Leclerc puts Ferrari back on top as Verstappen’s title defence starts badly

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix review

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Just as Formula 1’s most radical regulations revolution in a generation had required thousands of hours of research, planning, testing and refinement, the seeds of Ferrari’s first grand prix victory in over two years were planted long before the team arrived in the Bahrain paddock for 2022’s first grand prix.

In the midst of their weakest season for forty years in 2020, team principal Mattia Binotto turned his team’s focus to the wealth of opportunity offered by the major rules changes for the 2022 season to try and bring his team back to where he felt they belonged.

“If I look at the 2022 car and the 2022 power units, believe me, there is a lot of innovation in it,” he boldly claimed in December, Binotto said. “The team is stronger than the past.”

And when Charles Leclerc secured the first pole position of Formula 1’s new era around the Bahrain International Circuit, it appeared Ferrari were backing Binotto’s words up with actions.

All they had to do on Sunday was hold off world champion Max Verstappen.

When the five red lights went out to signal the start of the most keenly anticipated world championship in recent memory, Leclerc aced his first mission of the evening by beating the Red Bull driver on the run to the first corner as team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr held third. Sergio Perez surrendered two positions to first Lewis Hamilton, then Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

Start, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Leclerc converted pole into the early lead
Breaking ground as China’s first ever F1 race driver, Zhou Guanyu almost saw his grand prix debut end at the very first corner when his Alfa Romeo fell into anti-stall. Luckily, he was able to continue after dropping to the rear, just as Mick Schumacher was fortunate to continue as Esteban Ocon pitched the Haas into a perfect pirouette at turn six, earning himself a five-second penalty.

Magnussen, parachuted into the Haas only 11 days prior, relinquished fifth place to Perez. Within a handful of laps the Red Bull driver caught and passed Hamilton, whose Mercedes is not the force it was last year, to reclaim his original fourth position.

Verstappen kept in touch with Leclerc out front as the pair gently pulled away from Sainz in third. But it didn’t take long for the champion to report the first of a myriad of car problems that would ultimately render his afternoon fruitless. “Engine braking is doing funny things mid-corner,” he radioed.

Despite the Red Bull’s handling being less than ideal, Verstappen managed to maintain the gap to around 3.5s before Red Bull opted to pit him for a second set of softs at the end of lap 14. Ferrari immediately responded, bringing Sainz from third and calling in leader Leclerc at the end of his next lap.

“Do not hit these tyres hard, Max,” Verstappen’s race director Gianpiero Lambiase instructed his driver. Remarkably, even with the relatively easy out-lap, Verstappen’s fresh rubber allowed him to gain three full seconds over the Ferrari on a single lap and was close enough to apply intense pressure to Leclerc as soon as he merged back onto the circuit.

With Verstappen sitting in DRS range as they rounded the final corner, Leclerc made the smart decision to blend out of the throttle on the straight and allow the Red Bull to pass him, so he could exploit the second DRS zone to retake the lead.

Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Verstappen passed the Ferrari, but not for long
“I was trying to be as clever as possible using the DRS as much as possible,” he later explained. “I was trying to brake early into turn one just to be behind him at the DRS detection and twice it worked out, so I took back my first position and just incredibly happy that we made it work.”

For three laps, the pair traded places in an exhilarating exhibition of racing – Leclerc ultimately retaining his hard-fought lead. It was an encouraging first sign that 2022’s new regulations had achieved their goal of making it easier for cars to fight on-track, and gave cause for optimism similar duels will play out over the 22 races to follow.

Eventually, Verstappen snatched a brake at turn one after accepting another invitation to pass Leclerc, and the Ferrari driver used his much better exit from the corner to first pull clear of DRS, then away from the Red Bull entirely. Pirelli had predicted a two-stop strategy would be the best path to take prior to the race, but with tyre wear higher than expected, it was not overly shocking to see Red Bull switch Verstappen onto the mediums around the halfway mark of the race.

“You have to bring these tyres in gently this stint, please Max,” Lambiase urged again.

