Winner and Losers from 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix


One down, 23 more to go.

The longest-ever Formula 1 season kicked off with something of a damp squib of a race in Bahrain as Max Verstappen simply turned up and after the start, was not seen again until 91 minutes later when he crossed the line to take his 55th career win.

For added measure, he set a fastest lap 1.4s quicker than anyone else as he posted a fifth career Grand Chelem, moving level with Alberto Ascari and Michael Schumacher. It was the first time since Schumacher in the 2004 Australian Grand Prix one has been recorded in the first race of the year.

Verstappen aside, there was not much good news on Saturday in Sakhir for the drivers with various gripes and gremlins striking the grid, and in two particular cases, things just went from bad to worse.

Winner – Max Verstappen

Of the last 24 Grands Prix, Verstappen has now won 20 of them.

That record-breaking run of 10 straight wins between Miami and Italy last season is also in touching distance as Bahrain was his eighth on the trot.

12 months ago, he won by 12 seconds from Sergio Perez – this time it was 22s, pulling clear by nearly a second per lap at times.

It would be a mistake to call it easy, because to operate at this high a level at the top of elite sport is rare. Perhaps no athlete has ever reached such consistency and banged win after win after win without seemingly breaking sweat.

Even in the Lewis Hamilton era, he’d have occasional off-weekends or races where things would just fall apart. Not even he reached levels such as this.

It is remarkable, and given these cars are set to largely carry over into 2025, the chances of Verstappen being a five-time champion heading into the next rules cycle of 2026 are virtually secure.

			© Red Bull Content Pool
© Red Bull Content Pool

Losers – the other 19 drivers and nine teams

Now, put simply, the state of competition in F1 is none of Verstappen or Red Bull’s concern.

Just like the other nine teams, they have had a chance to examine the technical rule book and have come up with a machine in the RB20 that has picked up the goalposts and moved them to the other side of the planet.

The scary prospect about this is that Verstappen from as early as Lap 5 was in ‘bring it home mode’ – when he pulled out to nearly seven seconds clear of George Russell.

Neither he nor the RB20 have truly been tested, and the other teams have failed once again.

If Red Bull can build a car as extreme as the RB20, then there is no reason why Mercedes or Ferrari or McLaren cannot.

But Red Bull’s understanding of ground-effects is such that it has already shifted to its radical new concept just as the others were still trying to figure ground-effects out in the first place.

There were hopes that Verstappen could be caught in the race, albeit with a sizeable deficit per lap.

Grand plans were made – and then the lights went out and the race started.

It is a collective failure on behalf of the other nine teams that Red Bull could have conceivably brought the 2023 RB19 to Sakhir, stuck the new livery on it and it would still probably have won.

But it was not all doom and gloom.

Carlos Sainz did well to assert himself at Ferrari with a nice move on the limping Charles Leclerc and did grab a podium for his evening, but in the end, he still couldn’t beat Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull.

At least that would have been something.

Meanwhile, credit must also go to Lance Stroll for being thumped by Nico Hulkenberg at Turn 1 and recovering to pick up a point in 10th place. It was not the haul Aston Martin was after, with Fernando Alonso in ninth, but it was still a relatively good day for the Canadian.

But all in all, it was a sobering day for anyone not called Max Verstappen in a Red Bull RB20.

			© XPBimages
© XPBimages

Loser – Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda’s behaviour in the closing stages of the Bahrain GP was all a bit self-defeating and will do his chances of earning a seat in future no good.

In his defence, he had been undercut through a poor strategy twice and lost places and had been the stronger of the two RB drivers up until the point he was ordered to let Daniel Ricciardo past to attack Kevin Magnussen.

What made this call strange was that it was for no points and Tsunoda was locked in battle with the Haas – which does seem to have made progress on its tyre troubles.

He eventually acquised, but on the cooldown lap, divebombed Ricciardo into Turn 8 before racing past and nearly collecting his team-mate.

It was a childish, churlish outburst from a driver who should know better by now than to react like that to any perceived wrong in a public manner.

‘Smile and wave’ in public and then let it all out in private if you must, but for any prospective team looking at Tsunoda, who would be a quality option, it goes down a massive X.

It was a negative way to end a weekend where he firmly had an advantage over Ricciardo and could have struck an early blow in their intra-team battle.

			© XPBimages
© XPBimages

Loser – Alpine

To the CEO, Team Principal, Sporting Director and Chief Technical Officer, we can now add the Technical Director and Head of Aerodynamics.

With the resignations of Matt Harman and Dirk de Beer, respectively, as RacingNews365 exclusively revealed, Alpine has now lost six of the most senior members of staff at any team in about seven months.

That is unhealthy and unsustainable for a team that has slipped to the rear of the field with a car that is overweight, under-powered, lacking in downforce and is slow.

Pierre Gasly is optimistic that upgrades are on the way, but this is currently a team drowning, and which makes its excellent 2022 season all the more an outlier.

In fact, the change in Alpine’s fortunes is perhaps the only tangible difference from the 2023 to this.

			© XPBimages
© XPBimages

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