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Bahrain Should End Sandbagging

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Posted on March 15, 2022 Tags:

Images courtesy Mark Horsburgh and

IN THE IMAGE ABOVE, taken last Friday, Daniel Ricciardo looked in no shape to suit up for Bahrain’s vital test sessions and subsequently withdrew to isolate before Formula One fires up in anger this week for the start of the 2022 season.

In the unlikely event Dan is unable to front up, Alpine has offered McLaren the use of Victorian young gun and F1 hope Oscar Piastri for the Bahrain Grand Prix.  

The deal with Alpine stands should the need arise at any point during the season, although they retain first options on the 20-year-old’s services. McLaren still has its own reserve drivers.

Whatever the outcome, the Perth superstar is hardly likely to match the peak physical condition of his 19 championship rivals, when opening practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix gets underway on Friday at 20:00 WST.

With pre-season over in Sakir there wasn’t a great deal to learn as all the cars are brand spanking, now conforming to the much-changed regulations and, one hopes, ready for the expected quick development during the early stages of a planned 23 race-packed season.

McLaren’s MCL36 is the goods

Just the ride for Daniel Ricciardo for 2022. Image courtesy of

McLaren, of course, had a week to forget with Dan’s illness and the curious brake issues of Lando’s MCL36 – particularly following the team’s top showing in Barcelona.

It restricted the youngster Norris to only 110 laps across the first two days, then a more productive 90 on Saturday – but way short of the mileage McLaren was after.

McLaren on the Back Foot

“The test definitely didn’t go to plan. We had an unexpected problem on the front axle with the brakes which limited our running quite a bit, especially when it came to long runs. It definitely put us on the back foot.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl

Red Bull and Ferrari look in good shape, with Max Verstappen almost seven-tenths clear at the top of the timesheet in a happy garage, while Ferrari were close to P1 or P2 throughout 2022’s entire six days of pre-season running.

But what about Mercedes’ M13s?

The Silver Arrows, with their much-vaunted absent sidepods, seemed to have the worst ‘porpoising’ problem, where the car appears to lift, at times at a frightening 300kmh.

Merc engineers were claiming they’re off the pace, with Lewis Hamilton suggesting they’ll struggle to contend for wins at the opening races.

Backmarker Haas seems to have made distinct improvement, despite the upheaval of Russian Nikita Mazepin’s demise, with Dane Kevin Magnussen back in the seat alongside Mick Schumacher.

Despite the termination of the sponsorship contract with Uralkali, Haas does not have to immediately fear a budget deficit. According to, owner Gene Haas wants to increase his investments in the Formula 1 team, and secure the future of the team.

That Magnussen signed a multi-year contract with the team also demonstrates financial stability, while Haas talks with new sponsors.

Pundits reckon the American team should at least be competitive early with Williams and Alfa Romeo, perhaps even other midfield teams such as AlphaTauri, Aston Martin and Alpine.

Haas was granted extra running at the end of the last two days of testing, to compensate for missing Thursday morning with freight problems, which saw them set fast times.

“Our main worry is reliability,” Magnussen said. “But it feels good, and it’s not been slow.”

All of which could well point to Haas picking at least a valuable handful of points in 2022.

DRS Still has Integral Role in F1

The brains behind the new F1 technical rules forecast that overtaking in 2022 was not going as easy as some hoped.

Testing showed that following another car seems easier with the new models, They can sit in behind, but breezing past appears now is more difficult due, evidently, to reduced slipstream effect.

“The thing is, you can’t have everything. We have to, unfortunately, even in F1, obey the laws of physics, which I find very annoying sometimes. But we have to do it! I think we will still need DRS, I hope a little bit less, and my dream one day is we only use it to overtake backmarkers rather than fighting for position.” F1 technical chief Pat Symonds.

Of course, there’s always a fair degree of sandbagging from most of the teams in F1. But the good news is, all shall be sorted and revealed in Bahrain on Friday, Saturday at the latest!

But we’ll have to see how the midfield uncertainly plays out after Bahrain, and then Saudi Arabia.

Which suggests we could be in for exciting times when the circus returns to action in Australia and a revamped Albert Park circuit – April 8-10!

Supercars Gen3 Mustang is out and about. Image courtesy Mark Horsburgh.

Supercars hit Symmons Plains

Supercars champions Marcos Ambrose and Garth Tander are set to get their first taste of the category’s classy Gen3 prototypes at Symmons Plains March 25-27. The Tasmanian won the 2003 and 2004 drivers’ titles, will get behind the wheel of the Ford Mustang (pictured) while the West Aussie 2007 champion will try out the Chevrolet Camaro.

Ambrose will also be part of Supercars’ presenting line-up Tasmania SuperSprint for the that weekend alongside Jessica Yates, Neil Crompton, and Mark Skaife.

Maddington Toyota Sprintcar Series

The new partnership between James Inglis and Diamond Bay Motorsport struck gold after only a handful of shows together, when they claimed the Ampol Sprintcar Legends round of the Maddington Toyota Sprintcar Series at the Perth Motorplex on Saturday night. It was round 15 of the 19-round series, with Inglis taking the 50-lap feature race from David Priolo and Dayne Kingshott.


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