The first race was a thriller, to say the least.
It gave all of us a sneak peek as to what we can expect from this year's Formula 1 season.
The driver who took the Honours: Lewis Hamilton
We had the most exciting drivers for the race, but Lewis as always took away the pole position despite the challenges in his car. The was amongst one of his best career drives.
He simply drove brilliantly, pacing his tyres really well and posing a quiet threat throughout the race, despite not having the fastest car in the field.
There were one or two little moments where he faltered under pressure from Verstappen, but each time he held on remarkably and held firm in mighty impressive fashion.
Bahrain GP sets the F1 Season of 2021 on Fire
This season is an equaliser. There is none superior and all have become equal here. The Mercedes and REd Bull are now on a level playing field.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was all about strategy and having the track position advantage and Mercedes came out on top this time with their more aggressive approach.
Both Verstappen and Hamilton were worthy winners, but ultimately, it was Hamilton who drove the better race. Verstappen got a bit ragged at the end.
But make no mistake, this was a fantastic race, the kind where the win was decided on the very finest of margins.
The rule changes over the winter appear to have closed the field up. With teams set to focus fairly soon on next year’s car, it may be that nobody pulls away to any degree and we have an epic season in front of us.
When Verstappen caught Hamilton, he couldn’t stay behind and stay in the sweet spot for long enough to launch attack after attack because the tyres were overheating. That’s what we are trying to cure with the 2022 regulations, so the future is bright.
Mercedes has a strong message for all
One should not be surprised that Mercedes failed to shine at pre-season testing.
They have shown that you don’t need to shine in testing. And in a way having that little deficit drives the team harder.
The car looked a lot better in the race, it had definitely settled down. It’s clear they had made impressive progress in the days between the test and the first race.
Redbull does the Ethically Right thing.
Red Bull made the right call to tell Verstappen to give the position back to Hamilton after he ran wide on passing the defending champion.
If Verstappen had pulled out a sufficient gap after an infringement and won the race, that would have left a nasty taste. We don’t want to see races won in that manner.
Regarding their strategy, and not responding immediately when Hamilton pitted early, I can only assume they thought Mercedes might be doing a three-stop.
Last laps were 'horrifying' says Hamilton after he fends off Verstappen to win Bahrain GP
“It was horrifying," he said. "It wasn’t great. I was struggling obviously at the end with the rear end of my car; my rear tyres… had gone off and they were maybe eight laps older, maybe more, to Max’s tyres. I knew he was going to catch me with 10 laps to go and I was thinking it was going to be pretty much impossible to hold him behind, which in fact it was, up until the Turn 4 incident.”
At Turn 4, Verstappen passed Hamilton on Lap 53 of 56. But the Dutchman was deemed to have run wide in doing so, and was ordered him to give the place back. The Red Bull driver gave chase again but ended up 0.745s off Hamilton at the chequered flag.
Hamilton continued: “I couldn’t believe I was just able to just keep him behind. I managed to keep him in my wake… and then it was difficult for him in certain places to get close. And he ended up wide in some places, which just gave me an edge.”
The eventual victor admitted that he wasn’t convinced he could hold on to the lead until the very last lap of the race, as he was wrestling to control the W12 on worn hard tyres.
But despite the fraught finish, the seven-time champion said he relished the challenge, which he endured to win his first season-opener since 2015.
“I loved every minute of it,” said Hamilton. “Every minute of the weekend I’ve loved and [more so] knowing, I think for us as a team, we knew we were behind in performance."
Constructors Championship Rankings
We have witnessed a great start to the 2021 season.
And in three weeks we have EMILIA ROMAGNA GRAND PRIX ON THE 18TH OF APRIL.
The excitement has just begun.