As they had done 16 laps earlier, Ferrari covered Verstappen by pitting Leclerc and, again, he rejoined the track with the Red Bull considerably closer than he had been. This time, however, Leclerc was able to get up to speed before Verstappen found the opportunity to attack – leaving the world champion lamenting his team’s insistence on caution.

“Okay, this is now two times that I take it easy on the out-lap when I could have easily been in front,” he argued. “I’m never, ever doing it again.”

On the mediums, Verstappen struggled more to maintain the pace of the race leader, gradually losing time with every lap to Leclerc. Ferrari advised their driver on the radio that Verstappen appeared to being hit with heavier tyre wear, as it appeared Red Bull’s challenge for victory had been broken.

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But long before his medium tyres were due to expire, Verstappen was suddenly in the pit lane at the start of lap 44 for a third time to take his third set of soft tyres for the evening. But while everything appeared to be in good order, Verstappen had barely rounded turn two before alerting his team to a newly-emerged impediment.

“Oh mate, my steering wheel is feeling very heavy,” he reported. “Oh my God, it’s almost locked – I almost can’t steer.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
No points for Verstappen – or his team
While Verstappen was coming to terms with this unexpected change, Pierre Gasly was forced to pull his AlphaTauri off the road after it developed a sudden fire at the rear of the car. For the second time in under two years, the marshals at turn three had firefighting to do, while the Safety Car was deployed for the first time this season.

Holding a comfortable margin behind him, Leclerc was brought in to move onto his first set of used softs that afternoon, leaving both he and Verstappen effectively on an equal footing for what was now shaping up to be a seven-lap sprint for the chequered flag. With the lapped runners – all of them – removed, the race was restarted on lap 51.

But rather than the Red Bull challenging Leclerc at the green flag, it was instead defending from Sainz behind.

“Mate, what’s going on with the battery?,” Verstappen enquired about the latest issue to have developed on his car.

“Battery fine,” Lambiase assured.

“No, it’s not,” Verstappen insisted. “What the fuck is this? It’s just shitting itself.”

A terminal problem linked to the power unit’s fuel system was manifesting itself. Within a lap, Sainz was able to breeze past the ailing Red Bull into second. By the end of the 54th tour, it was all over for Verstappen.

“It looked like there was no fuel coming to the engine and then basically everything just turned off,” he later explained. “So I rolled back into the pit lane.

“It’s not what you want, especially after having really positive test days and actually also a positive weekend, it looked like. With all the little issues we had, to be a second place, that would have been still a very good result.”

The Ferraris were now running first and second. Behind them attention turned to Perez, now sitting in the final podium spot with Hamilton’s Mercedes large in his mirrors. But the second RB18 was also ailing: Perez reported he was “losing power.”

Entering the final lap, it seemed as though Perez might actually pull off his second vital defence against Hamilton in consecutive races, until he turned in for the turn one hairpin and the car looped around 180 degrees and came to rest awkwardly at the apex.

“I lost the fucking engine,” Perez lamented. “Unbelievable.”

As the preliminary investigations began at Red Bull, celebrations were beginning at Ferrari. After a pre-season of tantalising promise, Ferrari’s return to the front was of little surprise, but the swiftness with which they had converted their potential into victory was one few in the team would have dared to predict.

Leclerc crossed the line to take his third career victory, two and a half years from his last. For Ferrari – and especially Leclerc – the podium rosewater washed away the bitter aftertaste that had lingered since their dire 2020 campaign.

“It feels amazing,” Leclerc beamed. “Obviously, after yesterday, it already felt great. But we had to finish the business today and we did a one-two. So it’s the perfect start to the season.”

(L to R), Carlos Sainz Jr, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Hamilton described third as a “huge” result for Mercedes
While Sainz made no effort to hide his disappointment at not being able to emulate the pace of his team mate and Verstappen, he could recognise the bigger picture of what an opening race win means for his season ahead.

