9 Takeaways from the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

One of the things I like about Formula 1 is the relatively short offseason. It had only been 98 days – 14 weeks – since the controversial finish to the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi, but that is now in the rearview mirror.

A new era in Formula 1 kicked off under the lights in Bahrain. It was an interesting race that saved a lot of drama for the end, while providing a preview of what we might expect for the rest of the season.

Before I get into my takeaways from the race, I just want to let you know that I am writing this and all of my Formula 1 posts from a place of (about) 24 years of fandom. I know a lot about F1, but concede there is a lot I don’t know.

The technical aspect of the sport is still a mystery I slowly try and uncover. I grew up with qualifying sessions and the race. That was it. There weren’t any shows with analysts or a deeper look at what made some cars faster than others.

It wasn’t until about 6-7 years ago that I realized we started getting pre-qualifying, post-qualifying, pre-race, and post-race coverage. So, my brain has been trying to make up for lost time and soak up as much as I can.

So, these posts about my takeaways from the race are from a fan’s perspective. I may explain simple rules, terms, or aspects of F1 that fans are familiar with, but the regular person reading this are not, just so everyone is on the same page.

Let’s get to it.

Here are the final results from the race. The top ten receive points.

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 25
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 18
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 15
4. George Russell (Mercedes) – 12
5. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 10
6. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 8
7. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 6
8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 4
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 2
10. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) – 1

11. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
12. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
13. Alexander Albon (Williams)
14. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
15. Lando Norris (McLaren)
16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
17. Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin)
18. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – DNF
19. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – DNF
20. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – DNF

And now for my 9 takeaways from the Bahrain Grand Prix:

1. Ferrari are BACK

Nature is healing, my friends. A 1-2 finish from Ferrari in the opening race of the season is akin to white smoke coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. Ferrari finding success once again just= warms my heart. They had the best car on the track. The red and black colour scheme looked great at night. Team Principal, Mattia Binotto, went up on the podium. Everything was wonderful.

Sign me up for a Charles Leclerc championship season. I am ready for it.

2. Red Bull, you okay?

With three laps left, Max Verstappen’s car had multiple problems – steering, brake, fuel – and he was forced to retire after, seemingly, losing power. He was in second place at the time. The reigning champion was not happy about it.

There’s a weird twin telepathy thing that goes on in F1. When one car has a problem, all eyes turn to its sister car in anticipation of a similar fate. Sure enough, on the last lap, Sergio Perez spun at Turn 1. An engine issue. Neither Red Bull finished the race.

If your car has reliability issues, I guess it’s best to find that out in the first race, so you have time to fix it. So, that’s a positive?

How gut-wrenching, though. The Red Bull cars couldn’t last just five more minutes. A 2nd and 4th place finish were right there for them. Instead, two DNFs.

3. McLaren, you okay?

Oh boy. I don’t think I saw this coming. McLaren chose to put both of their drivers on the Medium tire at the start of the race, while every other driver was on Softs. Medium tires are meant to last longer than the Softs, while providing as much speed.

The McLarens were sitting in 18th and 20th, respectively, well into the race. I was expecting them to start making their way through the field, but they never did.

I feel bad for them because they’ve made so much progress over the last few years. They had started to reclaim their spot among the upper echelon of teams. And now, they couldn’t get out of last place.

Hopefully, they can get things figured out because Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are two of the most talented, and joyful, drivers in F1. I don’t want to know what a full season of media appearances from Sad Lando and Sad Daniel looks like.

4. HAAS IS ALIVE AT 5

The Netflix series, Drive to Survive, has really turned Haas Team Manager, Guenther Steiner, into my favourite F1 personality. Yes, he’s competitive, but he’s also someone you just want to be friends with. He has a great sense of humour, which acts as a wonderful counterbalance to the “very serious, very elite” F1 mentality.

I just want to see Guenther Steiner be happy. He deserves it after the rough few seasons Haas has had.

Kevin Magnussen wasn’t even in Formula 1 a few weeks ago. On Saturday, he qualified 7th. On Sunday, he finished in 5th. Pop the champagne, set off the confetti cannons, and throw a parade! That is as good as a race win.

Hey, if they’re going to be sniffing around this high up the order, then maybe there’s a chance they can luck into a win? Perhaps at a race where there are severe weather conditions? Okay, now I’m just trying to speak this into existence.

Could you imagine the scenes on the podium if, after all they’ve been through, Haas won a race? They would shut down the sport. There would be no need to go on.

5. Where Art Thou, Alfa Romeo?

In 6th and 10th place, that’s where thou art!

What a wonderful sight to see. This is what we wanted from the new regulations. A bit more parity in the ranks.

