This year, Bahrain hosted the F1’s season opener, replacing the initially scheduled Australian Grand Prix. Let’s take a closer look at all the things we learned from this race.
Let’s start with the most talked-about event of this Grand Prix which is, of course, the very controverted overtake of Max Verstappen on Lewis Hamilton to take the reins of the Grand Prix. This article will not showcase any debate about the legality of this overtake as it was already discussed in another article.
However, what is for sure is that Lewis Hamilton had the right to take advantage of the exit of turn four for almost 30 laps whereas his direct opponent, Max Verstappen thought he was not allowed to do so and decided to stick to the ‘official’ track limits.
As I said before, we are not going to discuss the legality of this event. Nonetheless, both parties agreed on the fact that the race direction must make clearer decisions and give a better explanation of what is allowed and what is not before the start of a Grand Prix.
Christian Horner mentioned, “Shades of Grey” in the decisions taken by race direction and wants them to position themselves better and to choose between “black” and “white”. Nevertheless, this does not taint Hamilton’s exceptional win after a thrilling battle against the Dutch Prodigy.
Sticking with Mercedes, this Grand Prix also confirmed that Valtteri Bottas must be the unluckiest driver of the grid as he suffered yet another problem letting his direct championship opponents widen the gap in the drivers’ ranking after just one Grand Prix.
Furthermore, it looks like Bottas was one more time deliberately left out of the battle. Indeed, as it was mentioned in another article of ours, Bottas’ pit strategy was almost exactly the same compared to his British teammate, which did not let him the chance to try something else and maybe be able to close the gap in the last laps of the race.
This can definitely be very frustrating for the Finnish as it could mark the beginning of another very difficult season where he will mostly be in the shadow of his teammate.
There are only three places on a podium and Sergio Perez will probably be able to be a part of the three privileged at some point in this season as the Mexican once more showed his astonishing race pace and intelligence, managing to come back from the very back of the grid to a very promising P5.
Nothing was proved there as we all know Perez’s great racing aptitudes. However, the Sakhir Grand Prix race winner might give an end to the ‘Red Bull’s second driver curse’ that affected so many drivers. Fingers crossed for him.
Now that the front runners were mentioned, let’s take a closer look at their pursuers. It looks like this year’s battle for third place in the constructor’s championship will only have two real contenders, namely McLaren and Ferrari.
If this first Grand Prix’s observations are confirmed in the future, it would mean that Ferrari did an incredible job during this offseason. Indeed, the Scuderia looked in great shape, showing very good qualifying pace and decent race pace from both their drivers. On the other hand, McLaren also had a very strong debut as Lando Norris clinched the fourth position, already scoring some very good points for his team. These two should provide us with a great fight this season.
Now, other teams did not look as bright for their debut with their new colors. I am there, of course, talking about Alpine and Aston Martin. These two will probably have a great battle for P5 with Alpha Tauri and maybe even Alfa Romeo, but might not be able to fight for more.
Both teams started the weekend with very disappointing results in qualifying as they both had one driver that was stuck in Q1 due to a double yellow flag. Sebastian Vettel started at the very back of the grid and managed to overtake some cars before making a mistake causing him and Esteban Ocon to spin.
Aston Martin scored some points while Alpine did not, the teams, however, were looking very similar in terms of pace and will probably need an engineering miracle to be able to catch up with the speed of the MCL35M and the SF21.
To finish with, let’s take a step back about this first Grand Prix. Of course, I could have talked about Mazepin’s very disappointing performance or about Tsunoda’s great race, or even about Gasly’s early mistake that probably cost him a lot of points. However, the season just started and I think it is important to give people time to show what they are capable of.
It is really easy to criticize Mazepin or Vettel for their very disappointing performances. However, we all know that Formula One has always been very unpredictable and that is why we love this sport so much and also why we should give some time for everyone to get their bearings. With new aero rules, this year’s cars can be very unpredictable and almost everybody will have to adapt to a very different car compared to last year’s and this is why we should not take rushed conclusions after the first Grand Prix of the season. The best is definitely yet to come.