“Before the race, Charles and I were working together and the first thing that we said to each other is how good it feels just to be starting first and third and to finally be fighting for something bigger, and together,” he said.

“We kind of had that moment of just realising that we are in the fight this year. it was… a good moment to reflect and to realise that we are a lot luckier in that sense than last year, and we have a good fight in our hands.”

After spending the pre-season and the early part of the race weekend playing down Mercedes’ chances, Hamilton said third and fourth for him and new team mate George Russell amounted to a “huge” result for the team.

“I think it’s incredibly motivating probably for the whole team,” he said. “Whilst we don’t have the performance of these other guys in terms of our processes, in terms of squeezing absolutely everything out of the car, I think that’s what we did today and for both drivers, and I think that’s a true showing of strength within.”

Magnussen, returning to Formula 1 out of the blue, could hardly fathom his Haas team, who had gone point-less last year, had taken best-of-the-rest honours in the first race of 2022.

“It’s so good to be back in this position,” he said. “Just got to say a massive well done to the team, getting this car into this position. We were the strongest car in the midfield.”

Having dreamed of racing in Formula 1 from the day he watched China’s first ever grand prix from the stands, Zhou Guanyu said he was “speechless” after scoring a point for tenth on debut. Sixth for Alfa Romeo team mate Valtteri Bottas capped off an excellent start to the year for the team after a shaky start to testing. The pair were separated by the Alpines – Ocon seventh, Fernando Alonso ninth – and Yuki Tsunoda.

The AlphaTauri driver was the only one of the Red Bull-powered quartet to reach the flag. If reliability is their biggest worry following round one, performance appears to be a concern for Mercedes. While the factory cars inherited third and fourth places, the six customers were the last to cross the line.

But after their pre-season had looked so strong, Ferrari had announced themselves as true contenders for the biggest prize in the sport once again after two turbulent years. And Leclerc is confident that both he and Sainz are ready to battle for the title all the way in 2022.

“I think we are both very, very happy to have a car that is capable of winning. And yeah, we’ll fight for it, for sure.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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77 comments on “Leclerc puts Ferrari back on top as Verstappen’s title defence starts badly”

  1. Looks like E10 fuel managed to shake things up. Ferrari engines benefited from it the most. Alpine gaining a bit. Mercedes who always said their engine optimized for the fuel provided by Petronas lost their dominance. Mercedes as a team is still up there only because their chassis. Other Merc customers team get hurt the most.

    RBPT stay the same. I don’t believe this is a reliability issues when it was clear it was fuel pump failure at Red Bull and it was MGUK failure at Alpha Tauri.

    I don’t know how much you can modify the ICE to fit E10 fuel when they develop over the years for E5.

    So I think Mercedes had the biggest obstacle to overcome. Red Bull still had fastest straight speed, they do lost to Ferrari at acceleration but Red Bull was heavier by 10kgs anyway. Not a big task.

    1. @ruliemaulana Yes, RB had the highest top speed & Honda-powered drivers covered the first four positions in the race maximum speed trap speeds with Ferrari’s the last two, but 10 kg heavier in minimum car+driver weight.
      Interesting if indeed true.

      1. F1 journo Guliano Duchessa during practice mention that Red Bull was still at 810kg while Ferrari was 800kg. @jerejj

        1. @ruliemaulana Okay. I’m sure both will eventually get to 798, especially since they’re only 2 kg away.

        2. Like I suspected increasing the minimum weight was not to going to benefit Ferrari the most. Great intel.
          As ever Ferrari arrive ready for race 1 but looking to how good the merc looks and how heavy the RB is, ferrari’s reign should be short lived. 10kg is roughly .4 of a second.
          The merc looked good to me, and pretty good during the race as well, their rear wing looked stacked up yet I don’t think that justifies why all mercs were bad, Merc power was underwhelming, perhaps there is a quick fix for that, they’ll hope so, perhaps the team is way behind on mapping.

          1. I get the feeling the power is there, but the car can’t handle it yet. I think when they solve the bouncing around and can turn up the engine Mercedes will be at the front again, if not (hopefully not) far ahead.