Without question, Ferrari has the best engine in F1 right now. For those who don’t know, Ferrari, Haas, and Alfa Romeo are all powered by a Ferrari engine. Five of their six cars finished in the points, and the one that didn’t – Mick Schumacher – finished 11th.

Red Bull is the engine supplier for Red Bull and AllphaTauri, and three of their four entries did not finish the race. A nightmare scenario to start the season.

Mercedes is the engine provider for Mercedes, McLaren, Aston Martin, and Williams. Again, not very strong, outside of Mercedes.

And then Alpine has a Renault engine.

Valterri Bottas has to feel great about a 6th place finish, after leaving Mercedes. And Zhou Guanyu getting points in his first race is fantastic. It must be a huge weight off his shoulders.

Onward and upward for this team. I’m ready to see them pop up in the Top 10 a lot more.

6. Porpoising

Every new season seems to provide a new word.

This year, the word is “porpoising”.

Used in a sentence: “That car is really porpoising.”

Essentially, it is a violent bouncing motion of the car, mainly on straightaways. We saw it a bunch all weekend long, with multiple cars. At one point, Lewis Hamilton’s head was just bobbing up and down like he was at a concert.

So, for those of you who think race car drivers aren’t real athletes, think again. They aren’t just along for the ride. These cars demand that they are in top physical condition.

Kevin Magnussen gave an interview the other day about the whirlwind of joining Haas at the last minute and I wondered if he’d mention if his neck hurts. Well, he did!

I recall Nico Hulkenberg saying the same thing either last year, or the year before, when he was called in as a last-minute substitute for a race. You can’t just walk off the street and hop in an F1 car. It’s hard on the neck. You need to be prepared and ease yourself into it, if you can.

7. Pit Stops Seem Longer

Are pit stops longer this year? They seemed to be in the 3 – 3.5 second range, with a few going quicker than that. Last year, Red Bull was consistently pumping out, 2.2 second stops.

Is it because the tires are heavier this year? Is it the design of the car, making it a slower transition on and off the jack? I’m just asking random questions.

I’ll watch for it again at the next race and see if the times get faster.

8. The Fans

I didn’t really notice the fans that much. I don’t know if that was intentional because the grandstands weren’t full, or if I just wasn’t paying close enough attention.

Before the race, when the drivers were doing the parade around the track, Lewis Hamilton was interviewed and he said that they don’t get as many fans in Bahrain as they get everywhere else. He also wondered why they couldn’t just let people in for free, as it would make the atmosphere a lot better.

I found that interesting.

Maybe I’ll be able to find an official attendance number somewhere. I just found it odd that it was the first race of the season and I didn’t really notice the crowd.

9. Cars Can Follow!

The new regulations work! It seems.

At one point in the race, Leclerc and Verstappen exchanged the lead a handful of times over a couple of laps. It was high drama and a ton of fun. I can’t remember the last time there was a back and forth battle like that, during the middle of the race, for the lead.

In previous years, if the car in front was passed, they’d get stuck in dirty air, kill their tires, and ultimately drop back. There was no battle. It was a fait accompli.

But now, the cars can follow each other more closely, which should leading to more passing. And more passing means more excitement. I was very happy with what I saw on Sunday.

We’ll see if this continues at other tracks. I don’t see why it wouldn’t.

Next Race: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Sunday, March 27

What did you think of the Bahrain Grand Prix?




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9 Responses to 9 Takeaways from the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

  1. Lady A says:

    I have heard the media refer so often to a controversial ending to the last F1 season. but I have no idea what the controversy was about. Was it unclear who had won? Was there some potential rule-breaking?

    Like

    • Paul says:

      To make a really long convoluted story short, the driver’s championship was decided at the final race of the season between Hamilton and Verstappen. Essentially, whoever finished higher than the other, would win the championship. With a few laps left in the race, there was a crash which required the safety car to come out, thus bunching all the cars together. The Race Director ordered for the race to resume on the last lap, even though he didn’t follow proper procedures to allow the race to resume. IF he followed the rules entirely, the race would’ve ended under a safety car and Hamilton would have been champion. But because he allowed the race to resume for the final lap, Verstappen was able to pass Hamilton and win the championship. So the controversy comes from the decision of the Race Director.

      I hope that made sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Monty Vern says:

    I have to admit this isn’t a sport I’ve had interest in previously, but your excitement comes through and is (a little) contagious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cd says:

    I feel like you captured all the emotions of last Sunday amazingly well. We may very well have an interesting season from start to finish this year!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dutch Lion says:

    The “Dutch Lion” is pumped for Max Verstappen to repeat this year.

    Liked by 1 person

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