Mercedes AMGF1 – Decision Time

5 races into the 2022 F1 World Championship and the defending Constructors Champions are without a pole position or a win, In fact they have just 2 podiums to their name and Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are 6th and 4th in the drivers standings with the team 3rd a staggering 62 points behind Ferrari.

Clearly the dominant force of the hybrid era haven’t forgotten how to design and build a racing car but after practically giving up on developing their 2021 car to concentrate on this season they will be massively disappointed in what has happened so far this season.

No sidepod Merc on day 3 of the Bahrain testing. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

When they rolled out their revolutionary zero sidepod car at the second test in Bahrain the F1 world were already saying if it dominated and the rival teams wanted to protest it, then the rule makers could decide that the car wasn’t in line with the spirit of the new regulations and would make the team change the car. Even though the car set disappointing lap times most experts thought the team were sandbagging and come the first race would dominate as usual.

The first race in Bahrain confirmed that not only were they not sandbagging but that they were almost a second a lap slower in the race. The major cause of the gap seemed to be the porpoising that the car suffered, although most teams this season are suffering from this it seems Mercedes suffer from it the worst no matter how they try to solve it.  How could they have got it so wrong ?

This performance deficit has continued throughout the first few races but at the fifth race in Miami the team brought the first big upgrades of the season. A new front wing, rear wing and beam wing were fitted to the car in the hope it would not only cure the issues the car had, but also reduce drag allowing the car to be quicker on the long straights of the Miami circuit.

Lewis Hamilton enjoying the faster car on Friday in Miami. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

During the first practice sessions on Friday it seemed that the upgrades not only worked but returned the team to the front of the field with Russell going quickest in FP2. The porpoising had also gone but watching every other car they had also cured the issue. Or was it just a characteristic of the circuit and the need for a low downforce setup.

On Saturday the porpoising had returned maybe because the team had been in search of a few more tenths thinking they were in the hunt for pole position. Qualifying was disappointing by the teams high standards and they ended up 6th and 12th. The closest Lewis Hamilton could get the fastest time was again almost a second down.

Once again it wasn’t a good race for the team, even with the upgrades they were just under a second a lap slower than the top 2 teams. After the race team principle Toto Wolff seemed bemused and confused. Although he was pleased that they had been quickest on Friday, Toto couldn’t explain why the car had been so good or why it had suddenly become so bad again for the rest of the weekend.

After another disappointing weekend what will the team do now? Obviously they will bring a big upgrade to Spain as most teams will. Even if they bring an upgrade that cures the problems and makes the car significantly quicker, it would be a surprise if both Ferrari and RedBull don’t do the same so they will have an even bigger gap to close than the one they have had all season long.

Fighting to get higher up the grid. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

Its clear that the car can be quick but does it have such a small window in which it needs to be set up that it will be almost impossible to mount a challenge for wins, let alone a title shot if it stays so temperamental. The Spanish race will probably decide what the team does for the rest of the season, continue development of the current car or write off 2022 and start concentrating on next year already and use the rest of the season as an extended test session.

If they do manage to bring an upgrade package that puts them back in the hunt we could be about to see one of the greatest F1 seasons ever, so soon after the great (albeit tarnished 2021 season) 3 teams fighting at the front for the first time in years would be great.

By the end of the race in Spain we should know how the rest of the season will pan out in terms of who will be in the fight for the title. Perhaps more importantly we will know what decision Mercedes have made in their fight to tame the Silver space Hopper.

Dominant Verstappen beats Leclerc to Miami GP victory

Max Verstappen took victory with a commanding performance at the Miami Grand Prix after passing polesitter Charles Leclerc early on.

A crash and a hydraulic issue had limited Verstappen’s running in practice before he qualified third behind Ferrari, who qualified first and second for the first time since the Japanese Grand Prix of 2019, 48 races prior after they both capitalised on a mistake by the reigning champion in qualifying.

Due to an issue heating the fuel up, Aston Martin’s promising looking qualifying was undone as both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll were forced to start from the pit lane.

Verstappen with a great start. Image courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Off the start, Leclerc kept the lead through the first corner as Max Verstappen got round Carlos Sainz at Turn Two, splitting the Ferraris and giving Red Bull a near perfect start.