          2. How Merc was good? they were far away from the front. Without SC probably would have ended almost a minute late.

          3. I get the feeling the power is there, but the car can’t handle it yet.

            I don’t think that explains how slow the other Merc-powered cars are. It looks like a reasonable bet that the Merc engine is significantly down on power compared to the others this year, which would suggest that the chassis is actually pretty darned good to be in third place with the porpoising.

          4. The strategy did not help either with those hard tyres. There was a lack of pace certainly but it would have been considerably smaller with mediums. My 2c anyway

  2. From what I read (on Scarbs’ twitter) Verstappen’s heavy steering was caused by a bent steering arm after the pit stop.

    Also (same source) there seemed to be a bigger fuel pump (spec part) issue throughout the paddock. Let’s see how that pans out over the next days.

    But regardless of that (and as much as everybody here seems to enjoy gloating over RB’s failures): the story should be about Ferrari being back on top again. Great race from Leclerc, interesting to see what Sainz can or can’t pull out of the bag related to Charles and Max. It was a good season opener and I think we have a nice season ahead of us.

    1. Yes, don’t understand the anti-red bull gloating, and ferrari would’ve been 1st and 3rd (so best result of all teams) even without the issues.

  3. After listening to Brundle marvelling at Max’s late braking into turn one numerous times, I’m glad someone puts the credit where it was due. Charles played him like a fish going into that corner, basically handing the lead to Max, knowing he would then sail straight back past him by turn 4. I think Max at that stage was too hot headed to even work it out.
    He did the same to Max on the restart. I thought in AD Max’s game of running alongside the lead driver before the restart was wrong, as it stopped Ham choosing the line he wanted as the acting ‘safety car’, and should have been stopped. In this case Charles used it to his advantaged. Let Max get alongside, then pin him to the apex at the last corner whilst launching himself down the straight on a better line.
    Arguably Charles best ever race and a delight to watch.
    Bit concerning for F1 and RB in particular if indeed it was a standard part failing with a design fault. That should never happen

    1. Probably a conspiracy by the Italian manufacturer of the fuel pumps…
      /end hamfan mode.

      But indeed a big problem. According to kravitz all teams had the opportunity to test the pumps and did so. Mclaren changed the pumps pro active.
      But if its really the prescripted parts then fia had a big problem.

      1. How this supposed fuel pump problem only occurs in both RedBull?

        1. Apparently, other teams had issues when doing full race simulations in winter testing, but Red Bull didn’t do that. Red Bull also had permission to inspect the parts before the race.

    2. Red Bull was the only team to have such a problem, it means that they are using the standard part the wrong way. It’s their problem, not FIA…

      1. Not necessarily. It’s quite possible that they were just unlucky and got 2 faulty pumps where everyone else got good ones. The odds aren’t all that long for that to happen: Assuming there were 2 faulty pumps out of the 20, it’s only a 1/100 chance that one team would get both.

        That said, were I the manufacturer, the first thing I would check for in this situation would be customer error. If something has gone wrong for one customer which hasn’t gone wrong for any other customer, more often than not the customer will have done something wrong which caused it.

        1. It’s certainly suspicious that they both failed shortly before the race ended, almost like something was calculated to last 57 laps and their calculations were slightly off.

    3. You have to question whether Max’s over-aggression chasing Charles, especially his overspeed when going past the pit (with what seemed to be some heavy porpoising and impacts to the road surface on the third (?) attempt) did any damage that worsened the issue..?

    4. Yes, that was smart thinking of Leclerc in turn 1. I was thinking why Verstappen didn’t return the favour by forcing Leclerc to cover the inside of turn 1, rather than going for the late lunge. Smart driving by Leclerc.

    5. @ian dearing Brundle-less F1TV was bliss. Highly recommended.
      Verstappen trying the same passing strategy 3 times and failing 3 times did make Charles seem like a bit of a racing genius but I’m not sure it wasn’t just the opposite, Max unused to not being able to pass-and-go. It’s like he had to repeat the scenario twice just to believe it had happened.

