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F1’s 2022 Curtain Raiser – What We Learned From The Bahrain Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari with their trophies after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix 2022
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The new era of Formula One is officially underway, and the inaugural Grand Prix of the 2022 season didn’t disappoint, with Charles Leclerc taking home the victory in an action-packed race in Bahrain. The 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix was the first chance for F1 fans to see the new versions of the cars in all their glory on race day, and there was plenty of heart-stopping action on the track between cars designed to promote better racing.

While Ferrari started the season strongly, there is plenty of catching up to do for the eight-time champions Mercedes, and here is what we learned from F1’s 2022 curtain-raiser in Bahrain.

1. Ferrari are back


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Sound the fire alarm because the red cars are back. After two years in the wilderness, Ferrari have returned with a bang in 2022 as the Prancing Horse took maximum points from Sakhir, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz doing a 1-2. Leclerc was the most impressive driver throughout the weekend in Bahrain, taking the pole on Saturday before finishing the race with the win and the fastest lap. In terms of pace, Ferrari were up there with Red Bull throughout most of the practice sessions and race, and the new F1-75 was particularly quick through the slow corners, indicating that the overall package for the Italian team is incredibly promising for the rest of the year.

2. Red Bull still strong despite reliability issues


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In a 23-race season, it doesn’t bode well for Red Bull that three of their four cars suffered engine issues in the first race of the season, causing them to retire and come away with 0 points.

However, despite the engine troubles, Red Bull should be incredibly happy with their performance on the opening weekend of the season, as they did look to have the best overall package on the grid. Despite struggling with the balance of his car and facing some steering challenges, Verstappen was a comfortable second in the race and could have even finished on the top step of the podium if he delayed his overtakes on Leclerc till turn four. Finishing with zero points at the end of Bahrain is an unfortunate eventuality, but considering the pace showed in testing and opening weekend, the 2022 F1 World Championship is theirs to lose as of now.

3. Mercedes aren’t actually sandbagging


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For the first time since the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014, Mercedes begin a Formula One season without being overwhelming favourites to win the championship or having the fastest two cars on the grid. The Silver Arrows issues were abundantly apparent throughout the first two rounds of testing in Barcelona and Bahrain, and those pace concerns persisted in the first Grand Prix with Mercedes at least half a second off the pace throughout the weekend. The ‘porpoising effect’ was another problem that continued to plague the team in Bahrain, making the car very difficult to drive on the straights and high-speed corners.

However, despite all of their evident challenges on the track, the eight-time world champions left the Bahrain International Circuit with a podium and 27 points, following the double retirements for the Red Bulls due to engine failures. Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff described the situation perfectly, ‘better to be lucky than smart’.

4. Ferrari engine good, Mercedes engine not so much


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Another rule of thumb emerging from the first race of the season was that the teams with Ferrari engines were much quicker throughout the weekend than those that had Mercedes horsepower. Of the ten drivers that finished in the points, five had Ferrari engines – Leclerc, Sainz, Magnussen, Bottas and Zhou – while none of the Mercedes customer teams scored any marks.

In fact, each of the six cars that finished at the back of the grid in Bahrain on Sunday were all Mercedes-powered, including the two McLarens who struggled with reliability issues and pace throughout the three days of running in Sakhir. It’s a long season ahead, but the likes of Alfa Romeo and Haas looked very strong at the Bahrain International Circuit and could be competing for Q3 and points finishes regularly throughout the year, while Aston Martin and Williams could be in for some more pain.


[Featured Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari]