Wow! All F1 fans were treated to quite the Bahrain GP on the weekend. It had everything you could ask for from an F1 race. Controversy, drama and of course some great racing. Here are my main talking points from possibly the best season opener I have ever seen.
Hamilton vs Verstappen
Lets start with the obvious, Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen. The last few laps of the Bahrain GP had me on the edge of my seat, watching the two best drivers on the grid go head to head for the win is what F1 fans have been waiting for. And in that contest came the big controversy of the weekend. Those pesky track limits at turn 4. Now I have heard many opinions from varied sources expressed on what transpired between Hamilton and Verstappen, so here’s mine…
From my understanding you were allowed to beyond the track limits at turn 4 if you were not gaining an advantage, and when Verstappen overtook Hamilton there he did exceed track limits, clearly gaining an advantage. So Verstappen had to give the place back. In my opinion, this was the correct decision, if you go off the track to overtake someone, regardless of whether you are ahead at the time you go off the track or not, you have used an area beyond the track to complete the move. What I do not agree with however, is the inconsistency in which these track limits are enforced. I have seen that Hamilton exceeded those track limits at turn 4 a total of around 30 times during the race, if that is not gaining an advantage then I don’t know what is. If Verstappen had to give the place back for exceeding track limits, then Hamilton should have been given a penalty for consistently doing so. Consistency is key!
In fact, in my opinion, unless there is a very good reason as to why drivers need to go beyond track limits, just tell them they can’t. The track is there for a reason, to drive on, if you keep allowing them to drive off it, then it defeats the point of track limits in the first place!
Putting the controversy aside, the racing between the two was fantastic. If Red Bull and Mercedes stay this close throughout the season, then it is going to be a cracking competition between Hamilton and Verstappen. On top of this, we could get a really close battle for the constructors championship as well. If the curse of the 2nd driver at Red Bull gets lifted, it looks as if Perez may be able to get himself up into the mix with the two Mercedes and Max. If he does he will be able to play his part in the constructors championship, which is what Christian Horner has been looking for. I strongly believe we will be in for a rollercoaster ride during 2021, a season that has the potential to go down as one of the greats.
The battle in the midfield
In addition to the fight at the top, the battle in midfield has never looked tighter. McLaren, Ferrari and AlphaTauri all look incredibly close on pace, with Aston Martin and Alpine appearing to be just behind. And again we were treated to some great racing between them all. I don’t think as fans we were even given the chance to see all of the racing during Bahrain as there was just so much going on.
I think the battles within teams look extremely interesting as well, with Mercedes and Red Bull I think we all have a pretty good idea as to who is going to win between teammates. But Lando Norris vs Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz vs Charles Leclerc and Lance Stroll vs Sebastian Vettel all initially look like great contests. Even at AlphaTauri, I really though Pierre Gasly was going to take the lead at that team with Yuki Tsunoda taking a supporting role. But Yuki surprised us all getting points in his debut race and making some great overtakes whilst doing so, he is an instant hit with F1 fans everywhere.
Alpine seemed to struggle a little, Fernando Alonso managed to get himself into a good position but due to a problem with his brakes he had to retire. Esteban Ocon on the other hand just doesn’t look on the pace quite yet, and I had really high hopes for him this season. As for Aston Martin, Vettel really struggled, picking up a grid penalty and another penalty later on for crashing into the back of Ocon. Stroll on the other hand only just managed to stay in the points, Otmar Szafnauer took any opportunity he could to vent his frustration at the new regulations and its effect on their low rake car. Could these two teams struggle this year?
The fight for scraps
Right at the back of the field sit Haas, Williams and Alfa Romeo. As most predicted it looks as if Haas are going to be consistently at the back of the grid, and will probably place 19th and 20th for the majority of the season. Nikita Mazepin had a very difficult weekend spinning on numerous occasions as Mick Schumacher managed to finish his first every grand prix. Guenther Steiner said a successful season would be to get a few points, but I think even that is a bit of a long shot.
Williams look to have made some progress but are still off the pace by quite a way. If they have any chance of getting anything this season, it will be due to George Russell’s talent and maybe some misfortune for some other teams.
And finally, Alfa Romeo don’t look too bad actually. They look as if they have managed to close that gap to the midfield by a little bit. With both drivers only just missing out on the points and having some really good moments of racing with some of the other teams. Potentially a bit of a surprise package this year, and if they managed to break into the midfield, they could upset the apple cart so to speak.
But at the back of the field it seems to be in line with the predictions of most. Another difficult season for Williams and Haas, with both teams perhaps looking towards 2022 instead.
What do you think of the first race? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? What are your predictions for the rest of the season?
And as always, thanks for reading!
Featured image from F1 Facebook page