Practice one & two Sky Sports F1, 1.30pm & 5pm Friday
Practice three & qualifying Sky Sports F1, 1.30pm & 5pm Saturday
Race Sky Sports F1, 5pm Sunday
Pierre Gasly top-six finish
1pt 7-1 general
There was a lot of soul-searching going on in the Formula 1 paddock after the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, which was won in dominant fashion by Max Verstappen and Red Bull.
Many teams hoped they had narrowed the gap to the defending world champions over the winter but, on the evidence of that one race at least, Red Bull are even further clear of the pack than they were at the end of 2022 season.
Aside from Red Bull, the only team with smiles on their faces leaving Bahrain were Aston Martin, for whom Fernando Alonso finished a brilliant third while Lance Stroll hustled the sister car into sixth despite nursing two broken wrists and a broken toe.
A glimmer of hope for the Milton Keynes outfit’s rivals is that this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is staged at a very different circuit, so the form may not hold up.
That will certainly be the hope of Mercedes, who issued an apology to their fans on social media after a disappointing fifth for Lewis Hamilton and seventh place for George Russell in Bahrain.
Ferrari looked fast enough to challenge Red Bull in qualifying, but fell away in the race. Charles Leclerc failed to finish at Sakhir and faces a ten-place penalty this weekend having already exceeded his season’s allocation of control electronics.
One team who clearly didn’t show their true form were Alpine.
Esteban Ocon picked up a string of penalties having seemingly forgotten over the winter what this F1 thing is all about.
His teammate Pierre Gasly had his qualifying time deleted and started from the back, but was able to climb to ninth. That was an eye-catching effort and in a tightly-packed midfield the Frenchman’s chances of a top-six finish this weekend look underrated.
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