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  1. F1

Formula 1: The Chequered Flag race review - Bahrain

It was an incident-packed start to the 2022 Formula 1 season at the Bahrain Grand Prix and there are several talking points to come out of a thrilling opener.

Ferrari secured a one-two, as Charles Leclerc claimed the victory ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz, while the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were third and fourth respectively.

Huge drama came at the end of the race as defending champion Max Verstappen was forced to retire due to an issue with his car, while Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez exited the race with just two laps to go due to engine trouble.

After the thrills and spills of race number one, what pointers can be taken from the result?

Ferrari back in the game

It has been a long, arduous time for Ferrari over the past decade, with the team's last constructors' championship coming in 2008, but the early signs suggest that could change this year.

Leclerc produced a brilliant performance to take the chequered flag for the third time in his career and the first time since winning the 2019 Italian Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old was tested during the middle stage of the race by Verstappen, with the duo battling away at the head of the pack, but it was the Monegasque who prevailed.

It was also a solid performance from Sainz, who managed his tyres superbly during the race, and that consistency should put him in good stead for the rest of the campaign.

Disaster for Red Bull

After the controversy of how the 2021 season ended, all Red Bull would have been wishing for was a positive start to this campaign and they looked on course for a strong opening.

However, Verstappen and Perez were both forced out of the race late on, with their cars just falling apart in the closing stages, and there are serious questions for the team to answer.

Reliability is key when it comes to challenging for titles, Red Bull know this from last season, but they have some work to do ahead of the next outing in Saudi Arabia.

It was also interesting to hear Verstappen question the strategy of his team on a couple of occasions during the race and there is always the feeling this could unsettle things if it keeps happening.

The Dutchman certainly has a right to voice his opinion, especially given the fact he is a world champion now, but he and his team need to be on the same page and trust each other in the decisions they make.

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Mercedes can't be discounted

Reigning constructors' champions Mercedes were downplaying their chances ahead of the first race of the season, claiming the event in Bahrain was a learning process for them.

Whether this was early mind games from Toto Wolff or he genuinely felt his team were lagging behind, they ended up getting Hamilton on to the podium and Russell into fourth.

The two Red Bull retirements certainly played a big hand in those two finishes and there is still a lot of improvement needed from the Silver Arrows, who are chasing a ninth straight team title.

Optimism for chasing teams

Haas were bullish ahead of the new campaign, believing they could achieve their highest ever finish in F1 and the early signs suggest this could happen.

Kevin Magnussen, taking advantage of the two Red Bull cars crashing out, managed to take fifth position, while Mick Schumacher just missed out on the points in 11th.

Alpine and Alfa Romeo had both cars finish in the top 10, while AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda produced a brilliant drive to climb from 16th on the grid to finish eighth.

There certainly seems to be a bit more competitiveness from that quartet of teams and it will be interesting to see how they manage as the season goes on.

Next up

After that rip-roaring start, the F1 season heads to Saudi Arabia next weekend and there is sure to be more thrills and spills as the teams look to take stock after the Bahrain showing.

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