Connect with us

Formula 1

Bahrain Dominance: Red Bull’s Seasonal Blueprint or a One-Off Phenomenon?



Bahrain Dominance Red Bull Seasonal Blueprint or a One-Off Phenomenon F1 203

Max Verstappen’s dominant performance in Bahrain has left many wondering if Red Bull will have a season of complete dominance. Despite Sergio Perez’s impressive performance alongside Verstappen, there are still questions about how the team will fare in the upcoming races.

Max Verstappen expressed admiration for his performance over the radio, calling it “very lovely,” after securing a comfortable win to begin his quest for a third consecutive Formula 1 championship title.

Based on his impressive showing in Bahrain, it appears that he is poised to continue his winning streak, as he demonstrated complete dominance throughout the race.

Once Red Bull-Honda had found the right setup on Saturday, it was clear that their car was the fastest on the track, and their drivers were able to use the soft tire for two of the three stints, a feat that no other top-10 starter was able to accomplish.

Sergio Perez played a key role in securing a flawless team result alongside Verstappen, but his race was more eventful than his teammate’s. At the start, Perez, who was on used tires, was out-accelerated by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, which was fitted with new tires, despite Perez’s best efforts to keep the Ferrari at bay by rubbing tires.

However, even Leclerc’s superb driving skills could not match the second Red Bull, as the team opted for a longer stint than the Ferrari, enabling Perez to switch to another set of soft tires while the Ferrari had to switch to hards.

This gave Perez the necessary grip advantage to overtake Leclerc early in the second stint and establish a comfortable lead. The Ferrari later experienced a worrying power unit malfunction, further solidifying Perez’s lead.


This raises the question of whether we can expect a season of Red Bull’s complete dominance, surpassing even the level seen in the previous year.

While the team’s performance in Bahrain suggests this may be the case, it remains to be seen how the rest of the season unfolds.

It is worth noting that the Aston Martin, which was actually the second-fastest car in the race, enabled Fernando Alonso to achieve a remarkable podium finish in his debut race for the team. However, he was hindered by spending a significant amount of time stuck behind two slower Mercedes.

Alonso’s performance was impressive, as he was able to overtake George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, and Carlos Sainz purely based on pace and his characteristic bold driving style.

As the rear tires of the slower cars began to deteriorate, Alonso’s Aston Martin enabled him to make up significant ground.

He finished the race more than half a minute behind Verstappen, but had he not been involved in an incident with teammate Lance Stroll at Turn 4 on the opening lap, his gap would have been smaller, although not to the extent of changing the outcome of the race.

Bahrain Dominance Red Bull

Verstappen downplayed the significance of his dominant performance, and his reasoning holds some weight.


He explained that the Sakhir track has different balance requirements for one-lap performance compared to the race, and that while he was not satisfied with the one-lap performance on Friday, his long runs were still decent.

As noted in a previous article, protecting the rear tires is crucial at the Sakhir track, which can result in a less-than-optimal understeery balance over one lap. However, the Red Bull’s effective downforce spread across various speeds makes it less disadvantaged by this demand than other cars.

Therefore, at tracks where this conflict of demands is not as prominent, the extent of Red Bull’s advantage will logically decrease.

Last year’s Red Bull had exceptional aerodynamic efficiency, which made it challenging for Ferrari to compete against despite having greater peak downforce.

This is why Ferrari has prioritized improving its straightline speed this year, even if it comes at the expense of some downforce (as confirmed by Leclerc last week). However, without the same level of aerodynamic efficiency as Red Bull, Ferrari’s pursuit of matching Red Bull’s straightline speed this year has resulted in a more significant loss of downforce than is manageable at the Sakhir track.

Focusing on improving its straightline speed has made Ferrari rely more on its rear tires, which is a significant disadvantage at the Sakhir track due to the high tire degradation.

Thus, Bahrain did not showcase the Ferrari’s true potential, and it is expected to perform better at more conventional tracks.


Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull, acknowledged that they only have one data set from Bahrain and are not taking anything for granted. He added that they would have a much better understanding of their car’s strengths and weaknesses and their competitors’ after racing at two or three circuits, such as Jeddah in two weeks and Melbourne after that.

Leclerc commented that Red Bull appears to have discovered something significant in terms of race pace. While the qualifying pace of Red Bull and Ferrari is similar, Ferrari lags behind by a second per lap during the race, which is a considerable deficit. Leclerc acknowledged that they need to work on this aspect along with improving reliability.

Bahrain Dominance Red Bull

On the other hand, Mercedes is in worse shape than Ferrari, as it has a greater deficit in high-speed downforce, resulting in a significant strain on its rear tires, especially during the downhill sweeps of Turns 6/7/8. Furthermore, Mercedes isn’t particularly fast in terms of single-lap pace, being nearly 0.350s slower than Leclerc on Saturday and 100.7% of Verstappen’s pole time. This is worse than last year’s problematic Mercedes car, which qualified within 100.5% of the pole position time at the same track.

