OPINION l Competitive grid, disappointing Aston Martin, Pérez on a mission: Bahrain GP takeaways

The 2021 F1 season opener on Sunday showed great promise of fierce fights throughout the grid

By Olivia Kairu

Red Bull’s new Honda engine seems to be able to bring the fight to Mercedes (Photo: Twitter/F1)

Anticipation for the 22 races yet to come in 2021 lingers in the air after the Sunday season opener, with fans possibly getting the championship rivalry they’ve been asking for.

But Formula One aficionados are not the only ones looking forward to the competition. Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton appears to be hungry as ever. “Every minute of the weekend I’ve loved,” said the Mercedes driver to F1.com after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday. “Knowing as a team that we were behind in performance – these guys [Red Bull] have done a better job so far.”

Red Bull’s new Honda engine seems to be able to bring the fight to Mercedes, but the Austrian team still has a lot to prove.

New signing Sergio Pérez is a key part of it. He has the task of delivering on what previous seat holders Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly couldn’t achieve: get both Red Bulls challenging the silver arrows at the top. The Mexican proved to be capable of carrying out the mission during this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, storming from the back of the grid to a P5 finish.

Team rivalry doesn’t stop with Red Bull and Mercedes. Expect a fierce fight for 3rd in the constructors’ championship between McLaren, who finished in the position last year, Ferrari and Alpha Tauri.

McLaren was able to snag a decent amount of points with the 4th and 7th positions for Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, respectively. 

Listen: PODCAST l The Chicane Crew Podcast reviews the Bahrain Grand Prix

Ferrari also showed great pace, recovering from the extremely disappointing 2020 season. Charles Leclerc drove a silent yet consistent race while his new teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr., also managed to score a few points for the team. 

Aston Martin, on the other hand, provided a rather underwhelming season-opening result, only managing to grab a solo point with Lance Stroll’s 10th position finish.

Sebastian Vettel’s disappointing weekend left him with points as well, but not the ones he would have liked. FIA has penalized the four-time world champion with five points in his super licence for two different incidents. A devastating weekend for the Canadian-owned team’s aspirations, driving them away from the fight for 3rd in the constructors’ championship.

Returning two-time Formula 1 championship winner Fernando Alonso had to retire from his first F1 race after a two-year hiatus. “A rear brake issue as some debris entered the brake ducts and overheated the temperatures of the car” put an end to his race, he told F1.com in a race recap interview.

He did have enough time on track to give fans a great fight for position against Vettel, his 2010 and 2012 seasons nemesis.

Haas’ gamble to have a rookie driving duo hasn’t quite panned out how they had hoped during this race weekend. Nikita Mazepin’s lap 1 incident a big evidence of the risk taken by team principal Guenther Steiner, who’s ready for a tough season. “Points will be hard to come by,” he said to F1.com before the race.

Hopes for better results for the American team still lie ahead, even if their rivals at the back of the grid, Williams and Alfa Romeo, both seemed to have improved from last year.

All in all, the 2021 F1 season shows great promise and fierce fights both on and off the track. Definitely one to watch closely.

Further reading: What did they have to say? All 20 drivers’ reactions to the Bahrain GP season opener

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