstappen had a spin exiting the final corner while preparing for a push lap, before resetting and then clocking a new fastest overall lap of a 1’31.973. Leclerc improved to a 1’32.415 on the C4, before Verstappen’s second run saw him go faster still with a 1’31.720, which would ultimately prove the quickest time of the day and the test.

Fernando Alonso used the C4 tyre late in the day to go third fastest, just under a second slower than Verstappen’s best, after 122 laps during the course of the day. George Russell was fourth fastest after covering 71 laps in the W13 with Valtteri Bottas fifth for Alfa Romeo despite his late stoppage.

Following his fire in the Williams on Friday, Nicholas Latifi made up for lost time in the FW44, completing more laps of any driver during the day with 124, before passing the car over to Alex Albon, who added 18 laps to his Thursday tally of 104.

With the scheduled running having been completed, Haas will continue with Schumacher for a further two hours as part of an agreement to allow them to make up time lost by missing the Thursday morning session due to logistical problems.

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2022 F1 pre-season test day six times:

Pos.Car numberDriverTeamModelBest timeGapLaps
11Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’31.72053
216Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’32.4150.69551
314Fernando AlonsoAlpineA5221’32.6980.978122
463George RussellMercedesW131’32.7591.03971
577Valtteri BottasAlfa RomeoC421’32.9851.26568
622Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauriAT031’33.0021.28257
711Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’33.1051.38543
847Mick SchumacherHaasVF-221’33.1511.43161
94Lando NorrisMcLarenMCL361’33.1911.47190
105Sebastian VettelAston MartinAMR221’33.8212.10181
1124Guanyu ZhouAlfa RomeoC421’33.9592.23982
1210Pierre GaslyAlphaTauriAT031’34.8653.14591
1355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’34.9053.18568
1423Alexander AlbonWilliamsFW441’35.1713.45118
156Nicholas LatifiWilliamsFW441’35.6343.914124
1618Lance StrollAston MartinAMR221’36.0294.30953
1744Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’36.2174.49778
1820Kevin MagnussenHaasVF-221’38.6166.89638

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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46 comments on “Verstappen puts Red Bull quickest by six-tenths as testing ends in Bahrain”

  1. Beating the 2016 pole time 1:29.493 (which is only 0.507 sec slower than last season’s equivalent) might be difficult.

    1. Red for Mick’s spin was entirely unnecessary, though.

      1. Even the stewards are practicing.
        It’s part of the day.

  2. I think the first race next week does not determine pecking order unless one team has a clear advantage. The biggest thing will be how important is qualifying pace this season. Next thing is, we have a car starting from 10th whose race pace is insane just like the 2012 Lotus and can consistently challenge for wins. These cars clearly require a different driving style than previous cars. I don’t think drivers can abuse the brakes like before. They might need to trail brake a lot in these cars and even brake earlier than they normally want to. There’s also a lot of understeer in almost every car when watching the onboards. I’d assume that everyone is not yet comfortable with their cars because it looks like a lot of work can be done to improve each teams cars.

    1. @krichelle For sure I agree. And with these cars seemingly able to race closely, as in, at least not being held up in dirty air, I’m sure more drivers will have some surprising race days where they’re just hooked up and flying and are just ‘on it’ even if they’re on average lower in the pecking order and/or didn’t qualify that high.

  3. Mercedes are clearly struggling, even their effort on c4 is miles away from RB’s time.

    1. They definitely seem to be struggling. They don’t have any clean solution to the porpoising when they go for performance runs. Not clear what they can do in the next few days.

      1. Of course no one will believe it, but Mercedes are in a world of trouble. Slow and a handful to drive. I expect there’s huge time in the car once they work everything out, but until then I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised to see them struggling to get into Q3. Maybe they have done too much with the side pods and not enough with the more valuable floor.

        Ferrari and especially RedBull look insane. Not just the overall times, but every lap the cars seem on rails. All the teams will be holding something back, but RedBull we’re literally laughing when Max did his fastest lap. They know. I just hope Ferraris can at least challenge them because right now it looks like a bigger 2014 style advantage to RedBull.

