The 2022 Formula 1 season could not have gotten off to a better start for Scuderia Ferrari than it did at the Bahrain International Circuit, as Monaco’s Charles Leclerc dominated the race to take home a first-place finish at the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz in second.
The Monegasque driver began the race in pole position and managed to hold off defending world champion Max Verstappen for the duration of the race, with the battle for P1 heating up on the 16th lap. However, Verstappen locked up on the 19th lap, leaving Leclerc to consolidate his lead.
Despite his commanding race pace, Leclerc was still caught up in the fight for first place with his teammate and both Red Bulls in his rear view mirror.
The drama was really turned up a notch when Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri caught fire and the Frenchman was forced to pull over on the side of the track on the 46th lap, which ensued in a late safety car coming out.
However, the whole Ferrari team was able to let out a sigh of relief when Verstappen was forced to retire from the race in the closing laps, as the Dutchman suffered from a suspected steering issue. Shortly thereafter, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez suffered a similarly cruel fate as he spun out when his engine gave way on the final lap.
This chaos gave way to a sensational 1-2 finish for Ferrari, as Leclerc was followed by Sainz across the chequered line to give Ferrari an ideal start to their season.
Frustratingly enough for Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton capitalised on Red Bull’s fiasco, as he took the final podium place in the last moments of the race. With that the Brit will be taking home vital points if he hopes to bring the fight to Red Bull for the world title this year, although Hamilton may find that his biggest concern might in fact be Leclerc and the impressively quick Ferrari team.
Just behind Hamilton was his new teammate George Russell, who would have enjoyed driving a much faster car than he did at William’s in the previous season.
Taking everyone by surprise, though, was F1 returnee Kevin Magnussen, who claimed a fifth place finish for a Haas team that is looking more dangerous than ever this year.
Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas drove his new Alfa Romeo to a sixth-place finish, ahead of Esteban Ocon who finished in seventh after overcoming a penalty for contact with Mick Schumacher earlier in the race. Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda claimed eighth place, while Alpine’s Fernando Alonso finished in ninth.
Taking home the final point-taking place for Alfa Romeo was Zhou Guanyu, and on his debut appearance in F1 to boot.
At the end of a hectic season-opener, Monsieur Leclerc was expectedly elated, and said “for now it’s starting in the best way possible. Pole position, victory, fastest lap, one-two today with Carlos, we couldn’t hope for better. Thank you to all of you guys who kept supporting us, it hasn’t been easy, but it’s incredible to be back at the top.”
The second round of the season is fast approaching, as the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is scheduled for race day at the Jeddah circuit on Sunday, March 27, where Red Bull will surely be seeking to redeem themselves after what can be described as an upset for what seems to be the second-fastest team on the grid.