Fernando Alonso’s podium result has cemented the improvement of the Aston Martin team after exciting on-track battles to get ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz in Bahrain.
In some ways, it was business as usual as Red Bull converted their 1-2 qualifying result into the exact same result at the race in Bahrain, opening their 2023 tally with 43 points. Whilst the 1-2 wasn’t as simple as a start-to-flag victory for both drivers, the on-track battle between Perez and Leclerc and the sheer pace of Max Verstappen was enough to observe a totally dominant RB19…as expected.
Where things really came alive was behind these two where a feisty start from Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton nudging ahead of Perez and Alonso respectively, opened the race for mega on-track battles later. Alonso lost two places at the start, to both Mercedes’ and then came under fire from his teammate with contact between the two at turn 4 of the opening lap. The minor contact wasn’t terminal for any of the Aston Martin drivers and both Stroll and Alonso had it all to do.
After the first round of pitstops, Alonso seemed to slowly close the gap to Hamilton but it was clear that tyre management from Lewis was going to make a pass more difficult towards the end of the stint with both cars matched for pace. Mercedes pulled the pin on an earlier than expected pitstop, hoping to cover off Alonso, Stroll and Sainz but in the end, it allowed Alonso to go longer so that he had fresher rubber throughout the last stint, which is where all of the action happened. Alonso was on fire in this part of the race, ably putting Lewis Hamilton behind on lap 38 before also attacking Carlos Sainz and despatching him just 8 laps later. Lap 41 saw Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari give up, a huge disappointment after the great race he was having, keeping that podium in check. His car failure promoted Fernando Alonso into 3rd place and that is where he would finish. Credit must also go to Lance Stroll finishing in 6th place ahead of George Russell, and this despite his injuries on his wrist and toe. It was a genuinely solid drive from the Canadian who also managed to get the jump on Russell and Bottas throughout the race. His pace showed that the Aston Martin isn’t just feisty in the hands of Alonso.
Further afield, a mighty drive from Pierre Gasly saw him produce a stellar result, finishing in 9th position after starting the race from last position. The result was a stark contrast to his team mate Esteban Ocon who was plagued by no less than 3 penalties throughout the race for various infringements including speeding in the pitlane and for not serving a penalty correctly. It was bizarre to say the least and the Alpine Renault team eventually parked the car up, perhaps a wise thing to do.
The Williams Mercedes of Alex Albon took the final podium position with rookie team mate Logan Sargent in 12th position, a fantastic result for the Williams team and the American rookie.
It was a torrid weekend for McLaren Mercedes and something testing seemed to show up. Whilst there were some exciting moments in qualifying that seemed to stir up some hope in fans, the end result on Sunday was a lowly 17th for Lando Norris and a DNF for Oscar Piastri.
Results after the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix
1 – Max Verstappen
2 – Sergio Perez
3 – Fernando Alonso
4 – Carlos Sainz
5 - Lewis Hamilton
6 – Lance Stroll
7 – George Russell
8 – Valtteri Bottas
9 – Pierre Gasly
10 – Alexander Albon
11 – Yuki Tsunoda
12 – Logan Sargeant
13 – Kevin Magnussen
14 – Nyck De Vries
15 – Nico Hulkenburg
16 – Zhou Guanyu
17 – Lando Norris
18 – Esteban Ocon DNF
19 – Charles Leclerc DNF
20 – Oscar Piastri DNF
The next round of the 2023 Formula 1 season takes place in Saudi Arabia from 17 – 19 March.
The opening round of the ’23 season bodes well for racing action taking place behind the Red Bull. As it did today, the on-track and behind-the-scenes action of Mercedes vs. Aston Martin / Hamilton vs Alonso will continue to yield great entertainment.