        1. I meant the fault lay more in Max trying the same thing three times. Once Charles had seen he could repass, he lured Max into overtaking at the first corner. It was almost like a matador with a red flag, waving him past. Maybe Max thought CL would make a mistake at some point, indeed not doing so was impressive.

        2. The opposite of Leclerc being smart is Verstappen being “not smart”.

          Trying the same move three consecutive laps and expecting a different result = not smart.
          Moving alongside Leclerc for the SC restart on the dirty side of the track and making the entry to the last corner much tighter = not smart.

          Despite the “not smarts”, without a mechanical issue, he would have still finished P2.

          1. It was great driving by both drivers. They did not set a foot wrong and showed to Hamilton how it can be done without putting people in the wall.

          2. @erik: being dummied in the T1 overtake 3 times in a row (eventually with some lockup) was really impressive driving. as well as the positioning of the car at the restart.

            maybe i should once try some orange glasses, just to see how different reality looks.

          3. @last comment: well, it certainly was a good battle, the best of the race.

  4. Lovely write-up.

    Obviously the focus is on Ferrari, who got everything right this weekend, and Red Bull, who didn’t. But I was interested in Mercedes’ pace, or lack of it. In particular, Russell should have been able to reel Hamilton in after pitting much later, but didn’t seem to do so. Was he nursing an issue? Or fuel management maybe? After towing Hamilton around throughout qualifying it was strange to see him unable to capitalise when he had the chance, for once.

    1. @red-andy likely just team orders to bring it home at this stage in the season, maximising points…

      1. And don’t forget Russel was kept on the very slow hards for way too long, 6 laps longer than Lewis if I recall correctly

        1. So he had 6 lap newer tyres at the restart. But as already been said, they wouldn’t have caught the cars in front and had no threat from the cars behind. So what would be the point of racing each other, and putting extra stress on the car.

          1. Agree no point in putting extra stress and had 6 laps fresher tyres. I’m only pointing out that was the main reason why he was so much behind

          2. Racing Lewis.. Unthinkable or a number 2 driver at Mercedes

          3. @erik: wingman perez would have raced the paper champ really hard in the same situation.

          4. Paper champion is a joke after all previous years.

  5. Leclerc’s repassing tactics were good, although consecutive activation zones with separate detections allow for such tactics in the first place, but still.

    1. Max should have stayed behind until 2nd DRS zone, simples

      1. I did wonder why he didn’t try that, especially on the third attempt (where he outbraked himself). The only explanations I can think of for why he didn’t try this very obvious tactic are that either he didn’t think of it or he didn’t think he could manage it.

        1. @drmouse My money’s on the former.

        2. RandomMallard
          21st March 2022, 18:03

          @drmouse I think part of it was exactly what Leclerc said in the post race interviews: Charles was deliberately braking unusually early so Max would pass him before the detection point (and so he could get a good switchback out of turn 1). It’s a tactic Verstappen used when overtaking in his Austria 2019 win I believe (although that time he would brake early, hover just behind for the activation zone and then go later on the brakes in a “second phase” of braking I think) so he could get the DRS down to turn 4. But I agree, it was a little short-sighted of Max.

  6. Not a great start for RB but it’s a long season they may be able to sort the problems out, depending on what the issues are. I wonder about the long term competitiveness of Honda now that they have ‘left’ the sport. I wonder about their commitment to spending the money on the continued development of a PU that no longer bears their name but continue to build and maintain.
    Ferrari and Mercedes will no doubt continue to improve reliability allowing Mercedes in particular, to run their PUs at a higher level of performance.
    McLaren had a terrible start one problem after another compounding to give them their worst performance in years. But as I said it’s a long season and I am hopeful they’ll get on top of it and deliver what they’re capable of.

