New generation of F1 cars take to the track in Barcelona

Three-day test held behind closed doors features all 10 teams and 20 drivers

The opening lap from the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix (courtesy of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya)
The opening lap from the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix (courtesy of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya) / Angus Clelland

Angus Clelland | Barcelona

February 25, 2022 01:58 PM

This week saw all 2022 Formula 1 cars out on track for the first time on Wednesday in an official test held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all three days of the test are behind closed doors, as there is no television coverage of the event, nor are fans allowed in the grandstand.

It was McLaren youngster Lando Norris who topped the timing sheets on the first day, while on Thursday it was Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc who went fastest.

As of Friday lunchtime, Mercedes' George Russell holds the fastest time of the day, and indeed the entire test - a lap likely to remain the fastest for the rest of the day, with Formula 1's tyre supplier Pirelli planning to soak the track artificially in order to give the teams the opportunity to run the cars with the wet-weather tyres.

Also on Friday, American team Haas opted for an all-white design on the car, dropping their Russian title sponsor Uralkali from the livery, most likely in connection with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Formula 1 also announced on Friday that the Russian Grand Prix would not go ahead in September, saying that they "are watching developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the current crisis."

New for 2022

Following a thrilling 2021 season, which saw a season-long battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton go down to the final race in Abu Dhabi in which Verstappen ultimately prevailed in controversial circumstances, 2022 sees a significant rule change aiming to make the racing closer and close the gap between the fastest and slowest cars.

These include the move from 13 to 18-inch wheels, as well as an overhaul of aerodynamic regulations.

As a result, the cars going round the track in Barcelona look very different to those from last year.

The Formula 1 circus is set to return to the Catalan capital later in the year, with the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix taking place from May 20 to 22. For the first time since 2019, fans will be able to attend the race, with weekend tickets starting at around €167.

The circuit

The circuit, located in the town of Montmeló, around 20km outside Barcelona, has been the host of the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix since 1992, making this year the 31st edition of the event.

However, the occasion is not without controversy, as parties such as pro-independence left-wing party Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) have criticized the use of public funds to finance the event.

However, the government supports the event, with former Minister of Enterprise and Knowledge Ramon Tremosa saying in 2021 "If [the circuit] leaves the calendar you do not know when it will come back. There are cities that know the impact of an event like this", adding that they have "noticed a great interest from Formula 1 in making Barcelona a permanent venue".

It seems that the race in Barcelona is here to stay, as Formula 1 signed a deal with the circuit in November renewing the race until 2026.