The F1 cars were back on track for day 2 of 2022 F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona. Remember, F1 is calling it the pre-season track session. The official pre-season test is from 10th to 12th March in Bahrain. On day 1 of the track session in Barcelona, we saw that most of the teams had great reliability and clocked in over 100 laps. Only Haas and Alfa Romeo struggled, with both teams failing to even reach 50 laps. However, on day 2, Haas completed 108 laps, and Alfa Romeo completed 93 laps. While the lap count is much better for Alfa Romeo, they struggled in the morning session, since Bottas only completed 21 laps. However, it seems that they sorted their problems out for the afternoon session because Guanyu Zhou completed 71 laps.
Ferrari and McLaren both continued their strong showing from day 1. Charles Leclerc topped the timing sheets of day 2 of 2022 F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona. Ferrari once again completed the most laps out of any team. The Ferrari drivers completed a total of 150 laps combined. Just behind Ferrari both in terms of lap times and in terms of laps completed was Pierre Gasly. He had the most outstanding performance on Day 2. He was the only driver driving for AlphaTauri on the day, and completed a total of 147 laps, showing that the car is reliable. On top of that, his fastest lap time was only 2 tenths slower than Leclerc’s. Behind Gasly was Daniel Ricciardo, who clocked in 126 and drove for McLaren in both the morning and afternoon sessions. He also had a strong showing, like his teammate Lando Norris did on day 1.
While Ferrari, McLaren, and AlphaTauri did well, Mercedes and Red Bull didn’t have the best day. While George Russell completed 71 laps and was just 8 tenths of a second off the pace, his teammate Lewis Hamilton only completed 40 laps and set the slowest time of the day. He was 2.8 seconds off the pace, only completed 40 laps during the entirety of the morning session. Some could say it’s sandbagging, but I don’t think Mercedes would sandbag so badly that Hamilton would be slower than the Alfa Romeo drivers. While Mercedes struggled, the day was even worse for Red Bull. In the morning, Sergio Perez’s RB18 ground to a halt and brought out the first Red Flag of 2022.
Red Bull reported that the car stopped because of a gearbox issue. As the car was taken back to the garage, it was covered by a car cover. When the car reached the pitlane, it was surrounded by mechanics so the cameras couldn’t get a shot of the car. Red Bull are obviously being very secretive about their technical innovations. Perez was the only driver running for Red Bull on day 2. Red Bull had to fix the issue on the car, so Perez only completed 78 laps in total for the team. On top of that, Perez’s lap time was only good enough for P7 and was 1.7 seconds off the pace. While this may seem bad, Perez said “It’s good that these things happen in testing”. I agree because it’s better if issues surface in testing so that the team can iron them out before the races.
Perez wasn’t the only driver to bring out a Red Flag on day 2 of 2022 F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona. In the afternoon session, Nikita Mazepin’s Haas stopped on track because of a damaged fuel pump. However, he was back on track after the repairs were made. His fastest lap time was 8th fastest and only 1.8 seconds off the pace. This is much better than Haas’ performance last year, showing there is still hope for them. Another driver that had a solid performance was Sebastian Vettel. As he did on day 1, Vettel finished the day in P6. However, he was only 1 second off the pace on day 2, whereas on day 1, he was 1.7 seconds off the pace.
Esteban Ocon had the Alpine to himself for the entire day, and he completed 125 laps. However, his lap time was nearly 2.5 seconds off the pace. It was a good day in terms of reliability. But Alpine are focusing more on performance this year, so they’ll be aiming for faster lap times on day 3. One of the reasons that Ocon’s lap time wasn’t as strong was because he completed a race simulation. It could be that for day 2, they were focusing more on long-distance data.
Porpoising – The Problem Almost All Teams Faced
It’s time to talk about the issue that was the main highlight of day 2 of 2022 F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona. Most drivers complained of the car bouncing up and down violently at high speeds. Porpoising was first coined by Mario Andretti back in 1979 when F1 cars faced this issue for the first time. The car bounces and rocks back and forth. A porpoise dives in and out of the sea. That’s why Mario Andretti called the movement porpoising. It was first seen in F1 back in the 1970s and 1980s, because that’s when F1 cars started using ground effect to generate downforce. Porpoising was never seen after 1983, because that’s when the FIA banned the ground effect. Now the ground effect is back in F1.
This year, instead of generating downforce from the wings, the cars generate downforce from the floors of the cars. In these ground effect cars, the underfloor (the underside of the floor) acts like a wing and sucks the bottom of the car into the ground. This all happens really fast, and when all of that downforce is generated and the bottom of the car is suddenly sucked into the ground, the bottom of the floor hits the road. Then suddenly there is no air flowing underneath the floor and all of that downforce is lost. The car goes right back up, and the process starts again. This happens very quickly and it happens multiple times, but it only happens at high speeds. This is because the faster the car goes, the more downforce it generates.
The porpoising can get really violent, and it can really shake the driver. It can also damage the floor and the chassis of the car. When the teams were testing their cars in the wind tunnel, they didn’t see porpoising in action. That’s why they didn’t predict that this would happen, otherwise they would’ve already found a solution before testing. A reason why porpoising is so violent in these cars is because of how hard the suspension is. The suspensions in the new cars are more solid, which is why the car is lifted up again so violently. The teams could increase the ride height of the car to reduce porpoising. The ride height is the height of the area between the floor of the car and the surface of the track. Increasing the ride height would reduce the porpoising, but it would significantly reduce the downforce of the car.
I’m sure the teams will find a balance between the porpoising and the downforce. They might have to compromise on the downforce to stop the porpoising. But the thing is, some teams might not need to reduce the porpoising at all. Look at Ferrari – their car didn’t suffer any damage throughout the day, and they had competitive lap times. There were no complaints from the drivers, and they didn’t need any medical attention. So for some teams, they may not need to make any changes. By the time the official 2022 F1 Pre-season Testing in Bahrain rolls around, the teams would probably have found a solution. The next day of testing is the final day of the “shakedown” or “track session” in Barcelona. If there are any issues on the final day, then it would be the teams’ top priority to find a fix before testing in Bahrain.