A 12 months in the past, Pink Bull left the Bahrain Grand Prix locked out of the factors, wanting up at the remainder of the sector as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez each failed to complete.
A brand new 12 months provided a a lot completely different story for the workforce.
After locking out the entrance row throughout Saturday’s qualifying session — with Verstappen on the pole and Perez simply behind him — the drivers accomplished the weekend atop the rostrum. Verstappen pulled away from the sector to safe first at Bahrain, whereas Perez got here throughout the road forward of him to offer Pink Bull a robust 1-2 end to begin the season.
The defending Drivers’ Champion mentioned after the race that it was precisely what the workforce hoped for.
“That is precisely the beginning we wished, a one-two end. I’m extremely proud that we have now achieved this as a Staff,” mentioned Verstappen after the race in an announcement supplied to the media, together with SB Nation. “I might see early on that we had the tempo within the automotive, I used to be in a position to construct a spot from the beginning after which simply managed it for the remainder of the race, it was an easy day for us. It additionally feels good to lastly win in Bahrain, I haven’t had one of the best historical past right here.”
Verstappen’s win on Sunday was his first at Bahrain in ten races at Sakhir. His earlier greatest was a second-place end in 2021.
Whereas Verstappen managed to drag away from the sector, his teammate needed to take care of a number of completely different battles on the monitor to safe his second-place end. Perez initially fell behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, however was in a position to combat his manner again into second, and that place was secured when Leclerc retired early attributable to an influence downside.
“My begin wasn’t superb, Charles was somewhat too aggressive, pushed me to the precise and I did my greatest to keep away from him. That meant my first stint wasn’t superb, Charles was very robust on that new tyre and it was troublesome to get via him rapidly sufficient,” mentioned Perez after the race. “I believe that’s the place I misplaced out to Max, I used to be behind him by about 10 or 12 seconds and after that it was recreation over on catching Max, it was all about getting Charles. It was essential to get by him, minimise the injury and get that P2 for the Staff.”
Staff Principal Christian Horner was overjoyed with the end result.
“What a race! Max actually confirmed he has not misplaced any of his tempo coming into the brand new season, grabbing pole and the victory with each fingers. Checo had a bit of labor to do with Charles, however he performed it effectively after which from there it was about managing the race until the tip,” exclaimed the Staff Principal after the Grand Prix. “The tempo was there, the reliability too, we additionally had a strong pit cease technique. It’s nice to have each the blokes up there inside a tenth, combating over the nice margins. That pushes the Staff ahead they usually actually delivered. Evaluating it to final 12 months, after we completed with no factors, is sort of a distinction.”
Nonetheless, each Verstappen and his boss acknowledged that Bahrain is simply the begin to a protracted F1 season.
“Nevertheless, it’s essential to recollect that is simply race one, there’s quite a lot of racing nonetheless to do, however it’s a nice begin, from the entire workforce,” mentioned Horner. “It was essential for us to get on the board, get some good factors in early and we have now executed that right this moment. We sit up for see what Jeddah brings.”
Verstappen famous after the race that Jeddah is a a lot completely different monitor than Bahrain, that can carry completely different challenged for Pink Bull and their 2023 challenger, the RB19. “Looking forward to Jeddah, it’s a very completely different monitor with completely different circumstances, there’s quite a lot of lengthy straights and quick corners, so it can give us a very completely different image of the place everyone seems to be on the grid however no less than this was an excellent begin for us.”
Nonetheless, with how final 12 months began — after which ended — that is as near an ideal begin for Pink Bull.
And one which has the remainder of the sector questioning how one can shut the hole on the defending champions.