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F1 test to establish top dogs as fiery issues improve - What to expect in Bahrain

F1 test to establish top dogs as fiery issues improve - What to expect in Bahrain

F1 News

F1 test to establish top dogs as fiery issues improve - What to expect in Bahrain

F1 test to establish top dogs as fiery issues improve - What to expect in Bahrain

F1 returns to the Middle East for a two-week stay at the Bahrain International Circuit as the teams hit the track on Thursday for the second pre-season test.

The 10 teams and 19 confirmed drivers for the season had a taste of the sport's new era last month in Barcelona, with the performance of the cars raising eyebrows.

But with the upcoming second test taking place just a week before the first race of the season at the same venue, what can we expect to see across the three days?

Teams to bring upgrades aplenty

If the Barcelona test was the first taste of new machinery, the Bahrain run-out will provide us with a first look at how the teams are applying themselves in terms of research and development.

With two weeks elapsed since the first test, teams have had the opportunity to refine certain design concepts or components, whilst others may even change their course entirely from their initial starting point.

So expect to see new front- and rear-wing designs on each car, and, perhaps most critically, floor changes.

Whichever outfit can find the most efficient way to limit the porpoising phenomenon could well come out on top in the season opener.

First look at F1 pecking order

As the season approaches, teams will start to look towards a setup for the first race, especially in the latter stages of the test.

Taking into account sandbagging, of course, the sport should begin to discover a more representative pecking order.

Most teams will begin to converge on power modes, fuel loads and tyre compounds and the timesheets should reflect that with, unlike in the first test where McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes engaged in finger-pointing over who was fastest.

What will be intriguing to see is how much focus on the first race the teams will allow.

Reliability to be improved

Most teams suffered from reliability issues in the first test, with Alpine and Aston Martin ending the three days with their cars in flames.

But with time for refinement, the number of failures should be reduced.

An explanation could be that teams were trialling different ways of internal cooling, given we saw Mercedes swapping between louvres and a flat panel on its engine cover in Spain.

Part of testing is to find the limits of the car, so some issues are almost expected.

With the upgraded cars entering the second test, however, missed track time will be considerably more costly than during the first.

F1's new era to thrive in better weather

As was pointed out by many in Barcelona, new cars on new tyres on a cold winter's day in Spain is not the most representative marker for F1's new era.

For two of the three days in Bahrain, the air temperature is expected to reach a minimum of 25 degrees Celsius, with the lowest temperature set at around 19 degrees and the highest at 33.

This will be vitally important for teams and drivers as a more accurate gauge will be gained of how the new 18-inch Pirelli tyres react to both long and short runs, and how they need to be managed to extract optimal performance from the new rubber.

The increase in temperature will also allow teams to generate more knowledge on the cooling of the car.

Teams will certainly not wish for a repeat of last year's Bahrain test, where a sandstorm set the scene for a Hollywood-esque backdrop.

Fittipaldi to stake claim

Pietro Fittipaldi will test for Haas in Bahrain after the team terminated Nikita Mazepin's contract.

The Brazilian was widely expected to be named in the race seat alongside Mick Schumacher, though the team has yet to make an announcement and has indicated multiple drivers are in the running.

This gives Fittipaldi the perfect audition, knowing his team has the knowledge of how he performed during his stand-in races for Romain Grosjean in 2020.

If he can contribute to the testing programme and prove his worth, it would be difficult for Haas to overlook the 25-year-old.

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