The Monegasque opened out a second advantage to the reigning champion after the first two tours of the circuit, setting the fastest lap as both of the leaders began to drop Sainz.

Having made a poor start from sixth, Sir Lewis Hamilton was passed by both Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso, with the Briton claiming that Alonso had hit him, but he streamed back ahead of the double world champion shortly after.

The seven-time champion then got back ahead of Gasly, regaining sixth and putting him just over two seconds behind former Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda then engaged in an entertaining battle for 11th as the German got past, while Verstappen was beginning to close on Leclerc as Zhou Guanyu brought his Alfa Romeo back into the garage to retire.

Yuki Tsunoda fighting Mick Schumacher. Image courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

He was told of significant graining on the Ferrari driver’s front left tyre, and he duly took full advantage by getting to within a second and passing his fellow 24-year-old into Turn One, and Leclerc then began to fall away while Sainz began to fall into the clutches of Sergio Perez.

The first stops of the race arrived on lap 13 as Tsunoda and then Kevin Magnussen came in for Hard tyres, followed by Schumacher, with the lack of longevity of the Pirelli rubber this weekend being confirmed.

Alonso’s stop was intended to gain the undercut on Gasly, but an issue on the front right delayed his getaway, and cost him time to the Frenchman.

Vettel would then engage in an entertaining battle with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi after Stroll had cleared the Canadian, with the German and then Magnussen making their way past, as Gasly’s came back out of the pits comfortably clear of Alonso as Alpine’s misfortune this season continued.

Vettel then narrowly cleared Norris as the Briton exited the pits, before Magnussen followed him through past the McLaren after a slow stop, and Perez began to lose power in his Red Bull, causing him to fall back towards Bottas, but his lap times began to improve as he returned to the pace.

Magnussen had a go at clearing Vettel at Turn 11, but he ran out of table on the outside as the 34-year-old defended well.

A great stop for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

Hamilton came in on Lap 23 and was given a splendid stop by the Mercedes crew, and he re-joined behind George Russell after the 24-year-old’s P12 in qualifying left him out of position.

Leclerc then began using the rest of his residual grip on the Mediums as he set the fastest lap, indicative of an imminent stop, but the gap to Verstappen had risen to 4.5 seconds.

Despite his pace, he told his team that the car was “so difficult to drive,” and he was shortly thereafter brought into the pits for a set of Mediums.

Red Bull waited a couple of laps to bring Verstappen in as he got a super stop from his mechanics, and came back out ahead of Perez, who had yet to make a stop, with Sainz in the lead for the same reason.

Sainz pitted on lap 27, but had a slow stop as the crew struggled with the front left, but owing to Perez’s earlier issues, was able to re-join in front of the Mexican, before Hamilton reported to his team that he was beginning to suffer from overheating tyres.

Lance Stroll battles Magnussen. Image courtesy of Aston Martin Media

Magnussen, having finally cleared Vettel, now had a face full of Stroll’s Aston Martin, and Norris was behind the train involving Schumacher as his slow stop continued to cost him time.

As Vettel’s attempt to get back past Magnussen failed, Schumacher gladly took the opportunity to get ahead of the Aston Martin.

That left the Banbury-made cars to battle between themselves as the 29-year-old endeavoured to defend from his younger team-mate.

Schumacher was eventually allowed to get past the Dane, before a Vettel mistake at Turn Seven opened the door for Norris to gain the position.

Russell, meanwhile, had been completing a remarkably good stint, and he told his team he was more than happy to stay out in anticipation of a Safety Car or some rain as Christian Horner began to look nervously at the sky.

Gasly and Alonso made contacted as they continued their squabble as the Spaniard went for an ambitious move down the inside, and the subsequent time loss cost the 25-year-old a place to Stroll, who had yet to pit in another miserable day for Aston Martin.

Contact then ensued between Norris and Gasly, causing a puncture and a spin out of the race for the McLaren and extracting the Virtual Safety Car – an ideal opportunity for Russell to make his stop.

Gasly had been slowing after going off at Turn Eight and, as he re-joined, he turned into the back of the Briton, and the departure of his tyre followed by his stricken car lying out on track brought eventually brought out a full Safety Car.

