Until Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024
Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024
Due to exceptional demand, we have continued to expand our hospitality offerings. This year, we are delighted to offer The Dome Lounge by F1 Experiences, as well as The Champions Club, both tailor-made in response to the massive interest in hospitality options for the grand prix. In addition, the ultimate in world-class hospitality is available in The Paddock Cub Please note that Corporate boxes for 2024 are now sold out.View More
Verstappen makes it sweet 16
Verstappen makes it sweet 16: Analysis of the Mexican Grand Prix, brought to you by Bahrain International Circuit
Sombreros, Lucha Libre wrestling outfits and 400,000 passionate Sergio Perez fans in attendance over the weekend meant for an electric atmosphere in Mexico City, with high hopes for the home hero.
Indeed, there was potential for some upsets, if qualifying was anything to go by. There had been hints earlier in the year of Ferrari’s strong qualifying pace, but no one had expected them to complete a front row lockout as they did on Saturday, with Leclerc on pole alongside Carlos Sainz. Whilst Leclerc was pleasantly surprised by such a strong performance, he was all too aware that being on pole isn’t always the best starting place in Mexico. The 800-metre run in to turn one often means that those starting on the second row have a slipstream advantage and can find the best position for the lead going into turn 1. Behind the pair of Ferraris, it was Verstappen who was ready to pounce in third, with another surprise of Daniel Ricciardo in fourth in the Alphatauri. The home favourite, Perez, was in fifth. Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was Lando Norris, who went out in Q1 and was 19th on the grid after a risky tyre choice and an error on his second run meant he didn’t post a representative time.
As ever with these mixed grids, it always bodes well for an exciting race and with the huge gathering of home fans cheering on their local hero, the stage was set for a great battle. Unfortunately for Perez, his dream of a first home win ended abruptly in the very first corner of the race. Spotting what he thought was a gap on the outside of Verstappen and Leclerc, he took a risky move to try and get to get ahead, but he collided with Leclerc and the damage caused meant his race was over. He would argue that it was his only chance to get that dream home win and perhaps he took on the famous piece of advice from the great Ayrton Senna that if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver. Others would say it was a reckless move and that three cars running alongside each other is never going fit into turn one, so an incident would have been inevitable.
The left Max Verstappen to put in yet another dominant display to claim his 16th win of the season, breaking his own record from last year. Even with a planned two stop strategy (compared to most who were scheduling one), a well-timed red flag after Magnussen crashed on lap 32 offered him a free pitstop further aiding his dominant procession to the finish. Nonetheless, one expects that even without that stroke of luck he would have happily breezed through for the win. The action in Mexico City was just behind the Dutchman, with Hamilton taking an impressive second. A brave decision to take the less durable medium tyre paid dividend after the red flag restart, and with early pace compared to others on the hard tyre, he overtook Leclerc and he held on to the end. Leclerc maintained his position after that, finishing third, with his teammate fourth.
Further back, the stellar performance came from Lando Norris. Despite starting 19th and also suffering some bad luck from the red flag given he had just stopped for a change of tyre, he drove with managed aggression. He sliced through much of the field on a circuit where overtaking is not that easy, finishing fifth. It was a performance that reflected both a high-quality driver and a McLaren car that still looks to be the second fastest on the grid at the stage of the season. Some even felt that it was Norris’ best ever drive in F1 and it would be hard to argue against that under the circumstances.
Outside the top five, George Russel was sixth, marginally ahead of an impressive Ricciardo, with Piastri, Albon and Ocon completing the top ten.
The story of the day, however, was all about Sergio Perez and his heartbreak in front of his adoring home fans. If he wasn’t already under pressure ahead of this weekend, the after-race chatter in the paddock certainly made clear that there are some in the sport that are questioning his seat at Red Bull next year. In public, the team continues to support him and has pointed to some recent improvements, especially in qualifying. In private, however, Red Bull is not known for its patience. Furthermore, with Daniel Ricciardo on an upward trajectory in the sister team, there is an emergence of thought that the Australian could be reunited with his old team. It’s a difficult one for all involved. Even well-respected commentators are hesitant to question someone who is well-liked in the paddock and has undoubted talent. But the simple fact is that he is in a fight with Hamilton for second place in the Championship, when, given the car at his disposal, he should be much further ahead and in a tussle with his teammate. With three races left this season, many feel that he needs to put in a set of consistent performances competing against Verstappen to ensure his seat is safe for next season.
F1 continues it tour around the Americas with Brazil up next this weekend.