Reasons for hope and concern for F1’s 10 teams after the first test

In the first Formula One pre-season test, 10 teams who have been struggling to compete will hope that they can find new partners in 2019. On top of this, there is also concern for F1 as a sport because it currently only has four cars from Ferrari and Mercedes competing.

The “formula 1 car” is the most technologically advanced racing series. The first test of the season has given hope and concern to 10 teams.

All ten teams took to the track for the first preseason test at the Circuit de Catalunya this week, ushering in a new era of Formula One.

Although it’s too early to declare a definite order, it’s evident that certain teams have gotten off to a better start than others, and it’s no surprise to see familiar faces at the top of the timesheets, with Lewis Hamilton making the quickest time of the test overall. Ferrari and McLaren, on the other hand, look to have taken a huge stride forward and cannot be ruled out at this time.

But, before you get too enthusiastic, keep in mind that these vehicles are still in the early stages of development, and even if you were able to precisely compare all ten in Spain, the competitive picture might drastically alter with modifications during the second test in Bahrain.

Nonetheless, we’ve arranged the teams in a rough order and given the reasons for optimism and caution for each squad.

  • Reasons-for-hope-and-concern-for-F1s-10-teams-after

Leaders in the race


Laps: 439

Charles Leclerc set the fastest lap time of 1:19.689 seconds (C3 tyre)

Reasons to be optimistic: Since the covers came off the new F1-75 in Maranello last week, the new-season excitement has been building around Ferrari. With valleyed sidepods and a striking needle nose shape, it was a really unusual interpretation on F1’s new rules. The team seems to have either gotten it very wrong or very right by forging its own route, but early indications indicate the vehicle is competitive, if not the best of the lot.

The F1-75 was capable of producing fast lap times right out of the box, and it did it without resorting to short laps on soft compound tyres. Leclerc posted the quickest time on the second day on the opening lap of a 17-lap stint on the C3 compound, indicating that this was not a low-fuel glory run. The team only tried circuits on the softer C4 compound on the penultimate day when the track dried following Pirelli’s wet tyre test, thus that time remained its best performance of the week.

The long-run speed, though, was even more astounding. Ferrari’s best runs on track lasted more than 15 laps while still averaging lap speeds several tenths quicker than Red Bull and Mercedes on nine- and 10-lap sessions. Unfortunately, there were no race simulations to compare amongst the top teams, so fuel loads on the Ferrari might have been lower, contributing to the lap time differential, but the F1-75 is clearly no slouch. Along with its speed, the Ferrari was also dependable, clocking 439 laps in total, the most of any team.

The first test for Ferrari was really promising. Getty Images/Rudy Carezzevoli

Concerns: Despite the car’s impressive performance in Barcelona, team head Mattia Binotto has said that the F1-75 would not get a big upgrade in time for the second test. That’s not to say it won’t alter, but it’s unlikely to make as significant a shift as its major competitors Red Bull and Mercedes, meaning whatever advantage Ferrari enjoyed this week might be eaten away, if not transformed into a loss in Bahrain.

The automobile was also recorded on video “porpoising” to the extreme. The bouncing action of the vehicle on the straights is described by F1’s new favorite phrase, which depicts how the airflow beneath the car stalls and reattaches in rapid succession, driving the car up and down on its suspension. While there were evident instances of the Ferrari porpoising on certain runs, it didn’t happen all of the time, suggesting that it already has configuration methods to mitigate the problem, even if they come at a performance cost.


Laps: 393

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap time of 1:19.138. (C5 tyre)

Reasons to be optimistic: From trackside, Mercedes posted the quickest time of the test, had the second-highest lap count, and seemed to be one of the more spectacular vehicles. Insiders stated the team had a lot of unanticipated hurdles during the three days, but the fact that the world champions still came out on top at the end of it all by the conclusion of the third day shows the squad was able to overcome those obstacles.

