2023 Bahrain Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: When Australia was the first race of the year, everybody always said, don't read too much into it, because Albert Park is a unique track. Now Bahrain is the first race of the year, and everybody is saying, don't read too much into it, that's where they test and race in one week, so it's not a good measure. Well, those Red Bulls sure looked great. First race or not.
EVENT: They tried really hard to show fans.
TRACK: Rough surface highlighted those cars with tire degradation problems.
QUALIFYING: In the end, Aston Martin didn't quite have the speed, but they did beat out Mercedes. Thus, upfront looked familiar -- Red Bull front row with Verstappen leading and Ferrari second row with Leclerc leading. Hulkenberg makes an impressive return, Albon gives Williams a shot in the arm, and Gasly is hugely disappointing.
RACE: What amazing epic battles: Alonso vs. Russell, Alonso vs. Hamilton, Alonso vs. Sainz. Gee, there seems to be a common denominator here.
START: Verstappen picks up where he left off, Perez balks on the dirty side allowing Leclerc to jump ahead, the Aston Martins nearly shoot themselves in the foot, Bottas gets another great start, while Hulkenberg does not, and Sargeant is impressive in his first F1 standing start.
VERTAPPEN: A Sunday afternoon drive.
PEREZ: Sergio can crow all he wants about taking wins, but except on the tight street circuits, he's in fantasy land.
RED BULL: Just think, Red Bull are one of the best at in-season development.
ALONSO: For once, Fernando may have finally chose a better team to move to. (His Minardi to Renault move early in his career not counting as that was predestined.)
STROLL: Lance deserves credit for biting the bullet through that race. It also gave him a convenient excuse to overlook how Alonso is going to wax him this season.
ASTON MARTIN: Clearly quicker than Mercedes in late race trim. And perhaps even Ferrari.
SAINZ: Had nothing for his teammate. Had nothing for Alonso.
LECLERC: Alonso's great story notwithstanding, Charles had the podium locked up.
FERRARI: Some things just never change.
HAMILTON: Something keeps motivating Lewis despite the fact there doesn't appear to be any improvement in Mercedes' chances this year.
GASLY: A terrible qualifying effort followed by a great race into the points.
OCON: Esteban suffered more penalties than a hockey goon.
ALBON: What a statement to get the Williams their first point of the season in the very first race of the season.
SARGEANT: A solid effort by the American rookie.
WILLIAMS: They had pace not even Williams expected.
MAGNUSSEN: Looked horrible all weekend compared to his teammate. Quite surprising.
HAAS: They always need to score as many points as possible early in the season because that is when they are typically at their strongest. In that regard, this was was a complete failure.
NORRIS: Lando's talent is totally being wasted.
PIASTRI: At least being the first 2023 DNF -- in his F1 debut -- was not Oscar's fault.
MCLAREN: A wretched lack of reliability to start the season.
F2: It took 97 races and his seventh season before Swiss Ralph Boschung finally won in F2, which he did in the sprint race. Frenchman Theo Pourchaire won a wild, wild feature race from pole position.
F3: Pole sitter Gabriele Minì thought he had the feature race won, but the combination of a five-second penalty and finishing under the safety car dropped him to eighth, handing the win to Brazilian Gabriel Bortoleto. Spaniard Josep Marti won the sprint race.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Impressive.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 99 -- The number of podiums Fernando Alonso has, which will probably grow with the rise of Aston Martin.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Fans wanting an exciting championship fight are holding on to this stat -- the last time a driver won the first race of the season and went on to win the championship was 2016. That was Nico Rosberg's sole title as he retired shortly thereafter.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: From @CameronF1YT:
Aston Martin used Mercedes' tunnel to produce the AMR23.
This. Is. Chaos.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Fernando Alonso, cleary enjoying himself, after making one of his brilliant passes, "Yes, let's go!"
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Max Verstappen stating the obvious, "This is exactly the start we wanted, a one-two finish."
SCHEDULE: Off to Jeddah, and the fastest "street" circuit in the world.
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