    1. @johnrkh I don’t think you need wonder about Honda and their commitment as from what I gather it is a happy and cooperative arrangement and RBR have staff from Honda that are now RBR employees, plying their expertise. From all accounts it seems they were quite buoyed by their WDC last season, and before you go off about asterisks to the WDC etc etc, from Honda’s standpoint their pu in RBR’s car lead more laps than the rest of the grid combined etc etc. Further to that, do you even know what money they are spending on the continued development? I don’t. Unless you know, then for all we know RBR are sharing those costs if not shouldering them all.

      Anywho suffice it to say I have not heard nor read anything that would indicate to me any concern whatsoever that RBR might have over their relationship with Honda. Seems to me it is as strong as ever given that the heavy lifting has been done and there is a freeze on.

      1. @robbie

        From all accounts it seems they were quite buoyed by their WDC last season

        From who?

        Anywho suffice it to say I have not heard nor read anything that would indicate to me any concern whatsoever that RBR might have over their relationship with Honda.

        Wow, they haven’t told you?

        1. @johnrkh https://www.google.ca/amp/s/amp.formula1.com/en/latest/article.red-bull-and-honda-reveal-collaboration-plans-after-engine-supplier.6qkvqcmeSV5Fn3xgTBVstL.html

          This sound like things aren’t fine between RBR and Honda? There’s also word that Honda may even keep building the engines after this season rather than RBR’s Powertrain Unit doing that.

          What have you got other than wishful thinking?

          1. Oh @robbie you are such a card :))

            his sound like things aren’t fine between RBR and Honda? There’s also word that Honda may even keep building the engines after this season rather than RBR’s Powertrain Unit doing that.

            What have you got other than wishful thinking?

            Facts, see below.
            Posted on the 4th of March

            Honda will build and maintain the Pus out of Japan until 2025. Redbull will have no part in maintaining them.
            Redbull will not have any access to IP at this point, whether Honda and Redbull come to a commercial agreement later on to IP rights is not known and unlikely.
            You may also read the information on planet f1, honda-tech .com or Pit-Pass.com.

            Keep’m coming robbie :))

          2. https://onestopracing.com/what-engine-will-red-bull-f1-use-in-2022/

            @johnrkh For some strange reason you seem to think you have me in some gotcha moment, when all you are doing is supporting my point.

            I fail to understand how to you Honda showing that they are not really leaving F1 after all, and will continue to build the engines for RBR, gives you pause about their commitment. Should be the opposite, but then that wouldn’t suit your agenda I suppose, so rather to you them committing to F1 and RBR is somehow incredibly showing a lack of commitment. Lol.

            I guess you gotta do you:)

  7. Mr Scallywag
    21st March 2022, 8:36

    Mature drive from Leclerc, great to see. The last couple of years with less pressure may have been beneficial to his racecraft.

    And that photo at the top, so good almost looks staged.

  8. It’s understandable that Ferrari’s success and RedBull’s misfortune dominate the headlines, but the three Mercedes customer teams finishing last is equally shocking. How much of that is down to individual problems (brakes, porpoising) and how big is the influence of the Mercedes engine?

    1. how big is the influence of the Mercedes engine?

      Mercedes which do not have a good handling car lost a bit short of 1 sec per lap how much of that is PU? Mclaren lost about 3 seconds per lap.

      1. Mercedes pace was poor, but part of that was clearly down to the questionable decision to run the hards for the second stint.

    2. I keep hearing the theories about Mercedes’ engine but as noted mclaren have brake issues, Williams is, well, Williams, and AM (like Mercedes’) have stated they have serious aero issues with the car. I can’t conclude there is any fundamental problem with the PU yet.

  9. The MV moans were a bit grating

    1. Yeah, before someone would accuse me I’m a Merc/Lewis fanboy I’m not. Max is a very fast driver indeed but makes it hard to like him tbh. Should have kept his cool and accept second, may have been able to finish second without excessive overdriving which may have caused his issues, would have 18 ponts in the bag. But I guess that’s what makes him Max

      1. What makes it hard to like him? How do you come to the conclusion he was over driving? Are you insinuating he over drives in general? Are you an authority on who should be like and who should not be?

