Formula 1 is back with a new season, new drivers and, crucially, new technical regulations.
Teams are now allowed to do what they want with their cars unless otherwise stated.
The thing is, the ‘otherwise stated’ section is packed with stringent requirements, which means engineers must follow strict guidelines when designing crucial aerodynamic components from the rear wing to the front wing, the nose and the floor body.
The goal is make sure no one team can dominate the scene like Red Bull and Mercedes have done for the past 15 years.
So far, it evidently helped Ferrari, who got its first one-two finish since the 2019 Singapore GP.
And it is also the perfect excuse to compile a short list, in ascending order, of the highlights of the 2022 Bahrain GP.
5. McLaren have a lot of work to do
‘McLaren’ is a heavyweight name in the F1 world and there’s a lot of pressure on the drivers, for different reasons.
Fans love Ricciardo, they always have, but time flies and we’re beginning to feel like the 32-year-old Australian will retire a few years from now without having achieved as much as he could have.
There’s even more pressure on Lando Norris, one of wonder boys in F1 along with Russell and Schumacher Jr., because everyone expects him to be competing with Leclerc and Verstappen for a title sooner than later.
McLaren did well in 2021, with a fourth place in the constructors’ championship and even with the new regulations, we expect them to do better this year.
It won’t be easy.
4. What’s going on, Red Bull?
Red Bull has always been consistent since the scuderia’s debut in 2005, regurarly scoring podius and wins and hardly ever putting a foot wrong.
This is why yesterday’s debacle with two DNFs was a bit surprising, especially since Verstappen is looking to defend the title he snatched with a dramatic late win in 2021.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said he suspects the issue is “similar on both cars”, which is even more bad news.
We’ve got a long season ahead, but when both drivers are forced to retire due to engine and steering issues, it doesn’t look too good.
3. Hülkenberg’s umpteenth debut
Nico Hülkenberg is one of Formula 1’s perpetual debutantes.
Fans love him, other drivers respect him and teams need him.
That’s why no one was surprised when Aston Martin turned to this 34-year-old German driver when the other 34-year-old German driver, Sebastian Vettel, tested positive for Covid.
This marked Hülkenberg’s return to F1 after the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, when he stood in for Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, who also tested positive for Covid.
2. Haas! Just wow
The ‘No One Was Expecting That’ award goes to Haas, as both drivers managed to score points (5th and 10th) with a car no one was really paying that much attention to.
The American-owned team had a tumultuous start to 2022 as a result of the war in Ukraine.
First, Haas ditched its main sponsor Uralkali, a Russian company, due to mounting pressure to impose sanctions on Russia.
Then it decided to fire its Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, for the same reason, replacing him with Kevin Magnussen at the last minute.
Magnussen is one of Formula 1’s most resilient drivers.
He was off to an early and promising start with McLaren in 2014 before being sacked in 2015, he then came back to F1, joining Renault in 2016, before moving to Haas in 2017.
His 5th finish, along with Schumacher’s 10th place finish definitely gave Haas a reason to celebrate.
1. Ferrari, mamma mia!
Ferrari came back with a bang following an underwhelming 2021 season, scoring its first one-two finish since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.
Scuderia Ferrari has the biggest budget in Formula 1 and the largest audience, so the pressure is always on, which means that it’s now going to have to perform and deliver with consistency.
But that’s a problem for later.
For now, we can celebrate Leclerc’s spectacular win and Sainz’s second place.