What we learnt from The Bahrain Grand Prix01 Apr
Last weekend marked the start of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship under the lights at the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain, and what a race it turned out to be.
Here’s five things we learnt from the Bahrain GP:
1) It really is Mercedes versus Red Bull in 2021…
Red Bull’s form in winter testing had led many to believe this could finally be the year that Mercedes is toppled from its perch.
Verstappen backed up much of that pre-season talk in qualifying, the Dutch racer storming to pole position by a comfortable four tenths of a second.
A good start followed for Verstappen before Hamilton took the advantage during the pit stops, but a later second stop for Max gave him the upper hand on tyres heading into the closing laps.
When his moment came, Hamilton showed the Red Bull driver the outside line, and in taking it Verstappen ran wide beyond the circuit boundaries.
He surrendered top spot back to the Brit, but another opportunity did not present itself and Hamilton held on for a hard-fought victory to kick off the new season.
If this was an advert for Formula 1 in 2021, we’ll have front-row seats to the next 22 instalments, please!
2) Tsunoda makes a flying start to life in the big time…
He might be the youngest competitor on the grid, but Yuki Tsunoda’s debut performance for Scuderia AlphaTauri had the hallmarks of a seasoned Grand Prix driver.
After a steady qualifying, the Japanese racer made forward progress during the race itself, eventually taking the chequered flag ninth to secure two valuable points on his first outing.
In doing so, he became the first driver to score on their debut since Stoffel Vandoorne did so at the same Sakhir circuit back in 2016 for McLaren.
3) McLaren and Mercedes rekindle the old flame in style…
Last weekend also marked a return to the timesheets of ‘McLaren-Mercedes’, as the British and German outfits renew their successful partnership of 1995-2014.
The team’s home-grown star Lando Norris was in with a shout of his second career podium for a spell of the race, particularly after a slow stop for the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, but eventually finished just behind in fourth.
Fan favourite Daniel Ricciardo made it two cars inside the top ten for the Woking squad on his first race for the team, bringing the MCL35M home in seventh spot.
Taking third in the Constructors last season was a big step forward for McLaren, and it’s a case of ‘so far, so good’ as they look to match that achievement this year.
4) Ferrari are back in the mix…
Last season was a painful one for fans of the Scuderia, but the early signs from their new-look pairing of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are a bit more positive.
Both of the distinctive red cars were mainstays in the top ten across the weekend, culminating in a double-points finish – sixth for Leclerc and eighth for Sainz.
Leclerc was also able to get up amongst the front runners in qualifying, putting his Ferrari into fourth before losing some ground in race trim.
It’s a start, and with a few more steps in the right direction, the Prancing Horse could be back at the sharp end again before long.
5) It’s going to be quite the midfield battle!
As much as the battle between Hamilton and Verstappen for the race win captivated television audiences the world over, it was hard not to be taken in by the supremely close battle in the midfield.
Six different teams scored points at the season opener and, but for mechanical woes for returning star Fernando Alonso at Alpine, the Spaniard could well have made it seven.
Factor in that both Alfa Romeos finished just outside the top ten – Raikkonen just two seconds adrift of Stroll’s Aston Martin – and it’s clear to see the fight for every point in 2021 is set to be as hard-fought as ever.
As season openers go, that one caused quite a stir in the (virtual) Red Eye office! We’re gearing up to welcome our guests back trackside later in the year, view our events currently taking bookings here.