The 2021 season got off to a flying start in Bahrain, with a gripping battle between Mercedes and Red Bull from lights out to chequered flag – giving fans a taste of the fierce competition ahead.
There were a number of things to take away from the Bahrain GP weekend, showing how close this season could truly be.
Let’s take a look at a few:
1. Red Bull and Mercedes are closer than ever
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff admitted earlier in the week that the four-tenths between the world champions and Red Bull Racing during Qualifying will be hard to recover, after a miracle win for Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.
Speaking after the first race of the season, Wolff admitted that Mercedes “was four-tenths off in qualifying and that’s quite a gap and very difficult to recover.
“We knew that they have a good race car, whether it is enough to reduce that gap wasn’t very clear.
“And we need to understand why – why our car was in a happy place today set-up wise, tyre wise and not in the previous days.”
“Bahrain was always not the strongest race for Red Bull, and also they haven’t been particularly good out of the blocks, and this weekend shows that all that is not the case anymore in 2021.”
2. Sergio Perez is set to give Max Verstappen a run for his money
Over the last few years, Max Verstappen has excelled well ahead of his teammates weekend after weekend.
However, with the arrival of an experienced teammate in Sergio Perez, spectators are intrigued to see the Mexican make Verstappen work a little harder to retain his #1 status within the team.
Although finishing in P5 in Bahrain, three places behind his 23-year-old teammate, Helmut Marko has said the team is impressed with Perez so far, and that they are “convinced that he will be very close to Max” as the season goes on.
3. The gap between midfield teams and front-runners is tightening up
The 2021 season is already showing signs of yet another packed midfield fight.
With Red Bull, and Mercedes proving the fastest of the pack so far, it seems as though a lot of the action will remain outside of the podium places this season.
However, in saying that, the gap between our 2021 front-runners and the midfield contenders is closing up, with improvements seen on a large scale across a number of teams.
Speaking about these improvements recently, Lando Norris said; “We’re hoping to be that little bit closer.
“But I don’t think it’s a front field and a midfield anymore, it’s just two teams that are very quick, we’re chasing, trying to catch up, and then it’s basically everyone else.
“We’ll see on Sunday what the result is.”
4. Ferrari are back fighting fit
After a painful 2020 season, Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto has expressed his relief at the team’s progress – thanks to a new power unit this season.
Last year marked the historic F1 team’s worst result for 40 years, but it seems as though the SF21 has put a spring back in Binotto’s step.
“The car behaved as expected,” he said.
“From winter testing, we knew we had a better car than last year, no doubt, relative to the competitors.
“The aero is certainly better in terms of behaviour and correlations. But the power unit, the car overall, where it was possible to make improvements we tried to do them.
“And I think it’s an entire package. So I will not really speak in areas, it’s the entire package which now is better, and that’s enough.”