There once was a time when you could make some sense of winter testing times. The only real guesswork was who was running massively underweight to grab headline times in order to seal a sponsorship deal before reality set in. But you almost always knew just about where the major players stood for the beginning of a new season. These days of course, the teams cannot even get down to the minimum weight limit, let alone under it, so that weight limit has to be raised a week out from the first race. Now everyone has to figure out who is going slow on purpose and why. Is the New Mercedes really a Coca-Cola yo-yo? Is the Williams really three seconds slower than a Haas? And at the other end of the spectrum, is the Haas the second fastest car leading into the first race?

Mercedes W13 - note the size zero sidepods

  The answer of course is that nobody knows. Not even the teams because no-one knows what the others have been hiding. Fuel loads, engine mapping and untested aero upgrades are all well kept secrets that we will only see on Friday, or even maybe Saturday. The reports from trackside regarding the porpoising issues noticed at Barcelona were for the most part, much reduced by most teams. The exception to this does appear to be Mercedes who’s W13 seems to be even worse with the unveiling of it’s size zero sidepod. It is now reported to be suffering from loss of downforce even through some of the medium-fast corners resulting in under-steer, front brake locking and then snap oversteer, which when added to being bounced about like a brat on a pogo stick would make for an uncomfortable ride at best. Or are they bullshitting? And if so, how much? And if not, how long will it take for them to sort it out? Or will they ever fix it, perhaps it’s a 21st century Lotus 80 that looked the biz back in ’79 but behaved in a similar fashion and was dumped after only a few races. The big problem for Mercedes is, if it is a Lotus 80, they can’t go back to last years car and would either have to blow the budget on a new design or eat crap-cake for a least a year while everyone else has a head-start. Great time for Russell to join the squad. Wonder how he would feel if they got out-qualified by a Williams? Probably not very likely but one can dream.

A Coca Cola yo-yo  Max and the Red Rag is the obvious favourite going into Bahrain after their chart topping test time but the sublime Ferrari and the unporpoising (is there such a word?) McLaren seem to be their major rivals. McLaren may have been down the list a bit in the second test but they were held back by brake temperature issues and only one driver on hand with Danny Boy off crook with TTBV (That tedious bloody virus). Speaking of which, news has just come through from Aston Martin that Vettel, Seb Vettel has also come down with TTBV and Nico Hulkenberg is being flown in over-night Thursday to partner Moneypenny. Good thing for them then that Haas chose to go with the returning Kevin Magnussen to replace the ousted Mazepin and not the Hulk. Interesting that they are both returning to F1 at the same race, I wonder who will be sucking who’s balls at the end of Sunday night? Speaking of Haas, wouldn’t it have been cool if they could have replaced Mazepin with a Ukrainian driver? Oddly enough I can’t even begin to think of one. Surely there is one somewhere. Drop me a line if you can come up with a name.


The Hulk replaces Vettel  The rumours are getting louder that the board of VW are getting much closer to committing to the new engine formula in 2026 and joining forces with Red Bull. The best part of that is of course that they will have an already competitive internal combustion engine already through Red Rags Powertrains to add to so a lot of the initial cost would not be needed. It does however remain to be seen which of it’s brands will be the badge. Porsche and Audi are the obvious candidates but do not forget that VW also have other brands with a proud racing heritage. They do, after all, also own Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini. Although a Red Bull Ducatti would be a bit odd. They could just go with VW badging as they were very big in Formula 3 not too many years ago. A Red Bull Beetle then? Paint it off white and bung some flowers on it and hey presto, a 21st century Love Bug………



Sam Snape


For full Sakhir testing times go to; 2022 F1 (mmmsport.com.au)