The 2022 Formula One World Championship season is underway and the new regulations have already made a huge impact on the course of the season. When the 8-time constructors champion is taken out of the title race after just 2 rounds, then the regulations should be deemed a hit!
Charles Leclerc won the first race of the season in Bahrain and Max Verstappen who was forced to retire in that race ends on the top step of the podium in Jeddah. The fight between those two lit up the tracks and laid the foundation for the VerstappenLeclerc rivalry.
This season didn’t seem to rekindle the VerstappenLewis Hamilton rivalry from 2021. Mercedes who won the team championship for 8 consecutive seasons, struggled a lot in the gulf and we’ve even seen the sight of Hamilton being eliminated in Q1. The headline maker among all the events of the past two weeks is Kevin Magnussen scoring points, despite joining the team only 11 days before the Bahrain GP! Yes, this season is indeed a huge surprise.
Race 1: Bahrain GP - Wounded Bull, Walloping Horse
“Fighting for the title next year is a must. We are working hard for this: failing to do so would mean having done everything wrong. A failure”
Mattia Binotto said this 7 months ago and he would be the happiest man in the F1 paddock right now. After spending the last two seasons in the midfield, Binotto’s team has brought the ‘Prancing Horse’ back to where it belongs.
Yeah, it’s just the first race; just one race. Yet, it was enough for the fans to dream about the title. Seeing both the drivers on the podium alone won’t give you that much optimism. But, the result of the race as a whole was enough to bet on the horse!
The Ferrari Power Unit should be considered the biggest hit this season. Unlike other drivers, both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz didn’t face any issue in those 57 laps. This turned out to be a big reason for their success, as the teams that used other power units struggled.
ஒட்டுமொத்த விகடனுக்கும் ஒரே ஷார்ட்கட்!
Not just Ferrari, all the other benefactors of the Ferrari 066/7 power unit had a smooth race in Bahrain. Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou of Alfa Romeo came sixth and tenth respectively. Kevin Magnussen, the comeback man was brilliant in his first Formula 1 race in more than a year, finished an impressive fifth position. Mick Schumacher was so close to tasting his first F1 points but missed out to the debutant Guanyu Zhou.
Five out of the six cars that used the Ferrari power units have finished inside points. That’s 83.33%. Alfa Romeo & Haas scored a combined 13 points in the whole 2021 season and the combined score in the very first race of 2022 is 19! Haas should be the second happiest team, after registering points for the first time in 29 races. This was the first time after 2019, Haas had a car lined up in Q3 of qualifying.
The Mercedes engine was struggling throughout the week in Bahrain. They weren’t fast as expected and all the teams were finding it difficult to gain any pace. Out of the 8 cars powered by the Mercedes engine, only 2 finished inside points. Half of the cars started from P17 to P20 after an underwhelming Q1 performance.
Only one car has completed the race out of the 4 that used the new ‘Red Bull Powertrains’ engine. Pierre Gasly retired on the 44th lap, Verstappen on the 53rd and Sergio Perez on the last. All their cars suffered engine issues and all three have lost a chunk of points. Max missed the podium and later, his teammate who replaced him for the podium place also missed it.
Alpine, powered by Renault E-Tech RE22 engines was the only other engine to have a decent outing in Bahrain. Both the Alpine cars scored points despite not being faster than expected.
Highlight: The highlight of the Bahrain GP was the three laps (laps 17-19), where Max and Charles went toe to toe for the lead. Verstappen overtook leader Leclerc in the first turn of the 17th lap, only to be overtaken again by Leclerc at turn 4. This was repeated in the next lap with a slight difference: this time Verstappen overtook Leclerc in turn 2. All the events were set to be repeated again in lap 19, only for Verstappen to have a huge lock up which gave the momentum away completely.
The disappointment: With all the surprise and shocks at the front of the table, the bottom part of the table garners attention too. Joined with Aston Martin and Williams at the bottom with no points are the McLaren, team that finished with 12.5 points per race last season. McLaren suffered all week in Bahrain, despite having a good time in Barcelona. This is the first time in 30 races, the Surrey based team finished with 0 points.
Race 2: Saudi Arabian GP - Broken Arrow
Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes is a force to reckon. Every team, every driver in Formula 1 circuit is finding it difficult to defeat this combo. Actually, they ‘were’ finding it difficult. This season turned out to be the most challenging one for the Silver Arrows as they are finding it difficult to produce the pace needed to fight the Bull and the Horse. The blunt arrow could not hit the Bull’s eye!
At least in Bahrain Hamilton stood on the podium, courtesy of Red Bull’s double retirement. In Jeddah, the issue was deep rooted. The 8-time champion struggled for pace and could not extract anything from his new car. That Saturday proved to be one of the worst days in Hamilton’s Formula 1 career, as he was fighting to clear Q1.
In the previous 178 races (until 2021 season) with Mercedes, Hamilton had won 82 of them (46.07%). He started 42.7% of those races (76) from the pole position. And, this legend was eliminated from Q1 in Jeddah. Even in the race, he was outsmarted by Kevin Magnussen in the Hass. If not for the retirements of his former teammates Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas, Lewis would have finished this race out of the points.
George Russell on the other hand qualified at 6th, outclassed by the Ferraris and Red Bulls and also the Alpine of Esteban Ocon. The young Brit drove very well to cross the chequered flag 5th, but could not enjoy the result. With everything happening with the Silver Arrows, how could he!
Highlight: The few laps of insane fighting between the Alpines caught the eye in Jeddah. The battle went on for almost 8 laps until Bottas splitting them in lap 14. The two drivers had a fierce battle, Alonso almost touching the wall once. They both took the lead at times and also overtaken by the other immediately. It was fun watching that duel, but both the drivers have taken this professionally.
The disappointment: The whole world feels for Sergio Perez. After getting pole position for the first time in 215 races, Perez was destined to register his third Formula 1 victory. But a Ferrari bluff and a safety car incident put him in the back seat. When the safety car was deployed, Perez was the only driver among the top 4 to have pitted and that cost him 3 positions. He had a lead of about 1.6 seconds over Charles Leclerc while entering the pits, but he had to fight the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz even for that last podium spot which ended in vain.