F1 returns with pre-season testing, new rules

(Update 1: Adds the results at the end of the first day of tests)

Barcelona, Spain, Feb 23 (EFE).- The 2022 Formula 1 season, which will be marked by several rule changes such as the return of the use of “downforce”, began Wednesday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The testing session will last until Friday, and unusually for the media-friendly F1 circus, will mean three days without television coverage or live timing, as teams test out new equipment and strategies and begin to reveal their cards.

The preseason will be divided into two stages: a so-called “shakedown” in Barcelona (a brief test when a team is trying a different car part for the first time) and the second, an official training session, in Bahrain (from March 10 to 12), where the first test of the new season will be held between March 18 and 20.

The preseasons have always been marked by secrecy. In a world where teams and drivers keep their cards close to their chest, this preseason has been even more evident with the introduction of new protocols in the cars, the most striking being the recovery of the so-called ‘downforce’, used for the first time in Formula 1 by Lotus in the 1970s to increase grip and cornering speed.

The reintroduction of downforce will affect the designs and the aerodynamics of the single-seaters. Linked to those changes is the use of 18-inch rim tires.

DRS (drag-reduction system), so crucial in overtaking, will initially remain part of the rules, but its use could be revised depending on the benefit of the ‘downforce’.

Among the new rules are also those aimed at limiting team expenditure and ending the dominance of the sport’s bigger teams, such as Mercedes and Red Bull.

To date, little is known about the new single-seaters, beyond virtual presentations or the use of exhibition cars.

On Wednesday, McLaren’s British driver Lando Norris set the pace at the end of the first day of testing, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz respectively.

Norris waited until the final minutes of the evening session to beat the fastest lap recorded in the morning by Leclerc to lead the timesheet.

Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton was fifth, just behind his new Mercedes teammate George Russell, who replaces Valtteri Bottas, now competing for Alfa Romeo.

Bottas was 10th, behind Sebastien Vettel, Yuki Tsunoda, Fernando Alonso and holder Max Verstappen respectively. EFE


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