The subsequent stops put Russell into seventh, while Aston Martin were brought back into the picture, and Esteban Ocon, having started last after being unable to contest qualifying due to an FP3 crash, was placed onto Softs.

Alonso was also given a five-second penalty for the collision with Gasly, who then came in for Softs of his own.

Most importantly though, Perez had put on fresh Mediums, leaving the Ferraris vulnerable to him for when the race restarted, and a neglect on Hamilton’s side of the garage to pit him also looked set to leave him at the mercy of Russell.

Sergio Perez in for his vital stop. Image courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Sainz was immediately forced to fend off Perez on the restart, but Verstappen negotiated it perfectly, remaining ahead of Leclerc as everyone kept it clean on lap 47.

Schumacher managed to clear Ocon for ninth place as he chased his first points finish, and Perez continued to attack the second Ferrari.

Russell tried to make a move stick on Hamilton, but the 37-year-old defended well before a mistake from Bottas allowed both of them to clear the Alfa Romeo, which had made contact with the barrier.

Russell did then manage to clear his Mercedes team-mate after a boisterous battle of the Britons, and Leclerc was sticking within a second of Verstappen as he chased the win.

A highly audacious attempt from Perez into Turn One, and the subsequent lock-up allowed Sainz to get back in front.

Schumacher would then dive down the inside of his friend and mentor Vettel, hitting hi and spinning him at Turn One, allowing Ocon to climb into the points, as well as Alex Albon.

Verstappen opened out the gap to a comfortable margin, and as he crossed the line on the final lap, claimed the 23rd win of his career.

It leaves him 19 points behind Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship, while Ferrari’s lead over Red Bull has been cut to six points.

Verstappen victorious in Imola sprint race

Max Verstappen recovered from a poor start to take victory in Saturday’s sprint race at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, overtaking Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the penultimate lap.

The reigning world champion was able to manage his tyres last better than Leclerc, closing back within DRS range in the final five laps. The Dutchman was able to get close enough to go around the outside into Tamburello on lap 20 to secure the eight points.

It was a poor getaway from Verstappen, who struggled with wheel spin and gear sync issues off the line, allowing the Monegasque driver to take the lead. Fernando Alonso also had a difficult start, dropping behind Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo on lap one.

At least Verstappen and Alonso had a chance to recover from their poor start however. Zhou Guanyu dropped behind Pierre Gasly in the first few corners, and collided with the Alpha Tauri trying to regain the position into Piratella. This sent the Chinese driver careering into the barriers, ending his race and bringing out the Safety Car.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo (Germain Hazard, Royal Spark / Alfa Romeo Media)

After the Safety Car, Leclerc was able to extend his lead, stretching out to over two seconds ahead of Verstappen before the Red Bull was able to reel him in. The ‘number two’ cars of Carlos Sainz and Perez both had difficult qualifying sessions, and the sprint race provided a great opportunity to work their way back up the field. Perez set the fastest lap on his way up into third place, with Sainz snatching fourth from McLaren’s Lando Norris in the final few laps. Norris came home fifth, with a sixth place for Daniel Ricciardo continuing the good form seen by the Woking-based team in Melbourne.

The majority of the field chose to compete on the soft tyres, with a few drivers choosing the mediums. One of these was Kevin Magnussen, who had secured Haas’ best ever qualifying on Friday with fourth position. The Dane was unable to keep with the pace of those on the softs throughout the sprint however, securing one point for eighth place having been overtaken by Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in the final stages of the race.

Alonso just missed out on points behind the Haas, with Mick Schumacher’s tenth place meaning the German will start higher than he ever has done before in a Formula One race on Sunday. After showing promise in FP2 earlier in the day, both Mercedes spent their day stuck in a DRS train, as George Russell came home in eleventh with Lewis Hamilton down in fourteenth place, meaning that there will be no Mercedes in the top 10 of the grid for a Grand Prix for the first time since the Suzuka in 2012.

