The long wait is finally over with the 2022 F1 season getting underway in Bahrain this coming weekend.
Our F1 scribe runs the rule over the race and also takes a look at what went on during pre-season testing.
To win Race Outright
Max Verstappen 2/1
Lewis Hamilton 22/10
Charles LeClerc 11/2
Carlos Sainz 15/2
George Russel 10/1
Sergio Perez 20/1
Lando Norris 28/1
Mercedes were the ones to run the most laps during the final pre-season testing stint with new boy George Russel and Lewis Hamilton amassing 384 laps between them They were rather far off claiming the fastest lap accolade with that going to Red Bull, who just pipped Ferrari to the quickest lap of the weekend.
Speaking of Ferrari, they looked great during the testing and the car looks massively improved compared to last year. They could well mix it up with Red Bull and Mercedes for Constructors’ and Driver’s Championship honours this term.
While the aforementioned teams all enjoyed solid final testing stints, the same cannot be said of McLaren who struggled in the Bahrain testing which was rather a shock considering how well they had done in Barcelona. COVID ruled Daniel Ricciardo out of the final testing sessions while Lando Norris endured a number of mechanical issues.
Haas were another team who really struggled during the final stints with the container containing their cars arriving late for the final testing stint. When they eventually got on track, they were plagued with mechanical issues.
Track – The Bahrain International Circuit
The Bahrain International Circuit – otherwise known as the Sakhir Circuit – was designed by F1’s favourite circuit architect, Hermann Tilke. The tiny Kingdom spared no expense when it came to constructing the complex with in excess of $150 million going into the original construction contracts.
While the actual complex is home to six different circuits, the one we’ll focus our attention on is the 5.412 kilometre-long Grand Prix circuit. The track throws up fifteen different turns with three challenging hairpins set to really test the field.
Mercedes dominated last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton claiming top spot on the podium while the now-departed Valterri Bottas claimed third. Sandwiched between the Silver Arrows duo was last season’s Drivers’ Championship winner, Max Verstappen.
Drivers will be greeted with warm conditions for the season opener. with temperatures set to sit in the mid-20s for the entirety of the race weekend. As is always the case in Bahrain, there is no rain forecast.
Daniel Ricciardo – Top 6 Finish – Yes – @ 11/4
I reckon this one is great value. McLaren may have struggled in Bahrain during testing but they really looked good in Barcelona during the penultimate test weekend. Ricciardo has just missed out on the Top 6 in the last two Grand Prix staged in Bahrain finishing seventh last year and in 2020. I’m backing him to go one better this weekend at a healthy 11/4.
To Win Race Outright
Max Verstappen @ 2/1
Red Bull looked solid again in pre-season and it’s hard to go against the World Champion here. Max claimed first place here in 2020 and second place last year. I reckon he makes it another win in Bahrain this coming weekend.