Some Bahrain updates ‘not quite in spirit of the rules’

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz in the wet with Lewis Hamilton in testing. Barcelona February 2022

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in the wet with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, both on intermediate Pirelli tyres, in testing. Barcelona February 2022

Having come through the Barcelona test without any controversies, or even requests for clarification, the FIA are gearing up for a completely different scenario in Bahrain.

With brand new cars on the track, the result of this year’s new technical regulations that have been designed around ground effect aerodynamics, the teams all debuted their interpretations last week in Spain.

It is fair to say that despite worries that we’d have a field of 10 teams all having designed extremely similar looking cars, every team came up with something a little – some times even a lot – different.

As such Sky Sports’ pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz predicted prior to Spain that there would be “some controversies with who has interpreted the rules in a way that wasn’t intended by the FIA. There might be some controversies over flexing floors and different ideas.”

There wasn’t, at least not at that session, but Auto Motor und Sport is reporting that there could be some in Bahrain at the second test.

According to the German publication, none of the teams “showed all their cards” in Barcelona with one engineer saying Formula 1 “won’t see the delicate things that could lie in a grey area until we get to Bahrain”.

That has the FIA concerned.

George Russell, Mercedes, passes Alex Albon in the Williams and the Alfa Romeo of Guanyu Zhou. Spain, February 2022.

AMuS is reporting that FIA sources believe the “teams’ cosying could already be over in Bahrain” as some teams’ updates are toe-ing the line, and may even have crossed it.

Apparently the CAD data that the FIA have already seen in order to check the legality of the upgrades that are coming, shows that some are “sailing close to the wind and bringing solutions that do not quite correspond to the spirit of the regulations.”

Those teams were not named.

Already it is thought that two teams, Red Bull and Mercedes, will be bringing significant upgrades to the Bahrain test with Max Verstappen saying his Red Bull RB18 will be “completely different”.

Red Bull was one team that did surprise with their interpretation of the 2022 rules, the RB18 feature a radical undercut to the sidepods, while Ferrari’s sidepods have been equated to bath tubs.

But it is thought that the biggest area of controversy that will likely emerge this season is flexi floors.

After last year’s flexi wing drama, flexi floors could be a game-changer this season.

With cars based on ground effect aerodynamics, downforce is created underneath the car with Venturi tunnels on the underside of the floor directing the airflow.

As such the design of the floors have taken on more importance, raising concerns that teams could find ways to flex the edges of their floors to improve performance.

There has been a hint of this already with Frederic Ferret reporting for L’Equipe about McLaren’s floor.

With McLaren up near the front in the Spanish test, he wrote that “McLaren surprised, even if its way of operating the Venturi tunnel under the car, which allows the ground effect, might not be totally legal”.

 

He added that “some teams saw the sides of the floor deform at high speed.”

There has, however, not even been a whisper of a complaint from a rival team nor has the FIA said anything.

But the drama could yet pop off in Bahrain…

 

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

Concerns teams’ updates 'not quite in the spirit of the rules’

The FIA are concerned that teams' updates might not be within the guidelines at the Bahrain test.