By the numbers: How the teams fared in Bahrain testing

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75. 12.03.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain
© XPB 

The final three days of pre-season testing are in the books, and for Bahrain the teams brought some major upgrades on the cars they had originally trialled just a few weeks ago in Barcelona.

So how has that changed the outlook for the start of the 2022 season, which gets underway next weekend? The only way to make any sense of it is to look through the accumulated data from the time spent on track at Bahrain.

Of course, everyone looks at the top speed to see who is looking on top form at this stage, in which case honours go to Max Verstappen and Red Bull who pulled off a brilliant late lap of 1:31.720s on the softest available Pirelli tyre right near the end of Saturday's session.

But is that an accurate picture of strengths and weaknesses? Look at who is in second place, and tell me honestly if you think Mick Schumacher and Haas are really going to be the closest threat to Verstappen in 2022:

Bahrain Pre-Season Test - Fastest laps by driver

Driver Team Day Time Tyres
Max Verstappen Red Bull Saturday 1:31.720 C5
Mick Schumacher Haas Saturday 1:31.720 C4
Charles Leclerc Ferrari Saturday 1:32.415 C4
Fernando Alonso Alpine Saturday 1:32.415 C4
George Russell Mercedes Saturday 1:32.759 C5
Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Saturday 1:32.759 C3
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Saturday 1:33.002 C5
Sergio Perez Red Bull Saturday 1:33.002 C4
Lando Norris McLaren Saturday 1:33.191 C2
Kevin Magnussen Haas Friday 1:33.191 C4
Carlos Sainz Ferrari Friday 1:33.532 C4
Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Saturday 1:33.532 C4
Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Thursday 1:33.902 C5
Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Saturday 1:33.902 C4
Lance Stroll Aston Martin Friday 1:34.064 C4
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Friday 1:34.064 C5
Esteban Ocon Alpine Friday 1:34.276 C4
Alex Albon Williams Thursday 1:34.276 C4
Nicholas Latifi Williams Saturday 1:35.634 C3
Pietro Fittipaldi Haas Thursday 1:35.634 C2

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18. 12.03.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain

By way of comparison, Verstappen's pole-winning time here in 2021 was 1:28.997s. The new rules and regulations mean that all teams are around three seconds slower than they were in the same test in Bahrain in 2021 (save for Haas, which speaks volumes about how bad last year's car was!) Williams was the worst hit with the new FW44 proving to be five seconds slower than its predecessor at last year's test.

While times are far from everything at this stage, there must still be some concern to see Lewis Hamilton quite so far down as he is - over a second slower than his rival's best lap. But then again his new Mercedes team mate George Russell was firmly in the top five, so maybe Hamilton just wasn't interested in showing his true speed at this stage?

So let's turn our attention to the other metrics available. In many ways the crucial objective of pre-season testing is to ensure that the new car is reliable, in which case the driver lap count is more important than raw speed. Framed that way, McLaren's Lando Norris came out top in Bahrain as the only driver to hit 200 completed laps, narrowly ahead of Russell and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly:

Bahrain Pre-Season Test - Driver lap/km count

Driver Team Laps Distance
Lando Norris McLaren 200 1082 km
George Russell Mercedes 198 1071 km
Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 194 1049 km
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 187 1012 km
Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo 184 995 km
Sergio Pérez Red Bull 181 979 km
Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 180 974 km
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 177 957 km
Lance Stroll Aston Martin 173 936 km
Charles Leclerc Ferrari 169 914 km
Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 166 898 km
Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 159 860 km
Esteban Ocon Alpine 153 828 km
Fernando Alonso Alpine 146 790 km
Max Verstappen Red Bull 139 752 km
Nicholas Latifi Williams 136 736 km
Alexander Albon Williams 122 660 km
Mick Schumacher Haas 108 584 km
Kevin Magnussen Haas 98 530 km
PietroFittipaldi Haas 47 254 km

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL36. 11.03.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Two

But again, we have to take this with a pinch of sale. McLaren didn't exactly have a trouble free time of things and were hampered by brake issues. Norris' presence at the top of the table owes a lot to the fact that he was the only driver to take part in all three days of testing, after his team mate Daniel Ricciardo was completely ruled out due to illness that proved to be a positive case of coronavirus.

So let's shift this away from drivers and look at the data for teams, and now we see that the combined running of Hamilton and Russell meant that Mercedes came out with an impressive 385 laps this weeks, or 2083km in total. That puts them ahead of AlphaTauri, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin:

Bahrain Pre-Season Test - Lap count by team

Teams Laps Distance
Mercedes 385 2083 km
AlphaTauri 371 2007 km
Ferrari 349 1888 km
Alfa Romeo 343 1856 km
Aston Martin 339 1834 km
Red Bull 320 1731 km
Alpine 299 1618 km
Williams 258 1396 km
Haas 253 1369 km
McLaren 200 1082 km

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13. 12.03.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Three

By this measure, Red Bull had only the sixth highest number of laps in Bahrain - so could that point to the team handling the new RB18 with kid gloves for all its raw speed? Could it hit problems next week when it has to complete a full race weekend of track time? Or is Christian Horner perfectly content that the team doesn't have to worry about reliability problems this year?

The table does confirm McLaren's troubled week with the lowest lap count of anyone - even lower than Haas, which missed out on the first morning of testing because of a delayed freight consignment and had to make up time 'after hours' as a result (accounting for their drivers springing near to the top of the timesheets on Friday and Saturday, when everyone else was already packed up). Even Williams, which lost time on day two with a small car fire, put in more laps than both Haas and McLaren.

Bahrain Pre-Season Test - Lap count by emgine manufacturer

Engine Laps Distance
Mercedes 1182 6396 km
Ferrari 945 5114 km
Red Bull 691 3739 km
Renault 299 1618 km

As for the view by manufacturer, it's no surprise to see Mercedes remain on top with 1182 laps given that four teams use engines supplied by Brackley, with three equipped with power units made by Ferrari at Maranello. The legacy Honda engines used by Red Bull and AlphaTauri put in a total of 691 laps this week, while Renault's count of 299 is from Alpine alone.

Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW44 stopped on the circuit with the rear brakes on fire. 11.03.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain

So perhaps the only remaining set of numbers to look at is how the teams did in terms of distance over both of the pre-season tests. Mercedes and Ferrari are at the top, but by this measure Red Bull and AlphaTauri are also looking strong:

Barcelona and Bahrain Pre-Season Test - Total lap count

Team Distance
Mercedes 3902 km
Ferrari 3914 km
AlphaTauri 3452 km
Red Bull 3395 km
Aston Martin 3213 km
Williams 3145 km
Alpine 3039 km
McLaren 2616 km
Alfa Romeo 2539 km
Haas 3117 km

Whether any of these statistics is close to predicting what will happen next week remains to be seen. It certainly looks good for Red Bull and Ferrari, while Mercedes fans will be hoping that their team is engaging in the usual practice of 'sandbagging' so popular at this time of year.

All will become clear in just a few days time. And then we'll have a whole new set of results and statistics to pour over and speculate what it means for the 2022 Formula 1 world championship as a whole!

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