After the drama and high intensity of the 2021 season, F1 fans could be forgiven for assuming 2022 would take things a little slower. The season brings with it the biggest regulation changes in a generation. After assuming Bahrain would deliver a straight fight between Ferrari and Red Bull, the season opener delivered an exciting race across the board.
Red Bull suffered a double DNF in the final stages, Ferrari secured a 1-2 podium, and the mid-field looks to have tipped on its head. Haas secured more points in a single race than the last two seasons combined. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that the 2022 F1 season is guaranteed to deliver a hotly contested championship.
Ferrari secures a 1-2 as Red Bull’s engines fail
Throughout testing, Ferrari and Red Bull looked like clear leaders. It seemed certain that the reigning World Champion would snatch pole position for the opening race of the season before Leclerc snatched it away. It’s clear that Ferrari’s 2022 F1 Team t-shirt is the hot ticket of the season.
The race started with a Ferrari and Red Bull on the first two rows. Verstappen and Leclerc – who have been racing each other since their go-karting days – delivered several fierce corners of overtaking throughout the race. On fresher tyres in the final laps, Verstappen looked certain to be able to chase down the Ferrari before reporting engine problems.
The reigning champion’s car would quickly be retired from the race before Perez’s engine would also fail on the first corner of the final lap. A fuel pump issue appears to be the culprit of the team’s double DNF that saw them robbed of a potential double podium.
Mercedes off the pace but rich in luck
Before the race, it appeared that Mercedes was setting their sights on a 5th and 6th finish at best. For most of the race, the silver arrows were 30 seconds off the leader’s pace. With both Red Bulls retiring in the final laps, Mercedes was given an unexpected podium with Hamilton inheriting 3rd place, while Russell finished in 4th.
Haas and Alpha Romeo get their moment
While Ferrari celebrate their first win in almost 50 races, it was the mid-field that saw most of the celebrations. After weeks of turmoil and two disappointing seasons,
Haas is on the path of redemption with comeback kid Kevin Magnusson matching his best performance in a Haas with a 5th place finish after qualifying ahead of George Russell’s Mercedes. His teammate Mick Schumacher also secured his career-best finished in P11, just outside out of the points.
Alpha Romeo also saw a change of fortune from last season. Bottas secured a 6th place finish for his new team while rookie Zhou Guanyu snatched the final point in his debut race.
Elsewhere on the mid-field, both Alpine cars finished in the points in 7th and 9th to kick off their constructor’s battle. Former Red Bull driver Alex Albon outperformed his William’s team-mate Nicholas Latifi by finishing 13th ahead of the Canadian in 16th.
Aston Martin and McLaren fall behind the pace
Haas and Alpha Romeo’s success has come at the expense of other teams in the middle of the pack. Eyebrows have been raised about whether McLaren and Aston Martin’s lack of pace has come from their Mercedes engine.
Nico Hulkenberg jumped into the Aston Martin to replace Vettel, who had tested positive for Covid. Hulkenberg and Stroll finished 17th and 12th respectively.
Elsewhere in the mid-field, Pierre Gasly experienced a nerve-racking crash that brought out a safety car after his AlphaTauri went up in flames. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda finished 8th.
Away from the front of the pack, one of the biggest stories was the disappointing results for McLaren. They look set for another turbulent season after Ricciardo missed testing due to a positive Covid result. Apparent engine issues and problems throughout testing meant that both cars finished out of the points in 14th and 15th.
As we look ahead to this Sunday’s race in Saudi Arabian, it looks like we’re in store for another nail-biting season. Will Red Bull get their redemption after a double-DNF? Can Mercedes find their pace? Will Ferrari pull ahead in the Championship? Only time will tell!
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