Day 2 of the Official 2022 Pre-season F1 Testing in Bahrain was full of chaos. It’s eerily similar to what Day 2 was like in testing in Barcelona! In Barcelona, on Day 2 there were multiple red flags and disruptions as the day was riddled with reliability issues for the teams. The same happened in Bahrain, but it was on another level. There were a total of 6 red flags. While there were 2 red flags on Day 1, they were only minor ones – one was when Lance Stroll accidentally left debris on the track from his car. The other was when Perez had a minor spin, but it was enough to get beach him in the gravel. I’ll get into the various reliability issues that brought out the red flags on Day 2. The most significant one was the massive fire on the rear brakes of Nicholas Latifi’s FW44.
While some teams had issues on Day 2 of F1 testing, some teams did better or continued their form from Day 1. For example, Lance Stroll clocked in a 1:32.064 for P4 on the timesheets. Esteban Ocon also had a great day. He was in P6 on the C4 tires and completed a solid 111 laps. On Day 1, Ocon only did 42 laps and was 2.8 seconds off the pace. On Day 2, he bounced back, but he still ended up facing reliability issues… Another driver who bounced back from a tough Day 1 was Sebastian Vettel. His car seemed a lot more planted and stable on Friday. He was still far off the pace, but he was also the 3rd-fastest driver on the C3 tires. But no driver bounced back more than Kevin Magnussen.
Haas FASTEST With Hamilton Far Off The Pace…
Kevin Magnussen pulled off a crazy lap to top the timesheets for Day 2. But the thing is, it was after Day 2 of testing ended. On the regular track running time, Sainz was the fastest driver on the track. But after the evening session ended, Haas went back out, because they were given extra running to make up for the session they missed on Day 1. And in that extra running, with an empty yet grippy track and ambient temperatures, Magnussen pulled off a mad lap. Nobody expected this, especially because he went 3 tenths faster than the Ferrari. I know Haas shifted their focus to 2022 early and really tried hard to do well this year. But I didn’t expect them to be this fast!
It’s even more surprising because Magnussen set this time on the C4 tires, so it’s not that he used the C5 tires to go fastest. Speaking of the C5 tires, Hamilton was the first driver to go out on the C5 tires in testing in Bahrain this year. The C5 tires are the softest compounds and are the fastest available tires. I would expect Hamilton to go fastest, especially since he’s in a Mercedes. But he could only manage P5. Lewis Hamilton was nearly a second slower than the Haas. That’s a sentence I never thought I would write. This is seriously worrying for Mercedes. If it is sandbagging, it’s very extreme. Verstappen is 8 tenths off the pace and only completed 86 laps – that’s normal sandbagging.
But a Mercedes going on the C5 tires simply can’t be a second slower than another car going on the C4 tires. While Mercedes’ reliability is fine, they’re seriously lacking performance. I think that they’re going to have to iron out these issues. Look at Hamilton’s teammate George Russell – he finished P13. He was 5.3 seconds off the pace. However, he was running on the Prototype C2 tires, which seem to be very slow. But still, Bottas was nearly 2 seconds faster on the regular C2 tires.
While the bottom 5 focused on durability and long runs, the rest of the teams were focusing on performance. That’s why most of the field were on the C3 and C4 tires. While endurance is important for race pace, the teams would also want to perform in qualifying. The teams are getting ready for the beginning of the season and the quali session for the Bahrain GP on the 19th of March.
But a quali setup on the 2022 cars would mean the ride height would be lower. That means the cars would be closer to the ground since this would help the floor generate more downforce. But more downforce means more porpoising. It’s clear that the teams still haven’t gotten rid of the porpoising issues. With the long straights of the Bahrain International Circuit, the porpoising is even more aggressive than it was in Spain. Could this be contributing to these reliability issues in Bahrain? Let me know what you think the teams will have to do about the porpoising in the comments below. To read more about porpoising, check out my analysis on porpoising in my analysis of Day 2 of testing in Barcelona. Below is a video of how difficult it is for the drivers!
Now it’s time to get into the reliability issues that the drivers and teams faced on Day 2 of F1 testing. The first Red Flag of the day was the most dramatic one. Nicholas Latifi’s rear brakes caught fire, and he tried to bring the car back to the pits. That didn’t end well, because Latifi spun at Turn 12, before the rear end of the car was engulfed in more flames.
The footage made it seem like a really dramatic fire. This was especially because a tire exploded and sent smoke and rubber onto a marshal who was extinguishing the fire. Latifi himself helped extinguish the car after coming out of the car since he knew how valuable time is in F1 testing. However, Williams weren’t able to complete more laps after that, despite saying the issue was minor. Because of the car and the debris, it took 35 minutes to clear it all up and end the Red Flag period.
After Latifi, it was Sebastian Vettel who faced reliability issues. He was driving slow and had to take a shortcut to cut Turn 1 as soon as he came out of the pits. He later drove into the Outer Track area and stopped the car – no Red Flags, but it took time to recover the car from there. Vettel later managed to go back out on track. But when he went out on track, there was another Red Flag. This time, it was the FIA trying to practice the Red Flag procedure.
Unrelated to that Red Flag, Haas had an exhaust issue that meant they wouldn’t participate in the last 10 minutes of the morning session. Back to the Red Flag procedure, the cars were required to go to the grid for a standing start. Vettel was on the pole grid spot, with Bottas and Leclerc in 2nd and 3rd. However, Verstappen and Russell were stuck at the pitlane exit. So the FIA did a 2nd formation lap to allow the 5 cars to all line up on the grid. These were the only cars that were going out for the practice start. But during that formation lap, Bottas had a hydraulics issue and had to stop the car, bringing out an actual Red Flag.
The session did not resume, and the standing start never happened. The FIA did another Red Flag restart procedure in the evening, but it was a rolling start rather than a standing start. It’s not commonplace in F1 testing for Red Flags to come out just for a standing start as far as I remember.
The rest of the Red Flags were in the afternoon session. About 2 and half hours into the afternoon session, Esteban Ocon stopped on track before Turn 13. He had a minor radiator glitch in his car that ruled him out for the rest of the day. I mentioned earlier that Ocon and Alpine bounced back from a tough Day 1. And although this issue was minor, they did face reliability issues in Barcelona. Alpine confirmed that they focused on performance rather than reliability this year. But in testing, their performance hasn’t been great, but they’ve faced reliability issues. I think they’re going to have to sort out their reliability issues, or they’ll really struggle this year.
Less than 20 minutes after Ocon’s issue, Lando Norris stopped out on track. This was the last Red Flag that was caused by a reliability issue. Norris has struggled a lot in testing in Bahrain – the McLaren MCL36’s brakes are heating up a lot. Norris did say it would take time to fix the issue, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. They had great form in testing in Barcelona, but in Bahrain, it’s gotten a whole lot worse for them. Daniel Ricciardo tested positive for COVID-19, which means Lando Norris is flying solo when dealing with the issues with their car. I hope McLaren can bounce back from this – otherwise, Ferrari will just fly away, and McLaren won’t be able to put up a fight. Who tops testing on Day 3? Stay tuned for more info and analysis!