Seeing Red in Bahrain

The new era for Formula 1 started on Sunday under the lights in the desert in Bahrain – and what a race it was! After years dominated by Mercedes and Red Bull, Ferrari joined the party big time, with Charles Leclerc winning from pole, with fastest lap as well, ably backed up by his team mate Carlos Sainz in second.

The race saw a brilliant battle between the lead Ferrari and world champion Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, with the cars swapping the lead three times in as many laps after the first round of pit stops. But luck ran out for Max and Red Bull towards the end when a fuel pump failure brought about a rare retirement. But not that rare as on the last lap the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez spun to a halt, as a result of another mechanical failure. So no points at all for Red Bull.

The demise of the Red Bulls promoted Lewis Hamilton to third, with his new team mate George Russell following him in fourth. But in truth Mercedes were simply not fast enough to keep up with Ferrari and Red Bull, so much work to do if the silver arrows are to fight for race wins.

Ferrari have produced an amazing engine this year. Not only were the red cars dominant up front, but the other Ferrari engine teams showed amazing progress, with Haas claiming fifth, more of which below, and Bottas in the Alfa Romeo sixth. In contrast, the Mercedes engine teams really struggled, with Williams, McLaren and Aston Martin unable to get a car anywhere near the points.

Three weeks ago Kevin Magnussen was an ex F1 driver, preparing to race in the Sebring 12 hours sports car race. With Haas parting company with both its Russian sponsor and driver, Magnussen got a call and flew to Bahrain for the pre-season test, whilst at the same time trying to extract himself from his contracted drives in the US. What happened next surprised many, with Magnussen driving an aggressive race to fifth and Mick Schumacher also showing good pace, finally finishing just out of the points in eleventh. It is clear that Haas have built a good car this year.

The two pink Alpines battled closely with each other, Ocon eventually prevailing over Alonso and both finishing in the lower half of the points paying positions.

With the next race next weekend, the teams have little time to address their respective issues. The track in Jeddah is quite different to Bahrain – a high speed street circuit, which some people think will favour Red Bull – but then the Ferrari powered cars may also benefit. Struggles are likely to continue for the Mercedes powered cars, in particular McLaren and Aston Martin, and Mercedes themselves will struggle to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull. For Red Bull, reliability will be the big issue following their experiences in Bahrain. For the fans, it is fantastic to see Ferrari back at the front, the new cars look good and race well together. There were many overtakes in Bahrain, which suggests the new rules reset has worked.


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Carlos Sainz - Charles LeClerc with a Ferrari 1-2 in Bahrain