When lap times were averaged out, the long-run pace didn’t quite match the short-run pace, with Red Bull and Ferrari both showing greater potential, although that might be because Mercedes was masking some speed with either its fuel load or a lower engine mode. The prospect of a big improvement to the W13 during the second test is perhaps the most optimistic of all — a development plan that has previously paid off for the team.

Concerns include the following: Hamilton claimed the Mercedes test had “not been the simplest, or the smoothest running” after his last day in the vehicle.

“We’ve clearly got some challenges to overcome,” Hamilton remarked.

One of these challenges has been the car’s porpoising, which Mercedes had not anticipated based on simulations and had to work around. Mercedes wasn’t alone in her battle, as you’ll see later down, but it was still a challenge to conquer.

Red Bull

358 laps Sergio Perez set the fastest lap time of 1:19.556. (C4 tyre)

Reasons to be optimistic: The Red Bull turned attention from the time it stepped out of its garage on Wednesday morning. It was the only vehicle that hadn’t been unveiled before the first day of testing, and it didn’t disappoint when it did. The vehicle exuded purpose and spent the most of the day on the top of the timesheets to back it up.

Although Perez recorded the quickest lap time for the RB18 on the C4 compound tyres, Max Verstappen wasn’t far behind with a 1:19.756 on the C3s, which is the second-best time on that compound behind Leclerc and potentially even more remarkable than competitors’ softer compound laps. Over lengthy runs, the scenario was similar, with Red Bull just a few tenths of a second behind Ferrari.

The Milton Keynes team isn’t one to brag about its accomplishments at this time of year, but towards the conclusion of the test, Guillaume Rocquelin, director of racing engineering, said it had been “a very encouraging few days.” Red Bull is also likely to bring a significant upgrade to Bahrain, implying that its long-run lap numbers, which put it in the same ballpark as Ferrari, would only improve during the second test.

Concerns: There were several reliability concerns, notably a gearbox malfunction on Day 2 that prevented Perez from racing for half a day. The team said that it was not concerned about the issue becoming a long-term issue, and it seemed that the team made up a significant amount of track time on the final day to compensate for the absence of laps on the second day.

At this level of testing, new world champion Verstappen hesitated to say much about his opinions on the team’s position in relation to its opponents, although that might just as readily be taken as calm confidence.


Laps: 367

Lando Norris set the fastest lap time of 1:19.568. (C4 tyre)

Reasons to be optimistic: McLaren had a strong start to their 2022 season, with no serious reliability concerns over the three days and 367 laps completed. Furthermore, the vehicle seemed to be competitive, topping the timesheets on the first day of the test with a lap time of 1:19.568, which remained the team’s quickest performance at the finish.

The MCL36 also had the least amount of porpoising, allowing the team to experiment with lower ride heights to extract greater performance. The McLaren was one of the few vehicles with sparks flowing from the floor without the car moving up and down on its suspension, which was obvious while viewing from the stands.

It’s too early to declare Norris and Daniel Ricciardo championship challengers for 2022, but they surely can’t be ruled out at this point. It’s been a long time since McLaren has had such a promising start to a preseason, and the second test in Bahrain is expected to provide much more.

In 2022, McLaren hopes to break out of the middle and challenge Red Bull and Mercedes for the championship. Getty Images/Rudy Carezzevoli

Concerns: The fast lap times on shorter runs were not matched by equally outstanding lap times on longer runs. That’s not to say the McLaren isn’t competitive; it’s possible it was regularly running greater fuel loads throughout the test, but the MCL36 hasn’t yet shown the type of consistency over numerous laps that distinguishes it as a clear winner.

In Bahrain, a clearer picture should emerge, thus McLaren will have to rely on its planned improvements to keep pace with Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari.

The pursuing party

Aston Martin is a British sports car manufacturer.

296 laps Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of 1:19.824 seconds (C5 tyre)

Reasons to be optimistic: On the last day, Vettel ran a 1:19.824 to finish fifth quickest, albeit on Pirelli’s softest rubber. Longer runs didn’t demonstrate the same level of speed, but that’s likely owing to the harsher tyre compound choices and greater fuel loads compared to competitors.