Hamilton managed to deliver an impressive performance, making some key moves such as beating Russell off the line, passing Alonso into Turn 4 on the opening lap (although he was later overtaken by Alonso), and putting pressure on Sainz for fourth place in the final stages.

However, he finished over 50 seconds behind the race winner, indicating the significant gap in performance. It’s possible that the lower downforce rear wing on Hamilton’s car increased tire degradation, but without it, the car would have been even slower in qualifying. This is another instance where the conflict of demands at the Sakhir track plays a crucial role.

Despite the setback caused by hitting Alonso, Stroll was able to recover and finish sixth, despite having an injured wrist. He overtook Russell during the race and caught up to Hamilton, highlighting the current performance level of the Aston Martin relative to the identically powered and rear-suspended Mercedes.

Bottas, who drove for Alfa Romeo, and Gasly, who started from the back of the grid in his Alpine, were also in striking range of Russell at the end of the race. Even Alex Albon, who finished in tenth place in his well-driven Williams car, was not too far behind the leaders.


Toto Wolff was forthright in admitting that Mercedes had made an error in the direction they had taken with the car. He emphasized the importance of making significant strides to catch up to the competition rather than relying on incremental changes.

He added that their starting point was quite different from their competitors and that they had lost a year in development. Wolff highlighted Aston Martin’s decision to take such risks and come back stronger as an example of what they need to do. However, he remains optimistic and hopes that they can make a strong comeback and challenge the Red Bulls.

Aston Martin’s performance was undoubtedly encouraging and provided hope for the teams competing against Red Bull. However, despite being the second-fastest car in the race and more efficient with its tires than Ferrari or Mercedes, it still lags behind Red Bull.

Its qualifying pace was 0.628s off pole, with a couple of tenths of that due to not having a second set of soft tires and thus only completing a single Q3 run. Moreover, its straightline speed was not on par with Red Bull, Ferrari, or Mercedes, which were relatively evenly matched.

Nevertheless, the Aston Martin’s impressive cornering ability and the attacking pace of Alonso, which caught Russell by surprise, suggest that the car has significant downforce. The way it manages its rear tires also underscores its strength in this area.

Alonso confirmed that the Aston Martin was not particularly fast on the straights, which made it difficult to pass at the conventional points of Turns 1 and 4. Therefore, he had to be creative, and his pass on Hamilton into Turn 10 took the Mercedes driver by surprise.

Alonso noted that Turns 10 and 11 are not typical passing places, and they had to make some changes to their approach. He added that the team needed to improve their straight-line speed so they could pass at Turns 1 and 4 like the other teams.

Bahrain Dominance Red Bull

Alonso drove exceptionally well in the race, but the fact that the Aston Martin had more rear tire left than the Ferraris or Mercedes, despite such an attacking drive, indicates that the car’s performance may have been flattered by the specific challenges posed by the Sakhir circuit.


Alonso cautioned that the team might not perform as well in Jeddah or Australia as they did in Bahrain. However, if they remain competitive in those races, Alonso believes they will have a successful season in 2023. When asked if he could win races with the car, the 42-year-old driver smiled and replied positively, having waited over a decade to prove his point.

Alonso emphasized that the Aston Martin car still has a lot of development potential, unlike the other cars that are evolutions of their previous models. He noted that the car was just the starting point of a new project, and they had changed their concept over the winter.

Alonso believes that there is more for the team to learn, and they can continue to improve the car’s performance as they progress through the season.

Bahrain Dominance Red Bull

Alonso also highlighted the importance of learning how to drive the car better. He noted that twice, when he was super-early on the power out of Turn 4, he experienced big snappy moments.

Alonso explained that these moments resulted from him not being entirely accustomed to the car’s driving input and feedback from the wheel, which are not yet 100% customized.

Although it may seem like a stretch to imagine the reinvigorated Alonso taking on Verstappen and Red Bull in future races this season, it’s not entirely impossible. It’s worth noting that describing Alonso’s performance on Sunday would have sounded improbable when he announced his comeback in 2020.

The fact that he was able to extract so much from the car despite not being entirely comfortable with it speaks volumes about his skill and potential for future success.


Bahrain Dominance: Red Bull Seasonal Blueprint or a One-Off Phenomenon? F1 2023 Bahrain Dominance: Red Bull Seasonal Blueprint or a One-Off Phenomenon? F1 2023 Bahrain Dominance: Red Bull Seasonal Blueprint or a One-Off Phenomenon? F1 2023 Bahrain Dominance: Red Bull Seasonal Blueprint or a One-Off Phenomenon? F1 2023 Bahrain Dominance: Red Bull Seasonal Blueprint or a One-Off Phenomenon? F1 2023 Bahrain Dominance: Red Bull Seasonal Blueprint or a One-Off Phenomenon? F1 2023