The Ridge Review

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Ridge Review

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Ridge Review

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Bahrain Grand Prix: A Thrilling Start to the 2024 Season

Yellow+Formula+1+car+racing
Photo by Kenny Leys on Unsplash

On Saturday, March 2nd, was the official beginning of the 2024 Formula 1 season, with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Hopes were high for teams such as Red Bull and Ferrari coming out of pre-season testing in Bahrain the week prior. Even teams such as Mercedes were pleasantly surprised at the car’s performance, with Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, quoted saying, “Compared to last year’s car, the feedback from the drivers is very different and more positive, which is encouraging”. 

After a very promising round of pre-season testing for the most of the teams in the paddock, it was time to move onto the qualifying round of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday, March 1st. The defending world champion Max Verstappen, driving for Red Bull Racing, claimed pole position with a time of 1:29.179, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc joining him on the front line, only two tenths of a second behind. The French racing team Alpine found themselves in a bit of trouble, with both of their drivers knocked out in the first round of qualifying, taking the back of the grid as P20 and P19. The second line of the grid, P3 and P4, were claimed by Mercedes’ George Russel, and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, respectively, followed by Sergio Perez for Red Bull Racing, and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin. The McLaren’s then followed in P7 and P8, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, and Nico Hulkenburg in the Haas finishing out the top 10.

With such a close qualifying round, it was anyone’s game going into the official race on the night of March 2nd. Max Verstappen was an extremely promising candidate for the win, being the defending world champion, as well as Bahrain being his sixth time starting P1 in a row. At 8:30pm, it was lights out on the track, and the race began with an extremely exciting start going into turn 1. The close quarters of the first turn of the race saw the Haas driver Nico Hulkenburg rear-ending Lance Stroll in the Ashton Martin, and taking on some damage to the front wing of his car. He wasn’t the only one to obtain damage from this collison, as Valterri Bottas in the Sauber also damaged his front wing. This wasn’t the end of Bottas’ misfortune in the opening race of the season either, as on lap 30, he found himself in the pit lane for 52.4 seconds, dropping him all the way to P19. This was due to a wheel nut issue on the front left tire of Bottas’ car. For reference, most pit stops in Formula 1 are an average of just 2 to 2.5 seconds, with the fastest being just 1.8 seconds in Qatar last year.

Returning to the race itself, Leclerc found himself having numerous issues in the Ferrari car, with complaints of the car pulling right when braking, as well as repeated lock-ups, especially on turn 10. Despite this, he managed to maintain a position in the top five throughout the race. This was not the end of car trouble’s for the drivers, however this isn’t uncommon, seeing as it’s only the first race of the season. Both Mercedes’ drivers reported problems in their cars despite the team’s positive outlook coming out of pre-season testing. George Russel saw himself having to draw back from the fight for second place as his car began having a power unit malfunction, putting 5 seconds between himself and the second place driver going into lap 24. Lewis Hamilton also had issues with his power unit, as concerns arose regarding his car battery failing to recharge, putting him at a disadvantage, and complaints of his seat breaking on lap 25. Thankfully for the Mercedes’ drivers, the team did find a possible power unit fix that could be adjusted on the steering wheels going into lap 34. 

Finishing out the race, the RB drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Riccardo saw a bit of drama on the track, as Riccardo requested that the RB team ask that Tsunoda give up his twelfth place spot and allow Riccardo through. However, Tsunoda was currently in a fight for 11th with Magnussen on lap 52, and was less than pleased about this request, quoted saying “Are you kidding me, now?” to his engineer over the radio. Tsunoda did uphold his position as a good teammate on lap 53, when he let Riccardo through, despite his complaints. Up at the front of the pack, Max Verstappen managed to hold onto first place during the race the entire time, with an impressive lead varying from 2 to 41 seconds, while Russel, Perez, Sainz, and Leclerc battled it out for second. When the 57-lap race finally came to a close, the top three drivers were Max Verstappen in first, Sergio Perez 22 seconds behind in second, and George Russel in third. The defending world champion saw his 55th grand prix win, as well as back-to-back season opener and Bahrain Grand Prix wins. 

Overall, while the winner of this grand prix might have been a little bit predictable, seeing how the 2023 season went, it was still an exciting opener to the 2024 season, and showcased what’s to come for the rest of this year in the Formula 1 world!

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