This past weekend, Formula 1 ushered in an exciting new era at the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix… and we’re not just talking about the cars. As Charles Leclerc successfully parlayed a hard-earned pole position into his third career race win, while Scuderia Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz claimed his own podium for a brilliant one-two finish, based on what was showcased across 57 thrilling laps, it would appear the Mercedes-Red Bull Racing hegemony will finally be challenged in a meaningful way this season.
Ahead of the main event, there were rumblings just about the entire grid had been struggling with the engineering. From the considerably heftier 905-kilo total weight (the heaviest of the modern era), chunkier tyres, brakes overheating, to “porpoising,” the motorsport’s next chapter has clearly come with plenty of technical growing pains. The perfect indication that constructors were still figuring it out on the fly could be found in Mercedes and Ferrari’s wildly disparate interpretations of sidepod geometry. This would also translate into a wildly different qualifying order compared to what we’d become accustomed to.
A year ago, if I’d said that seven-time world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton would qualify in a severely underwhelming P5 with Valtteri Bottas in tow for Alfa Romeo, Kevin Magnussen would return to secure an easy-breezy P7, and McLaren’s Lando Norris would fail to outqualify Haas rookie Mick Schumacher to start in P13, you’d either: a) tell me to fuck off; b) ask me what I’m smoking; or c) punch me in the face for writing F1 fan-fiction (again). And yet, this was precisely how the Bahrain Grand Prix would begin in 2022 – led by Ferrari’s young Monegasque superstar in Charles Leclerc, the reigning world champion in Red Bull’s Max Verstappen; supported by their respective teammates Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez.
Leclerc reignited his old karting beef with Verstappen in epic fashion, duelling closely during the first half of the race, leaving everyone else scrambling to play catch-up. Across several laps, the two would intermittently trade positions, with the latter pitting early in an attempt to undercut the former. To no avail. Leclerc defended masterfully, and by Lap 18, they’d be on equal grounds vis-a-vis fresh tyres. The preceding events were no doubt entertaining, but shit would get verifiably real on Lap 46 when Pierre Gasly was dramatically forced to retire – flames and all – triggering a Safety Car. Deja vu.
The sprint to the chequered flag resumed in Lap 51 with Max Verstappen complaining of a possible steering issue to the radio. The Dutch talent’s frustrations would only snowball a measly three laps later when his power unit cut out, forcing him to slowly amble back into the pit lane just moments away from a crucial podium finish and calling it a day. At this stage, Sergio Perez was ostensibly on track for P3 with Lewis Hamilton right on his tail. The final lap, however, would also prove unfortunate for Red Bull when Checo spun out and was similarly sent into retirement due to an uncooperative power unit. Fs in chat, boys.
As Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz approached the checkered flag, after 46 grands prix, Ferrari’s drought had been broken.
This promises to be another cracking calendar year for F1.
- Poetic that Kevin Magnussen would be the one to break Haas’ pointless streak upon being re-welcomed
- Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda seems to be coming into his own, recording a fair few overtakes to finish in P8
- Not a bad effort from the maligned Zhou Guanyu, either, who debuted with a points finish
- Strange to see McLaren so behind the curve, perhaps starting on mediums wasn’t the move
- Incidentally, the last six cars which actually made it to the end all house Mercedes engines
Check out the final results for the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix below.
- Charles Leclerc – Ferrari (1:37:33.584)
- Carlos Sainz – Ferrari (+5.598s)
- Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes (+9.675s)
- George Russell – Mercedes
- Kevin Magnussen – Haas
- Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
- Esteban Ocon – Alpine
- Yuki Tsunoda -Alpha Tauri
- Fernando Alonso – Alpine
- Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo
- Mick Schumacher – Haas
- Lance Stroll – Aston Martin
- Alexander Albon – Williams
- Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
- Lando Norris – McLaren
- Nicholas Latifi – Williams
- Nico Hulkenburg – Aston Martin
- Sergio Perez – Red Bull [DNF]
- Max Verstappen – Red Bull [DNF]
- Pierre Gasly – Alpha Tauri [DNF]