Race Report: Verstappen dominates in Bahrain

during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit on March 05, 2022 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photograph by Vladimir Rys)

I have to admit up front hat I am much more impressed with the media and pundits in their predictions for this season’s opening Formula 1 race in Bahrain that I was last year. To be fair, the massive regulation changes last year had everyone guessing but this year’s evolutionary cars were more predictable on the heels of testing.

With that said, the pundits were right about Red Bull being the team to beat and Aston Martin being a team that may make a significant leap in performance. That’s exactly what we saw. We also saw McLaren struggle mightily, as predicted, and Mercedes improved enough o be int he mix but not a major threat to Red Bull. Now, that could change and it is early days but for the most part, the pundits were correct.

Win

A win for Max Versteppen and Sergio Perez who gave Red Bull a dominant 1, 2 finish in Bahrain. If you needed validation that Red Bull are firing on all six cylinders, this was a serious marker to throw down for the rest of the season.

A huge win for Fernando Alonso as he wrestled his Aston Martin ahead of both Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to get on the podium in 3rd place. Fernando’s teammate, the injured Lance Stroll even delivered an inspired drive to 6th place behind Hamilton but ahead of Russell. This is a huge jump in performance given last year saw them finish in 7th in the constructor’s title. I can’t explain what a galactic effort that is in F1 terms!

A win for Williams who managed to take advantage of the VSC and get Alex Alton in the points and even rookie Logan Sargeant did a great job of bringing it home in 12th. The team needed this result.

A win of Valtteri Bottas and Alfa Romeo Sauber who managed to have a tidy and competitive race into 8th for some needed points.

Fail

A fail for Ferrari, whose weekend looked to be good but, a DNF for Charles Leclerc left him stranded track-side and Carlos Sainz had tire degradation that left him victim to Alonso and nearly gobbled up by Hamilton. There are some serious conversations at Ferrari tonight.

A fail and big disappointment for me is the performance of Alpine. I really thought they would have a better car to start the season with but penalties gained while trying to serve penalties for Esteban Ocon was embarrassing and Pierre Gasly’s poor qualifying left him engaged in heroics trying to get back into the points.

Another fail and disappointment was McLaren who looked off in testing and looked even more “off” in the race. Lando had multiple stops to put air in his pneumatic system and Oscar Piastri had a DNF with electrical issues. At this point, I wonder if Lando Norris wishes he was Daniel Ricciardo about now and he would have been the one paid to leave the team last year.

A fail for Haas, and this is where some of the pundits got it wrong, as they showed a lack of pace on the long-run. Both drivers, who the team hired to score points, failed to score points.

WTH

I feel bad for Sky Sports customers who got 33 laps into the race only to have them switch to football leaving those who don’t have Sky Sports F1 any way to see the end of the race presumably…unless that package is included with Sky Sports…I don’t know, I’m not British.

The Sky Sports team have several former F1 drivers who have driven thousands of miles in F1. They have professional broadcasters like Pink, Rachel, Ted, Simon and even Laura Winter who is not Sky but pops up from time to time. She hit the ground running as a person who has been in broadcasting a while. Then you have Naomi. I think her features work is really nice when she can script the event and has time to relax and gain a rapport with her subject matters but live color commentary is really putting her in a difficult place when she is expected to add driver insight next to Martin, Nico, Anthony or JB. I may be wrong be she looks much more comfortable, personable and approachable in features than she does for live commentary.

Not to worry, Eddie Everywhere was there in full dress and handed out medals. That whole “stepping back” thing is very nuanced obviously.

Pirelli Report:

  • Red Bull brought home a one-two at the opening race of the 2023 season. The Bahrain Grand Prix was won by Max Verstappen, who crossed the finish line on the hard tyres. His team mate Sergio Perez and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso were also on the podium, using the hard for the final stint as well.
  • Race conditions today were very similar to those seen in qualifying on Saturday, with 30°C of track temperature and almost no wind.
  • All the teams stopped at least twice. Tyre choices varied for the central stints, but the majority of drivers finished the race on the hard compound. Four teams took advantage of a Virtual Safety Car to make a third pit stop for the soft tyre. Alpine’s Pierre Gasly was the only one of them to score points, ending up ninth.
  • Red Bull and Ferrari, fighting for the top positions for a large part of the race, opted for different strategies. Both teams started on the soft, but Red Bull chose the soft tyres again for the second stint, while Ferrari went for the hard. Both teams then chose the hard for the final stint, with Ferrari stopping slightly earlier than its rivals.
  • Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou set the fastest lap of the race (1m33.996s) on the soft tyre but didn’t score an extra championship point as he was running outside the top 10. The fastest lap set on the new hard tyre was from Alonso, who did a 1m36.156s.

Bahrain Grand Prix Results:

PosNoDriverCar
11Verstappen
Red Bull Racing
211Perez
Red Bull Racing
314Alonso
Aston Martin
455Sainz
Ferrari
544Hamilton
Mercedes
618Stroll
Aston Martin
763Russell
Mercedes
877Bottas
Alfa Romeo
910Gasly
Alpine
1023Albon
Williams
1122Tsunoda
AlphaTauri
122Sargeant
Williams
1320Magnussen
Haas F1 Team
1421De Vries
AlphaTauri
1527Hulkenberg
Haas F1 Team
1624Zhou
Alfa Romeo
174Norris
McLaren
1831Ocon
Alpine
1916Leclerc
Ferrari
2081Piastri
McLaren
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
race-report-verstappen-dominates-in-bahrainEnjoyed this race a lot and while REd Bull dominated, there was a lot to watch behind them. Ferrari, Aston, Mercedes could be a very interesting battle all year long.
5 2 votes
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Chris R

Gotta say I was fairly excited about the new F1 season, as I am in general each year.
Unfortunately, during the off-season I revisited the 1997 and 1998 championships via online sources. Kinda yawned my way through today’s race. Nice to see Alonso back on the podium. Anything else getting you stoked about watching the next TWENTY TWO races?

Peter

Hey, an honest recap? For the first time in a while is was 2 hours of fun.
Also answer to how Alonso got on the podium? Because he wanted to! “Nice car to drive,” said loads.

The Captain

You have got to be kidding me! I was watching the pre-race show and actually thought to myself “Naomi is doing really well today and Nico is a train wreck, watch Todd complain bout Namoi somehow”. And here we are :) As someone who watching our on-air talent from behind then camera your fixation with Naomi is starting to sound personal. Did she send your letters back? Did she record over your mixtape you set her? But seriously she was absolutely better on air during the pre-race than Nico was. Just not even close for me. She was relatively insightful, calm,… Read more »

Fred

I kept hearing from the “experts” that Williams was slowest. They did do alright. Fun to watch Alonso race, his experience clearly shows and he doesn’t get rattled.

Fabio

You know, I wasn’t sure about Alonso returning to F1 (@ Alpine) because of his divisiveness, but I will admit that I was totally wrong.
I wonder if Webber and Piastri are scouring his contract for performance out-clause?