The 2023 Formula One season opener is done but felt a bit underwhelming. Here are five takeaways from the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Bahrain International Circuit set the scene to begin the latest Formula One World Championship for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Fans rejoiced at the return of F1 with another dominant performance from the reigning champion and a stellar performance from a racing icon. Although, there was a heavy dose of disappointment for some teams and their fans. Here are the five takeaways we got from the weekend.
1. Red Bull will dominate this season
The champions kicked off their 2023 campaign in a dominant fashion. Max Verstappen looked in mid-season form and took the win with ease. Whatever off-season training he did, it’s working as he looks to be the clear favorite to win the title. Sergio Perez was nowhere near Verstappen during the race, but he did manage to work his way back ahead of Leclerc to secure a one-two finish. It is only the first race of the season, but this might be a sign of what is to come. They are once again the team to beat and they look in prime position to contend for a win every race weekend. They placed the entire paddock on notice of who is the top dog. Any potential ‘leveling of the playing field’ from cost cap, wind tunnel reductions, or penalties from last year surely have not made any impact so far.
2. “El Plan” is in full effect
At the young age of 41, Fernando Alonso has continuously proven that age is just a number. The new Aston Martin driver was undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend as he secured his ninety-ninth podium. The exuberant pace the car had all weekend had everyone on high hopes for a great result for them. Things almost took a wrong turn when Alonso and his teammate Stroll bumped into one another on the first lap, but luckily it didn’t end their races. Alonso displayed quality driving and charged his way up to beat both Mercedes and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz for the final spot on the podium. A result like this will only provide more confidence to Alonso and Aston Martin.
Time to party! 🥳 (sound on 🔊)#BahrainGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/oUK1O7FFtM
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 5, 2023
3. The Ferrari curse continues
Sunday’s race for Ferrari fans was nothing more than another heartbreak added to the Hall of Infamy. When will it end for them? Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were dusted by Verstappen. Leclerc, who won in Bahrain last season, suffered a heartbreaking DNF while in second place while Sainz lost out on a podium finish to Alonso. Many believed Ferrari’s blunders were a thing of the past with Fred Vasseur taking over the role as Team Principal, but they have not reversed their luck just yet. This is only the first race, but this is not the way to kick start their year. Buckle in Ferrari fans, this year could be another rollercoaster of emotions.
4. McLaren’s disastrous start
The McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will be glad to get out of Sakhir after a dreadful weekend. The expectations for McLaren were quite low knowing that their car was not going to be competitive. Piastri, who was making his F1 debut, suffered mechanical issues that ended his race after just fourteen laps. Norris had issues with a pressure leak that forced him to pit multiple times to refill the leak. A DNF and a seventeenth-place finish for a team that was on the rise just a few years ago is quite shocking, to say the least.
5. Can Mercedes fix their problems?
Mercedes entered the new year looking to improve on a year where they massively underperformed to their normal standards. They are continuing their no-sidepod method, but it has yet to provide any long-term results. Team Principal Toto Wolff, started his plans to get rid of this concept and change things for the better. This weekend for the Silver Arrows did not meet expectations with Hamilton stating the team has a “mountain to climb.” Their lack of straight-line speed prevents them from competing with the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari. Many believed their issues would have been resolved, but it does seem they will continue to linger on the German team. How long will it take them to deliver a new car concept and compete at the front?
Formula 1 takes a one-week break after the pre-season testing and the Bahrain Grand Prix doubleheader. With two weeks to go till the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, it gives time for teams on the backfoot to gather data learned in Bahrain and hopefully improve. What was your biggest takeaway from the weekend?