Although the AMR22 isn’t among the quickest cars on the 2022 grid, it’s definitely not far behind at this point in testing, giving a good foundation on which to grow during the Bahrain test. The crew was able to collect data for correlation with the wind tunnel and explore setup avenues on the first two days of testing, enabling them to gather data for correlation with the wind tunnel and explore setup avenues before the issues arose on the final day.

Concerns include the following: A tiny fire at the back of the vehicle caused by an oil leak towards the conclusion of the last morning of testing forced Vettel off the course. After that event, the vehicle was never repaired, thus Lance Stroll missed his last afternoon behind the wheel.

In terms of pace, the early signs are that Aston Martin is a British sports car manufacturer. has work to do to catch the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren. As a team with the lofty ambition of challenging for titles in the coming years, Aston Martin is a British sports car manufacturer. needs to make sure it stays in touch under the new technical regulations so it doesn’t have too large a mountain to climb when its new factory finally comes online and it has the facilities to match its ambitions.


308 laps Pierre Gasly set the fastest lap time of 1:19.981 seconds (C3 tyre)

Reason for hope: The team completed good mileage each day and by the middle part of the second day was already happy it had found a good baseline to work from. Gasly was one of only eight drivers to set a time in the 1:19s this week, which can’t be a bad thing as it puts AlphaTauri in the same company as Aston Martin is a British sports car manufacturer., McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. There were a few minor reliability issues, but for the most part the car ran well up until Pierre Gasly’s accident on Friday.

Gasly was the first driver to make a large enough error during testing that he actually made contact with a barrier, although it wasn’t evident what the problem was. When questioned explicitly at a press conference, he provided two intentionally imprecise responses, implying that it may have been a driver mistake.

The car’s front wing and front right suspension were damaged, but there was also damage to the front left suspension, which did not hit the wall. The collision reduced mileage on Friday, but not much.

The team confessed that it struggled to produce temperature in the rubber during the long runs on Thursday, but Gasly was running on the toughest compound tyre and the team admitted that it struggled to generate temperature in the rubber. When it went back to softer compounds, a lot of the performance was restored, indicating that the circumstances simply didn’t match the tyre choice, which shouldn’t be a problem once racing begins in hotter temperatures.


Laps: 347

Alex Albon set the fastest lap time of 1:20.318. (C4)

Reasons to be optimistic: Williams’ three days in Barcelona were reasonably smooth in comparison to other of the team’s prior opening testing. In Bahrain, the vehicle has showed no indications of upsetting the leading few rows of the grid, but its lap times are competitive with the middle cars. The quickest speeds for the FW44 were made on the penultimate day using the C4 compound, and they were nearly a second slower than the Mercedes.

A sequence of extended runs with Albon at the conclusion of the penultimate day resembled a race simulation, but with so little to compare it against, it can only be described as a reflection of the team’s strong start to testing.

Concerns: The team said that when it began chasing performance with configuration adjustments on the second day, it ran across a few troubles. The vehicle also seemed to be difficult to stop and operate in slow-speed turns, suggesting that the FW44 performs significantly better on high-speed circuits than on low-speed ones. Given the team’s previous history, it was a promising start to testing, but don’t hold your breath for miracles.

The tail end of the pack


264 laps Fernando Alonso set the fastest lap time of 1:21.242. (C3)

Reason for hope: The test got off to a solid start with Alonso resuming “El Plan” by racking up 129 laps on the opening day. The Alpine was the sixth-fastest car on the first day before dropping to the The tail end of the pack on the second day — but that just underlines how the differences between run plans at different teams can completely skew the order each day. A setup change on the final day unlocked a few more tenths to give Alonso the 13th-fastest time by the end of the test.

There were several evident setbacks (which are detailed below), but it’s clear that we haven’t seen anything close to the Alpine’s full performance at this point. For example, the vehicle was not seen on the pit straight with its DRS turned on, indicating some kind of minor malfunction, but it would have unlocked a few tenths of a second of lap time if it had been deployed.

