The hugely anticipated return of Formula One hit our screens on Sunday afternoon, but who came out on top, and who suffered in Bahrain?
Cruising into the lead and securing the first win of the season, was two-time champion Max Verstappen. The Dutch driver is in the most dominant car of the season once more, evidenced by his teammate securing 2nd place.
In reality, Redbull are already in a field of their own, sending fear across the FIA that this could cost viewing audiences if the competition remains this one-sided all season.
McLaren faced an incredibly poor weekend with both cars suffering major faults. Oscar Piastri, starting his first race in Formula One, suffered an electronic issue, causing him to retire on the 15th lap.
Lando Norris had numerous trips to the pit lane after an issue with the power unit heavily affected his race. The Brit finished 17th.
Charles Leclerc, despite having a superb start, and challenging for a podium, faced a power unit failure in lap 40. The issue haunted Ferrari in their previous season, costing the Monegasque numerous wins, something the team didn’t want to follow them into 2023.
His team mate Carlo Sainz was unable to challenge Redbull and found himself overtaken by Alonso in the final stages of the race, losing out on a podium.
Esteban Ocon perhaps suffered the worst race of them all, initially receiving a five-second penalty for being in the incorrect grid position. The Frenchman served the penalty but found himself with a second when his Alpine team began adjusting his car before the first penalty had been served. He then sped into the pitlane, earning a third penalty of five seconds. The Alpine driver ultimately retired in lap 44.
On a brighter note, Fernando Alonso gave the crowds a real show, racing both Mercedes drivers with moves that prove his wealth of experience in Formula One. Initially, Alonso challenged Russell, whose tyres were not fresh enough to compete, but an excellent dive down the inside line proved Alonso deserved the position.
His next competitor was Lewis Hamilton, the former teammates, and oldest drivers on the grid battled for 5th place, with Alonso eventually succeeding; before going on to take Sainz’s Ferrari.
Alonso’s well-earned podium for Aston Martin, supported by teammate Lance Stroll who took 6th, was a breath of fresh air for F1 fans. The team have a Mercedes engine, but different structural design, and look to be the first surprise package for the season.
Mercedes enjoyed a decent race, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell placing 5th and 7threspectively. Yet Mercedes desperately want to be challenging for victories again.
Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, was uncharacteristically pessimistic after the race. He stated that arch rivals Redbull were ‘on a different planet’ in terms of performance.
He also stated that the performance was one of the worst days in racing. Sky commentator Ted Kravitz found this remarkable, especially when Toto appeared to state, after just one race, the team needed to make ‘radical’ changes.
Are Mercedes going to hit the nuclear option earlier, and structurally redesign their car? Rumours before this weekend circulated that they had a ‘plan B’ design being considered, but these were strictly shut down by Lewis Hamilton, reminding viewers of the budget cap.
The final surprise of the weekend was the performance of the Williams. After a few torrid seasons, the historic team have improved, and are competing within the mid field. Alex Albon earnt a credible 10th place, and Logan Sargeant, finished in 12th, the highest placed rookie so far.
Does Bahrain pave the way for the rest of the season, or are their more surprises instore? Race action continues in Saudi Arabia, on March 17th.