2022 F1 testing: Barcelona and Bahrain times and dates


When and where is Formula 1 testing happening and how does it work?


Formula 1 testing will begin in Spain before the final test in Bahrain ahead of the 2022 season opener

Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

The dust has hardly settled on the controversial ending to the 2021 season yet Formula 1 is now preparing itself for a new campaign and a new era.

Brand new technical regulations aim to promote closer racing, bringing back more emphasis on ground effect in order to allow for more wheel-to-wheel battles, but which team will nail the rule changes?

Aston Martin will kick launch season off with its car reveal on February 10 while Alfa Romeo is currently the team set to launch its car latest on February 27 ahead of the final test in Bahrain.

Formula 1 will then get to see the new cars on-track for the first time in Barcelona for three full days of pre-season testing between February 23-25. It’ll be the first chance we get to judge the cars and possibly get answers to the key questions ahead of the new season.

F1 has decided to split the venues following a request from teams for both logistical and technical reasons.


How do F1 teams run testing sessions?

Barcelona is the traditional location for testing due to its variety in low, medium, and high-speed corners plus long main straights, while being in central Europe makes it easier for teams to travel to.

Meanwhile, Bahrain is the venue of the 2022 season opener on March 18-20, so it makes sense logistically to conduct testing there.

Teams will use testing to run its car through various programmes to ensure they get as much representative and useful data as possible.

Multiple teams opt to do a private shakedown of their new cars ahead of winter testing to do preliminary checks ahead of the first on-track test but this year will be slightly different.

To begin with, the initial behind-closed-doors shakedown of the cars will allow the drivers to familiarise themselves with the new machinery, including systems checks and calibration.

They will then progress through different programmes to test various aspects of the car, like differing aerodynamic parts, different engine modes, tyre behaviour under certain conditions and a lot more.

It’s this that makes reading lap times from testing very difficult. Those topping the times may focused on outright pace, while others behind concentrate on other test programmes. The main priority is testing those different elements while trying to build up as big of a data bank with as many laps as possible.

It’s highly unlikely any team will show its full potential until the opening race of the season, a practice most-commonly referred to as ‘sandbagging’.

Any adverse weather could also spoil teams’ run plans. Rain, sand or even snow have each affected testing in recent seasons and caused lost track time ahead of the season. Being able to overcome that and plan around unforeseen stoppages is also a big job for the teams.

2021 F1 testing

Sandstorms in Bahrain last season made conditions difficult for the drivers

Grand Prix Photo


When is 2022 Formula 1 testing?

There will be two tests and six days of track action ahead of the first race weekend of the season in Bahrain.

The first ‘test’ is an informal shakedown event at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for three days between February 23-25. It will be a closed door event with no live coverage of the times or TV feed.

Motor Sport will be live blogging the event though from Barcelona including all the latest news and updates from the shakedown across all three days.

Barcelona F1 testing

Barcelona – Day 1 – February 23

Barcelona – Day 2 – February 24

Barcelona – Day 3 – February 25

The second test is a more official one and will take place at the Sakhir International Circuit ahead of the first race of the year.

Full coverage will be offered with live timing and television coverage of all three days of the March 10-12 test.

Bahrain F1 testing

Sakhir – Day 1 – March 10

Sakhir – Day 2 – March 11

Sakhir – Day 3 – March 12


How to watch Formula 1 testing in 2022

While media are allowed access to testing in Barcelona, fans aren’t, nor will it be broadcast live on TV and there will be no live timing. Instead, F1 will air its own round-up show after each day’s running showing the best lap times.

But fear not, there will then be an official pre-season test in Bahrain on the March 10-12 where spectators are allowed. This test will be broadcast on Sky Sports F1 for UK and Irish viewers, plus on F1TV in territories where it is available.

Live timing will also be available throughout the second test.


Which team looks strongest ahead of the 2022 F1 season?

Following Mercedes’ eight-year unbeaten run as constructors’ world champions, Formula 1 is somewhat entering the unknown in 2022 with a regulatory overhaul.

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While the Silver Arrows are still expected to be one of the strongest packages on the grid along with rivals Red Bull, there is always the chance for an upset.

Ferrari and McLaren enter 2022 hopeful that they can challenge the two title protagonists from last year, while a team like Alpine could be a surprise in the mix having turned its focus onto this season’s car from a very early stage.

However, as the saying goes, it is only testing so it will still be difficult to really know who has the strongest package until that opening weekend in Bahrain.

In 2014, Williams set the quickest time in pre-season while Ferrari did so each year between 2016 and 2019.

Even though you should take the times with a pinch of salt, there are still signs of what may lie ahead teams if you have a keen enough eye. Red Bull was 2021’s pre-season story and its competitive outlook for the year proved accurate on the way to a drivers’ championship.


Key questions ahead of pre-season testing

  • How will the pace in the 2022 car differ from last year?
  • Will Haas’ gamble to focus on this year’s car, at the expense of their 2021 campaign, pay off?
  • Will anybody be able to close the gap to Mercedes and Red Bull?
  • Will Lewis Hamilton be present following his silence over the off-season?
  • How quickly will the drivers at new teams be able to adapt?