Formula One’s new era started and there is one name shining in the skies of the Gulf. It is that of Ferrari, who got a one-two finish with Charles Leclerc in front of Carlos Sainz. Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes completed the podium.
The race spiced up after a safety car in the final laps and drama struck when both Red Bulls retired, after Max Verstappen contended victory to Leclerc.
Charles Leclerc – 10
The perfect weekend. The Monegasque was flawless, incredibly quick and attentive. Leclerc got pole position on Saturday and started the race well, remaining in the lead and controlling the gap to Verstappen.
The second stint was the hardest one, after having to resist to three attacks from the Dutchman and being assertive and precise on each attempt to regain the lead in turn four, after being overtaken in turn one.
After regaining a few seconds advantage, Leclerc had the perfect safety car restart and flew away, capitalising on an excellent weekend with the bonus point for the fastest lap.Embed from Getty Images
Carlos Sainz – 8
Sainz went close to pole position, narrowly missing it, but only managing third. It was clear he wasn’t as quick as the front duo and was struggling more compared to his teammate in the race.
Eventually, he was free of mistakes, and always controlled his podium position, later inheriting P2 once Verstappen retired.
A good result, but he will soon have to bounce back if he doesn’t want to be second best to Leclerc for the rest of the season.
Lewis Hamilton – 8.5
There was a moment in the race in which, due to different strategies, Hamilton was eighth and a podium seemed incredibly out of sight.
The Mercedes struggled in Bahrain and was only the third fastest car, giving no hope to challenge the frontrunners. However, Hamilton stood out, comfortably completing all the weekend in front of George Russell and having a good start to climb up to fourth.
After losing the place to Sergio Perez and trying all the possible strategies, Hamilton put the pressure on the leaders following the safety car and gained two places on the final laps when the Red Bulls retired.Embed from Getty Images
George Russell – 7
He probably hoped for more, but fourth was the best he could have hoped for, especially after getting it all wrong in qualifying and having to start from ninth place, after a mistake on his final run.
Russell struggled in comparison to Hamilton, but recovered quickly to settle in sixth and gained two places to finish fourth.
In his first race for Mercedes, the pace on Sunday was a bit more encouraging and he didn’t look too far off his teammate.
Kevin Magnussen – 9.5
For a driver who has been outside of the sport for one year, returning and finishing fifth would be unbelievable in itself with a midfield car. Kevin Magnussen was fast all weekend at looked at one with the car, always being quick in all sessions.
He managed seventh in qualifying, after suffering from some mechanical issues, and was at times in the mix with the Mercedes cars on Sunday.
It’s incredible how far Haas have come, considering Magnussen brings them points for the first time in 28 races. Being on the grid in itself could have been a victory, but there are no boundaries for the Dane given what he showed in Bahrain.Embed from Getty Images
Valtteri Bottas – 8
Who knows whether he could finish even higher, had he had a better start. Valtteri Bottas was a true star on Saturday, qualifying sixth, right behind his former teammate Lewis Hamilton.
That was his 102nd consecutive top 10 position in qualify, a record he was not necessarily hoping to extend prior to his move.
Bottas joined a team that finished penultimate last season and appeared very quick. A poor start, dropping him to 14th, forced him to a comeback, which he did complete, even if with a few overtaking struggles like he always showed.
Nevertheless, he still managed to return to the points, finishing as high as a comfortable sixth due to the retirements at the end.Embed from Getty Images
Esteban Ocon – 7.5
The Alpine wasn’t as fast as it could be expected, but Esteban Ocon did his job and finished seventh after starting from 11th.
He was the faster driver for his team and despite a five seconds penalty for colliding with Mick Schumacher, he moved back in front of Fernando Alonso, despite running an older version of the car.
Yuki Tsunoda – 7
Yuki Tsunoda came out of nowhere to finish a strong eighth, after only managing 16th on Saturday.
He had a good start, to move as up as 11th, and then appeared quicker in the race, to finish on points after a midfield scrap.
The late retirements helped him, but the Japanese driver was good to come back after what promised to be a poor weekend.
Fernando Alonso – 6
He scored two points, which was better than nothing, but Alonso’s race was unusual considering what could be expected from a driver like him.
He was eighth in qualifying and, as a driver who tends to climb up on Sundays, it was surprising to see him struggle with tyre degradation on move backwards in the race.
