2021’s Formula One World Championship has started off with a bang, which saw the 7 Time World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton narrowly ward off Max Verstappen from the top of the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix. It may not have been as eventful as last year’s two-fer in Sakhir – but the race was exciting, the pace was nonstop, and the drama was high.
This year sees a lot of changes on the grid. Formula Two graduates Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin, and Yuki Tsunoda made their debuts for Haas and Alpha Tauri respectively, while Fernando ‘Can you Hear the Drums’ Alonso made his long-awaited return, in Renault’s re-branded Alpine car. Replacing the blinding, cotton candy, pink and white Racing Point is the green and sophisticated Aston Martin, who have scored long suffering 4 Time World Champion Sebastian Vettel as their driver.
The formation lap saw Perez almost quit with a faulty car in his debut for the hopeful, and re-energised Red Bull Racing. The race started off in the expected F1 dramatic fashion. Starting from the fourth pole position of his career, Verstappen had taken control of the race early on, but lost it during pit stops. Following a second stop for both drivers – Verstappen’s coming 10 laps after Hamilton’s – we were treated to a race, and probably the first of many for this season between Hamilton and Verstappen. A nail biting 0.7 second gap between both men gave Hamilton the victory. Verstappen making it to second place, with Bottas a distant third.
Claiming fourth and fifth place was Lando Norris and Sergio Perez, respectively. The latter climbing up over the course of the race, much like he did last year for his maiden win. To see McLaren back in the game, after a miserable couple of years in the middle of the grid is beautiful. I just hope to see them competing for the world title again.
For me, the man of the race had to be Yuki Tsunoda. I watched him during qualifying on Saturday and was mighty impressed by this 20-year-old racer. And he is a racer, scoring his first points in his debut race, behind a Ferrari. The land of the rising sun has a new and exciting racer, and I predict great things to come from him. Disappointingly for Alonso, he was not able to finish this race, being let down by his car. That was a shame, as he was excellent in qualifying. As well as this, Sebastian Vettel, in his shiny new Green car, was only able to get a paltry 15th place, after a crash with Esteban Ocon resulted in a 10 second penalty.
So, what does this race tell us about the season as a whole? Hamilton may have won the day, but frankly, I think he has very good competition. Mercedes has become complacent with its cars. They are fast, they can win races, but the gap between them, and their rival teams, has closed somewhat. Red Bull is back with a vengeance, and Max Verstappen is undoubtedly going to go to war with Lewis Hamilton. I also see McLaren being a force to compete with, as those battles for 3rd and 4th place become ever more important. They have a good car, they have two very good drivers, and I think they will be formidable in their own right.
Will I be right, or am I talking out of my rear wing? Only time will tell.