Formula 1 is back. After a few months with no action, Formula 1 arrived in Bahrain to kick off the season at the Bahrain International Circuit. The now-iconic Sakhir track features 15 turns and 3 DRS zones. Defending champion Max Verstappen came into this weekend ready to defend his title, while 2022 runner-up Charles Leclerc wanted redemption.
In the first qualifying session of 2023, it was once again Max Verstappen who had the fastest time. Sergio Perez locked in second place to make a front-row lockout for Red Bull.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz would start 3rd and 4th respectively, while Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso rounded out the Top 5.
Lando Norris barely missed out on a Q3 spot as McLaren continued to struggle. He would line up 11th on the grid, ahead of both Alfa Romeos.
Alpine driver Pierre Gasly would start last on the grid. He was knocked out in Q1 with a lap time deleted.
Things were a little inconsistent for Haas. While Kevin Magnussen was knocked out in Q1 behind Logan Sargeant, new-to-the-team Nico Hulkenberg managed to get his car into Q3.
But the biggest talking point of qualifying was Aston Martin. Both Alonso, and Stroll, who was still recovering from a wrist injury, made it to Q3. Stroll would start in 8th and Alonso would start 5th ahead of both Mercedes.
At the race start, Max Verstappen drove off into the distance while Charles Leclerc passed Sergio Perez for second place. A bit further into the lap, Lance Stroll did what he did best and had contact with another driver. After that, things settled down.
Well, that was until Esteban Ocon decided he wanted to get every penalty he possibly could, so he took 15 seconds worth of penalties within the race. One of those penalties was for not properly serving another.
Then, disaster struck. The clowns at Ferrari did what they do best and ruined Charles Leclerc’s race. On Lap 41, he lost power and pulled to the side of the track, bringing out the VSC.
After that clownshow, it was a good battle for P3. Alonso was quickly closing in on Sainz. When he was within striking range, Sainz locked up, handing Alonso the final podium place.
During all of this, the Red Bulls were completely untouchable. Max Verstappen ran away with the win, a comfortable 10+ seconds ahead of Perez. Alonso took home his first podium since 2021 in Qatar, giving Aston Martin their second. This marks Fernando Alonso’s 99th career podium.
The second race of the 2023 Formula 1 championship will take place on the streets of Jeddah, on March 17th to 19th. Make sure to tune in, because this one should be a banger.