After another whole year in which it was impossible to dream of anything more than the last three places in the world formula 1, Williams, Alfa Romeo and Haas will try to ‘jump the cat’ in 2022, using the new technical regulations of the division – and some information – to finally move forward. However, six days of pre-season in Barcelona and Bahrain created different opinions in each garage.
Eighth in the 2021 Constructors’ World Cup, Williams managed to secure 23 points thanks to George Russell’s second place at the chaotic ‘non-GP’ Belgian national team, where rain interrupted the race and every driver in the top 10 got half. points equal to your position. Over the course of the year, it proved – once again – to be a car that gave drivers little chance to be competitive.
In 2022, the first signs were good for Williams. In pre-season testing at Barcelona – where teams search as many miles as possible to get data -, the British team managed to complete 347 laps around the Circuit de Catalanjust 11 less than Red Bull, for example – it was the fifth team that walked the most.
The result, as it could not be otherwise, encouraged a team accustomed to going through problems in recent seasons, but which is no longer commanded by the Williams family and has an important investment fund in Dorilton Capital to balance its finances and try to create a winning team again.
The changes have already been implemented by the new owners, who ditched Brazilian Ayrton Senna in creating the FW44 and opted to hire Thai Alexander Albon to replace George Russell, who is expected to make his Mercedes debut.
It’s not all flowers, however. The mechanics of the Grove team, although satisfied with the first results of three days of testing in Barcelonathey are still trying to sort out the smoke that came out of Albon’s car on Friday (25), the last day in Catalan. In addition, the final three days of testing in Bahrain marked – literally – a team fire, which saw the rear of Nicholas Latifi’s car catch fire.
The issue angered team boss Jost Capito, who regretted missing nearly a full day of programming to deal with the fire. In the combined Bahrain pre-season schedule, the drivers of the two teams were only ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi, the Haas reserve driver, who drove just one day without soft tyres. Hope in the Grove is that feeling found in Barcelonawith big miles, it is the anthem of the England team all year round.
The last team on the grid to present a car version for this season, Alfa Romeo will have the only athlete in the category in the C42: the first Chinese in the history of formula 1, Guanyu Zhou. In addition, the Hinwil team was also the only one to completely change the driver pairing for this year: Finnish Valtteri Bottas was also hired, to balance the experience of one and the youth of the other.
And while it sounds like a good deal in theory, fixing the Rookie tests formula 1 it’s always very difficult, even more so in a car that hasn’t offered much potential in recent years. Zhou wanted to take advantage of the pre-season to do as many laps in the car as possible, but he ran into technical problems and ran only 175 laps. Barcelona – just ahead of Haas.
On the other hand, in Bahrain, the team was only behind Mercedes, AlphaTauri and Ferrari in the number of laps completed: 343, with 184 by Zhou and 159 by Bottas. However, it was impossible to recover in relation to the first three days, and the team ended up in last place in laps completed – again, ahead of Haas.
Although some mistakes by the Chinese also contributed to the team’s short time, Alfa Romeo suffered from reliability problems. Barcelona and even managed to solve many of them in Bahrain – before having another crash in Bottas’ car, which caused the team to miss some practice sessions.
The team also had the presence of Robert Kubica on Spainan experienced pilot with extensive experience in formula 1, taking advantage of the follow-up time to collect as much information as possible, so that the feedback received by the team is as detailed as possible. It is worth noting that, unlike most teams on the grid, Alfa Romeo was not faced with a category weight limit, which could be a property of this year compared to last year.
Finally, the only team to fail to pick up points in 2021. Despite the situation being in no way worse than last year, Haas already enter 2022 with major issues to resolve – both on and off the track. Team founder in 2021, Nikita Mazepin saw his father’s sponsorship withdrawn from the car and lose his seat, making way for experienced Dane Kevin Magnussen, who returns F1 and even marked the times on Friday in Bahrain.
First in relation to the car, VF-22 was the least traveled of the ten teams on the grid in the pre-season of Barcelona: only 160 rounds. The boss of the team Guenther Steiner himself expressed frustration with the various problems that beset the Haas model: floor damage, fuel pump failure, oil leakage and a problem in the cooling system (cooling) of the engine, which overheated the engine.
In Bahrain, the situation has improved – but not by much. Schumacher and Magnussen were able to record competitive times, but that does not indicate the level of the team for the 2022 season. With 253 laps completed in Sakhir, the American team was ahead of McLaren in this regard, but it certainly showed that it was finished. The car is better than last year, which dragged up in the bottom two places.
The American car has characteristics that are quite different from some of the rivals – especially on the sides – which raises doubts about how Haas will do when it manages to manage reliability problems and put everything available on the track.
As if that was not enough, the invasion of Ukrainian territory by Russia had a direct impact on the team, whose main sponsor was Uralkali – a large fertilizer company commanded by Dmitry Mazepin, Nikita’s father. The company’s name was taken from the VF-22 and the equipment of the team, which also deleted the colors referring to the Russian flag – the car was painted white, with several red details.
Soon after, Mazepin himself got the result: without the sponsorship of the Russian company, the driver lost his place in the team and saw Magnussen return to the team he defended in his departure from F1, at the end of 2020. The Dane arrived with everything and led the training session in Bahrain on Friday, in terms of time which, in practice, is of very little value for the competition of the season. Especially if it came from overtime category for the team.
Haas had already announced in 2021 that it would not invest in last year’s model. In the season he introduced two rookies formula 1 – Mick Schumacher and Mazepin – the American team led by Gene Haas focused all their efforts on the VF-22. Starting March 20, with a different pair of drivers, it will be time to show if the work was worth it.
GUIDE FOR FORMULA 1 2022
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