Despite losing out to Verstappen at the end, Leclerc extends his lead in the championship to 40 points, with Carlos Sainz now in second. Red Bull also moved up to second in the championship, and find themselves 57 points behind Ferrari heading into Sunday’s race.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari (Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

F1 Race Preview: The fast streets of Jeddah

Round 2 at Jeddah this weekend and after the reliability issues last time out all eyes are on Red Bull to come back stronger.

Red Bull Reliability

If you haven’t seen the drama of the double Red Bull retirement, Red Bull have said initial investigations seem to suggest a fuel pump/system issue which means that the final few litres of fuel for the end of the race didn’t make it into the engine despite having enough fuel in the tank.

Interestingly this year the fuel systems are comprised of parts made by the teams, the power unit manufacturer and a third party who won FIA tenders to supply standard parts. However, it is not known which part was at fault and therefore who supplied it.

In any case Red Bull get a chance to redeem themselves this weekend at the very high speed circuit in Saudi Arabia.

Last time in Jeddah

When we last raced here the championship was really hotting up and the rivalry between the leaders was getting ugly. The on track battle was epic and summed up the season long battle between Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen.

However, this wasn’t the only talking point from that race. This is where the steward’s room and race director came under scrutiny as they were becoming more dominant in each race. They had begun to tell the narrative here at the newest and fastest street track.

Qualifying was thrilling but the race was incident back and the longevity of the circuit came under fire. Changes would need to be made to make this a viable race in the future.

Chaos in the background as Verstappen leads the race. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Press Room

Both in 2021 and 2022 the human rights conversation surrounding this race is important and getting louder. It is important to keep talking about it especially now with current events in the area. Formula 1 say they are monitoring the situation, but this will continue to be a big part of the race weekend.

The Fast Ferrari’s

In Bahrain Ferrari delivered on the pre-season rumours being the fastest on race day. All Ferrari engine powered cars had great performances with only Mick Schumacher finishing outside the points in P11.

This could mean Ferrari have the advantage at the high speed track in Jeddah. However, as seen last weekend, consistency is very important and Charles Leclerc dos not have the best relationship with street circuits.

In Monaco last year he pulled out a great lap to take pole in the first runs of Q3 but crashed on the final runs meaning he couldn’t start the race with gear box issues. In Baku 2019 he crashed heavily and producing the now infamous line “I am Stupid”.

Despite this, last year he finished P6, ahead of Sainz so will be looking to capitalise on his momentum from last weekend and improve on this result.

Ferrari’s 1-2 last time out in Bahrain. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Press Room

Qualifying is 5pm GMT and the race starts at 6pm GMT.

Charles wins the first race with final lap drama

Charles Leclerc wins from pole in an action filled final few laps of Bahrain. Red Bull had engine problems with Verstappen having to retire and Perez retiring in the last 2 laps of the race.

First race of the season and we had Leclerc on pole to defend against the reining world champion in P2. Most predicted a messy start with neither driver known for yielding. As they lined up on the grid we waited to see if Formula 1 could deliver on their promises of exciting racing.

Lights out and it’s a clean getaway for all the drivers. Verstappen tucked in behind Leclerc as they got very similar starts. Hamilton had a quick launch in the first phase, but Sainz was later on the brakes and kept P3. After a short battle with Perez, Hamilton moved up to P4.

Kevin Magnussen had a very quick start and made it up to P5, he was fighting Hamilton into turn 1 at the start of lap 2. However, just a few laps later he went deep into turn 1 with a lock up which opened up the door for Perez who was able to close the gap. A well fought battle to turn 4, where Perez made it through. Just 1 lap later he went deep again and left the door open for George Russell, meaning he was back down to P7.

The race start. Image courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Lap 10 and so far the new regulations were delivering with action up and down the grid. Perez had closed the gap to Hamilton, getting DRS down the back straight. Perez was just carrying more speed and swooped around the outside getting back into P4.

3 laps later Hamilton is the first to pit for new hard tyres. It was a very quick stop, but the tyres only had the blanket temperatures meaning they were too cold going into turn 1. Hamilton had no grip and went deep into turn 1 letting Zhou through. Once the tyres had warmed up though he was back past the following lap.

The undercut looks to be powerful here when Leclerc pitted just 1 lap after Verstappen with a 3 second advantage but came out only 0.3s ahead. Verstappen did stay behind but he was biding he time for the next lap.

