The time for talking is over! The 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway this weekend in the familiar surroundings of the Bahrain International Circuit.
We’ll get a first look at the new regulations in action during racing conditions and there will be plenty of eyes on track to see if the promise of more wheel-to-wheel battles bear fruit.
We’ve been racing in Bahrain since 2004, with the venue becoming a favourite amongst fans thanks to the great racing and multitude of overtakes usually provided around the 5.412km circuit.
Lit by floodlights, the 15-turn course features three DRS zones, the longest of which can be found on the 1.2km main straight.
Traditionally, the Bahrain International Circuit can get pretty windy, with the direction changing 180° during the day.
Turns 8, 9 and 10 have seen a lot of action over the years thanks to a high risk of front locking, whilst the long right-hand sweeper at turn 12 provides a real challenge for the drivers.
Battling it out over 57 laps, by Sunday evening we’ll certainly have a clearer picture of the true pecking order for the season ahead.
What are the drivers saying?
Nicholas Latifi has prepared himself for his third season in F1 and is now just looking forward to lights out on Sunday.
“It goes without saying that I’m super excited for the first race of the year,” said the Canadian racer, adding: “It’s been a long pre-season with a lot of effort from everybody both trackside and in the factory at Grove to build us a car to go racing with, so I’m excited to see how we’ll do come lights-out on Sunday.
“We’ll be pushing for the best result possible. Bahrain International Circuit is an interesting circuit, and the fact that it’s a night race adds another unusual element to contend with.
“It’s tough from a tyre management perspective as the temperatures are high and track is very rough; we also have the added challenge of understanding how the 18-inch Pirellis cope with those conditions.
“It should make for a really exciting season opener!”
Someone else who can’t wait to get going is Alex Albon, who will make his debut for the team this weekend, returning to the grid after a season away.
“I’m obviously very excited for the first race of the year and to be back racing,” the Thai racer said, adding: “It will be the result of all the hard work over winter and everything we’ve learnt from six days of testing, so I’m looking forward to seeing that come together and pushing as much as we can.
“The track is tricky because, as we saw in testing, it’s very windy, sandy and hot, which are tough conditions to contend with. It’s a good track for racing though, so it should be an exciting weekend for Formula One.”
From the Pit Wall
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams, has had a busy winter, but with pre-season now behind us, he’s looking forward to seeing the FW44 turn a wheel in anger for the first time, saying: “The opening race of any season is an exciting prospect and an opportunity to understand what our rivals were doing during pre-season testing.
“This season, with substantial changes to the cars, the tension and excitement is even greater, and we won’t know the true order until Sunday night when we see which drivers are able to deliver reliable performance.
“Winter testing has been tough, with only six days to investigate an almost entirely new package. Despite one day of low mileage last week, we still completed a lot of valuable running and have discovered quite a lot about the FW44.
“There is no doubt that there is a lot more to learn and we will see all the 2022 cars evolving quickly over the coming weeks.
“However, our job this weekend is to get everything possible out of the race on Sunday, to continue our setup work and to complete the integration of Alex into the team by completing our first race weekend together.”
Pit Wall Predictions
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Did you know?
Nicky will make his 40th start for Williams this weekend, putting him into the top 15 drivers with the most starts for our team. The record holder is Nigel Mansell, who raced 95 times for Williams from 1985-1994.
This is a reunion for Alex and Nicky, who were teammates at the DAMS Formula 2 team during the 2018 season. Nicky was also the winner of the F2 feature race on this track layout in 2019.
Bahrain was the first Middle Eastern nation to hold a Grand Prix when Formula 1 first visited in 2004, making Williams one of just three constructors to have appeared in every race ever held here, along with Ferrari and McLaren.
In the last ten races held at the Bahrain International Circuit, we’ve seen 18 of the 20 Williams cars reach the chequered flag.
Shop the Williams Racing 2022 Team Kit
Proudly show your support for Williams everywhere you go and wear the kit that Nicholas Latifi and Alex Albon will be donning throughout the 2022 Formula One season.