The return of Formula 1 is here! After a gruelling long winter break, the beginning of the 2023 season has come along and has kept the merry spirit with bringing surprises to the grid.
Red Bull have resumed their title charge where they left it off after securing a 1-2 for the first Qualifying session of the season despite some alarming radio messages said in the practice sessions by both drivers. Ferrari secured a second row lockout after what they believed they’d produced a car to fight for Pole position.
Mercedes’ innovative yet complicated car design has seemingly put them closer to Ferrari, however, after comments from both drivers and the rest of the team, it suggests that they are struggling yet again this year, but they look closer to Ferrari which will make for some great racing for the remainder of the season.
El Plan…But For Who?Embed from Getty Images
After the previous week of Bahrain testing, it became very apparent to the spectators that Aston Martin had picked up performance and seemed to have brought the most successful and efficient upgrades on their car which would push them up to the head of the field. However, the only difficulty they experienced was with their drivers after Lance Stroll had a bicycle accident, the injuries he sustained have been kept quiet but were suspected to be a broken wrist. He was ruled out of testing and Aston Martin reserve driver, Felipe Drugovich, paired up with Fernando Alonso to fetch data.
Stroll returned to the car for Friday practice after successfully passing necessary FIA tests on the second try, deeming he was fit to drive.
Stroll would go on to get into Q3 and finish P8 with a time of 1:30.8, whereas his teammate, Fernando Alonso, would go on to finish P5 with a 1:30.3. A couple tenths ahead of Stroll which suggests the difficulty he may be experiencing with his wrist injury he sustained, especially after a radio message heard during a practice session.
Stroll was told by his race engineer: “Lance, we need to compromise Turn 1 and have a better line in Turn 2.” Fernando was gaining time over Stroll so he was told this so he could improve, rather worryingly he replied with: “I can’t man, I can’t, with the hands.” Later on, onboard footage was shown in which showed how Lance had to rather awkwardly manoeuvre the steering wheel into Turn 1 so he could be fast off the corner for Turn 2.
Tomorrows race will seriously push him to the limits while Alonso will see if he could race for a podium tomorrow, the data shown suggests it could be very close between the teams but anything can happen on lights out.
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With the season starting often comes with new drivers, this year we introduced to the grid Oscar Piastri , Nyck De Vries and Logan Sargeant.
As a first year it can be difficult to get used to the cars, the simulations and testing would help them get up to speed a bit, however, the best practice is Quali and Race time.
For the newcomers, Oscar Piastri qualified P18 with a lap time in 1:32.1, meanwhile Lando Norris, his teammate, managed to push the McLaren to P11, just missing out on qualifying for Q3, a miraculous session for him considering the car hasn’t been to either of the drivers liking’s.
Nyck De Vries being the most experienced one of the newcomers finished P19, a car in which his teammate pushed out of Q1, but Yuki would reach the cars limits in Q2, Qualifying P14 with a 1:32.5.
As we have seen in Monza last year, Nyck has very good race craft for someone who is so little experience so tomorrow he will look forward in hope to get further up the field, points on the board will be the aim for AlphaTauri tomorrow but anything can happen you never know on the first race of the season.
Finally, Logan Sargeant completed his first qualifying session of the season finishing a painful P16, in Q1 he set a 1:31.652 which put him 16th, but he’d set the exact same time as Lando Norris, however due to the rules with Lando setting his lap-time first, it meant it was back to the garage for Logan.
His teammate, Alex Albon, pushed the car to a surprising P9 in Q1, but only managing to qualify P15 in the end, after sustaining wing damage on his first lap of Q2, effectively putting him out of qualifying.
Williams appears to have some relatively good qualifying pace which they hope to translate into race pace tomorrow. The drivers have said the car feels better than last years so they hope to progress up in the field and see what the limit is tomorrow.
What To Expect For The Bahrain GP?Embed from Getty Images
During the first qualifying session we were given a variety of results, we can see that Aston Martin look good, Mercedes have picked up pace, the Haas’ seem to be decent too, many variables could effect the results tomorrow.
During qualifying today Nico Hulkenberg managed to put through his Haas into Q3, while Kevin Magnussen only qualified P17.
Haas’ true pace is undetermined however, we do know that their car is competitive and clearly does have the ability to reach the midfield, in which previous years they have struggled to do so.
In this qualifying session from P1 to P20, the difference was only 1.1 seconds!! that is remarkable. To have only 1.1 seconds covering 20 cars on the track could make for some serious racing this year.
For the regulation change the whole idea was to make the racing closer and making it easier to overtake, effectively leading to more entertaining racing for the fans.
Hopefully this year it does actually end up staying close which would eventually mean we would be bound to get a couple shocks in qualifying. Let’s see what this season has in store for us.