Verstappen kept the gap within 1 second and got DRS down the main straight. Into turn 1 and Verstappen takes the inside line coming out in front of Leclerc. But Leclerc had good traction out of the corner keeping tight to Verstappen and crucially getting DRS on the way to turn 4. The Ferrari swoops around the outside to re-take the lead.

The battle didn’t end there when Verstappen tried again the following lap, but the story repeated itself. This time Leclerc took the inside line into turn 4 to take the lead. So, attempt number 3, Verstappen had DRS into turn 1 but he locked up causing him to go very deep and leaving the door wide open for Leclerc. The Ferrari then had the advantage, and the duel came to an end on lap 19.

3rd time unlucky for Max Verstappen. Image Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

McLaren meanwhile were having a terrible weekend. At the start of the race both dropped down to the back being the only drivers which started on the mediums. At lap 28 they were running P18 and P20. Norris then pitted for hard tyres, looking to go to the end.

Lap 34 and Verstappen has had enough of his soft tyres which had begun to where off after his battle with Leclerc. He pitted for mediums but was told to take it slightly easier on the out lap but still hoped the undercut would work. Ferrari reacted and pitted Leclerc for mediums. This time Verstappen was too far back which resulted in a frustrated message back to the team saying he would never take the outlap easy again.

10 laps later both Red Bulls are in the pits causing confusion amongst fans. However, Sainz came in and Hamilton follows for soft tyres. Verstappen constantly on the radio though with what appears to be an issue with the steering after the pitstop. He did stay out hoping he could cope with it for the rest of the race.

Just 11 laps from the end Gasly’s car overheats bringing out the safety car while they recover the car which was in flames. He got out the car safely, but it looks like it was an electrical issue. With that, in came Leclerc and almost all the rest of the grid for new softs apart from Mick Schumacher. The pack was bunched together, and the all the lapped cars could unlap themselves.

The safety car in and Leclerc bolts while Verstappen has to deal with his steering problems while Sainz pulls alongside into turn 1. Verstappen comes out ahead and the gaps begin to open up by turn 4. Mick Schumacher on the older tyres suffers and drops back from P10 to P13 in just 3 laps.

Lap 54, Verstappen has battery issues and Sainz passes him at turn 4. Only 1 corner later and Verstappen has to retire with terminal problems. Hamilton at this point was all over the back of Perez who was also reporting problems.

The final lap, Hamilton kept his car within DRS down the main straight. Perez was comfortably ahead turning into turn 1 but the engine had other ideas and cut out mid corner, causing him to spin and was out of the race.

After all that last lap drama Charles Leclerc came out on top, with Sainz P2 and Hamilton P3. Russell finished just behind his teammate which is more than they could have hoped for today. A special shoutout to Kevin Magnussen who finished P5 in the Haas.

The jury is still out on the new regulations, but reliability is key. Both Red Bulls and Gasly’s Alpha Tauri looked to have engine issues which they will need to get sorted to compete for the championship this year.

Charles Leclerc take first Pole of 2022

Charles Leclerc takes pole with Verstappen in P2 and Sainz in P3. Verstappen looked quick all weekend, but Ferrari appear to have so far lived up to the pre-season hype.

The first qualifying session of the year and anticipation was high to see how the cars would perform at full power. Who has excelled with the new regulations and who is struggling?

In Q1 it looked like Aston Martin had lost out the most. Both drivers not able to get out of the session, finishing P19 and P17. But Hulkenberg did out qualify Stroll having only known about being in the car since Thursday night.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR22, Qualifying

It seemed a familiar story for Latifi at Williams, qualifying P20 whilst his teammate Albon made it into Q2. McLaren were the other team to struggle the most, specifically Daniel Ricciardo was suffering from not having completed testing and could only manage P18. Tsunoda was the other driver out in Q1, meaning Haas had both cars into Q2 for the first time since Brazil 2019. A massive step for them.

Q2 began and time to remember that the rules had changed, meaning drivers no longer had to use the tyres they qualified fastest in Q2 on to start the race tomorrow. With all cars using the soft tyres and McLaren still had issues. Lando Norris pushed the car but couldn’t get any faster than P13.

