A new era of Formula 1 is set for an epic first race today with the Bahrain GP, as a resurgent Ferrari battle Max Verstappen and Red Bull at the front while Lewis Hamilton looks to “hold on” to Mercedes’ faster rivals.
Three months after a dramatic end to the 2021 season, F1 is back with all-new cars and all-new opportunities – and the 2022 season-opening Bahrain GP is live on Sky Sports F1 at 3pm, with build-up from 1.30pm.
If qualifying is anything to go by, we’re set for a close and unpredictable cracker.
A competitive three-way battle for pole between Ferraris Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz and world champion Verstappen played out as expected on Saturday, won by Leclerc who heads the Red Bull on the grid.
Ferrari, while the sport’s most successful and famous team, have not won a race since 2019 and their return to contention following the rules overhaul is a much-welcome one – though a first race in these new-look cars over 57 laps presents many challenges, not least a potentially faster Verstappen.
“It looks good,” Leclerc, a two-time F1 race winner, told Sky Sports on Saturday night.
“But again I still have the same worry that maybe Red Bull is two or three tenths ahead. But maybe we will have the same good surprise we have today!”
It is not just a new battle at the front that is generating excitement, for today is also the first acid test for the new cars – which have been completely redesigned in a bid to improve wheel-to-wheel racing and overtaking.
“I think it could be an exciting race, because we are actually able to follow closer,” said Sainz, who starts third.
“We don’t need to open such big gaps to manage tyres, like we had to do in the past. At least that’s my personal feeling. So, it could be a bit more close racing.”