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5 Things We Learned From The Bahrain F1 Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton With The Trophy At The Bahrain F1 Grand Prix
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It was a race to remember under the lights in Bahrain as the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen went down to the very last lap in the 2021 Formula 1 season opener. All the talk before the race was about the fight between the two proposed championship rivals, with Karun Chandhok giving Man’s Life his take on the duel too (read here), and the opening duel in the desert did not disappoint. Verstappen took pole but was pipped by Lewis and Mercedes after the first round of pit-stops and eventually ran out of laps while he was hunting the 7 time Champion down towards the end of the race. Verstappen did actually pass Lewis on Lap 53 but was deemed to have gained an advantage by leaving the track and had to hand the position back to the Brit who eventually took the win by the skin of his teeth.

It was a fascinating opening act of the season and here are the five things we learned from the Bahrain Grand Prix.

1. The Championship Battle is ON!


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It’s on lads. All through winter testing and free practice, the one question on everyone’s minds in the paddock was whether Red Bull had the pace to match Mercedes and surmount a title challenge in 2021. Well, the answer we got from the 56 Laps in Bahrain was a resounding yes. The Red Bull was a quicker car throughout the weekend as Verstappen was able to secure the fourth pole of his career and was the fastest man on track throughout the race. Lewis was eventually able to take the victory thanks to his immense race craft and tyre management that helped him hold off the charging bull in the final 10 laps of the race. Nevertheless, if this race was a precursor of what is to come throughout the season, the 2021 F1 championship is going to go down to the wire.

2. Red Bull finally have a reliable number two driver again


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On Saturday, it felt like the curse of the Red Bull Number two was going to continue as Sergio Perez failed to make it to Q3 and only managed to secure P11 in qualifying. His problems were then magnified on the formation lap where he faced some electrical issues and was forced to start from the pit lane. Nevertheless, despite starting dead last Perez managed a wonderful rescue act on his debut with the team which won him the driver of the day award. Perez carted his way through the field to take the car to 5th and won some crucial points for the team as they look to battle with Mercedes on both fronts this season.

3. The Aston Martin is not very Rapide


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Aston Martin (formerly Racing Point) gained their first championship points upon their return to Formula One but it was a weekend to forget for the team considering the last time they were in Bahrain for the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020 they finished first and third. Aston Martin feel particularly aggrieved by the new regulations for the floor of F1 cars for the 2021 season that has cost low-rake cars like theirs valuable lap time (read more here). Lance Stroll struggled to match the pace of the McLaren’s and Ferraris and was eventually even overtaken by Yuki Tsunoda in the Alpha Tauri to finish 10th while Sebastian Vettel had a horror weekend which saw him finish in P15.

4. AlphaTauri are a serious midfield contender


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All the talk before the race was about the midfield battle between McLaren, Ferrari, Aston Martin and the newly branded Alpine but AlphaTauri weren’t given much of a look-in by the F1 community. However, this weekend they showed their true pace and have a serious chance to be in and around the midfield battle this season. Pierre Gasly dominated Saturday to qualify in P5 and should have secured some points if not for his tussle with Daniel Ricciardo in the opening laps that meant he needed a change of front-wing. More impressively his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda pulled off some brilliant overtaking moves to finish in P9 and became the first Japanese driver to earn a World Championship point since Kamui Kobayashi in 2012.

5. McLaren are comfortably the third fastest car on the grid at the moment


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With their brand-new Mercedes engine, McLaren has turned it up a notch this year and are comfortably the third fastest car on the grid in 2021 ahead of the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin and Alpine. While there is still a considerable gap between the top two teams and McLaren given that Max finished 45 seconds ahead of Lando in fourth, McLaren showed some promising pace in qualifying and the race and should be in contention for some podiums this season and even some race victories if the opportunities present themselves.


[Image Credit: Formula 1]