Ferrari Finish 1-2 In Bahrain As Red Bull Leave With Nothing

Formula One / 11 Comments

The first race of the 2022 F1 season was packed with action.

After months of waiting, the 2022 Formula 1 season is finally underway. Yesterday saw the first race, not just of a new year but of a new era of F1, take place at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain. With a massive new ruleset bringing back the era of ground effects cars, a higher concentration of renewable ethanol in the race fuel, and a new F1 champion on the grid, the Bahrain Grand Prix was going to be exciting, if for no other reason than to see whether Mercedes-AMG F1 could bring a car capable of competing with Red Bull Racing. There was drama and action before the lights went out on Sunday, however, as Sebastian Vettel tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, prompting Aston Martin to call in Nico Hulkenberg as a super-sub on short notice. But Sunday proved to be as exciting as everyone expected, with the new rules shaking up not only the racing experience but the hierarchy of teams as we've come to know it in the turbo-hybrid era of F1. These are the five key talking points:

Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari

First Ferrari 1-2 In Three Years

Charles Leclerc was dominant, leading the Sakhir Grand Prix from start to finish after pulling out all the stops to qualify ahead of reigning champion Max Verstappen by 0.123 seconds on Saturday. When the lights went out, he pulled ahead and managed to hang on until the end in a convincing fashion, with the only cause for concern coming after lap 15 when Verstappen's early pitstop put him on Leclerc's tail as the Monegasque driver came out of the pits. The new car regulations that were developed to ensure closer following of cars and better racing proved themselves in this first race, as a dogfight ensued between Max and Charles over the next 5 laps: Verstappen outbraking Leclerc into turn one, while Leclerc then fought back at turn four to regain his lead. Once cleanly ahead, Leclerc's F1-75 proved itself by stretching a strong lead over Verstappen's Red Bull, showing that the early rumors of Ferrari's pace had real substance.

Ferrari
Red Bull Content Pool
Ferrari
Ferrari
9 Fastest SUVs On The Planet
9 Fastest SUVs On The Planet
5 Awesome Features Of The 2024 Volkswagen ID.Buzz
5 Awesome Features Of The 2024 Volkswagen ID.Buzz

Ferrari's second driver, Carlos Sainz Jr., had struggled with his car from the beginning of the weekend, falling eight-tenths of a second behind Leclerc across practice and qualifying. Starting third, he admitted he hadn't yet found a driving style that worked with the new car. Still, he fought hard, fending off assaults from Sergio Perez in the middle of the race and was looking like a strong contender for third place on the podium. But a stroke of good luck for Ferrari and misfortune for Red Bull Racing saw Max Verstappen face drama in the closing stages of the race. A powertrain failure saw Max retire, handing Sainz the second step on the podium and handing Ferrari its first 1-2 since Singapore 2019, the team's last F1 victory, and one that was marred by a powertrain deemed by many as illegal. Ferrari may have teased a new 296 GTB racer last week to replace the 488 GT3, but in 2022, all eyes will be on the F1-75.

Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari

Nightmare For Red Bull

Honda departed the world of Formula 1 at of the end of 2021, with Red Bull Racing buying out development and taking things in-house. Under the newly formed Red Bull Powertrains, the engine maker had a dismal start to its F1 campaign, with three of the four RBPT-powered cars not even seeing the checkered flag. Verstappen and Perez's Red Bulls had been strong through practice and qualifying and had been tipped to have decent race pace, but they were clearly not on the same level as Ferrari. Verstappen showed great straight-line speed but was unable to make any of his moves stick against Charles Leclerc.

The trouble started late in the race, however, when Pierre Gasly's Alpha Tauri lost power in turn two before bursting into flames as he pulled off the circuit - at the same corner where Romain Grosjean suffered a fiery accident two years ago.

Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Content Pool

This prompted a full safety car deployment - which induced anxiety among many following last year's season finale debacle - and a slew of pitstops.

Verstappen was one of those who stopped, but immediately felt problems with his car thereafter, citing excessive steering weight. Despite this, he was instructed to continue, but when the racing continued he complained of battery issues. It turned out it wasn't the battery, and Verstappen was forced to retire from the race with a powertrain failure on lap 54 of 57. This bumped Sergio Perez into third, but on the final lap, he suffered a powertrain failure, too, the driven wheels locking into turn one, spinning his car, and seeing him retire from the GP.

Red Bull later confirmed via social media that the issue was failed fuel pumps on both cars, something the team will want to rectify quickly with Round 2 of the F1 season just a week away.

