(photo credit @F1)
The sun will set for a duel in the desert as the greatest drivers in the world will begin their quest to becoming a Formula One world champion. It has been 105 days since Max Verstappen has been crowned champion, while Red Bull has seemed to pull away in terms of development in the off season. Ferrari and Mercedes will be looking to rebound after disappointing campaigns. Aston Martin looks to be Miss Congenitally as the look to take the fight to McLaren at the top of the midfield. Like any new season, new faces in new places will be something to look at all season while an American looks to take Formula One by storm. A lot of questions will be answered by November but now, the adventure begins. Below is everything you need to know for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
- For the first time since Alexander Rossi in 2015, an American will make a start in Formula One as Logan Sargeant joins Williams in a full-time ride replacing the departing Nicholas Latifi. Sargeant has been climbing the open-wheel ladder as for the past year he drove for Carlin in FIA Formula 2. On July 4th weekend during the British Grand Prix weekend, he picked up his first win in Silverstone followed by his second win a week later in Austria. He would go on to finish fourth in the championship standings. As he drives for Williams, expectations will not be high for him but this places him in the Mercedes development ladder with a promising future.
- Oscar Piastri replaces Daniel Riccardo in his seat at McLaren. Piastri is another driver from the Formula One ladder who shows amazing potential as he was the champion of the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019. He was also the FIA Formula 3 and FIA Formula 2 champion in 2020 and 2021 respectively. In 2022, he was a test driver for Alpine and a reserve driver for McLaren towards season end.
- Nyck de Vries replaces Pierre Gasly in the second entry for AlphaTauri in 2023. For de Vries, he was the 2020-2021 FIA Formula E world champion as well as the 2019 FIA Formula 2 champion. He made his first start in September of 2022 at the Italian Grand Prix for Williams last year.
- Two-time FIA Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso left Alpine and replaced four-time FIA Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin.
- Nico Hulkenberg replaces the departing Mick Schumacher at Hass for 2023.
- Pierre Gasly replaced Fernando Alonso's vacant seat at Alpine for 2023.
Formula One has held a race in every season since 2004 except 2011. The legendary Michael Schumacher took the victory that year. In 2010, the event was held on the endurance circuit and was never used again for any race under the FIA banner. Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Charles Leclerc are the only winners at the track that are currently active drivers. Ferrari and Mercedes are both tied with seven wins each and Hamilton has the most wins of any driver at five.
The Bahrain International Circuit is a 3.363 mile road course that makes up fifteen turns. It includes three DRS zones with only two of them being followed by hard braking zones (Turns 1 and 4). Action zones will include turns one, four, eight, ten, thirteen, and fourteen as passing opportunities.
The last time F1 traveled to Bahrain was an absolute disaster for Team Red Bull as both drivers retired with powertrain issues in the final three laps of the event. The win went to Ferrari and Charles Leclerc as hopes were high the the Scuderia could challenge Red Bull in a championship fight but to no avail.
Tire Choice: C1 -> C5 (Hardest to Softest)
C1 = Hard White
C2 = Medium Yellow
C3 = Soft Red
Teams will receive two sets of Hard tires, three sets of Medium tires, and eight sets of Soft tires.
As winter testing just wrapped up a few weeks ago in Bahrain, it did show us that Red Bull will still be a force to be reckoned with this weekend as the team believes they improved an already powerful engine and made it even better. Like last year the battle will come down to Ferrari and Red Bull with the Austrians seeming to have the edge in this bout. Ferrari in 2022 was brilliant in qualifying and made too many mistakes on race strategy. With a new team principal calling the shots for Ferrari and the no mistakes winter testing for Red Bull, it seems like the win will go to Verstappen this weekend. I would not write Verstappen as champion in stone but I would probably start making outlines in it.
You can watch the Bahrain Grand Prix this Sunday at 8:55 A.M. CST on ESPN. For the first week of the season you can also catch the race for free on F1TV with access to timing and scoring and live driver camera and radio.