        1. I expect there’s huge time in the car once they work everything out

          This. Will be fixed within max 2 races. Business as usual. Dont buy the Mercedes narrative for a single second. This isnt a struggle but a set up thing.

      2. That’s probably the tradeoff of running two specs, obviously we don’t know what the floor is hiding, but I really doubt Mercedes will score a 1 and 2 next week, Red Bull knows now how to handles races and won’t fall for undercut/overcut traps easily, even betting on the strategy will prove harder than expected, I’m not even mentioning Ferrari having IMO the best lineup and one of the best cars out there.

    2. Red Bull we’re “clearly struggling” all week until they decided to go a bit faster today. Mercedes will be right on the pace in a week.

      1. That’s completely wrong Pete. RedBull said themselves the car is quick without even trying. This is going to be their easiest year yet. Shame Perez can’t get close to Max to at least make it a little bit interesting. There’s still some hope from Ferrari.

        1. Red Bull haven’t been pretending their car is slow for 8 years whilst winning everything….

          1. Because they’ve actually been slow for at least 6 of those last 8 years… How many times did they openly agree they had the best car last season? Exactly…

        2. I would never discount mercedes, but would be interesting to have a ferrari vs red bull year, in recent times it’s always been merc vs ferrari or merc vs red bull.

      2. @petebaldwin I don’t recall anyone claiming RBR were ‘clearly struggling’ all week. I think they decided to run their programs on the harder tires for the most part, and forgo low lap times, and yes when they finally put the softer tires on the lap times reflected that. I haven’t heard a peep about porpoising being an issue for RBR, for example.

        So, “Mercedes will be right on the pace in a week” sounds like they will have to perform a miracle, given that Max is saying there is more to come from their car too. But as Max also correctly points out, this season is definitely not going to be about who is fastest in the first two or three races, but who develops their cars over the season to make them keep getting faster and better.

        1. In any case the first lap of q3 will already tell a lot about who sandbagged more and give a lot of info about competitive order, it’s likely to change way more from testing to there than from there to a few races after.

          1. @esploratore1

            That’s likely going to be unrepresentative. Next week, we are back at Bahrain. Reminder that Bahrain is a track that is considered as a track where decent following was possible prior to this year. These cars have been designed to make racing closer, and drivers have said that in Barcelona. As I said above, I don’t think, unless one team has a clear advantage and it can even be wrong, that qualifying in Q3 next week is representative for the whole season. Remember the Mercedes W04 from 2013? Remember the Lotus from 2012-2013? Based on the onboards, it looks like everyone can improve their car from here to next week, especially in the low-medium speed corners. I really don’t think anyone has the balance of their car in the way they want. What is for sure, if the top teams are close, raceday is going to be a cracker next week cause this track normally does bring exciting races (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021)

      3. The Red Bull aero update for Friday balanced the car out even more and cured the understeer they were getting. Even then, they will be sandbagging a bit too. Q3 will reveal all.

        1. All top teams sandbag in testing by abandoning hot laps in the last sector and such. If you are the one team that actually sets a representative time, the media will start hyping your team up unrealistically and then later on you will get all these dumb questions of where their pace has gone.

  4. Looks like RB-18 definitely looks the strongest with nearly no porpoising effect. The last hour of running was just fabulous.

  5. I’m not sure we learned much during testing.

    Hopefully that means a relatively level playing field in two week’s time.

    Can’t wait!

    1. @sonnycrockett I have some good news for you mate, the first race is in a week, and not two. Unless you were referring to the Saudi race for whatever reason.

  6. We shall see what happens next week…

    1. This. Don’t believe any results that don’t deliver points.

      1. That is a certain as we can predict points for Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari at the first race.

  7. Mick Schumacher HAAS 1:32:241

    1. What the? But that is when the track is cooler. However that is a little bit headscratching in comparison to the others.

      1. Tyre was C4

      2. Bottas: 1m32.985s, C3 is also a big reference. 1.2 sec from Verstappen in C5.

  8. I remember when Ferrari was the unanimously quickest car and best package and what not in testing again and again and turned out to be meh. Reading something into testing is pointless.

