Bahrain GP ‘24:  Verstappen Dominates Season Opener

Bahrain GP ‘24: Verstappen Dominates Season Opener

March 2, 2024

motorsport journalist

Neal Venter

Motorsport Journalist

Max Verstappen took yet another dominant victory to open his account for the 2024 season. The reigning World Champion took pole position, set the fastest lap, and went on to win by over 20 seconds. It seems like the Dutchman is picking things up right where he left off in 2023.

His teammate Sergio Perez finished in second place to secure a 1-2 finish for Red Bull. Adrian Neweu stated that the team took a big risk with the car development direction they went in — but clearly that risk is paying off!

Carlos Sainz finished in third place to round off the podium. The Ferrari driver who is out of a seat from 2025 onwards drove a spectacular race, pulling off some excellent overtakes and cruising to the podium.

It seems as though we’re in for another season of Red Bull being at the front, but there’s still lots of time for others to catch up throughout the season.

Plenty of Work to Do

Teams have already identified areas that they could be improving on. Charles Leclerc had severe brake issues during the race. The Monegasque was unhappy with the behaviour of his Ferrari under braking as the car would pull to the right before each corner. This made the car much more difficult to drive, and it also made overtaking a nearly impossible task. Despite finishing in fourth, Leclerc won’t be happy with his performance this weekend — especially considering he was fighting for the lead going into turn 1!

But Ferrari wasn’t the only team having performance issues. Mercedes had issues on both their cars they had to deal with during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton struggled with the State of Charge on his car’s battery in the early laps of the race, and later on, he was also heard on the radio mentioning a broken seat. 

His teammate George Russell had a seemingly similar problem with the battery. Russell had been running in third place during the early laps of the race, but as the battery issues started showing up, the Brit quickly dropped back as the Ferraris overtook him.

It’s normal for teams to have some issues at the start of a Formula 1 season. They’ve all built brand-new cars in a short space of time, so there’s bound to be some hiccups here and there. To make things worse, the teams only had three days of preseason testing — so the cars didn’t get much running before they had to roar into action at the season opener.

Nevertheless, Ferrari and Mercedes will need to iron these issues out very quickly if they stand any chance of challenging Red Bull for some race wins, or even the title this season.

Saudi Arabia Up Next

Formula 1 travels a short distance to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the next Grand Prix. The race weekend will have a similar format to Bahrain, with the Grand Prix taking place on Saturday, Qualifying on Friday, and Practice on Thursday.

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit always throws out some excellent racing. The narrow streets and high speeds of the circuit mean that drivers are always risking everything when they’re at the limit. The drivers will be using softer tires, which means more grip and higher wear. We could see some interesting pit stop strategies coming into play during this race!

Sergio Perez won the race last year, with Max Verstappen finishing in second place. Will Red Bull replicate their 1-2 result again this year? Or can someone else sneak in a surprise win? The race will be on Saturday, 9th of March at 9:00 PM local time (6:00 PM GMT / 1:00 PM EST).

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