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Lights Out and Away We Go in Bahrain

After 14 weeks of winter break and three days of pre-season testing, it was finally “lights out and away we go” at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix is the first of the 24 races this season and there was a lot to uncover.

As soon as the race started, pole sitter and reigning world champion, Max Verstappen of team Red bull, took off and was leading the race. During the first lap, Nico Hulkenberg for team Haas went to pit to change to the hard compound tires. He suffered damage to the front rear wing at the start of the race due to a collision with Aston Martin driver, Lance Stroll, but not enough to call for a replacement. By the time the fifth lap rolled around, Verstappen had already had a gap of 3.840 seconds ahead of George Russell of team Mercedes, who overtook team Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The fifth lap of the race showed a four-way battle for the second, third, fourth and fifth places between Russell, Leclerc, Sergio Perez of team Red Bull and Carlos Sainz from team Ferrari.

On the seventh lap, Perez was able to gain pace to overtake Leclerc on the exit of turn 10 after Leclerc seemed to suffer from another tire lockup. It was during this lap that Sainz notified his radio engineers that he had a faster pace than the guys in front which included his Ferrari teammate. For a brief moment during the 10th lap, it seemed that Logan Sargeant’s Williams car  was about to retire but after a few minutes of yellow flags he was clear and ready to go racing. 

The real racing began on the 11th lap, when the Ferrari teammates Sainz and Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel. Sainz had previously told his team that he felt that he had a faster pace hinting that his place should be swapped with Leclerc. He finally overtook Leclerc to reclaim his fourth place position. The two teammates almost collided until Leclerc decided to back off and let Sainz overtake.

While Verstappen kept creating a larger gap between Perez and him, trouble started to boil for the back of the pack. On the 32nd lap of the race, Valterri Bottas of Team Kick Sauber went into the pits for a tire change. Luck was not in his favor when one of the nuts of the front tire did not want to come loose which delayed his pit stop. The delay caused Bottas' pit stop time to be a total of 52.4 seconds and he finished the race in 19th place. Commentators jokingly mentioned that Bottas’ pit stop has been the unofficial record for the longest pit stop.

Close to the end of the race on lap 52 there seemed to be some disagreement between the Visa Cash App RB Team drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda. During the lap, the team had asked Tsunoda for a driver swap over the radio to which he responded with discontent. Eventually he gave in and let Ricciardo take over, but both were not happy with how the situation was handled.

In the end, it was Verstappen, Perez and Red Bull that dominated the race with a one-two podium as the defending champions. Verstappen was able to create a larger gap between him and second place compared to last year, going from a 12 second gap to a 22 second gap. To finish off the podium was none other than Ferrari’s own Carlos Sainz. As the season unravels, many can expect the raging bulls to remain on top but there are still 22 races to determine the 2024 world champion. 

Edited by: Kendall Merriett

Social Media Content Created by: Callista Carreiro

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