Analysis: Things we learned from the Bahrain Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix confirmed that Red Bull and Max Verstappen have retained their status as dominant force while Ferrari appear to have upped their game following a difficult 2023 season. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó delivers his post-race analysis.

Unchanged competitive order - Red Bull Racing dominated proceedings since the introduction of the new ground-effect cars, and the opening race in Bahrain has confirmed that things have hardly changed for 2024. The Milton Keynes based outfit has begun their 20th season in F1 in style by clinching their 114th race victory, This result ties Red Bull with Williams for fourth on the all-time win table with only Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren having scored more wins.

Reigning champion - Max Verstappen has clinched his 55th career victory in Bahrain which means that he has two more wins than Sebastian Vettel and four more victories than Alain Prost. The Dutchman is currently third on this list with only Lewis Hamilton (103) and Michael Schumacher (91) having achieved more wins.

The Manama F1 race also saw Verstappen take a grand slam for the fifth time in his career, tying Alberto Ascari and Michael Schumacher’s career totals, third of all-time behind Lewis Hamilton (six) and Jim Clark (eight).

Winning streak - Verstappen's win at the Bahrain Grand Prix was his eighth consecutive grand prix win, which is the fourth-longest streak in F1 history. He has held this record since he achieved a ten-race winning streak last year. Sebastian Vettel was the previous record holder with nine consecutive wins which he achieved back in 2013 with Red Bull.

Fastest lap - Max Verstappen was not only the race winner, but he also demonstrated his dominant form by setting the quickest race lap in Bahrain with a time of 1m32.608s on Pirelli's soft tyres.

Despite suffering from brake issues, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc posted the second quickest lap time with a 1m34.090s on Pirelli's hard tyres. Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso finished down in P9, but a late pit stop saw him record the third quickest race lap, only a tenth of a second shy of what Leclerc managed.

Fastest pit stop - Ferrari have not only managed to lift their on-track performance, but they also looked quick in the pit lane. The Scuderia's mechanics performed the quickest pit stop with a 2.23-second tyre change for Charles Leclerc. Demonstrating their eye-catching performance, Ferrari performed the second-quickest tyre change with Carlos Sainz (2.27s). Red Bull were almost equally quick when they serviced Sergio Perez's (2.29s) and Max Verstappen's car (2.27s).

Interestingly, seven other teams managed to get inside the top ten in terms of quickest tyre changes with McLaren (2.33s), RB (2.34s), Mercedes (2.51s), Haas (2.56s), Aston Martin (2.57s) and Alpine (2.64s) all completing a pit stop under 2.65-second barrier.

Unusual timing - Last Saturday's Bahrain Grand Prix was the 75th time a Grand Prix race did not take place on a Sunday. It is the first F1 race to have taken place on March 2nd. Thus, 20 August is the only day (between March 1st and the 28th of September) that has never been raced on.

Improved form - Although Mercedes still have to improve if they are to beat Red Bull, their new F1 car, the W15 appears to be a step forward compared to their 2022 and 2023 cars. Despite finishing down in P7, Lewis Hamilton has had a successful race as he became the first driver to score points at a race for 18 consecutive seasons. Moreover, he also maintained a 100 percent score when it comes to Q3 appearances.

Five teams - The season opener in Manama saw five teams score points. Red Bull have collected a total of 44 points courtesy of their dominant one-two finish in Bahrain while Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have scored 27 points for Ferrari. Mercedes have started the season with a 16-point tally, while Mercedes and Aston Martin have picked up a total of 12 and 3 points respectively.

First time - The Bahrain Grand Prix have marked the first time that the season has started without a retirement. In total, the Manama season-opener is the 17th time that an F1 race ended without retirements, 4 of these registered in the last 12 months.

Long history - The Bahrain Grand Prix made its debut on the F1 schedule in 2004, and last Saturday's Manama race marked the 20th anniversary of the Sakhir race. However this was the 21st grand prix held on the Bahrain International Circuit, as it held a second round during the pandemic-struck 2020 season, named the Sakhir Grand Prix.