Formula One is back after a three-month break. The 2021 season saw Max Verstappen crowned World Champion for the first time in a very controversial ending. With an action packed end of the season, the start of this one was nothing if not exciting.
We were expecting Verstappen fighting for another championship, and that was the case. But what we saw was even better. Bahrain and Jeddah were two great races that saw some amazing wheel-to-wheel action, and some other things that we weren’t expecting. So, here are six things that surprised us during those first two races of the year.
The Prancing Horse team is back!
Yes you heard it correctly. After a couple of years trailing behind, Ferrari is back fighting for championships. With a superb driver lineup, Ferrari are back to being in the running for World Championships. In Bahrain, Charles Leclerc (Monaco) converted his 10th pole position into a third victory. Moreover, Carlos Sainz (Spain) came in second to give the team a well deserved 1-2 finish.
This past weekend also saw the two Ferraris on the podium. Leclerc fought another amazing battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, to end up second on the podium. Sainz followed by scoring a beautiful third place. The Scuderia will no doubt be title challengers this year.
Mercedes are struggling
Maybe one of the most surprising things over the past two weekends is the lack of pace that Mercedes had. In Bahrain it was a fourth place for George Russell and third place for Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain). It is rare to see Hamilton celebrate that like a win, but the team agreed that they are not where they hoped to be yet. And this misfortune continued in Saudi Arabia last weekend. Hamilton bowed out of qualifying in Q1; something that had not happened since Brazil 2017. He lined up 15th on the grid and ended the race in 10th place.
You can tell the disappointment in the Mercedes garage after a radio message between Lewis and his engineer when he informed him that he came in P10. ‘Is there even points for this position?’
The team has two weeks until the next race to figure out what went wrong and hopefully start fighting for that world championship.
McLaren in the deep end
It was 14th and 15th place finish for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris in Bahrain. The team had been struggling since the Bahrain testing with brake issues, and Ricciardo missing the whole three days of testing due to a positive COVID-19 test. It was a disappointing day for the team in Bahrain but, as Lando Norris stated, ‘Hard race, but we’re just getting started. I know we can get back to where we want to be.‘
And they did. Whilst it was not a podium race, the papaya team scored their first points of the 2022 season in Jeddah. Norris managed to come back and end the race in P7 just behind the French driver Esteban Ocon, scoring six well deserved points. Unfortunately it was a DNF for Ricciardo. Last year the team were battling with Ferrari for third in the constructors’ championship. But this year they are trailing behind.
Will the honey badger come out on top in his home race? We can only hope for the team’s sake. Rendez vous in two weeks in Melbourne to find out.
Verstappen hungry for more
After winning his first World Championship last year, Max Verstappen wants more. After a gripping battle with Charles Leclerc in Bahrain, we can see that the Dutchman is hungry for another title. However, Red Bull was struck with a double DNF in Bahrain, scoring no points at all.
After a disappointing Sunday the team came out stronger. Last Saturday it was Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez (Mexico) who came out on pole. The Mexican secured his first pole position but a crash halfway through brought out the safety car and robbed him of the win. Verstappen came out on top on Sunday, winning his first race of the season.
Clearly it’s going to be a Red Bull versus Ferrari fight for this year’s World Championship.
‘No pain, no gain’ – HAAS is back
After struggling last season with an all rookie line up and finishing last in the constructors championship, this year things are bound to be different for the American team. After an unfortunate development, the team parted ways with driver Nikita Mazepin and his sponsor Uralkali. However, maybe it was for the best.
During the Barcelona testing it seemed as if the team were bound to struggle on for another year. However, with the return of Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) things seemed different. He topped the charts during the last days of testing and put an amazing performance in his first Grand Prix since 2020. Magnussen, known as K-Mag around the track, came out in 5th place in Bahrain, and gave the team some much needed points. And last weekend in Jeddah he showed us that he really can drive, coming home in 9th place, beating 7 times world champion Lewis Hamilton. Who would have thought of it.
Even Schumacher was proving to have learnt from his mistakes last season. The German driver came out to put his HAAS car in 11th position in Bahrain, his best Formula One result to date. Unfortunately, after suffering a 33G crash during qualifications, Mick Schumacher did not take place in the race. However the son of legend Micheal Schumacher, was already back at the track on Sunday and is ready for the Australian Grand Prix.
Alfa Romeo exceed expectations
Antonio Giovinazzi must be upset to have left the team when you look at the teams results so far. Former Mercedes driver, Valterri Bottas (Finland) extended his run of Q3 appearances to 103 staring 6th in Bahrain and 8th in Jeddah. Along with this impressive drive, it is new teammate and rookie driver Guanyu Zhou (China) came out to score his maiden points in Formula One.
Unfortunately Bottas had to retire the car on Sunday but Zhou still succeeded to come home 11th. Not bad for a rookie. For the first time in a long time Alfa Romeo are serious midfield contenders. We are excited to see where both drivers are going next season.
This season has clearly started on a high for (nearly) everyone. At least for those of us watching from home it is certainly exciting. Formula One will reconvene in two weeks in Melbourne, Australia for the first time in two years. If you want to watch, it will be an early start in the UK. Lights are supposed to go out at 6am GMT time on Sunday April 10.
What are your thoughts on the season so far? Excited to see more? I certainly am.