Yuki Tsunoda offered slight consolation, actually finishing the Grand Prix and picking up points in eighth.

Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Content Pool

Mercedes-AMG Struggling For Pace

In years gone by, we've become accustomed to Mercedes-AMG telling everyone they were struggling ahead of the season, only for the opening race to come along and the German outfit to start strong and not let up. That's how it's won eight Constructor's Championships on the trot in the turbo-hybrid era. But this year was different as Mercedes struggled in testing and didn't come right in practice and qualifying. Seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, was off the pace, and so too was his new teammate George Russell, qualifying fifth and ninth respectively. The pair's race pace was no better, as both struggled to keep up with Ferrari and Red Bull. Fortuitously for the two Mercedes works drivers, Red Bull's retirements elevated them a couple of places, landing Lewis Hamilton in third when the checkered flag came down with George Russell just behind in fourth.

Mercedes is clearly not at the same level as Red Bull and Ferrari this season, and with the lower half of the field comprising Mercedes-powered cars, it seems Merc's powertrain is lacking compared to the rest.

Mercedes-AMG F1
Mercedes-AMG F1

Haas Is Back, Baby!

The USA may soon be on the verge of fielding an American driver for a new American F1 team in the form of Andretti racing, but it already has one team in the field in the form of Haas F1. And 2022 looks like it could be Haas's year, as Kevin Magnussen finished fifth while Mick Schumacher pulled off his best ever F1 finish in 11th, just outside of the points. The final standings weren't the only cause for celebration: Haas was genuinely competitive throughout the weekend, with Magnussen hammering home a stellar qualifying lap despite hydraulic issues to start the Grand Prix from seventh on the grid while Mick, still in his second year of F1, started 12th. It's early days, but with a strong Ferrari powertrain, Haas looks to be out of the blocks in fine form.

Haas F1
Haas F1

Haas has struggled for form in the last few years, and 2021 saw the team finish dead last - admittedly with all development being focused on the new 2022 regulations. But until a week and a half ago, Haas didn't even have a full team. It cut ties with headline sponsor Uralkali midway through the first batch of testing, and cut second driver, Nikita Mazepin, just ahead of the second round of pre-season testing. Magnussen was re-appointed to the team on short notice, but in one race has already achieved far more than Mazepin was able to in a full season, in which he finished 21st in a 20-driver championship.

Haas F1
Haas F1
Haas F1

2022 Regulations Paying Dividends

The new regulations for 2022 were supposed to shake up the sport, and they have delivered. Not only has Mercedes' dominance been disrupted, but you now have drivers and teams vying for points that last year were fighting not to be last. Haas has started strongest, but even the likes of Alfa Romeo have shown promise, with both Valterri Bottas and debutant Zhou Guanyu picking up points in the first race of the season. Alpine finished seventh and ninth with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso respectively, suggesting a decent base platform from which to work. What's more, we saw some genuine wheel-to-wheel racing throughout the field, showing that cars can now follow closer than before.

Alpine
Red Bull Content Pool

But it's not all fairytales, as McLaren and Aston Martin suffered this weekend. Both powered by Mercedes, the two works teams struggled for pace. Daniel Ricciardo missed the final round of testing due to Covid, and it showed as he struggled to get to grips with his car, despite finishing 14th ahead of Lando Norris in 15th. Lance Stroll's 12th-place finished in his Aston Martin is a better result than his race pace indicated, while super-sub Hulkenberg was last of the finishers in 17th. Williams was relatively quiet throughout the whole race, with Alex Albon securing 13th place upon his return to the sport, while Nicholas Latifi finished 16th.

McLaren F1
Red Bull Content Pool

What's Next?

With another 22 races still to come - provided F1 finds a replacement for the canceled Russian Grand Prix - there's still a long way to go. If the 2021 season taught us anything, it's that an F1 season is a marathon, not a sprint. Ferrari is clearly ahead at this early stage but the rest of the teams will be looking to bounce back as quickly as possible. Can Mercedes rectify its powertrain deficit in order to be more competitive? Can Red Bull fix its powertrain reliability issues? Can McLaren find the right setup to give two talented drivers the car they deserve? And can Haas maintain the early momentum?

These are the questions we're dying to find answers to, and with round two in Saudi Arabia this weekend at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, we don't have to wait long to find out.

Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari
Ferrari

Join The Discussion

Gallery

31
Photos

Related Cars

Back
To Top