F1 Pre-Season Test 2022: McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes show strengths early on as they claim the top spots in the three days of track running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya


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After 24 hours of track running over three days, the 10 Formula 1 teams have been able to test their new machinery ahead of a new era in the sport.

The first unofficial pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has allowed all of the drivers to try out their new cars, the new Pirelli 18-inch wheels and many more things ahead of the 2022 season.

All of the teams experienced some sort of issues throughout the three days and were limited to track time as a result of it.

McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes set the pace and topped the timing screens during testing as the latter especially looks to claim yet another constructors’ championship crown.

Day One – McLaren claim top spot late on

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The first session of the Testing in Barcelona saw the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc finish on top with a 1:20.165 on the C3 tyres. The Monegasque driver was over three-tenths ahead of his nearest rival, Lando Norris, as he completed 80 laps during the morning.

The aforementioned Norris was second, another three-tenths ahead of third-placed George Russell who made the move from Williams to Mercedes in the off-season.

Sebastian Vettel was over a second slower than fastest man Leclerc as he finished the morning in fourth ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in fifth, reigning champion Max Verstappen on the C2 tyre in sixth, Fernando Alonso in seventh, Nicholas Latifi in eighth, Nikita Mazepin in ninth and Alfa Romeo reserve driver, Robert Kubica in 10th.

In the afternoon, Norris continued for McLaren and was the first and only driver to set a time in the 1:19’s as his 1:19.568 saw him finish the session and the day as the fastest driver.

Carlos Sainz, who finished the afternoon session in second, was close to a second slower than the British driver and showed McLaren’s strengths early on.

Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton returned back on track to set the third-fastest time of the session, over five-tenths slower than Sainz and close to one-and-a-half seconds slower than Norris.

Alonso improved on his time from the morning session, setting a 1:21.746 on the harder C2 tyre. Valtteri Bottas, Alex Albon, Mick Schumacher and Lance Stroll were the other four drivers to set lap times in the afternoon and occupied the final four places on the timing screens.

Final Standings after Day One of Testing

1. Norris – 1:19.568, 2. Leclerc – 1:20.165 (+0.597), 3. Sainz – 1:20.416 (+0.848), 4. Russell – 1:20.784 (+1.216), 5. Hamilton – 1:20.929 (+1.361), 6. Vettel – 1:21.276 (+1.708), 7. Tsunoda – 1:21.638 (+2.070), 8. Alonso – 1:21.746 (+2.178), 9. Verstappen – 1:22.246 (+2.678), 10. Bottas – 1:22.572 (+3.004), 11. Albon – 1:22.760 (+3.192), 12. Schumacher – 1:22.962 (+3.394), 13. Stroll – 1:23.327 (+3.759), 14. Latifi – 1:23.379 (+3.811), 15. Mazepin – 1:24.505 (+4.937), 16. Kubica – 1:25.909 (+6.341)

Day Two – Ferrari hit the front after a successful first day

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It was more of the same during the second day of Testing as the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo topped the timings screens in the morning session. The ‘Honey Badger’ set a lap time of 1:20.355 on the C3 tyre, close to two-tenths slower than what Leclerc produced on the same tyre during the same session on day one.

Ferrari followed closely behind with Sainz only two-tenths slower in second and Gasly finishing the session in third another two-tenths back.

Albon was over a second slower than Ricciardo and occupied fourth place with Stroll and Schumacher in fifth and sixth respectively as they were split by three-hundredths. Bottas was the only other driver from the morning group to set his fastest time on the C3 tyre as he finished seventh with Perez, Hamilton and Ocon using the C2 tyre and finishing eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.

Leclerc took to the track for the afternoon session and put the Ferrari on top with a 1:19.684. The Monegasque driver was over two-tenths quicker than Gasly, who set his fastest lap time on the C4 tyre, in second and six-tenths quicker than Ricciardo in third.

Russell followed in fourth as he went quicker than he did on day one to set a 1:20.537, however, that only secured him fourth place. Vettel finished the afternoon in fifth, with Perez jumping onto the C3 tyre and claiming sixth. Mazepin was only a tenth behind the Mexican as he ended the session in seventh with Zhou a further three-tenths back in eighth, Latifi in ninth and Ocon in 10th.

Final Standings after Day Two of Testing

1. Leclerc – 1:19.684, 2. Gasly – 1:19.918 (+0.234), 3. Ricciardo – 1:20.288 (+0.604), 4. Russell – 1:20.537 (+0.853), 5. Sainz – 1:20.546 (+0.862), 6. Vettel – 1:20.784 (+1.100), 7. Perez – 1:21.430 (+1.746), 8. Mazepin – 1:21.512 (+1.828), 9. Albon – 1:21.531 (+1.847) 10. Zhou – 1:21.885 (+2.201), 11. Latifi – 1:21.894 (+2.210), 12. Stroll – 1:21.920 (+2.236), 13. Schumacher – 1:21.949 (+2.265), 14. Ocon – 1:22.164 (+2.480), 15. Bottas – 1:22.288 (+2.604), 16. Hamilton – 1:22.562 (+2.878)

Day Three – Mercedes dominate the final day of Testing

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A very stop-start day due to several red flags saw only half of the 16 drivers complete over 50 laps. That did not stop Russell however as he tested the C5 tyre and set the quickest time of the morning session with a 1:19.233.

Verstappen, Vettel and Leclerc were the other drivers that set times in the 1:19’s all on different tyre compounds with the former and the latter opting for the C3 tyre and the Aston Martin driver on the C5 compound.

Following the trio was Latifi, however, his morning was over after 13 laps but he was able to set a time that saw him finish fifth. Norris was sixth, a tenth slower than the Williams driver, with Alonso in seventh and over two seconds slower than Russell. Zhou finished the morning in eighth, Gasly in ninth, Albon in ninth and Mazepin, after only nine laps of running, in 10th.

Hamilton continued the good work of Russell as he set an even quicker time with a 1:19.138, a tenth quicker than his teammate. Perez also went quicker than his Red Bull teammate Verstappen to finish the afternoon in second and four-tenths slower than Hamilton.

Sainz’s time of a sub-1:20 saw him finish the session in third, Albon was two-tenths back in fourth, Ricciardo a further five-tenths back in fifth and Bottas, after only 10 laps on the track, set a lap time 11 seconds slower than the one set by his ex-Mercedes teammate.

Final Standings after Day Three of Testing

1. Hamilton – 1:19.138, 2. Russell – 1:19.233 (+0.095), 3. Perez – 1:19.556 (+0.418), 4. Verstappen – 1:19.756 (+0.618), 5. Vettel – 1:19.824 (+0.686), 6. Leclerc – 1:19.831 (+0.693), 7. Sainz – 1:20.072 (+0.934), 8. Albon – 1:20.318 (+1.180), 9. Latifi – 1:20.699 (+1.561), 10. Ricciardo – 1:20.750 (+1.612), 11. Norris – 1:20.827 (+1.689), 12. Alonso – 1:21.242 (+2.104), 13. Zhou – 1:21.939 (+2.801), 14. Gasly – 1:22.469 (+3.331), 15. Mazepin – 1:26.229 (+7.091), 16. Bottas – 1:30.433 (+11.295)

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