Finally! The first race of the season was far from disappointing.
After seeing all the action in testing at the Bahrain circuit, some cars did shine out from the rest. Ferrari and Red Bull looked very strong, with Mercedes showing some concerns after a strong constructor winning year in 2021. Haas showed a lot of development that made people extremely excited after they have been sitting at the bottom of the grid for multiple years.
In terms of drivers…. K MAG IS BACK! With a space at Haas opening after the departure of Mazepin, a lot of speculation built about who would take the spot, but it all settled on Kevin Magnussen.
Unfortunately, Sebastian Vettel was unable to participate in the race weekend after contracting COVID and was filled in by Nico Hulkenberg.
Qualifying on Saturday threw some spanners in the works with a somewhat shock exit from both McLarens. Riccardo in P18 and Norris in P13 was upsetting for both the team and fans, but some concern had already been voiced from the team about the track not suiting them this weekend.
Besides from Leclerc taking the first pole of the season, two other standout performances came from Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo (P6) and the returning Kevin Magnussen in the Haas (P7).
Race day quickly approached, and there was quite a bit of drama. At the start Verstappen complained about no traction, and Schumacher was running so well until Ocon went into him which caused a spin. Bottas who started P6 had a horrific start, and rather than fighting against his former teammate, Hamilton, he found himself scraping towards the back end of the midfield.
The majority of pit stops came around lap 15 and a close battle between Leclerc and Verstappen went on for a couple laps that kept us on the edge of our seats. We all know how aggressive they both can be, and these cars gave those overtaking aspects everyone wanted to see.
Things ran smoothly until Verstappen complained of a concern that proved to be nothing they could fix on the spot. On lap 46 Gasly’s car suddenly burst into flames that caused a full safety car, gifting pitstops to the likes of Leclerc.
With 3 laps to go Verstappen, sitting in P2, had battery problems that forced him to retire the car. Then trouble came for the second Red Bull on the last lap, when Perez’s engine cut off, ending his race. Red Bull came away with no points...
After all that closing drama, we witnessed a Ferrari 1-2, with Leclerc winning the first race of the season. Both the Red Bulls unable to make the finishing line promoted Hamilton to P3, a somewhat lucky and unexpected podium for the struggling Mercedes. Magnussen finished fifth, not a bad start to the season after being out for a year.
With it being race week again we can only wait and see what comes of the struggling McLarens, problems for Red Bulls, and potential continued domination of the Ferrari’s.