PRIXVIEW – Sakhir Pre-season Testing

Prixview Testing & Race Reports

The second pre-season test takes F1 to Sakhir in Bahrain ahead of the opening race of the 2022 season. The three-day test at the Bahrain International Circuit offers the teams a chance to fine-tune the cars going into the new season, the circuit is ideal for testing as it should give us a better understanding of the cars.

The Bahrain International Circuit has a mixture of long straights and a tight infield section which creates opportunities for overtaking. But its high speed that matters on the three straights and that means that good downforce and speed are very important, as well as breaking at the end of the straights.

The infield middle sections is the more technical and twisty sector, that will be an interesting section to watch over the coming weeks as it will give us an idea of how closely cars will be able to follow each other. The circuit normally favours cars which are good at high speed and high downforce, Mercedes being strong through most of the hybrid era.

The second test is when we are likely to see teams bring their final 2022 cars to start the season in a fortnight, the circuit has a mixture of long straights and a tight infield section which creates opportunities for overtaking. But its high speed that matters on the three straights and that means that good downforce and speed are very important, as well as breaking at the end of the straights.

Reliability was one of the things which stood out in the first test in Barcelona, we still saw a few issues though, you wonder if at the second test we are going to see the team try and break these cars. I don’t we have yet seen the full potential of these cars and we wont until we start racing in two weeks’ time.

It is believed that Ferrari and Red Bull made the biggest step over the winter, but we will find out what Mercedes have not shown us so far this winter. I am sceptical given the normal PR by Mercedes, and then they start the season by winning the opening race, but I think -based on various factors we can expect the closeness to continue this season.

Sakhir is a high-speed circuit and one thing we won’t be able to answer until probably Miami properly how the cars perform a street circuits. I think we may get a few drivers to try a mini-race, to look at how closely they can follow each other, so that will give us an idea as to whether the racing will improve on track, as we go into the new season.

Upgrades are going to be a thing to watch as some teams will have made changes to the cars, while some teams are deciding to delay them until the Grand Prix. I think it could be risky if teams decide to wait until the race as that when we have the engine freeze and restrictions on gearboxes and engines we have in F1.

The thing teams need to find a balance between long-run data gathering as that is what they need to progress, high speed runs, at what point does the car break or become undrivable. The aerodynamic performance is the most important thing for the team, they will also not be running the final spec.

We are also yet to see the real performance runs from the teams, these are key both in finding out how these cars behave on track over a stint on these tyres. But the way the tyres were not talked about in Barcelona I think suggests that there not going to be a major problem unless it was a condition which made the tyres more durable.

I think this weekend is going to be interesting, there is a lot for us all to learn as we are going to head into the race weekend not really knowing what to expect. Pietro Fittipaldi goes into this test on the backfoot having not had a day and a half in Barcelona, he has a lot more to learn but I don’t believe he will be at a big disadvantage as Mick Schumacher as all the drivers will only have had a day and a half maximum in the car.

Its again going to be a learning experience over the next few weeks, and it will take time to understand what is going on with these cars as well as the pecking order. As I said in Barcelona we shouldn’t expect full answers until the race weekend and then don’t expect full answers until later in the season.

This weekend, I think we are going to learn a lot about the cars, as we can see them on track through TV. The thing I will be watching is the long runs as they are going to tell us about how the tyres will hold up, and while we know that we need to remember the answers will not come until the race weekend.

I wonder if that will have a small impact on the way the teams go about this test as it could be important when we go into the race weekend. But it’s likely we will need to wait until the race weekend to truly understand where the cars and teams are.

Facts and figures

Test Formula 1 Aramco Pre-Season Testing 2022
Venue Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain
Configuration 2005 Grand Prix
Circuit Length 5.412 km (3.363 mi)
Lap record Race 01:31.447 Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren – Mercedes, 2005
Qualifying 01:27.264 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2019

Fast Facts

  • Bahrain testing had to be abandoned for the first time because of a sandstorm in 2009 after just 90 minutes into the session, the first time a day off running in an official test not caused by rain or snow. The 2019 test was abandoned because Pirelli didn’t bring wet tyres.
  • The track surface at Bahrain International Circuit is made from a special aggregate that was shipped from a quarry in England at great expense and offers very high levels of grip
  • Following Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident in late 2013, the first turn at Bahrain International Circuit was named in honour of the seven-time World Champion who won the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix in the all-conquering Ferrari F2004. It remains the only turn at the circuit with a name other than a number.

Event timetable




All days

Morning 10:00-14:00 08:00-12:00
Afternoon 15:00-19:00 13:00-16:00

2021 Lap time comparison

Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Race. Time
Fastest Time
01:31.394 +0.298 01:31.082 +0.235 01:31.316 +0.739 01:30.617 +0.128 01:30.085 +0.084 1:29.385 +0.388 0 +0.000   01:32.090 0.000 01:32:03.897  
Red Bull
01:31.394 +00.000 01:30.847 +00.000 01:30.577 +00.000 01:30.499 +00.00 01:30.318 +0.233 01:28.997 +0.000 01:32:04.642 +0.0.745   01:33.228 +1.138 01:32:04.642  
01:31.993 +0.599 01:31.127 +00.280 01:32.108 +1.531 01:30.691 +0.192 01:30.010 +0.000 01:29.678 +0.681 01:33:02.987 +7.043   01:34.509 +2.671 01:33:02.987  
01:31.897 +0.527 01:30.942 +00.095 01:32.477 +1.900 01:30.795 +0.296 01:30.099 +0.089 01:29.927 +0.542 01:32:50.363 +37.638   01:34.396 +2.309 01:32:50.363  
Aston Martin
01:33.157 +1.763 01:31.393 +00.546 01:32.431 +1.854 01:31.261 +0.762 01:30.624 +0.614 01:30.601 +1.604 01:33:30.610 +88.713   01:34:865 +2.775 01:33:30.610  
Alpha Tauri
00:32.195 +0.801 01:31.294 +00.447 01:31.583 +1.006 01:30.607 +0.108 01:30.513 +0.503 01:29.809 +0.812 01:33:29.589 +85.692   01:34.090 +2.000 01:33:29.589 Postponed
01:33.528 +2.143 01:31.601 +00.754 01:32.423 +1.846 01:30.863 +0.364 01:30.595 +0.583 01:30.249 +1.252 01:32:19.995 +Lap   01:35.250 +3.160 01:32:19.995  
01:34.501 +3.107 01:33.297 +2.450 01:33.422 +2.845 01:32.449 +1.950 N/A N/A 01:33:20.704 +Lap   01:36.134 +4.044 01:33:20.704  
Alfa Romeo
01:32.786 +1.39 01:33.297 +0.893 01:32.224 +1.647 01:31.547 +1.048 01:31.238 +1.153 N/A 01:33:32.761 +88.864   01:35.122 +3.032 01:33:32.761  
01:34.127 +2.773 01:32.331 +1.484 01:33.323 +2.746 01:31.316 +0.817 01:33.430 +3.345 N/A 01:32:03.897 +0.000   01:32.090 0.000 01:32:03.897  

A lap of the Bahrain International Circuit

Valtteri Bottas comes out of the last corner builds speed and opens the DRS, then the crosses the start-finish line. Stays on the outside all the way along the straight before breaking in-between 150m and 100m boards. Turns in and get close to the kerb and then heads to the outside for two. He then runs to the inside kerb, building speed which he carry’s through three. Builds speed along the straight, before breaking at the 100m board for four. Hits the apex and runs the car to the exit.

Breaks slightly into five before building speed through the corner. Good through six and seven, breaks going into turn eight, hits the apex then runs to the outside. Crosses the track on entry to nine, goes through the centre and then begins to break. Hits both the outside and inside kerbs, before running to the inside. Runs along the support pits, breaks at 50ish metres running through the corner close to the apex then to the inside.

To the outside for thirteen, runs close to the kerb and then to the outside where he stays all the way along the strait. Breaks a 100m before fourteen where he takes the inside apex and then back to the outside where he stays until he crosses the line with a 1:28.789.


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