Cars > Redline

5 things that made 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix worth watching

Is it too early to say that 2024 is the year of Max Verstappen and Red Bull once more?

Honest question: Did anyone start tuning out once Max Verstappen was in the lead? PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

Formula 1 is back after what felt like an eternity of news: from Lewis Hamilton’s transfer to Ferrari, to the denial of Andretti’s entry in the sport—and even damning harassment allegations against Christian Horner. The media machine came out of the woodwork in full force such that the announcement of a Saturday race day almost slipped past everyone’s mind.

Did the last two months of development and testing change the playing field? Welcome to the first out of 24 races of the 2024 season, the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Will the Prancing Horse have a fighting chance in 2024? 'We are checking.' PHOTO FROM SCUDERIA FERRARI

1. Ferrari finished strong…and was behind once more. The team in red is back on the top step, but not without any challenges. Charles Leclerc earned a promising P2 in the hopes of beating Max Verstappen after a season of disappointment with incremental improvements.

During the race, his brakes weren’t treating him well in the corners, causing his SF-24 to lock up occasionally and veer off the racing line. As a result, he fell two positions back to finish in P4 and inadvertently let Carlos Sainz through to P3.

Fans are calling Alpine as the new Haas, and it's alarming. PHOTO FROM ALPINE

2. Alpine is already in trouble. The French team was nowhere to be seen in the top 10—not even for the midfield battle. Both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly failed to reach beyond the backmarkers in all sessions, finishing in P17 and P18, respectively, a disappointing turnout for the constructor that finished sixth overall last year.

The bombshell grew worse when news spread regarding the resignation of two key members of Alpine: technical director Matt Harman and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer. The Enstone-based team will need more than words of encouragement to get back on track in the next few races.

Yuki Tsunoda's frustrations might have caused a post-race accident. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

3. Yuki was displeased with team decisions. Things got heated in the first race of the newly named Visa CashApp RB. On the last five laps, Yuki Tsunoda received a radio message to swap places with his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, to the dismay of the young Japanese driver.

After giving the position to his Aussie partner on Lap 53, Yuki exclaimed some colorful words to the team and divebombed next to Daniel’s car after the checkered flag waved.

Understandably, he felt that a driver swap for a position outside the points was useless, but that did not excuse expressing one’s rage while at the wheel.

Mechanical issues in the pit box can't seem to escape Valtteri Bottas. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

4. All the other small things made the race reportable. On the first lap, Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) spun out in the first corner, which put him in last place. However, the Canadian driver made up for the incident and finished in an impressive P10.

Bad luck returned to Valtteri Bottas (Sauber) during a pit stop on Lap 32 where the front left wheel nut couldn’t be drilled into his C44, calling back the horror of the 2021 Monaco GP. This blunder brought his pace down to cross the line in P19.

Must've felt good to lose the sandbags. PHOTO FROM RED BULL RACING

5. Oh yeah, Super Max is on top…again. When the first free practice results came up, we were spoiled seeing that Red Bull Racing wasn’t in the top 3. However, the jokes on Twitter and Reddit lasted only a day when qualifying came around, and Max Verstappen finished in pole position.

The groans continued on race day when Max gained a sizable lead on the opening lap, enough to carry a drama-free race in P1 with a 22.457-second margin. His teammate Sergio Perez crossed the line in P2, resulting in another 1-2 podium finish for Red Bull.

Is this a premonition for the rest of the 2024 season? We’ll have to find out in another Saturday race on March 9 (March 10, 1am, Philippine time) at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Justin Young

Justin loves cars of all forms. Molded by motoring TV shows and Internet car culture, he sees the world from a different perspective that not many get to see every day.