It was hoped that F1’s new aero regulations would shake up the grid considerably and it seems like the racing gods saw fit to make it so because what a difference they have made.
Ferrari Back on Top
It was beginning to feel that Ferrari would be doomed to forever be the ‘best of the rest’ but not this year. This year Ferrari have shown why they’re the most successful team in Formula 1 history with a great 1-2 finish from Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. The pace on the Ferrari’s this year is straight up impressive and with Leclerc simply not putting a foot wrong earned them a solid win. Even with a consistent effort from Max Verstappen to overtake the Monegasque, Leclerc was calm and cool and never really felt in danger.
Sainz might have struggled a bit with the pace in comparison to Leclerc and was disappointed with his performance over the weekend. While the Spaniard may have lacked in pace he still managed to keep the car in the podium position for most of the race. Even with the first race jitters, Sainz managed a respectable performance.
Red Bull in Shambles
The Red Bull’s absolutely looked good this year. They were keeping up with the Ferrari’s and looked set to at least take home a podium, but it seems reliability is a serious issue with their car. Three cars (Verstappen, Perez, and Gasly) with the Red Bull power unit had to retire from the race during the closing laps. All three were dramatic and cost Red Bull a lot of points early on in this season. It doesn’t matter where you start, but where you finish, and Red Bull couldn’t finish the race. Ultimately the package that was more consistent won out in the end.
You could hear the frustration from Max Verstappen as he berated his team for the engine and electrical failures he was experiencing. Verstappen was still pulling out all the moves but with an unreliable car, his efforts counted for naught.
Haas' "Viking" Comeback
How many people can honestly say they predicted such an improvement from Haas this year? Sure it was possible for them to have improved their standing from dead last in 2021 with some bids for points, but P5? It’s a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.
What’s caused this improvement? It’s a mixture of the incredibly effective Ferrari power unit and a new driver line-up. Kevin Magnussen knows what he’s doing and he gave me something I never expected to see – a Haas fighting with Red Bull and Mercedes.
Mick Schumacher also gave a respectable performance but it’s clear that he still has some way to go to reach Magnussen.
Mercedes Become the ‘Best of the Rest’
Mercedes have openly admitted that the car is not where they would like it to be. It is not competitive for race wins, at least not in its current state. They won’t have time to make the radical improvements needed for weeks to come so now they sit fairly comfortably under Red Bull and Ferrari. Pure luck and Red Bull car failures propelled them to an unlikely podium which even Lewis Hamilton seemed shocked about.
Devastation for McLaren and Aston Martin
Meanwhile at McLaren, it’s not happy vibes after finishing 14th (Ricciardo) and 15th (Norris) 😬— Autosport (@autosport) March 20, 2022
📸 @Nauckas#F1 #BahrainGP #Autosport pic.twitter.com/yg5lR9AtL6
Things can’t be worse for these two teams. McLaren have gone backwards significantly from a sensational 2021 season. It must be incredibly disappointing for the team as there was really nothing for them to do. Reliability and performance are clear issues with the McLarens. That Mercedes power unit has hit them harder than they expected as it clearly is no longer the best power unit available.
Aston Martin were hoping to do what Haas achieved this season but to no avail. Aston Martin have stagnated, maybe even taken a few steps backwards. This is terrible news for the team as they have spent a ludicrous amount of time and money on both the car and the team itself. The team had been talking up all their new hires and overall corporate restructuring as a key to their future success, but as of right now it’s failed to deliver the results they were hoping for. They also use the Mercedes power unit in case you were noticing a trend here.
Good Signs for Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo have become a team everyone is interested in all of a sudden and there’s good reason for that. Valtteri Bottas had a phenomenal qualifying and during the race finished well into the points, something the Alfa’s struggled to achieve last year.
Their new rookie, Zhou Guanyu, also had a great and mature start to his Formula 1 career. He didn’t put a foot wrong and landed in the points. Alfa Romeo may have gone under the radar in recent years but 2022 looks like their year to show off.
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