Red Bull Has Great Chance To Win Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Formula One / 5 Comments

As long as that terrible engine issue is fixed.

The first round of the 2022 Formula 1 Championship was a harrowing experience for the two top-tier teams in the sport. Despite consistent sandbagging rumors, the all-new Mercedes did not have the pace to live with the frontrunners. But the biggest embarrassment of all was Red Bull, who lost both cars to mechanical issues.

According to Red Bull, the two RB18s ( including one Aplha Tauri) had fuel pump problems. That's quite odd because the fuel pump is a standardized part used by all the manufacturers. It can't possibly be that simple, which means Red Bull has less than a week to figure out what happened and how to make it not happen again.

The cars will be pushed harder in the second-ever Jeddah Grand Prix, and at this point, Red Bull can't afford another engine disaster. The teams only get three power units per season, and Red Bull is already one down. After they've burnt through the three power units, every significant change a team makes usually results in a ten-place penalty.

Not ideal for a driver looking to defend his world title.

Jeddah Corniche Circuit

For the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the powers that be wanted to answer one question: What would the fastest street race on the F1 calendar be like? In 2021, the question was finally answered.

Unfortunately, the answer is garbage. The 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was trash. The result of having the second-highest average speed (Monza is still faster) with little visibility and zero run-off resulted in carnage. It was like watching a demolition derby sped up ten times.

In addition to that, the drivers were on edge and behaved poorly. Who can forget that infamous rear-end shunt?

The track has been changed this year, but not by much. The final corner is slightly different, and sightlines have been improved, but we'll have to wait and see what happens.

F1 @sebweltmeister/Twitter @sebweltmeister/Twitter

Is It Ferrari’s Year?

Slow down, bud. It's still way too early to make that call. While it's impossible not to enjoy a Ferrari One-Two, we're at the start of a very long season. It's only one down with 22 still to go.

What you can't deny is that Ferrari is the team to beat.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz made that much clear last Sunday. Their pace is stunning, and the cars they supply engines to are also doing great. Both Haas and Alfa Romeo are powered by Ferrari power units and did more in one race than in an entire year.

Haas and Alfa Romeo are third and fourth in the constructor's championship. Alfa Romeo is four points away from matching the points it scored during the 2021 season. Haas is well beyond that point, scoring zero points in 2021.

Given Red Bull's engine issues, we can't help but think they're currently in Jeddah, glancing over longingly at Scuderia Ferrari's garage.

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Has Verstappen Met His Match?

Verstappen's world championship will always be in dispute due to Michael Masi's infamous ruling during the final race of 2021. People tend to forget that Verstappen led more than 50% of all race laps, won 13 out of 22 Grand Prix in 2021, and has a podium finish rate of 60%. Yeah, he's world championship material. And so is Sir Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes and Red Bull will inevitably catch up as they develop their cars, putting Charles Leclerc in the crosshairs. As F1 fans, we win all the way. Having three people duke it out is a magnificent scenario and a significant improvement over an already epic 2021 season.

There is a slight problem, however. Max Verstappen has been accused of aggressive driving. We're not sure why that's a bad thing, but there you go. Hamilton is a more mature, clinical driver, though he has displayed aggressive tendencies several times in his career. What about Leclerc?

Red Bull Content Pool Red Bull Content Pool Red Bull Content Pool Red Bull Content Pool

Leclerc has never really been in the spotlight before and has never been in a position to challenge for the world title. The first race indicates that he does not back down from a fight.

Verstappen and Leclerc have a history as well. The video below shows some comments after a race where Leclerc allegedly forced Verstappen off the track.

If Verstappen accuses you of unfair driving, you've got an impressive set of stones. Having said that, both drivers have matured, and they seem to be good friends. All of that goes away once the lights go out, however.

Where does that leave Hamilton? In a tough spot, fighting two drivers who aren't willing to give an inch or back out of a corner. The FIA also completed its mission of bunching the cars closer together, which means this season will be highly entertaining.

The Midfield

As good as the Ferrari One-Two victory was, the highlight of the first race was undoubtedly the midfield. It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues or if the Bahrain Grand Prix was a fluke. Drivers to look out for include Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas, and Kevin Magnussen.

Ocon beat his veteran teammate and possible GOAT contender, Fernando Alonso. That must have felt good. Valtteri Bottas proved he still has it, qualifying higher than his replacement at Mercedes, George Russel. That must have felt extremely good as it's no secret that Bottas wanted to remain at Mercedes. Every race of the 2022 season is a chance to prove Mercedes wrong. The Alfa job also comes with perks like a brand-new Alfa Stelvio, though Bottas occasionally enjoys his AMG GT Black.

But best of all is Kevin Magnussen, who proved he has natural talent given the right car. And that car is a Haas. Who would have thought that Haas would be in third place in the constructor's championship after round one?

We look forward to K-Mag the Viking giving the midfield hell.

Haas F1 Team/Facebook Haas F1 Team/Facebook Haas F1

Any Predictions?

If Red Bull managed to find the source of their engine problems, the track conditions favor Max Verstappen. The Jeddah Corniche circuit is the second-fastest track, and the highest top speeds recorded last week were all posted by Red Bull-powered cars. Since Red Bull has both Adrian Newey and an endless supply of cash, they'll likely identify the problem within days.

The Jeddah Corniche circuit does not reward risky driving, however. Verstappen's aggressive driving cost him pole position and the race last year. Leclerc also binned his Ferrari into turn 22.

We know both Red Bull and Ferrari have the speed, so the most likely scenario is Red Bull and Ferrari in the front row.

That puts two aggressive drivers going into turns one and two. Whoever comes out of that corner first will likely be the winner if they can keep the car going for 50 laps.

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