2022 Bahrain Grand Prix Blog
The pre-season hype was mostly focused on Red Bull and Mercedes, understandably so given their domination of the sport in 2021. Ferrari were the dark horses in this year’s line-up. We’d heard rumours that the F1-75 was quick. During Sunday’s Bahrain GP, we found out exactly how quick it is!
Congratulations to Charles Leclerc who put in a flawless performance, taking pole on Saturday before fending off the challenges of Max Verstappen to win the race on Sunday. His teammate, Carlos Sainz, filled second spot, giving the Scuderia a maximum haul of points for the first race of 2022.
What happened to Verstappen you ask? He should have comfortably finished P2 but the Red Bull did not make it to the end of the race. During the final few laps, Verstappen’s car slowed and he asked over the radio what was happening with his battery. Whatever it was, it turned out to be terminal as the Dutchman pulled into the pits with three laps to go.
Still at least Sergio Perez was holding off Lewis Hamilton for third place and one Red Bull driver would be on the podium? Wrong! The Mexican driver suffered the same issue as his teammate and spun as he started his final lap. Perez’s engine had stopped, and that was that, 2 x DNFs for Red Bull.
Christian Horner summed up their day, saying: “Obviously we are hugely disappointed to lose the chance of podium finishes today, but congratulations to Ferrari on their one, two finish and a return to the front. We will need to conduct a full investigation into what happened, but it looks suspiciously like the failures are related to each other and it may be an issue with the fuel system. The positive side for us is that we clearly have a competitive car.”
He’s right of course. Fans were treated to a ding-dong battle between Leclerc and Verstappen after the first round of pit stops, as the pair swapped places five times in the space of two laps. If this is a sign of things to come, then it seems the new regulations have had the desired effect. Close racing is exactly what we all want to see. Long may it continue.
Where were Mercedes? In the end Lewis Hamilton managed to clinch an unlikely place on the podium with George Russell just behind him in fourth. Not a disaster for them in terms of point scoring but the Silver Arrows must surely be worried. They looked off the pace for most of the weekend.
Toto Wolff did not shy away from what many were thinking, saying afterwards: “At the moment we are fifth and sixth on the track, and we are trying to recover ground but it is not going to come from one day to the other – we’ll keep pushing.”
So, do we have a change in the pecking order for the top teams this year? It seems that way at the moment.
The middle order teams have also had a reshuffle with McLaren (P14 & P15) and Aston Martin (P12 & P17) having races to forget. We were genuinely surprised by their lack of pace but of course this would be to another team’s advantage. Step forward Kevin Magnussen. The Dane has only been a Haas driver for a little over a week, having been called upon to replace Nikita Mazepin, and yet somehow brought his car home in fifth place.
Magnussen was perhaps as surprised as anyone, saying: “The craziness just continues. We had a really good race and the car was good all the way through… Obviously, a bit of luck there with the two Red Bull’s but we’ll take that.”
This was an amazing result for the Haas team. Congratulations to all involved.
But the headline act was Ferrari. The tifosi have been quiet for a long time. Now they are shouting. Mattia Binotto was equally delighted, saying: “To win in Formula 1, you have to do everything perfectly and today we did just that and that goes for everyone, the drivers, the F1-75, the engineers with the strategy and the mechanics, who were impeccable at the pit stops. Seeing the way the team was able to make the most of every opportunity fills me with pride… I am also thinking of the fans who have always supported us, even when things were a bit tricky and I admit I can’t wait to get to Imola to race in front of them.”
Imola is not that far away, but more immediately we have the prospect of the Saudi Arabian GP this coming weekend. Jeddah Corniche Circuit is unforgiving, to say the least. We anticipate high drama throughout.
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Here’s hoping that 2022 will be another unforgettable season!