The Formula 1 season has now started and the first race of the season is in the bag. Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix provided us with a few answers to some of the questions facing teams and drivers ahead of the new season.
But what answers were they?
In a season that has seen some key changes in regulations for the cars, has this seen the chasing pack close the gap on Red Bull that existed from last season? Have any of the teams from the middle or bottom of the pack made progress?
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Additionally, how have the drivers acquitted themselves? Are there any standout performers we can take note of and watch going forward as we head into the second race weekend, which is the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix which takes place the weekend after next.
Let’s first recap how the race finished and how the Drivers and Constructors Championships stand after this opening race.
The @F1 season starts today at the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2023. This campaign is one for the history books with a record 23 races scheduled for a global championship that continues to push the boundaries of human performance and technical innovation. #Perpetual pic.twitter.com/nCjIiWQWG8
— ROLEX (@ROLEX) March 5, 2023
Bahrain Grand Prix – Race Result
1st – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2nd – Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
3rd – Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
4th – Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari)
5th – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
6th – Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
7th – George Russell (Mercedes)
8th – Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
9th – Pierre Gasly (Alpine)
10th – Alex Albon (Williams)
11th – Tuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
12th – Logan Sargeant (Williams)
13th – Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
14th – Nick de Vries (Alpha Tauri)
15th – Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)
16th – Guang Zhou (Alfa Romeo)
17th – Lando Norris (McLaren)
DNF – Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
Drivers’ Championship – Standings (after 1 race)
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 25pts
Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 18pts
Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) – 15pts
Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari) – 12pts
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 10pts
Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 8pts
George Russell (Mercedes) – 6pts
Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 4pts
Pierre Gasly (Alpine) – 2pts
Alex Albon (Williams) – 1pt
Constructors Championship – Standings (after 1 race)
Red Bull – 43pts
Aston Martin – 23pts
Mercedes – 16pts
Ferrari – 12pts
Alfa Romeo – 4pts
Alpine – 2pts
Williams – 1pt
AlphaTauri – 0
Haas – 0
McLaren – 0
What We Found Out At Bahrain – Week 1
Red Bull Remain The Team To Beat
After several months of speculation about whether teams like Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and others could finally start to put an end of the era of total Red Bull dominance, it looks like the Austrian-based team remains well ahead of its main opponents with a superb 1-2 finish for their drivers who finished around 26 seconds ahead of the third placed-driver. It’s a little early to talk about title ambitions but on this showing Red Bull and Max Verstappen remain the pairing to beat for all the other teams.
Alonso Caps Fantastic Start For Aston Martin To New Season
Aston Martin’s stock is up 15% today after Fernando Alonso finished 3rd during this weekend’s Bahrain GP.
That means the company has added $300 million to its market cap in just 24 hours🤯 pic.twitter.com/4m2Mjms9vv
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) March 6, 2023
Last year, Aston Martin were in that group of teams that struggled in F1 and their aim for the new season was to improve on that and become one of the middle-level teams. Instead, Aston Martin enjoyed a sensational start to the season with Fernando Alonso driving a flawless race to take a podium spot by finishing third, ahead of the first Ferrari and Mercedes cars home. Lance Stroll also showed the car’s improvement by taking a creditable sixth place. They could be a team to watch over the rest of the season and those 23 points mean they lie 2nd in the Constructor’s Championship after Week 1.
Plenty Of Work Still To Be Done At Mercedes And Ferrari
We know we are not where we need to be. We’ve just got to keep working. We won’t stop till we’re back where we belong. 👊 pic.twitter.com/swjrhdOse7
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 6, 2023
Both Mercedes and Ferrari were expected to be amongst the challengers to Red Bull this season but on the evidence from practice, qualifying and the race itself, both teams still seem to be well off the pace being set by Christian Horner’s team. Mercedes especially looked off the pace with both Ferrari and Aston Martin passing their cars in a sobering moment for the team, while Ferrari saw Charles Leclerc fail to finish the race, while Carlos Sainz Jr. could only manage fourth, finishing ten seconds adrift of Fernando Alonso in third.
Some Positive Signs For Williams
F1 constructors prediction for the Bahrain GP:
1. Red Bull
5. Aston Martin
6. Alfa Romeo
8. Alpha Tauri
— Stefanie (@fastpitstop) March 2, 2023
For the last few years, Williams drivers have been very much at the bottom of the pack and likely to finish the Grand Prix in the bottom two places, if they manage to finish a race at all. Well with a new look management team and exciting American talent Logan Sargeant alongside the Thai/British driver Alex Albon, the British-based team landed a point with Albon finishing 10th in the race while Sargeant impressed in his first ever F1 race finishing 12th.
Disastrous Start For McLaren
Last year it looked like McLaren were on their way back with Lando Norris in particular shining for the team and becoming embroiled in a battle for a podium spot in a number of races. However at the weekend nothing went right for the F1 legends as Lando Norris finished 17th and last of those that completed the race, the only car lapped twice by the leaders, while Oscar Piastri was forced to retire after just 17 laps. Both cars suffered faults, Norris an engine-related issue and Piastri and electrical issue which severely hampered both. A long week of work looms for the mechanics in Woking.
Max The Man To Beat In The Driver’s Championship
With Red Bull appearing to be so dominant in the first race of the season, Max Verstappen will clearly be the man to beat as he goes for a third F1 Drivers World Title in a row. He is already 8/13 to win the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with bet365 Sport and the same company had him as the pre-season favourite to repeat his Driver’s Championship success in 2023. At the moment, that looks a very solid bet and one worth taking on the odds on now as it looks like those odds will just be getting shorter over the coming weeks and months.
So with the first race of the season now in the history books, it is going to be an interesting month or so as teams get into their stride but as things stand, unless Ferrari and Mercedes can make the kind of gains that Aston Martin have over the post-season, Red Bull’s grip at the top of F1 remains very firm indeed.