Red Bull dominates, Aston Martin shines
Following their strong performance in pre-season testing, Oracle Red Bull Racing dominated the opening Grand Prix of the season in Bahrain, Max Verstappen leading away from pole position and followed home by team mate Sergio Perez. The surprise of the race was Fernando Alonso, the two-times World Champion powering his way to a strong podium finish on his debut for Aston Martin. The Spanish ace, often said to be in the right team at the wrong time, is clearly relishing the performance of his Aston Martin, the first car to be produced under the design influence of former Red Bull aerodynamicist Dan Fallows.
Ferrari was the second quickest car in qualfying, but in the race Carlos Sainz was unable to hold off Alonso's well timed challenge, tyre management playing a key role, while team mate Charles Leclerc let out a disappointed 'no, no, no' when his car stopped due to a suspected electronics failure. For Ferrari's new team boss Frederic Vasseur, the season has started with a reminder than the Maranello outfit has key work to do in relation to reliability.
Mercedes, meanwhile, started the season in much the same way as last, both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell disappointed with the performanc of their cars and the team admitting they are some way off the pace. The task confronting Mercedes' boss Toto Wolff is whether to allocate resources to try and unlock performance from a design philosophy which has not delivered, or change direction completely - potentially writing off the year. A fight back looks likely, but with three teams more competitive the task will not be an easy one.