The remaining Williams of Albon came out in the gap between runs in Q2 but couldn’t get out of the bottom 5 despite improving.

The Alpines were having a relatively quiet qualifying. Alonso qualified for Q3 with Ocon only just missing out when Gasly pushed his car into the top 10. Zhou then looked to improve but his final lap time deleted for track limits so qualified P15.

Haas shocked the grid for a second time when Magnussen put in a time good enough for P4 halfway through the session. Mick Schumacher was also having a solid session, hanging around P11 for a long time before finishing P12. K Mag did begin to have hydraulic issues meaning he couldn’t come back out for the second runs of qualifying. Luckily he had done enough to make it into Q3.

First runs down in Q3 and Verstappen manged P3 just half a second slower than Carlos on provisional pole with Leclerc in P2. It was Ferrari from Red Bull from Mercedes going into the final runs.

K Mag made it out for the final runs with Haas seemingly fixing his problem, as well with Bottas, Gasly and Alonso along for the ride.

Mercedes was first to cross the line, but neither could improve and as the rest of the cars came round one by one they split the teammates. Bottas only 4 tenths off of Hamilton, and then K Mag who had to stop almost immediately after crossing the line and Alonso in P8. Russel finished P9 and will be starting alongside Gasly who qualified P10.

The Ferraris lived up to the hype, but roles were reversed as Leclerc improved to take pole from Sainz who couldn’t improve. Only Verstappen was left to take away pole but as he rounded the final corner he was just 1 tenth off and qualified P2.

Second place qualifier Max Verstappen. Image courtesy of Red Bull content Pool

Leclerc starts on pole but Red Bull looked to have the faster car in the long runs during FP2 yesterday so it could be an all-race battle. However, we will get to find out if these new regulations can deliver on their aims.

Feature image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Press Room

F1 Race Preview: Into the Desert

The 2022 season is finally here with a race at Bahrain to kick us off for the third year in a row. The anticipation is high with the new regulations, new tyres and optimism that the cars will be able to race much closer than last year.

Having been pushed back a year because of covid we finally get to see Formula 1’s big changes to produce more exciting racing. However, testing is over and the teams and drivers, hopefully, understand their cars a little better after all the changes and upgrades between Barcelona and Bahrain.

Mercedes will be looking to defend their constructors title with their new, slimmed down car very different to anything else on the grid. In Barcelona they didn’t blow everyone away despite putting in the fastest laps, but they seem to have improved in Bahrain. During testing Lewis Hamilton did say they might not be competing for wins, but we have heard that before?

Ferrari look to be very reliable and so far meeting the expectations of those that thought they were going to have a quick car this year. They looked to be one of the fastest teams in both testing sessions and have been very consistent and reliable throughout both tests.

Red Bull are there or thereabouts. They have had issues, but reigning world Champion Verstappen finished with the fastest lap of testing. Looking towards the year he will be looking to drag everything out of that car to defend his title.

McLaren look to be the other team which may be in the title fight after testing. They had a solid car in Barcelona, but reliability issues and a sick driver means they haven’t had the running they would like to go into the first race. Daniel Ricciardo should be back for FP1, provided he has a negative covid test.

Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Press

Looking further back Aston Martin and Alpine are still very much looking towards the midfield with a hope for some podiums. Alfa Romeo and Williams look to be close to each other as will. They have been very close on times throughout testing so will be in a battle with each other all season.

Haas have been the surprise of testing. They were granted an extra hour at the end of day 2 and 3 in Bahrain to make up for their lack of running in the morning of day 1 because of flight delays. However, with the return of Kevin Magnussen, he went fastest at the end of day 2. Not to be left out Mick Schumacher was P2 by the end of day 3.

Testing times can never been taken as the definitive order, however it has been great to see how these cars might work in race conditions. We won’t completely know until Sunday afternoon if the new philosophy has worked but we are all excited to get racing again 92 days later.

The race on Sunday is 3pm GMT.

MCL36 Launch Friday the 11th of February

Every January Formula one fans have one thing on their minds, no not I’ve got to stick to my resolutions but the thought that the new car launches are but a few weeks away, as F1 starts to awaken from it’s winter slumber.