        1. lexusreliability?
          21st March 2022, 15:50

          @stash

          And what makes you think you are owed an explanation? Why do you find it hard to accept that Max isn’t everyone’s cup of tea? In fact what makes you think that there is universal code of who should be a likeable figure? And finally who gave you the authority of demanding answers from people who are just sharing their opinions?

          1. Noframingplease (@)
            21st March 2022, 19:10

            @lexusreliabilty? Oh jeez,… what’s that for tone to mister @stash? He didn’t ‘demand’ an answer, like nobody ‘demands’ that here. But probably he hit some fan opinion of yours. That max isn’t everyone’s cup of tea is clear (especially here on this rather pro Lewis thing) but the point is that a lot of ‘fans’ here brabble there opinions here on the net like it are facts. Maybe of the british bias it’s logic, but when I read things about ‘most hated driver (max, here in the commentzone) while according a worldwide interview under fans, Max was just mentioned as most popular. Sometimes I wonder if readers here do know there is a big world outside the (british)racefans bubble where RB is being bespoken more objective and MB is a lot less glorified (just read the comments about the non-sidepods of MB here, like MB invented the new baby jezus.)

          2. The irony is that the race, a site being accused of british bias, has actually 0 bias in comparison to the people on this site (not the authors, but majority of the posters).

  10. I’m delighted for Ferrari fans who must’ve woken this morning with a very warm glow!

    Looking at the rest of the field, I can’t help thinking back to the first race of the V6 hybrid era, Australia 2014. Rosberg’s win hinted at what was to come from Mercedes but the rest of the results gave nothing away. McLaren came home 2nd and 3rd – albeit after Ricciardo was disqualified – a level of performance that they failed to match for a very long time.

    Clearly Ferrari have a great car and Red Bull have some raw pace but the reality is that this new era of F1 will take some time to define itself. In the meantime my hope is that, like MotoGP, we get different teams taking podiums each weekend, depending on the type of circuit, and some great wheel-to-wheel racing throughout.

  11. I’m happy to see Ferrari on top again but maybe the FIA gave them a helping hand in the PU development from 2020 until now after their “illegal” power unit troubles.

    See the link below:
    “The FIA and Scuderia Ferrari have agreed to a number of technical commitments that will improve the monitoring of all Formula 1 power units for forthcoming championship seasons as well as assist the FIA in other regulatory duties in Formula 1 and in its research activities on carbon emissions and sustainable fuels.”

    https://www.racefans.net/2020/02/28/fia-reaches-agreement-with-ferrari-after-power-unit-investigation/

    1. Pat yourself on the back.

      1. someone or something
        21st March 2022, 14:47

        And then re-adjust your tinfoil crown, your work is far from over.

        1. Haha Take it easy guys. I said maybe, and to be honest I don’t realy care if they did.

    2. Ah, of course, in 2014 it was Mercedes who somehow managed to dupe the FIA and all other parties into some magical engine combination which would only benefit them for 7-8 years. And now in 2022 it was some secret FIA-Ferrari arrangement. Boy, the lens you folks see the world through sure is a strange one.

      1. I’m not sure you get my point and there is nothing in there on MB 2014 so no need to mention this.

        The statemennt above is an official FIA statement from 2020 so not secret arangement (read the link article). And if they worked with Ferrari to develop the sustainable fuels it is not so far fatched that it would give ferrari a headstart in the development of the engine

  12. Something just seems to be right about Ferrari this time round, more so than the Alonso or Vettel years. They look calmer, more professional and competent. When they come under serious challenge from Red Bull (and maybe Mercedes) over the course of the season, I can see them responding far better this time round.

    1. The lack of prima donnas in their driver line-up must help.

      1. I expect that what really helps is that team morale is better at Ferrari under Binotto. For years heads were rolling at the scuderia after every unsuccessful campaign, sometimes even after a bad race weekend. It seemed like a pretty toxic environment, one that really didn’t nurture innovation, with its implied risks. I suspect that many talented engineers with new ideas kept their mouths shut and their heads down. It’s good to see them on the right track now.

