Bahrain GP: Ferrari v Max Verstappen headline F1’s epic opener as Lewis Hamilton aims to ‘hold on’


Formula 1 2022 has a much-anticipated opener today as new cars race for the first time, with Charles Leclerc on pole from Max Verstappen; Watch the Bahrain Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 at 3pm, with a ramp-up from 1.30pm

Last update: 20/03/22 09:21

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc joins Martin Brundle at the SkyPad to look back on his lap on pole during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc joins Martin Brundle at the SkyPad to look back on his lap on pole during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix

A new era of Formula 1 is shaping up for an epic first race today with the Bahrain GP, ​​as a reborn Ferrari takes on Max Verstappen and Red Bull up front as Lewis Hamilton looks to ‘hang on’ to Mercedes’ faster rivals.

Three months after a dramatic end to the 2021 season, F1 is back with all-new cars and all-new opportunities – and the 2022 season-opening Bahrain GP is live on Sky Sports F1 at 3pm, with a ramp-up from 1:30 p.m.

Judging by qualifying, we’re set for a tight and unpredictable cracker.

A competitive three-way battle for pole between Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz and world champion Verstappen went to plan on Saturday, won by Leclerc who leads Red Bull on the grid.

Get on board with Charles Leclerc as the Ferrari driver takes pole at the season opener in Bahrain

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Get on board with Charles Leclerc as the Ferrari driver takes pole at the season opener in Bahrain

Get on board with Charles Leclerc as the Ferrari driver takes pole at the season opener in Bahrain

Ferrari, although the most successful and famous team in the sport, have not won a race since 2019 and their return to competition after the rules overhaul is very welcome – although a first race in these cars to the new look on 57 laps presents many challenges, including a potentially faster Verstappen.

“It looks good,” two-time F1 race winner Leclerc told Sky Sports on Saturday night.

“But again, I still have the same worry that maybe Red Bull are two or three tenths ahead. But maybe we’ll have the same good surprise as today!”

Max Verstappen was pleased to finish second in qualifying ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen was pleased to finish second in qualifying ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix

Max Verstappen was pleased to finish second in qualifying ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix

It’s not just a new battle at the front that’s causing excitement, as today is also the first litmus test for the new cars – which have been completely redesigned with the aim of improving racing and overtaking. wheel to wheel.

“I think it could be an exciting race as we are able to follow more closely,” said Sainz, who starts third.

“We don’t need to open such big gaps to manage the tyres, like we had to in the past. At least that’s my personal feeling. So it could be a bit tighter race. “

Hamilton and Mercedes pessimistic before the first game

Notable for their absence from the pointed end of the grid are Mercedes, who for the first time since they began their record-breaking eight-year championship run in 2014 are huge underdogs for the first race of a season.

The Silver Arrows, struggling with porpoising and the pace of unlocking their new W13, have been behind all weekend in Bahrain and Lewis Hamilton starts fifth today, with George Russell in ninth.

Lewis Hamilton was

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Lewis Hamilton was ‘happy’ to finish fifth in qualifying but admits Mercedes won’t be able to challenge Ferrari or Red Bull in race

Lewis Hamilton was ‘happy’ to finish fifth in qualifying but admits Mercedes won’t be able to challenge Ferrari or Red Bull in race

Team boss Toto Wolff conceded after qualifying that Mercedes realized their problems “much too late” and admitted he was “a bit wary about where we will be in the race”, some predicting a half-second per-lap deficit.

Sky Sports F1’s Damon Hill even suggested the mighty Mercedes might be “embarrassed” when the lights went out.

Hamilton, who was six-tenths off pole, said the aim was to “maximise” the race but he is not particularly confident to challenge those who await him.

“Really we can’t match the pace with the guys in front of us, but we can fight the guys behind,” said Hamilton, who starts behind Sergio Perez’s other Red Bull.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits they are currently the third fastest team on the track, and need to be realistic about their race chances.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits they are currently the third fastest team on the track, and need to be realistic about their race chances.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits they are currently the third fastest team on the track, and need to be realistic about their race chances.

“However, we might have a slightly different strategy, you look at the tire situation and who knows what will happen.

“Maybe the pace will be a bit better than we expect, which as of yesterday won’t necessarily be the case, but every day is a bit different.

Damon Hill says the Mercedes team could be

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Damon Hill says the Mercedes team could be ’embarrassed’ by their lack of pace at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday

Damon Hill says the Mercedes team could be ’embarrassed’ by their lack of pace at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday

“Maybe we can just keep the guys in front of us for a little while and maybe give them a bit of a hard time. But we definitely won’t be faster than the guys in front of us.”

Underlining the clean slate of a rules update, Hamilton has familiar but unexpected rivals behind him, former team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo and Kevin Magnussen in the Haas.

F1 is back, and it all starts on Sky Sports F1 from 1.30pm today.

Sky Sports F1 Race Day Live Schedule

Sunday March 20
8:55 a.m.: F3 Feature Race
10:35 a.m.: F2 cross-country race
1:30 p.m.: Grand Prix Sunday: Bahrain
3 p.m.: THE BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX
5 p.m.: Checkered flag: Bahrain
6 p.m.: Ted’s notebook
7 p.m.: Highlights of the Bahrain GP

The Grand Prix Sunday (from 2.30pm) and the race (3pm) will also be simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event, until the first game of Super Sunday at 4.30pm.




Sky Sports

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