Hamilton edges thrilling curtain-raiser against Verstappen: 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix Review

Formula One in 2021 is here! Starting off two weeks later than originally planned in the dessert with the traditional Sakhir International Circuit layout for the Bahrain Grand Prix hosting the season opener for only the third time. The opening race can be crucial for setting the tone for the season ahead with the driver winning the opening race going on to be crowned World Champion 34 times. That said, that has not happened since Nico Rosberg in 2016. However, this was one of the best season-opening races in recent years and if the Bahrain Grand Prix is only the first of many such races we will see in 2021, it is sure to be a scorcher!

For the first time in the hybrid era, it looks like we may have a sustained challenge to the all-conquering Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton [Pictured above; image from formula1.com]. Red Bull looked very strong in the three-day pre-season testing that was undertaken in Bahrain while Mercedes looked to be a bit on the backfoot. That appeared to be the case when it came to the first weekend with Max Verstappen looked mighty! Red Bull were aiming to win their first season-opening race since 2013 and with Honda power in their cars, could it have been Honda’s first since Ayrton Senna in 1991. Verstappen put them on the right track with an epic pole position lap going almost four-tenths quicker than the Mercedes of Hamilton with these two titanic drivers qualifying on the front row together for only the first time! read more

Russell shines but Mercedes capitulate as Sergio Perez stole the show: Sakhir Grand Prix Review

For the fourth and final time in 2020, a country held back to back races with Bahrain hosting the penultimate round. Using the outer layout of the Bahrain International Circuit with its much shorter lap distance of 2.2 miles; the shortest in F1 since 1983 Long Beach and the first sub-one-minute laps since 1974. I wasn’t sure how this layout would work but after the dramatic and crazy race it delivered, I am beginning to wonder if F1 could race on it more often!

The outer layout used for the Sakhir GP. [Image from formula1.com].

At 87 laps long, it was the most laps in any race this year. There was also intrigue surrounding driver changes prompted by Romain Grosjean’s horrific incident the previous weekend and Lewis Hamilton’s positive Coronavirus test. With Kimi Raikkonen the oldest on the grid by far it gave a glimpse into what the younger drivers can achieve with George Russell swapping Williams to Mercedes to cover the world champion and did a splendid job. Jack Aitken covered Russell at Williams while Pietro Fittipaldi replaced Grosjean a Haas. It produced opening lap drama, Safety Cars, some fantastic overtaking moves and a new race winner! [Pictured above in the featured image; image from formula1.com]. read more

Hamilton comfortably wins again after absolutely horrific Grosjean incident: 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix Review

Both the Drivers and the Constructors Championships have been decided in the favour of Lewis Hamilton [Pictured above; feature image from fEssentiallySports] and Mercedes for an unprecedented 7th time as they arrived in Bahrain for the start of the final three-race leg to bring the 2020 season to a close. So, you may have been forgiven for thinking there was nothing else to fight for this season. Wrong. For both drivers and teams, there are still Championship positions to fight for, race seats for 2021 to try and win as well as just pride for those likely to be leaving the sport.

Bahrain International Circuit layout. [Image from formula1.com].

However, the enduring image of the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix will be the image of Romain Grosjean and his horrific opening lap incident [something I didn’t think appropriate for the featured image above]. read more

Hamilton matches Schumi’s Seven World Championships in stellar style: 2020 Turkish Grand Prix Review

Returning to Istanbul Park for the first time since 2011, I was looking forward to seeing the high downforce 2020 cars taking on the notorious turn 8 flat out. Track resurfacing completed only 10 days before the cars took to the circuit meant the stunning circuit was slippery meaning grip was difficult to find as cars spun. It was described as like an ice rink and that was even before the rain hit Qualifying and the race.

Istanbul Park circuit map. [Image from formula1.com].

In fairness, could we see races like that more often, please? So, much happened lap to lap with spins and the drivers really having to battle their cars in the conditions that really reward experience as well as separating the best from the rest. There was a surprise pole-sitter in lance Stroll; the first Canadian to take pole position since Jacques Villeneuve. The race seemed to be going his way but in the second half of the race, with no rain falling and the track not dry enough for Intermediates, managing the tyres and its temperatures became crucial. Instead, despite being 25s adrift in the early stages, Lewis Hamilton [Pictured celebrating above; image from Autoweek] finished 30s clear as he took the chequered flag to take his record-equalling 7th Drivers Championship title in some style! read more

Hamilton dominates, Renault improve while Ferrari struggle on a weekend of high emotion: 2020 Belgian Grand Prix Review

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in the Ardennes Forest, Belgium is one of THE favourite circuits for drivers and fans alike so it was great to see the race going ahead this year. Usually, it is the traditional first race back after the summer break but it was the 7th of the unusual format of the 2020 season as F1 attempts to fulfil a now confirmed 17 race calendar. F1 arrived with a new concord arrangement in place with all ten teams committed to the sport until 2025, Williams under new ownership and the final races for the year confirmed.

A year on from the tragic passing of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert, the return to Spa was always going to be an emotionally charged weekend for the paddock with so many drivers in the paddock close friends of his including Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. A minutes silence was held before each race from F1 down to F3. read more

Leclerc shines but cruelly denied victory: 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix Review

After the season opener in Australia, F1 moved to the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain for the first of three-night races in the 2019 Championship. Pre-championship favourites Ferrari arrived hoping to demonstrate pace more representative of what they showed in testing while Renault in the midfield were hoping to showcase more of their engine improvements. Ferrari showed they meant business in practice as they were immediately 0.9 seconds clear of the next quickest team in the opening session while Renault looked to be well and truly in the midfield scrap for ‘best of the rest’. However, it looked to be a mightily close battle with Haas as Romain Grosjean went 5th in the final session before Qualifying.

Charles Leclerc took his first pole position in F1. [Image from formula1.com].

Nico Hulkenberg was the surprise casualty for Renault in Q1 as both cars failed to reach the top 10 shootouts for the second race in a row this season. McLaren meanwhile got both of their cars into the session while the standout performer was Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque driver topped all three parts of Qualifying as he became the second youngest pole sitter in F1 history at the age of 21 years and 166 days. read more