      2. @sonnycrockett @ferrox-glideh Maybe a bit of both. Both Alonso and Vettel seemed to be trying to replicate Schumacher’s success (and team domination) at Ferrari, which probably added a lot of pressure all round. Binotto does seem less antagonistic than his predecessors too.

    2. This is certainly my favourite era of Ferrari: solid leadership at the top, young good quality drivers, good (hopefully more on the level) engineering. I hope this is their year, let’s not see a return on the poor race strategies.

      1. RandomMallard
        21st March 2022, 18:08

        Agree here. Never really liked Ferrari under Arrivabene or when Vettel was there, but now, even as a McLaren fan, I don’t really have that much to hold against them. In fact I might go as far as saying I like them now!

        1. RandomMallard
          21st March 2022, 18:08

          Oh yeah and it’s the best looking car on the grid this season as well in my opinion.

  13. When i was watching Leclerc describe his pole lap pre race, i though that this guy is the smartest driver in the field, he can perfectly remember a lap he did and analyze each moment of it wonderfully, reminds me of a jazz musician in the spectrum of musicians. really impressed by him this weekend, he outsmarted Verstappen with a tactic not in many driver’s mindsets: drivers are supposed to drive fast 100% of the time we are told. Was great to see the best looking car on the grid win. Very interesting to see Ferrari potentially regain engine superiority like a few years back… something happened back stage a few years back that put Ferraris engine power behind Mercedes and Redbull…well Ferrari has done an incredible job to regain that power in such a short time. Makes me think that HASS and Alfa were actually good cars last year, but held back by inferior power. this year Mercedes midfield cars like Mclaren and Aston are going to suffer the same fate of not having the best engine they had previous

  14. Are we sure that Leclerc lifted on the straight the first time and wanted Verstappen to pass?
    He lost a full second in the straight, yes, but on the other hand he was defending quite hard into turn one and appeared to be surprised that the Red Bull was coming at him.
    He didn’t have that smooth a run through the corner either and it was also pretty close up the hill towards turn 4.
    So not a given he could have repassed him there.
    I think he learned from that and on the two following laps it was obvious that he was totally focusing on corner exit, yes.

    1. @roadrunner In the post race interview, Leclerc said he was braking early for T1.

      Verstappen went for the inside, Leclerc picked up the DRS for the run to T4, a section of track where Ferrari were particularly strong, and was easily able to repass Verstappen. The third time he didn’t need to because Verstappen had his big lock up.

  15. But here comes CHARLES LECLERC

  16. I think Mercedes are being disingenuous. Their relative poor performance is a combination of factors but at the heart of it is the engine in my opinion. All of the customer teams were at the tail end of the field. All of them. If it is the engine primarily then it’s a shame McLaren once again are being hung out to dry by an engine supplier. We will soon see. McLaren really need to find an engine supplier of their own some how. Going into partnership with Audi might be a solution. Yamaha? Samsung? NASA? Heinz? Anyone.

    1. @stash Yeah I think it remains in F1 that the factory works teams, which are the ones that can do the best job of integrating pu to chassis, are the ones that stand the far greater chance of competing for the trophies. I wonder if Ricardo, who I believe still supplies engines for McLaren’s supercars, would be interested in F1. To me that would seem a natural fit in order for Mac to go all in-house and becoming a F1 factory works team. I don’t think being a customer to anyone’s pu is going to be a better option than being a factory works team so, for example, as good as the Ferrari pu seems to be, no customer of Ferrari is going to beat Ferrari themselves. Same with Mercs customers etc. McLaren is a team as resourced as the other top teams, so to me full works is the direction they should be headed. One caveat to that is that the next gen of pus are supposed to be less expensive, less complex, and somewhat more plug and play like F1 used to be pre-hybrid, so it does seem like come 2026 customer teams might stand a better chance of competing, but then to me they are still going up against the factory works teams and those should to me be naturally advantaged anyway.

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