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Formula 1 2022: Drivers and teams ready for first pre-season test as new era kicks off in Barcelona

We have seen the car launches, now it is time for the drivers to take F1’s revolutionary new machines to the track for the first three-day Barcelona test; new rules mean new opportunities – who will hit the ground running from Wednesday?

Last Updated: 22/02/22 6:02am


A new era of Formula 1 is here – and the 2022 season starts in earnest on Wednesday with the first three-day test beginning as teams get a glimpse of where they stand in a pecking order which is currently impossible to predict.

F1’s biggest-ever rules overhaul has seen the cars transformed for this year – as the sport bids to improve wheel-to-wheel racing and overtaking – and they will get a first outing this week at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

Running from Wednesday morning until Friday evening, all 10 teams and all 20 drivers will take to the track, eager to see how their new cars perform and where they stand on the timesheets.

With so much change and so little time before the new campaign – there is one more three-day test in Bahrain before the first race on March 20 – this opening week of pre-season testing is more crucial than ever.

Sky F1's Ted Kravitz explains the new rules and regulations for 2022

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz explains the new rules and regulations for 2022

Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz explains the new rules and regulations for 2022

So… who are the favorites heading into testing?

It is fair to say it has been an uneasy winter for F1, with the Abu Dhabi GP inquiry still looming over the sport for much of it and Lewis Hamilton’s future apparently unclear. But with the FIA ​​having now made its first structural changes as a result of last season’s decider and an impressively eager Hamilton having confirmed his return – it is time to concentrate wholly on the new year and cars.

And there is plenty of excitement heading into winter testing.

The all-new cars are not just set to spice up the show, with revamped aerodynamics set to significantly help racing, they should also improve competition through the field. And with the cars having been redesigned from tip to toe, nobody, and I mean nobodyhas any idea where they will stand.

George Russell takes to the track for the first time in the Mercedes F1 W13 at Silverstone

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George Russell takes to the track for the first time in the Mercedes F1 W13 at Silverstone

George Russell takes to the track for the first time in the Mercedes F1 W13 at Silverstone

“Personally, I’m not discounting any teams,” insisted Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “Everybody could be high up in the standings at the beginning of the season.”

Indeed, while Mercedes and Red Bull, whose closely-matched cars last year saw Hamilton and Max Verstappen fight fiercely for the title, still go into the season as favorites due to their previous success, a clean slate of the regulations and cars means the door is ajar for other teams to catch up or even leap to the front.

And so an opportunity for teams like Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin and Alpine.

“I’d like the F1-75 to be up for the fight on track at every grand prix to go toe-to-toe with our rivals,” said Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto, with F1’s most successful team desperate to return to winning ways.

Most teams have now shaken down their cars for a filming day – and the next three days in Barcelona gives them a combined 24 hours of running.

Hamilton: ‘The car is so different’ | Button: You know immediately if you’re fast

It will be an informative three days for the teams but also the drivers, who after more than two months away – during which their F1 driving has been consigned to the simulator – can get back up to speed with all-new cars.

The 2022 machines, with a completely new design concept aimed at pushing air underneath the car as well as much bigger 18-inch tyres, will handle a lot differently, as Hamilton confirmed during a press conference last week.

“The car is so much different from any other car that I’ve driven in the past in terms of the aero balance and how it shifts, mechanical balance and how it shifts,” explained the seven-time world champion.

“It’s a much different machine to drive and it’s going to require a lot of finesse, a lot of work to find out how to set it up.”

Sky Sports F1’s Jenson Button, whose 2009 world championship was kickstarted with extraordinary Brawn speed at testing, is also fully aware of how important Barcelona will be.

“This is a really exciting time as a driver,” he told Sky Sports. “They will have recharged their batteries, and they’ll be so excited to see what their car can give them.

Alpine have revealed a fresh livery for the 2022 Formula 1 season, the team in blue and pink due to a new title sponsor in BWT

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Alpine have revealed a fresh livery for the 2022 Formula 1 season, the team in blue and pink due to a new title sponsor in BWT

Alpine have revealed a fresh livery for the 2022 Formula 1 season, the team in blue and pink due to a new title sponsor in BWT

“After the first run in testing, you will know how good the car is. There are things you can change, but you kind of know on that first day of testing whether you’ve got a winner or a loser.”

He added: “All the cars look fantastic. Very low, and I think they look very, racey.

“But it will be a very steep learning curve for all the drivers.”

How to follow the first test on Sky Sports F1

While the first test is not televised, Sky Sports F1 will still have you covered.

On all three evenings, there will be a testing wrap featuring the highlights and best bits from the day on Sky Sports F1 at 8pmwhile Ted Kravitz is back with Ted’s Notebook at 8.30pm.

A dawn-to-dusk live blog will also be available on the Sky Sports digital products for every day of testing, along with features, insight and reviews.

Regular updates from Barcelona will be published on our social accounts, while Craig Slater will be delivering reports from the Circuit de Catalunya for Sky Sports News.

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