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Bahrain Grand Prix: The Prancing Horse Hits its Stride

A review of the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

After a long winter break, F1 has returned with the start of a new era featuring new regulations and brand new cars. All watched in anticipation to see who would master the new regulations and start a new era with a win.

Qualifying ;

In Q1 we saw huge shocks as Mclaren was found to have a terribly slow package. This could be due to the lack of testing or due to the fact that their driver Daniel Ricciardo had tested positive for Covid a week before the race. They struggled with tire degradation and a lack of grip around the track. Ricciardo drove poorly and qualified only 18th. Aston Martin received a setback when their driver Sebastian Vettel tested positive for Covid and had to be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg on short notice. Both Aston Martins had a poor showing qualifying 17th and 19th finishing ahead of only Nicholas Latifi in the Williams after struggling with porpoising. Ever since Aston Martin changed their name they have been on a steady decline, and now, it seems as if the only thing they have going for them is their livery,

Q2 saw more unlikely results with the other Mclaren of Lando Norris being eliminated and qualifying only 13th. Debutant Guanyu Zhou did well to reach Q2 in his first ever qualifying however, he was eliminated and was 15th after his lap time was deleted due to a track limits violation. The other ejected drivers included Esteban Ocon of Alpine, Mick Schumacher in the Haas, and Pierre Gasly from Alpha Tauri.

Q3 saw the shootout for pole, which was between Max Verstappen of Red Bull, Charles Leclerc, and Carlos Sainz, both of Ferrari. Verstappen was on provisional pole after a stellar first lap, however in his second run he struggled to make up time, opening the door to the rapid Ferraris. Charles Cleclerc took pole after a stunning final lap, with Verstappen and Sainz around a tenth and a half behind. The other hero of the day was Kevin Magnussen of Haas. Due to political complications and due to Mazepins fathers suspected involvement in Russias invasion of Ukraine, Mazepins contract was terminated and he was replaced by Kevin Magnussen. who returned after a year long hiatus from motorsport. Haas sacrificed the 2021 season and put all funds towards the development of the 2022 car. This crucial decision clearly paid off as Magnussen miraculously qualified 7th, ahead of George Russel in the Mercedes, who have struggled all weekend. Valterri Bottas showed his mettle by qualifying 6th and outqualifying the man who took his seat.

The Race:

All eyes were on the front row, Max Verstappen Vs Charles Leclerc, a new generation of drivers for the future, aiming for greatness in the present. The opening lap saw the top 3 all preserve their positions, but a bit further behind Lewis hamilton made up a place at the start, Magnussen made up two places and Perez dropped a couple places back. The next site of action was on lap 17, just as Leclerc was making his way out of the pitlane after a scheduled stop. Verstappen went as hard as he could on his outlap to make up a 3 second deficit and successfully did so, being less than a second behind as Leclerc emerged from the pits. Verstappen had mighty straight line speed as compared to Leclerc and overtook him easily on the start/finish straight, however Leclerc bided his time, regaining the lead of the race at turn 4 with the help of DRS. The next 2 laps saw the same situation unfold. Verstappen overtook Leclerc on the straight, and lost the place at turn 4, however due to his aggressive driving Verstappen had gotten a flat spot on his tire and would not be able to keep up with the pace of the Ferrari.

It looked to be a routine win, but 10 laps from the end Pierre Gasly's car malfunctioned causing him to retire from the race, as well as bring out a safety car to bunch up all the cars. This was greatly disadvantageous as Leclerc had built up a 4 second lead over Verstappen but now that lead had greatly diminished, however his position was not in trouble, as Verstappen had an issue with his power steering, making it incredibly difficult for him to drive. When the race restarted Verstappen lost places due to the problem and was forced to retire. His teammate Perez's car overheated on the last lap, forcing him to retire thus giving Red Bull zero points for the weekend with a dreadful start for the defending champion.

The race ended with a Ferrari 1-2 for the first time in 43 races and 920 days and a third career win for Charles Leclerc.Lewis Hamilton managed to snag an unlikely podium and managed to salvage what seemed to be a disastrous weekend for Mercedes. Magnussen dragged his car to a humongous 5th place, giving Haas their highest finish in 3 years. Agaianst all odds Valterri Bottas managed to keep his qualifying position and finished 6th. Gunayu Zhou also managed to get a point on his debut giving Alfa Romeo a rare double points finish.

It's been a tough few years for the Tifosi. After their engine deemed illegal by the FIA in 2019, they suffered their worst season since the late 90's finishing in 6th place in the constructor's championship. The following year they parted ways with 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel and replaced him with young Spanish driver Carlos Sainz. They showed great improvement in 2021 getting third in the constructor's championship narrowly beating Mclaren. With arguably the best driver lineup, going into the season all eyes were on them and how they would adapt to new regulations. After a promising few days of testing, they were the favorites going into Bahrain, and they lived up to that expectation. Grabbing pole on Saturday and converting it into a 1-2 was a dream performance by the Scuderia and they are now genuine challengers for the title. There was an atmosphere of elation on Sunday, and all the fans now truly believe that Ferrari. Are. Back.

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