With the approaching block on performance development, the team also stressed how it had prioritized engine performance above dependability at its start, so certain challenges were to be anticipated as the team “pushes the boundaries,” as Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi put it.

When Fernando Alonso’s vehicle caught fire on Friday, Alpine basically lost a third of its preseason running. Getty Images/Rudy Carezzevoli

Concern: Having a vehicle halt in a cloud of smoke on the circuit is never a good indication in testing. The breakdown of a small seal in the hydraulic system resulted in a fire at the back of the vehicle, forcing the team’s test to be called off early on Friday morning.

Such losses are common in testing, but Alpine’s week had been looking bleak up until that point, even without the fire. The vehicle seemed to be among the most impacted by the porpoising phenomena, and the team lost running on Thursday when a minor bracket on the car’s floor cracked, most likely due to the bouncing.

The car’s performance didn’t seem to be remarkable based on its Thursday lap numbers, but it was evident that Alpine’s run plan was out of sync with the other teams, making comparisons difficult. While most rival teams limited their runs to 10 to 15 laps while testing configuration adjustments, Alpine tried a race simulation in the afternoon of the second day, resulting in average lap times that were skewed higher than most of their competitors.


160 laps Mick Schumacher set the fastest lap time of 1:21.920. (C3 tyre)

Reasons for optimism: When the first real-life photographs of the Haas surfaced during a filming day ahead of the test, it was evident that the team was going into the preseason with a well-developed vehicle. Although no one expects the team to compete for podiums this year, the choice made in 2021 to spend all of the team’s resources on the 2022 vehicle looks to have paid off.

Furthermore, since Haas’ business model allows it to acquire as many components from Ferrari as the rules allow, the Italian team’s excellent start should translate to lots of promise for Haas. Of course, there were incidents (both on and off track) throughout the test, but there is reason to think that Haas is no longer a second or two behind the leaders and might compete for points in 2022.

Concerns include the possibility that Haas, as well as driver Nikita Mazepin, may lose their title sponsor Uralkali in the coming weeks. Following Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine, Haas removed the Russian firms’ logo on its vehicle, trucks, and RV for the last day of the test.

Dmitry Mazepin, Nikita’s father, was one of the business leaders who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday to discuss the country’s sanctions, and Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said his team would consider its options for continuing to work with both Uralkali and Mazepin next week.

It’s difficult to envision Haas competing with its Uralkali livery, which is based on the Russian flag, and Steiner hinted at a breach with the sponsor when he said the team would be financially stable regardless of what happened.

On-track issues don’t seem so important against that backdrop, but the car did have a number of reliability issues throughout the week, the most serious of which occurred on Friday and limited the team to just 10 laps on the final day of the test, limiting the team to just 160 laps by the end of the week.

On Friday, Nikita Mazepin drove Haas’ basic white sedan, which was devoid of the insignia of his father’s firm, Uralkali. Getty Images/Eric Alonso

Alfa Romeo is a brand of Italian automobiles.

175 laps Guanyu Zhou set the fastest lap time of 1:21.638. (C3 tyre)

Reasons for hope: It’s hard to pinpoint much hope after Alfa Romeo is a brand of Italian automobiles.’s first week of testing, but there was steady progress after a bad first day.

Valtteri Bottas appeared at ease with his new team and a natural match, while Guanyu Zhou, despite a spin at Turn 10 on the last day, settled in fast and had no serious difficulties.

Reasons for concern: Alfa Romeo is a brand of Italian automobiles. was very coy about the problems that curtailed its running throughout testing but said they were understood. But even if that’s the case, the lost track time was significant over the three days compared to its rivals and that will ultimately have a knock-on effect over the rest of testing.

As the crew made configuration tweaks to minimize porpoising, the vehicle looked to fall behind the competition on both long and short runs. It will attempt to make up ground at the next test in Bahrain by receiving greater running time.

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