Weekly F1 News Roundup – 27th February 2022

by Martin Blessing

It’s been a busy week for Formula 1, particularly in preparation for the 2022 season. We’ve had the pre-season testing session in Barcelona, livery reveals and much more. Let’s take a recap of this weeks events.

New Regulation Testing

This week saw the newly developed cars for the 2022 season, take to the circuit for the first time. In an non-televised event, held across three days in Barcelona’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, teams began the shakedown of their respective 2022 challengers.

In the first day of testing on Wednesday, it was business as usual for most of the top teams. In a bid to gain as much information as possible for all teams, Ferrari led the rankings in total laps completed. Both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc amassed a total of 153 laps. Solely commanding the Red Bull for the day, Verstappen brought in a respectable total of 147 laps. In terms of pace, Ferrari asserted their position, holding second and third in the timing charts. Lando Norris held the top spot for McLaren. Alfa Romeo and Haas were the questionable teams for the session, managing a mere 32 and 43 laps respectively. Alfa Romeo’s woes were largely down to some minor technical issues.

The theme, by and large, continued throughout the remaining two sessions in Spain. Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, completed a successful amount of laps, cementing confidence in their reliabilities. Red Bull would be the more worried from the quartet, with Sergio Perez causing a red flag situation, after crawling to a halt in day two of testing.

Williams Flow-Vis
Williams FW44 And Flow-Vis Paint

The final day brought some woes for drivers. Pierre Gasly for AlphaTauri was the first driver to crash a 2022 spec car. Alfa Romeo’s reliabilities were put in to more disrepute, with multiple stoppages during their runs. Mercedes topped the timing charts, with Lewis Hamilton putting on a set of the softest C5 tyre toward the end of the session.

The key takeaways we witnessed from the sessions in Spain, are that usual suspects of Mercedes and Red Bull were certainly within the mix. But there appeared to be some serious gatecrashers to that party. Ferrari consistently managed to put in a good number of laps, whilst keeping themselves in the upper end of the timing charts. McLaren were no stranger either. Their performance over the three days, appears to, at least at first glance, to be giving us four contenders to watch out for in the season opener in Bahrain.


Sponsorship Complications At Haas

With the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, this has brought about some serious questions to be asked about Haas’ partnerships with Russian based companies. The war in Ukraine is a highly sensitive issue. With Russia unanimously viewed as the aggressor in this conflict, numerous companies are refusing to be associated in any way with the country.

Formula 1 is no exception to this. Urakali, the largest sponsor to the American based outfit, is a Russian based potash fertiliser producer and exporter. In 2021, Urakali announced that they were the title sponsor for Haas on a “mutli-year deal”. One of Urakali’s main shareholders, Dmitry Mazepin, is the father of Haas’ Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin.

Uralkali – Haas Title Sponsor

With the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine on Thursday, the American outfit removed all Uralkali insignia from their cars and motorcades during Friday’s test session in Spain. It’s too soon to predict whether any ties will be severed at this stage, but Haas will be concerned about losing a wealthy sponsor. This won’t be the first time either. Haas’ famously lost title partner Rich Energy in 2019, after the energy drink company pulled out of their agreement mid-way through the 2019 campaign.


Mazepin F1 Future In Jeopardy

With the aforementioned conflict in eastern Europe, the heightened sensitivities surrounding Russian affiliation is rife. That affiliation doesn’t just stop at company sponsorship either. With the Uralkali sponsorship in place at Haas, Dmitry Mazepin negotiated a deal for his son Nikita to drive for the American team in 2021.

With the sponsorship deal between the two companies now on tenterhooks, the same can be said for Nikita Mazepin’s career at Haas. It’s commonplace for a lot of Formula 1 drivers to be classed as ‘pay drivers’. This is largely interpreted as someone who has secured their seat with financial investment from elsewhere. This commonly comes from family wealth. Nikita’s placement is no exception.

Are Nikita Mazepin’s Days Numbered?

If the sponsorship between Uralkali and Haas cannot be brought back to the negotiation table, this would put Nikita’s position in serious jeopardy. Why? If Haas aren’t receiving financial incentives from one of their roster, it makes their position with the outfit seriously questionable. It may seem cruel, but that is generally how the sport functions. Haas would likely be on the lookout for a driver who can bring not only talent, but healthy financial backing also.


Alfa Romeo Bring Us The C42

Rounding off the week, Alfa Romeo finally showcased their livery for the C42. Whilst we’ve seen the generic structure of the car during the testing sessions in Barcelona this week, we’ve had to endure it coated in a black and grey camouflage paint scheme. Designed at keeping their livery secret, Alfa Romeo have kept us in suspense as the final team to announce their livery for the upcoming season.

Alfa Romeo C42
Alfa Romeo – C42

Opting to stick with their signature red and white theme, Alfa Romeo offer up a few flashes of flamboyant design. The wheel hubs in particular are painted in split of red and white and accent the overall theme quite nicely. Switching up their font on the rear of the car, to a more old-fashioned scheme is a welcome addition too. Finished off with the Italian flag on the rear wing, we very much approve of the C42’s looks.

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