The Formula 1 season is now well underway, and the first race is in the history books.
So, with some rule changes, many to try and encourage closer racing between the teams, how did that very first race of the year, the Bahrain Grand Prix turn out?
And more to the point, what pointers can we infer from what happened in practice, qualifying and the race itself for some of the teams and individual drivers for the season ahead?
Has FIA achieved its aims of promoting closer racing between the teams, or are there still massive gaps between the best and the rest in F1?
Before we recap events of the weekend, it is well worth remembering that bet365 Sport offers an extensive range of Formula 1 betting across the season, both on outright markets, such as which team or driver will win their respective championships, plus extensive pre-race and In Play betting on all 23 races of the 2023 season.
So let’s recap how the race finished and what that means in the first Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship points tables of the season.
Bahrain Grand Prix – Race Result
- 1st – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- 2nd – Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
- 3rd – Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
- 4th – Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari)
- 5th – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- 6th – Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
- 7th – George Russell (Mercedes)
- 8th – Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
- 9th – Pierre Gasly (Alpine)
- 10th – Alex Albon (Williams)
- 11th – Tuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
- 12th – Logan Sargeant (Williams)
- 13th – Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
- 14th – Nick de Vries (Alpha Tauri)
- 15th – Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)
- 16th – Guang Zhou (Alfa Romeo)
- 17th – Lando Norris (McLaren)
- DNF – Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
Drivers’ Championship – Standings (after 1 race)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 25pts
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 18pts
- Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) – 15pts
- Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari) – 12pts
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 10pts
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 8pts
- George Russell (Mercedes) – 6pts
- Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 4pts
- Pierre Gasly (Alpine) – 2pts
- Alex Albon (Williams) – 1pt
Constructors Championship – Standings (after 1 race)
- Red Bull – 43pts
- Aston Martin – 23pts
- Mercedes – 16pts
- Ferrari – 12pts
- Alfa Romeo – 4pts
- Alpine – 2pts
- Williams – 1pt
- AlphaTauri – 0
- Haas – 0
- McLaren – 0
Five Things To Note From The Bahrain Grand Prix
- FIA’s rule changes to try and equalise the advantages top teams have over the others still have a long way to go.
Sure there were signs that the changes FIA has implemented in F1 this season to even things out have had some impact. Aston Martin’s performance was a massive boost to that team in particular, while Williams recorded a point and were competitive against the other teams around them.
However, it is still very much a case of Red Bull way out in front with Mercedes and Ferrari still ahead of the other teams, bar Aston Martin at the moment.
If anything the changes seem to have brought the teams in the middle and bottom of the pack closer together, but the gap to the top teams seems as distant as ever, with Aston Martin’s performance the only exception to that.
And leading on from this, we move neatly onto point 2.
- Max Verstappen & Red Bull remain the combination to beat.
Last year Max Verstappen won his second World Championship crown and led Red Bull to the constructors’ title along with Sergio Perez, and once again this season it is patently obvious that these are the two to beat.
Verstappen shone in qualifying after a somewhat unpromising practice session and Perez completed a lovely 1-2 for the Red Bull team by steering his car into second in that opening race.
With issues affecting both Mercedes and Ferrari this weekend, Red Bull and their two drivers could not have wished for a better start to the season.
- McLaren suffered a nightmare weekend.
It is sad to see one of the greatest names in F1 history being humbled in the opening weekend of the new season, especially since the team boasts two of the most exciting young drivers in Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
Piastri’s race was over very early as his car had a terminal fault and Lando Norris’ also had issues, with the British driver only able to limp his car into last place of the finishers, 2 laps behind a number of drivers in the race.
McLaren need answers to those issues and they need them quickly ahead of the next race in Saudi Arabia in under two weeks.
- Despite pre-season bluster to the contrary, Mercedes were still well off the pace
Many fans expected Mercedes to have closed the gap on Red Bull a little this year, especially after positive comments from the drivers and team about the new car.
However, on race day, the Mercedes was significantly slower than the Red Bull and even lagged the Ferrari’s and Aston Martin’s on the track too. Damon Hill called the result an ‘embarrassment” for Mercedes and while I wouldn’t go that far, quick improvement is needed if they are to remain relevant in the Championships this season.
- Ferrari still has issues, but Sainz Jr.’s performance offers some positives.
The big black mark against Ferrari will be the power issue that saw Charles Leclerc have to finish the race as his car trundled to a halt on the track.
The Frenchman would have been hoping to be in the thick of things at the front of the race battling with his team mate and the two Red Bulls but this DNF means that Leclerc has now handed Verstappen a 25-point lead in the Driver’s Championship.
That kind of gap is not easy to pull back when you consider the performance and reliability of the Red Bull cars and drivers.
One positive was Carlos Sainz Jr doing very well to finish fourth in the race and picking up some valuable points in the process. He showed that he could outpace the Mercedes duo although he was some way off Red Bull’s pace.
What Is Next?
Next up the teams head to Saudi Arabia for the second race of the season and it is going to be very interesting to see whether Red Bull can continue their dominance with another strong showing here, or whether the chasing pack can start to reel them in.