    1. We can clearly see that the Mercedes is a handful to drive, you can fake lap times but you can’t fake drivability.

      1. Mercedes with the most to gain and the most to loose.

        I still their first showing was a legitimate package, created along side this jelly mold design, in case its design is rejected.

        we shall see…

  9. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    12th March 2022, 19:18

    MB could use the help of 8 teams to protest the design!

    No protest from ORBR until MB get it sorted.

  10. Interesting to see Alonso — keen to leave an impression on the stats.

    Did anyone see this story on Alonso and Stroll?

    If I had to guess i’d say Alonso was also testing how much closer these cars can get to the cars ahead of them.
    I’m expect Alonso to be amongst the first showing ‘new moves’ on track reflecting the new car’s specs.

    https://www.msn.com/en-gb/sport/motorsports/fernando-alonso-leaves-f1-rival-lance-stroll-baffled-after-bahrain-testing-tussle/ar-AAUWv2B?li=BBoPWjQ

  11. Its been asked several times, and i might have missed the answer: can you include the tyre in the table?
    I think the “model” column doesn’t really add anything, so there’s space available

    1. True, would be useful.

  12. Mark in Florida
    13th March 2022, 1:42

    These cars are going to be very interesting this year. They are so dependent on the downforce from the floor that when they slow down they get more unstable as the downforce drops off. That means mechanical grip in the slow to medium corners is going to be quite important. Whoever can maximize this transition from floor to mechanical will really be the car to beat. The development pace is going to be eye opening for a lot of people who didn’t like the idea of a spec car for F1. Ross Braun did his homework when he worked on this concept for a new car. I love it I hope that the order is really mixed, up and down the field, eventually things will shake out as they always do. But I hope some midfield team can come up with something that can put them ahead for a bit till everyone else copies it at least. Can’t wait for the start of the season. It’ll be a great weekend, 1000 miles of Sebring on Friday and The 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday which I will be attending. Maybe I’ll see some of you Race fans there. Great start to the race season.

  13. As predicted in year 2020, Verstappen world champion 2021-2025. I said Hamilton made wrong choice when he renew contract with Mercedes. Red Bull is the car for next 5 years. Last year Mercedes still can turn up spicy engine mode to compensate for performance deficit, now with Porpoising issue I guess that option wouldn’t work for now.

    1. I don’t think so you can say this with 100% certainly. i think the field will be much closer maybe after 2 years some teams will take a clear advantage but not before that.

  14. I think merc is roast for 22 wccwdc
    Looks like rbr Ferrari.. well as long as there’s a battle I’m content

    Although I’m a huge merc fan..

    All I care is getting my f1 app subscriptions worth. Lol

  15. I am just hoping we get a competitive season with at least three cars regularly challenging for race wins. And more than two regular GP winners.

    However, average Merc look at the beginning of a season, they are always excellent at developing their car. I don’t think they will be off the pace for long. If they are at all.

    I hope Ferrari, McLaren or someone else can get into the mix a bit more often.

  16. VER with C5, LEC with C4 for best times so…. still chances Ferrari is in the fight.

  17. My educated guesses based on testing are that RB and Ferrari will do well in the early races, in particular in qualifying. The Ferrari seems a fairly conservative design, which is easier to get right, but with less potential. So I expect them to struggle to improve their pace as much as RB.

    The Mercedes just seems underdeveloped, without the fancy bargeboard elements that other teams have. However, I do think that the potential is there. The question is whether they can fix their porpoising and develop their car fast enough to be competitive.

    McLaren seems to be a more conservative design like the Ferrari and I would expect the same problems developing the car. Their brake problems seems to have compromised their testing, so they probably won’t be competitive with RB and Ferrari.

    My current prediction for the constructors is RB, Ferrari and then Mercedes, where Mercedes is the big question mark.

    1. All sounds quite sensible.

    2. Surely the teams with porpoising can’t be getting accurate data and driver feedback to make any true performance gains. You would imagine that the longer that goes on the further behind you fall as the rest are already improving their true pace.

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