Flying Start to the 2021 Formula One Season in Bahrain
The wait is finally over and with an ear-popping roar of engines, the 2021 Formula One campaign is now underway. Drivers and teams are certainly revved up for an exciting year of elite racing, filled with a great mixture of familiar names and some fascinating new additions.
Action at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir was packed with thrills and spills, around every corner and along every straight. If the first race of the season is any indication, the 23-race schedule this year should fill racing fans with eager anticipation ahead of each Grand Prix.
Battle for the Chequered Flag
After a thrilling finale to the opening Grand Prix of the 2021 Formula One season in Bahrain, reigning champions Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes could have a fight on their hands this year. He was just a fraction of a second ahead of Max Verstappen and Red Bull over the finishing line.
On the 53rd lap, Verstappen was pushing hard, looking at every opportunity to nip beyond Hamilton at each curve. When he finally did spot an opening, the Dutch driver had to pull wide to overtake the Mercedes at turn four, although he also edged off the racetrack in doing so.
Given that was an illegal move, Verstappen almost immediately ceded the lead back to Hamilton, as the Red Bull driver dropped back into the slipstream of his Mercedes rival. Nevertheless, Hamilton had Verstappen looming large in his mirrors right to the chequered flag.
Pushing for World Championship Podiums
During their fight for the first and second positions, Hamilton and Verstappen were far ahead of their nearest rivals. While the gap between them was just 0.745 seconds across the finishing line, Valtteri Bottas was a distant 37.383 second behind in third.
Thanks to his victory in Bahrain and heading into April, the latest Formula One betting odds at Betway have Hamilton priced at odds of 1.66 favourite for the 2021 F1 Drivers’ Championship. His greatest challenger will undoubtedly be Verstappen at odds of 2.5.
Having secured two of the three podium positions on the opening weekend of the season, the Mercedes team will undoubtedly be content with their overall performance in Bahrain. They are tipped at 4/11 odds for the F1 Constructors’ Championship, with Red Bull at 15/8 odds to challenge for the title.
PlanetF1 highlighted the frustrations of Bottas in Bahrain, as the Finn wasn’t entirely happy with the race strategy of Mercedes. An outsider at 20/1 odds for the Drivers’ Championship, his bid to jostle alongside Hamilton and Verstappen was hampered by a poor pitstop, which inevitably cost precious time.
Optimism for McLaren & Ferrari
One team aiming for a much better 2021 season is McLaren, who will optimistic after their performance in Bahrain. 21-year-old British driver Lando Norris impressively guided his car to fourth position, while Australian ace Daniel Ricciardo also scored points in seventh.
Ferrari will be hoping to improve ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, after Cedric Leclerc raced to sixth in Bahrain, albeit unable to catch the Red Bull of Sergio Pérez in sixth. Carlos Sainz Jr. will also be hoping to edge closer to the podium in his Ferrari, after finishing eighth at the first Grand Prix of the season.
Regarding themselves as the strongest teams beyond Mercedes and Red Bull, both McLaren and Ferrari have ambitions of breaking a cycle of dominance in Formula One. That may be a tall order this season, although neither will be shirking from the challenge on the road ahead.
Points for AlphaTauri & Aston Martin
They may have been well behind the front-runners in the quest for points in Bahrain, yet there was plenty for AlphaTauri to be positive about. 20-year-old Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda continues to impress, producing some fine manoeuvres to clinch ninth position.
Aston Martin made their long-awaited return to F1, with Canadian driver Lance Stroll managing to finish amongst the points in tenth. However, former world champion Sebastian Vettel didn’t fare quite so well, considerably off the pace in fifteenth.
Our first race as @AstonMartinF1 is complete. We have a lot to learn but we've got time to review before we come back fighting. ??
Mick Schumacher made his eagerly anticipated debut in F1 with Haas, with everyone keen to see whether the young German can follow in the tyre treads of his iconic father Michael Schumacher. He completed the race in sixteenth, which suggests much to improve for both the driver and his team.
Finally, former world champion Fernando Alonso was back in Grand Prix action, although he endured a frustrating weekend. Forced to retire due to problems with the rear brake duct, it was later discovered the issues were caused by a sandwich wrapper. The Spaniard will undoubtedly demand better of his Alpine team ahead of the next race.