This year more so than most, with a vast change in the regulations in an attempt to try and bring the cars closer together with aero changes that in theory should allow for close racing and hopefully overtaking.

After the launches of Aston Martin, Haas, and Red Bull, all had been pretty underwhelming with just what seemed to be new liveries on modified show cars we really didn’t expect much more from McLaren.

But this event would be slightly different with the launches of not just the MCL36 but the Arrow McLaren SP, ExtremeE MX and E sports with McLaren Shadow.

The Extreme E team and IndyCar Arrows McLaren SP are pretty much as we expected, just a livery launch, there’s a lot of Papaya with hints of the Gulf inspired colour scheme.

Now we get down to what we’ve been waiting for, both Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are presented to the crowd to much plum and applause from the papaya fans, they both look well rested tanned and raring to go.

And now for MCL36 it’s definitely an improvement on last years colour scheme still lots of papaya it’s very bright, you won’t miss them on the track, they have a fantastic re imagining of the Gulf livery we last saw at Monaco last year.

The 2022 rear spoiler is very different from the 2021 cars, the wheel hubs are back and there’s now a cowling over the front wheels.

Obviously we can’t see the ground affect but we can assume it’s going to be where a lot of time will be gained or lost.

To the naked eye and for someone with very little technical or engineering knowledge the main difference between the cars so far seems to be the colour schemes.

Will McLaren make another big step forward, will they win races, or even potentially fight for the championships?

It won’t be to long before we find out with the first of two tests commencing in Barcelona  on the 23rd of February.

As they say “if it goes as fast as it looks it’s gonna be a winner”

Images courtesy of McLaren F1 team

RB18 REVEALED: Red Bull ready for 2022

Red Bull revealed their title contender for 2022 sport the same livery as previous years but hoping it will help reigning world champion Max Verstappen to a second world drivers’ championship. Christian Horner, Oracle Red Bull Racing team principle and CEO, reflects “2021 will go down in history as one of the all time great years. Our challenge is now to build on that.”

The Red Bull Racing RB18 (Photo by Dan Istitene/Red Bull Content Pool)

This year Red Bull decided on a virtual reveal allowing 5000 fans to stream the reveal across their own social media. The aim is to get the fans to be more involved with the team through out the year. This theme continued throughout the reveal with the announcement of new title sponsor Oracle.

Christian Horner explained he was excited about the partnership, “Oracle Cloud enabled us to make race-day decisions that helped Max Verstappen win the 2021 Drivers’ Championship. With the new Oracle cloud infrastructure, we can expand the volume and variety of the data we analyse. Data is our life blood so it is really important we can access as much as possible to run faster simulations which improve tactics.”

He continued: “It will also bring us closer to the fans with more digital content and interaction through development with Oracle”

Oracle partnership announced at the Red Bull Racing RB18 launch (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Red Bull Content Pool)

Executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Oracle, Ariel Kelman said “We have learned how Red Bull work over the last year and how they use technology to gain an edge. Our commitment to this partnership reflects our belief that OCI is a strategic weapon on race day, helps create the most exciting fan experience in sports, and can define the future of F1. Oracle Red Bull Racing is, and will continue to be, the most forward-thinking and innovative F1 team in the world.”

Formula 1 is seeing a change in the regulations this year, Christian Horner describing it as “ the biggest regulation change for 30 to 40 years in F1. It’s a whole new philosophy so everything has changed on the car.”

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will again be stepping up to drive the RB18 for 2022. Coming into the season as reigning world champion, Max Verstappen seemed quite relaxed “it feels no different, I’m just looking forward to getting back in the car.”

He continued: “A lot is unknown about the car, but personally I feel good. I am very curious to see how the car is behaving on track.” Sergio Perez is excited for 2022 “We are already working a lot with the engineers, and we can not wait to be on track. We are all starting from zero.”

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Red Bull Content Pool)

Despite the regulation changes Max explained his approach to the season, “there is no reason to suddenly be different. With the new regulations as a driver, you have to get used to the car, its not like you can just jump in and it’s like an upgrade from last year so that’s the biggest adaptation but it’s pretty straight forward.”

