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Formula 1

How Red Bull and Mercedes can gain instant time on Ferrari

Ferrari were the winners in Bahrain, with Charles Leclerc leading home a 1-2 finish for the Italian team, leaving Mercedes and Red Bull with plenty of catching up to do.

Perez Hamilton Bahrain
To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool

If F1's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix is anything to go by, Ferrari have built themselves a car capable of guiding them to World Championship glory in 2022.

Charles Leclerc led home a 1-2 for the team on Sunday following an epic race-long battle with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

The pair traded places six times over the course of the race but it was pole-sitter Leclerc who came out on top.

Red Bull, having run second on the road to Ferrari in Bahrain, left empty-handed, with three of the four Honda-powered cars suffering reliability issues during the final laps.

Mercedes, meanwhile, capitalised to come home third and fourth with a car that was unable to keep up with the race-winners Ferrari.

Pit-stops proved crucial during the Bahrain GP

However, both Red Bull and Mercedes can lessen the gap on Ferrari if they bring about improvements to their pit-stop times for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The mid-race tyre changes, now made even more challenging for mechanics thanks to F1's new 18-inch diameter Pirelli tyres, proved crucial in the fight for the lead, with Red Bull twice taking advantage of a powerful undercut to close in on race-leader Leclerc.

In the first instance, Verstappen was able to get ahead, before losing the place seconds later – something a faster pit-stop could well have prevented.

Ferrari's best pit-stop time (2.33 seconds) was just under three-tenths of a second faster than Red Bull's best (2.62 seconds), while both teams fell short of McLaren's chart-topping time (2.31 seconds).

Mercedes have the most to gain in the pit lane

Mercedes are left with the most pit-stop time to gain of the front-running teams, however, with Lewis Hamilton's quickest stop in Bahrain (3.45 seconds) being more than a second slower than Ferrari's best.

That one-second gap could prove the difference between getting ahead of the Ferrari cars during a crucial pit-stop phase, should they find themselves fighting with them for position in Saudi Arabia.

There were eight teams who clocked faster pit-stop times during the Bahrain GP, with Williams and Alpine joining McLaren and Ferrari at the top of the list.

The Haas mechanics have left themselves with plenty of homework, too, as they get used to changing the sport's new 18-inch tyres, with Kevin Magnussen's fastest stop timed at a slow 3.57 seconds.

Bahrain GP: Each driver's fastest pit-stop

Position Driver Team Best stop (secs)
1. Ricciardo McLaren 2.31
2. Sainz Ferrari 2.33
3. Ocon Alpine 2.46
4. Latifi Williams 2.47
5. Norris McLaren 2.49
6. Alonso Alpine 2.53
7. Leclerc Ferrari 2.54
8. Verstappen Red Bull 2.62
9. Tsunoda Alpha Tauri 2.62
10. Perez Red Bull 2.63
11. Albon Williams 2.70
12. Gasly Alpha Tauri 2.78
13. Stroll Aston Martin 2.80
14. Bottas Alfa Romeo 3.10
15. Hulkenberg Aston Martin 3.26
16. Zhou Alfa Romeo 3.27
17. Russell Mercedes 3.27
18. Schumacher Haas 3.30
19. Hamilton Mercedes 3.45
20. Magnussen Haas 3.57

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: First blood to Ferrari as F1's new era begins in style

RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour, and Thomas Maher look back over the 2022 season opener in Bahrain, which was won in dramatic fashion by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

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F1 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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