After over a decade without a title and two years languishing in the midfield, Scuderia Ferrari have certainly hit the ground running with their 2022 car and the expectations for the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix were high.
Charles Leclerc led the field away for one final lap before the race got underway, as all drivers were safely off the grid. All drivers started the race on soft tyres, bar Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll. However, pole-sitter Charles Leclerc decided to go for new soft tyres, while Max Verstappen in second and Carlos Sainz in third were on used soft tyres.
It was a good start from Charles Leclerc whp kept the lead into Turn 1. Max Verstappen tried to hit back – but the Monegasque driver kept the lead into Turn 4 too, making it an ideal start for the Ferrari. Carlos Sainz remained in third place, ahead of Lewis Hamilton. There were some incredible scenes at the back of the pack on the opening lap: a poor start for McLaren with Lando Norris dropping to 17th and Daniel Ricciardo to last, while there was also bad news for Valtteri Bottas who dropped eight places from P6 to P14.
Esteban Ocon tagged Ferrari junior Mick Schumacher’s Haas on the first lap and was handed a five-second penalty. On lap ten, Sergio Perez overtook Lewis Hamilton for fourth, with the Red Bull driver using DRS to pass the Mercedes driver into Turn 4. Soon after Hamilton was the first into the pits and the harder tyres went on the Mercedes car.
Carlos Sainz pitted on lap 15, along with Max Verstappen, as Ferrari called Charles Leclerc the following lap to put on the soft tyres. The undercut very nearly worked for the Red Bull, with a three-second gap now less than a second, but Charles was able to keep the lead after a close battle with the Red Bull driver. Some great racing between the two: Verstappen got past Charles into Turn 1 the Monegasque driver hit back, this time a little more comfortably, into Turn 4. One lap later, another send from Verstappen, but this time he locks up into Turn 1 and that move isn’t successful.
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The other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz appeared to be finding things a little less comfortable: He come on the team radio suggesting that the Maranello team should consider a three-stop strategy. On lap 34, Max Verstappen came into the pits again, and it was the medium tyre on for the Red Bull. Immediately Charles Leclerc was told to come in the next lap: the Monegasque driver made a clean 2.5s stop, came out ahead of his rival and this time could hold on, soon extending his lead to 2.5s.
A close escape for Carlos Sainz on lap 37, when a routine lapping for the Spanish driver almost just went very wrong: he was passing the Williams of Alex Albon, who appeared to lose control and almost run into the third-placed Ferrari. With 13 laps to go, when it was clear that Verstappen would not be able to challenge Charles, Red Bull went for a different approach: Verstappen was called to the pits for the third time today, and that dropped him back behind Carlos Sainz. The Spanish driver reacted by coming in, but leader Charles Leclerc stayed out. However, things got more difficult for Ferrari when Pierre Gasly had to pull to the side of the track with his car overheating. Charles Leclerc pitted under safety car conditions and got fresh tyres but his five-second gap Max Verstappen was gone once we were back up and running.
The final seven laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix were therefore a first unplanned F1 Sprint race: Charles Leclerc retained the lead, while Carlos Sainz was all over the back of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. The Monegasque driver extended his lead again and scored an incredible first win for Scuderia Ferrari in 2022, showing clearly that the Maranello team is back and can finally challenge for ambitious targets!
And what a first race this turned out for Ferrari! Carlos Sainz passed Max Verstappen with just a few laps to go to secure a memorable one-two finish on a great Sunday for Ferrari in Bahrain. A nightmare ending for Red Bull, as Max Verstappen had to retire and Sergio Perez spun at P1.
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