Bahrain GP Preview – Wolff: “There is a lot of potential to unlock in the W13”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes released the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix preview featuring comments from team boss Toto Wolff. You can read the full preview below!

“The start of a new Formula One season is always exciting, and this year more than most,” Wolff said.

“With new technical and sporting regulations, there is so much to learn and discover as this new season begins.

“Barcelona was a productive first test of the W13, then we brought a big update to Bahrain for the pre-season test which resulted from a huge effort by the whole team. We completed good mileage, had solid reliability, and learned a lot about our new car, but it was not a straightforward three days for us.

“We tried plenty of set-up options and made good progress in understanding our limitations, and there’s still plenty of room for us to improve further. There is a lot of potential to unlock in the W13, and we know how much we relish the challenge of understanding the car and extracting the maximum from it, and this will be our focus for the coming days, weeks and months.

“It’s hard to say exactly where we’ll fit in the competitive order this weekend in Bahrain, but that’s what makes this new season and new era so exciting. It’s a clean slate for everyone and all to play for. Like we always say, what we love about F1 is that the stopwatch never lies – and we will get our first understanding of the competitive truth on Saturday in qualifying.

“I’m excited to see what the weekend has in store…,” the Austrian concluded.

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Fact File: Bahrain Grand Prix

  • The Bahrain International Circuit is located in the middle of the desert, on what was formerly a camel farm. It features 1,120 palm trees!
  • It may be located in a desert, but sand doesn’t present much of an issue for the teams and cars in Bahrain, and the track surface cleans up quickly.
  • The Bahrain Grand Prix is a twilight race, starting at sunset and finishing in night-time. FP2 and qualifying also take place in the evening, so 495 lighting posts are used to illuminate the track.
  • Despite the new F1 weekend format, FP1 and FP3 still take place in daylight in Bahrain, and therefore hold little value in terms of car balance and set-up work for qualifying and the race, which take place at night. However, they can still prove useful for work on test items or understanding the tyres. FP2 is therefore a crucial session for all the teams, as it is the one chance we have to run the car in similar conditions to those experienced in qualifying and the race.
  • The focus for the set-up of the car is on tuning it for low and medium-speed corners. This is because the high-speed sections of track are easily taken flat-out. But mechanical grip is crucial out of the slow corners. This is the opposite to the focus areas we have for tracks such as Silverstone, where high-speed corner performance is key.
  • We often see higher tyre degradation in Bahrain because it has one of the roughest surfaces of the season and we expect to have more degradation compared to last year, due to the technical changes to the car and the new tyres for the F1 2022 season.
  • The trickiest corner on the track is Turn 10. It has a long, combined corner entry that tightens and drops away at the apex and is blind over a crest. Drivers have to apply the brakes while also completing the wide corner arc of Turn 9. All these factors mean the front-left tyre goes light and this increases the risk of a lock-up.
  • Bahrain is always a punishing track for the brakes, with seven braking events and three classified as ‘heavy’ by our engineers (which means the driver is braking for 0.4 seconds or longer, with 4G or more). As we found during pre-season testing, the Bahrain track has also got bumpier and the cars are not as smooth to drive, so that also makes braking trickier.
  • Because of the various changes to the weekend format, this now means there is less time for mechanics to work on the cars and less engineering time, due to the earlier curfew. So, more emphasis is put on hitting the ground running with good preparation and simulation work.
  • With more emphasis being on the pre-weekend preparations, this means correlation between the simulation tools and the track is crucial – making sure the simulation appropriately represents the real car. But the gap between the test and the race is much smaller compared to usual, making it tougher to understand the learnings from the test and bring those into the pre-race preparations.
  • The new technical regulations with their drastically different floor and diffuser mean we’ll see more sparks flying from the underside of the car – which’ll look spectacular under the lights in Bahrain!
  • Because of the new regulations and vastly different cars for 2022, the performance of the cars through the corners will change, too. For example, we expect the cars to take Turn 4 in Bahrain at 115 km/h in 2022, compared to 135 km/h last year. Similarly, a high-speed corner like Turn 12 will now be taken at 240 km/h, compared to 265 km/h.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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