Written by James Harding, Edited by Harshi Vashee
The Bahrain Grand Prix threw up a handful of unexpectancies throughout the F1 paddock. The first race of the season saw Scuderia Ferrari claiming their first 1-2, and win, since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix where we saw Sebastian Vettel at the top step of the podium. Also, the new Red Bull power unit seemed incredibly unreliable, with three of their four cars unable to finish due to the new engines. Haas’ Kevin Magnussen also scored more points for the American team than they have in 2 seasons.
However, the team that achieved the only 1-2 of last year has shown a minimal amount of pace throughout the weekend, finishing with no points under their name. That team being McLaren. They had finished each practice session in the bottom ten, their qualifying pace was non-existent: coming 18th and 13th. They further only finished 14th and 15th.
The evident trend here is that their pace, across all departments, is lacking. Australian McLaren driver, Daniel Ricciardo suggested that the car is almost unable to even reach the chequered flag: “The first objective today [Sunday] was to do the race distance." It implies that the MCL36 cannot elaborate on a non-points finish. However, Ricciardo also stated that it is “clear where the weakness [lays] in the car”.
Ricciardo’s teammate Lando Norris says that it was a “tough race”, and that they are “a long way from where [they] want to be”.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl stated that it was a “disappointing and painful experience for everyone in the team”. Seidl also said that they are “analysing in detail why [they] are not competitive and working as hard as we can to bring more performance to the car, as rapidly as possible”. This may hint that McLaren are showing determination to get back on track for Saudi Arabia, but it will not be an overnight job.
Overall, pre-season testing and the first race of the season was substandard. But hope may not be lost according to Seidl; as the team is working “rapidly” to sort out the current issues. This is unlike McLaren, their lineup is admirable, and they are a fan-favourite team. However, serious work must be done to compete with the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes. So for now, their pace is severely lacking, and must be resolved.
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