With lights out at the Bahrain International Circuit, the first race of the calendar year saw both the Ferrari drivers dominate on Sunday, in what was a very exciting race. Charles Leclerc won the Grand Prix followed by his teammate Carlos Sainz taking up the second podium and Lewis Hamilton getting a lucky third place.
How It Played Out
The drivers lined up and as the lights turned green, the pole-sitter Charles Leclerc took the lead with Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz on his back. Sergio Perez slipped a spot, while Hamilton gained fourth.
Valterri Bottas who fought hard in the qualifying for his 6th spot on the grid, dropped down 8 places after the first lap. Zhou Guanyu made his debut for Alfa Romeo while Albon saw himself at 15th after the first lap in the Williams livery.
By the 12th lap, both the McLaren drivers found themselves at the bottom with Noris in 18th and Ricciardo in 20th. Their troubled qualifier turned into an even worse race. They were the only team to start the race with Hard tyres while the rest stuck to Medium.
By the 18th lap, Max Verstappen, coming from the pits, got very close to taking the lead but Leclerc reacted straight away, coming right back to reclaim top spot with DRS in the run-up to turn four.
Fernando Alonso who had lost a few spots at the beginning slowly regained his way into top 10. Kevin Magnussen faced some fierce competition from George Russel but just managed to maintain his place.
Meanwhile, Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon also made their way to the top, putting behind Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher.
Gasly gazed past Magnussen for ninth in the 40th lap before the Dane returns the favour, and with the wind in his sails scoots past Zhou and into seventh.
In the 47th lap, Pierre Gasly felt heating sensations at the back and quickly brought his car to a halt. Before he could further examine, his engine burst into flames, ruling him out of the race.
By this time, the Safety Car was deployed and all the lapped cars were given the opportunity to un-lap.
With the race eyeing a close finish, Max Verstappen who was pressured by Carlos Sainz for the second place, suddenly seemed to have lost power. In the radio talk, he claimed it was a “battery power issue”. His hopes for the second podium slowly diminished in the 56th lap as he had to pit and abandon the race.
As we headed into the final lap, Leclerc lead the race with Sainz behind. Sergio Perez who was comfortably cruising for a third-place podium suddenly saw the six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton close up the gap.
In another unfortunate turn of events, Checo Perez also lost power and spun on a corner fuelled by a ‘mechanical failure’.
Leclerc finished the race where he started it with his teammate Carlos Sainz next to him, giving Ferrari a head start to the Constructor’s Championship. Both Red Bull’s cars gave up in the final moments to leave it open for a Ferrari one-two, and for Lewis Hamilton to help himself to third.
This was after 2019, when Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, both of Ferrari’s drivers were on the podium.
Here’s the Top 10:
The driver standings after the first race are as follows:
The team standings after the race are:
Ecstatic with emotion, this is what Charles Leclerc had to say: “ I’m so happy. We knew this was a big opportunity for the team and the guys have done an incredible job building into amazing car. A one-two today with Carlos – we couldn’t hope for better. It’s incredible to be back at the top.”
With Ferrari looking to maintain their winning form, Red Bull who lost out on the points today, have to act fast in fixing their problems. Mercedes, who finished 3rd and 4th, make their way into challenging for the championship.
Haas were on the receiving end of crucial points, as Kevin Magnussen finished a stunning 5th place. The debutant Zhou Guanyu made the 10th place with Bottas finishing 6th as Alfa Romeo got off to a good start.
Disastrous Beginning for Red Bull
Christian Horner commented on the team’s double retirement from the opening race of the 2022 Formula One season as the team’s “worst nightmare” and explained that the issue on both cars was likely related to the battery and fuel system.
Max Verstappen was forced to retire his Red Bull from second place just three laps from the end of the race after he went head-to head with later race-winner for the previous 54 laps.
Following Max’s retirement, Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez also dropped out of the running when his car spun on track. He too complained of a similar problem with the power of his car. In the end, he had to give away his third podium to Lewis Hamilton.
The double retirement means Red Bull left the opening round in Bahrain with zero points while rivals direct Ferrari took a maximum 44 and Mercedes scored 27.
Christian Horner, in an interview later said:
“I can’t remember the last time that happened to us but obviously it’s your worst nightmare,” Horner said. “It’s hugely disappointing, not only to lose a podium with Max, but then also to lose a podium with Checo as well.
However, after the race Max Verstappen displayed his sportsmanship when he congratulated Charles on his win. Here’s the video:
A day of late braking and hand-shaking 🤝
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 20, 2022
Fans were overjoyed by the return of Formula One with such a nail-biting finale. It was a new-perfect start to the motorsport event.
Saudi Arabian Grand Pix- Details, Time and Overview
The drivers will now focus on the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which features on Sunday, 27th March. With similar conditions, the drivers have roughly five days to prepare, after which we see the practice at Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
The race will be held at 17:00 GMT on Sunday.
Red Bull will target to open their score on the points table while Mercedes welcomes another competitor in Ferrari. Comment down below about your thoughts on the Bahrain Grand Prix.