Sergio is looking forward to interacting with the fans but most to good racing “the new regulations are said to improve the racing and I hope as drivers we are able to compete more and follow each other more closely.”

It was time for the car to be revealed with the same livery as in previous years but with the new number 1 on the front. When asked why the change in number Max simply said “it looks better than 33”

The Red Bull Racing RB18 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Red Bull Content Pool)
The Red Bull Racing RB18  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Red Bull Content Pool)

Oracle Red Bull Racing are ready for 2022 with the RB18 to defend the drivers world championship.

Pirelli set for 2022 Motorsport season

Formula 1 is moving from the 13 inch to the 18 inch Pirelli tyres for the 2022 season. Pirelli say they are confident that the new tyres work well with the new Aerodynamic package for the season. Pirelli are also pushing forward with new products for the WRC and GT championships

During a press conference Mario Isola, Head of Motorsport at Pirelli, explained “this year’s motorsport season marks a turning point for us. We have new products for all our major championships, starting with Formula 1, which reinforce the close links with our road car product. We’re also continuing our mission for increasingly sustainable motorsport, in line with our company strategy, having been awarded an important environmental certification from the FIA at the end of last year.”

Formula 1

When considering the design of the tyres Isola said “Formula 1 drivers had wished they had tyres that were less prone to overheating and less degrading. With our new design we have achieved these goals, as was proven in the post-season tests in Abu Dhabi.”

Courtesy of Pirelli

The tests were done with converted 2019 cars meaning the tyres haven’t been tested using the 2022 aerodynamics on track however Isola is positive “over the year we will develop further with all 10 teams, which is important because we make a base tyre for all teams not just for the top team or bottom team.”

The idea is that the drivers can push harder and get closer to the car in front when the tyres are factored into the new aerodynamic regulations. When asked if he was worried about less strategic variability with more durable tyres he replied: “I hope we don’t have less strategic variabilities because the way we have designed the tyre we hope to continue to have different strategies. However, with less degradation it is possible to have less pitstops, but as I always say for me it is not an issue as long as we have good races and action on track.”

Courtesy of Pirelli

WRC

Pirelli have been a part of rallying since 1973, being a part of change in technology including the introduction of hybrid cars for 2022. Terenzio Testoni, Rally Activity Manager for Pirelli, said that “the hybrid cars are heavier and have a change in performance which we considered when designing the 2022 tyre”.

Testing for the tyre has been held throughout 2021 but with the Monte-Carlo round coming soon there will be plenty of time to develop the tyres further. They will however include a reinforce structure and improved studs for the ice tyres.

Sébastien Loeb (FRA) performs during WRC Msport test in Alpens. (Courtesy of Red Bull content Pool)

GT Racing

Formula 1 is not the only series switching to 18 inch tyres. GT Racing are moving from 16 inches to come closer to road car technologies, making the transfer of knowledge and skill easier.

The new range of tyres are the P Zero DHF and will be used in every class, GT2, GT3 and GT4. These tyres are designed to increase performance, be more versatile and improve the balance between the front and rear tyres due to a new family of materials used for construction.

Sustainability in Motorsport

Sustainability was a key focus within the press conference. Robert Reid, the FIA Deputy President for Sport stated that “ sustainability is very important, especially because motorsport is not considered good for the environment so we have to do everything we can.”

He continued: “The FIA has its target to be net zero carbon by 2030 and were declared carbon neutral at the end of 2021. To help our members we have our accreditation of one, two or 3 stars based on basic, good or best practice in sustainability. We currently have 70 members with one, two or three star ratings”

These accreditation’s are set to become mandatory in the future to help motorsport do all it can to become sustainable. Pirelli has a 3 star accreditation meaning they use the best practices, Isola explained “we had to look at everything, the logistics, materials. We have not used single used plastic for the last 2 years and the 2022 team kit is made from recycled materials”.

Courtesy of Pirelli

With sustainability in mind Pirelli are set for the 2022 season of big changes and development throughout. For each championship the tyres are a key part of the vehicle set up and performance on track. It is also important that the drivers feel confident they can push hard without the tyres running out of grip. This is why Pirelli have worked with teams and drivers of all the championships to develop these 2022 tyres.

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