Formula 1 is back! The season has started at the Bahrain International Circuit with a fantastic race full of twists and turns that built excitement for the season ahead.
Verstappen started the weekend strong by dominating all three practice sessions. Both Mercedes drivers struggled to keep their cars on track, getting laps deleted consistently for violating track limits. The Ferraris were also looking good in free practice but had issues with lap consistency. They had problems hugging the apex in turns 1 and 10 but seemed to have a strong qualifying pace. Both Alfa Romeos showed potential for a possible Q2 appearance in qualifying. The Aston Martin and Alpine drivers didn’t look quite up to pace, struggling to get closer to the likes of Mclaren and Ferrari, who showed more Q2 potential. The Williams were looking quicker than last year and had a chance to get into Q2, whether with Russell or Latifi.
Qualifying brought a lot of action. Everyone was still getting adjusted to the cars and utilizing different strategies to try to gain advantages. The Williams and Haas drivers had an extra run, so they had a better chance of getting out of Q1 with that extra practice. Most everyone had sold runs in Q1, except a few like Mazepin, who spun a few times, bringing out a yellow flag. The yellow flag affected some drivers’ laps, which the FIA investigated, but the laps were ultimately allowed to stand. In Q2, every driver except for Russell did two runs. There a few track limits issues and many shocking moments. The two biggest surprises of Q2 were when Perez and Tsunoda didn’t make it through to Q3. This meant that their race strategies would be crucial to get into the points and have a good showing in their first race for both Red Bull outfits. Q3 was dramatic, with provisional pole constantly changing among Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, and Sainz. The drivers were battling out to get that coveted front row position; however, Verstappen got pole after putting in an all-purple fastest sector.
The race was gripping all the way through, and if this is a preview for the rest of the season, we can expect a lot of good action. The race started with an extra formation lap because Perez’s car randomly turned off, but he managed to get it going and started the race from the pit lane. Lap 1 was a clean start, but Mazepin went off at turn 4, causing a safety car as the marshals cleared the debris and brought him back to the paddock. The safety car lifted in lap four, and racing resumed. There was some front wing damage for Gasly, causing him to fall down the grid once he pitted and received a new wing. Schumacher also had an incident where he went off track but was able to continue racing. Gasly, unfortunately, had to retire on lap 55 because of a mechanical issue. Through lap 6, Bottas and Leclerc were battling it out for 3rd, but the Mercedes got through, and Leclerc was down to 4th. Norris started gaining on Leclerc, and in laps 8 and 9, they battled for the position, with Norris eventually coming out in front of the Ferrari. Perez was slowly moving up the grid and was in P12 by lap 10. He kept consistently climbing and gaining points positions as he overtook nearly everyone on the grid.
Sainz showed a similar pace overtaking at least once every lap. In lap 21, Sainz overtook Alonso and Vettel in just two corners. It was a brilliant pass, and it showed he has the confidence to make tricky moves. Tsunoda passed Alonso and Vettel in laps 25 and 27, respectfully. People were seriously impressed with the rookie’s ability to make moves on two world champions. Mercedes messed up Bottas’ pit stop, as the front right tyre got stuck and took too long to come off. This put him on the back foot and moved him from P2 down to P5, so he had to push hard and overtake consistently throughout the race. Alonso, unfortunately, had to retire in his first race at Alpine on lap 34 because there were problems with his rear brakes.
The battle between Hamilton and Verstappen was electric, and it hints at a hard-fought title battle that will make the season that much more enjoyable.
Russell was running P10 on lap 37 but had to change his aging tyres, sending him back down the grid and out of the points once again. In lap 39, Tsunoda passed another former world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, getting Alpha Tauri into the much-needed points in P10. Lewis Hamilton broke another record on lap 43, beating Michael Schumacher’s record of most laps led at 5,112. Lap 45 saw Vettel go into the back of Ocon at turn 1, but both were able to continue their race. As a consequence, the FIA gave Vettel a 10-second penalty, but that didn’t change his result of P15. Russell was able to pass Vettel and get up into 14th, which was a good result for the team, as they believed Bahrain to be a weak track for them that they shouldn’t focus on. The battle for the lead got closer as the race started coming to a close. Hamilton went wide at turn 10, which helped Verstappen get that much closer to the race leader. On lap 53, Verstappen got past Hamilton to take the lead at turn 4, but he gave it back because he had gone off track to make the overtake, which was against the rules set by the FIA. Verstappen and Hamilton battled it out until the final lap, but Hamilton eventually came out the race winner. Latifi retired on lap 55 because of a boosting issue. The result at the end of the race was: Lewis Hamilton P1, Max Verstappen P2 and Valtteri Bottas P3. Bottas got the fastest lap on the last lap as well.
Final Thoughts from the Author:
This was one of the best races I have seen in a while, and it made me excited to see what the rest of the reason has in store. Red Bull was able to keep it consistent, and Perez was able to come up the grid to P5, so while Max didn’t win, it was still a positive weekend for them. The battle between Hamilton and Verstappen was electric, and it hints at a hard-fought title battle that will make the season that much more enjoyable. McLaren and Ferrari had both drivers finish in the points, which is a strong start for both teams heading into the rest of the season. Alfa Romeo kept it consistent but was unable to score any points. Russell and Schumacher did well, considering their cars, and it will be vital for them to keep learning and adapt in the next few races as they aim for points finishes. The driver of the day was Perez. He started the race with a problem that forced him to start in the pitlane, but in genuine Perez at Bahrain fashion, he was able to get up to P5 by the end. His result was great, but he needs to improve in qualifying to get closer to Verstappen and the Mercedes drivers.
Now we wait for the next Grand Prix at Imola in 3 weeks. It seems like such a long wait. I can’t wait for the rest of the season, and bring on Imola!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am Emily Cary, I am 18 years old, and I am from the United Kingdom. I have a strong passion for Formula 1. My favorite drivers are George Russell, Alex Albon, Charles Leclerc, and Max Verstappen. I am in my final year of Six Form before going to university to study PE with teacher training. I like to spend time with my friends, family and playing sports like dance and cricket. My passion for Formula 1 comes from the thrill and the excitement of watching the drivers drive and fight for their position on the track, also seeing the competitiveness and the drive that the drives have. Also, seeing the drivers doing the best they can to succeed and prove themself within the sport. This is the first article that I am writing about Formula 1, and hopefully, it will not be the last.
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