First F1 Grand Prix finished, Ferrari take 1-2!

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On the 20th of March at 15:00, the first F1 Grand Prix of the 2022 season was held at the Bahrain International Circuit. After Qualifying on Saturday, the 24-year-old Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc took pole position in a lap time of 1:30.558. Max Verstappen was exceptionally close behind on the front row with a time of 1:30.681s. Ferrari had been extremely impressive through winter testing in Barcelona from the 23rd-25th of February. Red Bull was one of the favourites for the win today, while Mercedes had problems with the car and started from a disappointing 5th and 9th start on the grid.

At 15:00, it was time for the season’s first race, 57 laps around the 5.412 km Circuit. It was ” five lights out and away we go”. Leclerc and Verstappen had a fantastic start to their race, heading into turn 1. Meanwhile, the Mexican driver Sergio Perez lost places at the start dropping him back down behind the 7-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and the Haas driver Kevin Magnussen who returned to F1 after Nikita Mazepin’s contract was terminated as a result of developments concerning the current events in Ukraine. All cars got underway cleanly, with no early crashes or spins at the start of the race.

The first proper battle came in lap 17/57 when heading into turn 1; Max Verstappen had DRS on Charles Leclerc, giving him an additional 10-25 kph. After turn one, Verstappen was not only leading the Grand Prix, but he also achieved the fastest lap of the race at that moment with a time of 1:36.905. However, after turn 3, Charles Leclerc had DRS on Verstappen, allowing him to retake the lead of the Grand Prix after turn 4. Then in lap 18 on the final straight, Max Verstappen again had DRS on Leclerc and managed to take the lead of the Grand Prix heading, in turn, one after breaking exceptionally late. He showed great skill and bravery with the car under the new F1 regulations. However, on the same turn as in lap 17, Leclerc retaking the lead over Verstappen, showing superb racing from both drivers. This carried on until lap 19, producing a race that was incredibly epic to watch and showed that both drivers were pushing the maximum out of their cars.

Then in lap 46/57, Max Verstappen seemed to have problems with his steering wheel when his racing engineer Gianpiero Lambiase asked on the race radio, “Is the wheel heavy in both directions so far? On both left and right?” Verstappen replied, “everywhere, everywhere it not even smooth”. At this time, the French driver, Pierre Gasly, was forced to abort his Alphatauri that caught fire. This meant that a safety car was deployed, which lasted until lap 51/57 of the race. Then in lap 54/57, Verstappen asked his engineer, “mate, what is going on with the battery?” where his engineer replied, “We can’t see the issue, it’s not battery related.” This allowed Carlos Sainz to have a fantastic slipstream behind Verstappen and over him, heading into turn 11. After that moment, Max Verstappen asked his engineer, ” what do you want me to do?” Whereby Lambiase replied, “There is not much we can do”.  So after a fantastic start by the Dutchman, the world champion was forced to enter the pit lane on lap 55 and retire his car. This meant all Red Bull’s hopes lay with Sergio Perez to bring the race home.

However, in lap 57/58, Sergio Perez radioed, “I’m losing power”, as he was heading into turn 2. He then got on the throttle too early, causing him to spin and retire the car. This now meant that both Red bulls were forced to flee, giving the team 0 points and a dramatic start to the season. Then in lap 57/57, Charles Leclerc came over the finish line, shortly followed by Carlos Sainz to give Ferrari their first 1-2 after Singapore in 2019. Also, Leclerc secured another point for the fastest lap of the race giving Ferrari 44 points. Also, a fantastic achievement for both Guanyu Zhou on his F1 debut achieving P10 and Magnussen P5. Mercedes finished P3 and P4, which was a good enough result with the current issues on the car. McLaren, who had been promising during winter testing, particularly with Lando Norris, had a disappointing 14th and 15th position, meaning they have a lot of work to do.

What is a fact is that this could be an extraordinary F1 season because it seems that the top teams, Red Bull and Mercedes, have dropped down the grid. Ferrari has proven that they are very much prepared this season and are beginning to retain the level they used to have. Both Mercedes and Red Bull need to step up their game if one of their drivers wishes to become the next world champion. Also, smaller teams such as Alpha Romeo and Haas have shown potential to be a strong contender for the midfield. An exciting season lies ahead and in 7 days we are in Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix!