Five days after the World Championship opener in Bahrein, Formula One is gearing up for the Saudi Arabian F1 GP 2022 this weekend. The Jeddah Street Circuit, with the second-lfastest and second-longest (6,174 m) in the calendar, will be hosting the challenging night event.
The new era of Formula One has succeeded in starting a revolution in the hierarchy and Ferrari has been the protagonist of this upheaval. In the 50 laps and 308.45 km that lay ahead at the Jeddah circuit, the unexpected leaders of the standings will have to consolidate the dominance displayed in Sakhir.
Red Bull, under pressure following last week’s debacle, will do everything in its power to dethrone the Italians. Meanwhile, Mercedes will try and make the most of any false moves by their adversaries.
— FIA (@fia) March 24, 2022
Ferrari and Leclerc will work to sustain their lucky streak
Following their one-two in Bahrain, Ferrari arrives in Saudi Arabia as leader of both the driver and team standings. The team from Maranello managed to crush all rivals in the opening round thanks to the colossal power of its F1-75. Proof of its mechanical superiority is the fact that five of the first classified in Sakhir carry an Italian engine.
They will, however, need to be able to maintain this high level during the very long campaign ahead, where we can expect a tough competition with Red Bull and Mercedes in the development of the single-seaters.
Charles Leclerc, for his part, proved his team right to have placed its trust in him as their team leader at Sakhir. His performance was flawless as went on to claim pole, victory and fastest lap. He also had a chance to display his many offensive and defensive talents during the various battles he sustained with Max Verstappen. Leclerc has now clearly positioned himself as a strong contender for the title.
Escorting his Monegasque teammate, Carlos Sainz also delivered a very well deserved second position in Bahrain. The Spaniard, however, must still find the two or three-tenths of a second that separate him from his partner. Despite having claimed his ninth podium, Sainz seemed somewhat disappointed as he became painfully aware that the #16 was destined to become one of his main rivals for glory.
In a polar opposite position to Ferrari is Red Bull. They arrived in Bahrain as favourites after being overwhelmingly stronger than the rest during the pre-season tests, but they left Baharin with zero points after both its RB18s suffered mechanical faults. Alarm bells then started ringing at the Austrian factory which now has all eyes on their Honda engine. Incidentally, only one of these – there are four in total – crossed the finish line in Sakhir.
Max Verstappen, surprised by his own debacle in Sakhir, could not have started the defence of his crown any worse. His car ruined his chances of claiming a second place which was already his, with just three laps left for the checkered flag. But fate was even meaner to his partner Checo Pérez.
The Mexican had to retire on the final lap when he was running third. Although the exact causes of the technical fault have not been specified, team director Christian Horner commented that this could have originated on the fuel pump.
Mercedes: In need of improvement
Mercedes was only able to rip some results thanks to the double abandonment of its enemies from Milton Keynes. Burdened by an underperforming W13, the German team arrived in Bahrain with the intention of minimising damage. Their result, with third and fourth-place finishes from Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, exceeded their wildest expectations.
This stroke of fortune, however, does little to remediate the obvious shortcomings of the German car. The lack of top speed, the instability in medium and slow corners, the porpoising, as well as the excessive weight, require urgent solutions. Realistically, however, these could take some time to materialise. N
McLaren: At the bottom of the hole
Another team that has surprised in a negative way is McLaren. The team from Woking is immersed in a full crisis. Evidence of this are the fourteenth and fifteenth places of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris in Bahrain. The MCL36 suffers from very poor downforce and fails in its overall performance. This has been acknowledged by the English driver himself, who also warned of the very hard times ahead for the scuderia.
Images of Saudi Arabian F1 GP 2022: F1.com