This left him 12th ahead of the last restart, in which he moved past Schumacher and benefitted from the retirements of the Red Bulls.Embed from Getty Images
Guanyu Zhou – 7
The Chinese driver was surprising on Sunday, to score points on his race debut.
He was 15th on Saturday and looked to struggle a lot compared to Bottas, but he was active with overtakes and good pace in the race.
Points came very late due to retirements, but Zhou showed, as debutant, that he can well compete in the mix with the others.
Mick Schumacher – 5.5
He featured in positions in which he had never been before and maybe this played a part in his weekend being chaotic.
Schumacher was quick at times, although not quite matching Magnussen’s level. It was a positive note that he entered Q2, but was only 12th after a mistake, and he was spun around in the race, which cost him a few places.
The big chance came at the end, as he was in 10th on the restart, but once again he couldn’t defend the position and finished just a place shy.
Lance Stroll – 5.5
The Aston Martin has many problems and it’s a much slower car than last year, but it certainly wasn’t a happy note for Lance Stroll to finish behind Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying.
That was only the fourth race in almost three years for the German, who still relegated Stroll to a start from 19th.
The Canadian moved up the order and his race pace wasn’t too bad, but not good enough to fight for points.Embed from Getty Images
Alex Albon – 7.5
After missing out on 2021, Alex Albon wasted no time to prove that he is still worthy and qualified a solid 15th, before featuring close to the top 10 in the opening stages on the race.
Had he to be optimistic, he probably hoped for even more out of his team given the rule changes, but it was a success in itself to finish 13th on the first race of the season.
Daniel Ricciardo – 5
A rating he shares with the team, which made such a huge step back from the previous season. Daniel Ricciardo was sixth on the grid in Bahrain last year and only managed 18th, a second behind Lando Norris in qualifying.
He finished in front in the race, but mostly due to different strategies. It was an incredibly difficult weekend for the Australian, and a painful race, in which he hardly moved out of the bottom three places.Embed from Getty Images
Lando Norris – 5.5
He managed 13th in qualifying, 10 thousandths off P12 and a few tenths off Q3, which can be seen as a miracle considering how poor the car proved to be on the hands on Ricciardo on Saturday, and both drivers on Sunday.
Norris couldn’t benefit from his grid slot and quickly dropped to 18th after starting on medium tyres and the team gambled everything by switching to hard tyres, but the pace was missing and nothing could be done to even get close to scoring a point.
Nicholas Latifi – 4
Nicholas Latifi may be condemned to a lot of starts from last place now that there are no cars which regularly feature below the Williams.
He was a second off Albon in qualifying and struggled to keep out of last place in the race, eventually moving past Hulkenberg, but only towards the end.
Not really what he wanted to show now that he has a new teammate.
Nico Hulkenberg – 6.5
More than a year after he was last called up to replace a driver in Formula One, Hulkenberg had to step up in replacement of Sebastian Vettel.
The former Renault driver did an amazing job to qualify in 17th, ahead of Stroll, despite having very limited mileage, and had a few battles in the opening stages.
He dropped back and finished last, but with the car he had to drive and his limited experience in the last few years, nothing more could have been asked from him.
Sergio Perez – 7
Perez lost a likely podium with a last lap mechanical issue that forced him to spin and switch off the car. It wasn’t the smoothest race, considering he had to climb back up from sixth after a poor start from fourth.
However, he did so and applied the pressure all the way to Sainz, despite never quite being a proper threat.
He inherited third place from his teammates’ misfortunes, but it wasn’t Red Bull’s day and an issue meant he walked away with nothing.Embed from Getty Images
Max Verstappen – 9
A big blow in the championship for Verstappen, who retired with only a few laps to go due to a mechanical issue. This is already quite significant considering the challenge he has to face of Ferrari.
Verstappen did about the best he could, as the Red Bull appeared marginally slower than the Ferrari. He put his car on the front row and tried to overtake Leclerc on three occasions, but the Monegasque fought back.
Perhaps, he could have tried a different move, and was caught napping at the restart. However, he was looking set for a well-deserved second place just behind a perfect Leclerc, before being let down by his engine.Embed from Getty Images
Pierre Gasly – 7.5
Pierre Gasly did an impressive job in qualifying to start from 10th, as his teammate was knocked out in Q1.
He was also in the mix for points in the race and was contending the place to Ocon before being forced to retire due to an engine issue.
He was on course for a good points finish after showing good pace throughout the race.
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