Fernando Alonso’s battle with the Mercedes pair will be the highlight of the race.

A brand new season of Formula 1 (F1) is here, and for the first race, we have the spectacle opening on a speedy-sandy opening track in Bahrain.

Bahrain International Circuit is ready to host the first race of the Formula 1 (F1) calendar. Fans have flocked in thousands for the race weekend to support their respective teams- with enthusiasm across the 3.36 miles circuit. Ensconced in Sakhir, the Bahrain GP has its individuality to stand out amidst the rest of the locations.

The desert terrain poses a unique predicament for the ten teams in contention, as the air and track temperatures drop rapidly during the night. The track temperatures are responsible for the tire temperatures. It impacts their degradation period and their grip. It might sound insignificant, but even a few degrees of alterations in track temperature can influence how a team performs. The teams must also constantly monitor the engines for the floating sand. The sands breezing around can slip through the engine’s filtration and cause significant damage.

Max Verstappen seized the first pole position of the year with a lap time of 1:29.708 yesterday. The Dutch World Champion extended his two-year dominance further with his 21st pole position aided by the RB19. It is a front-row lockout for Red Bull, as Sergio Perez clocked in the second-best with both Ferraris stranded in the second row.

Team strategies will play a crucial role, as will the positions secured in the qualifying. Bahrain GP will leave plenty of room for errors. Amongst possible narratives that can transpire, we are particularly interested in some.

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1. Max Verstappen vs Sergio Perez

Last season, we saw flashes of disgruntlement from the two Red Bull drivers as the Dutchman was adamant in refusing to help Sergio Perez in his pursuit of coming in second in the driver’s rankings. Verstappen refused to give up the place for Checo in Brazil, which invertedly secured a third place for the Mexican when the season concluded.

The rift between the two, however, mended, can always clash on full display in Bahrain. Sergio Perez has played the ultimate team game in his last two seasons, but with the points back at zero, he would be tempted to outshine his World Champion teammate.

With equal machinery, and the fastest car on the gird, Perez has little obligation and every chance to compete for himself rather than play second fiddle to Verstappen for holding off the Ferraris.

The Max Verstappen-Red Bull combo is the most efficient on the entire grid, but if someone can outright challenge that pedigree, it must be the one with an equal car.

2. Fernando Alonso vs Mercedes

The weekend has been unreal for the Spaniard, who has found a car fit to match his aspirations. The AMR23 helped the veteran qualify fifth on the grid for Sunday.

It shouldn’t be a complete surprise, considering that Alonso dominated 2/3 of practice sessions at the top of the timesheets. The 41-year-old is riding high on confidence to not only keep the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton behind. Alonso is also optimistic that his team can aspire for more during the race.

The initial demands were to dominate the midfield, but after unlocking the performances from his car, Alonso is steadfast in remaining in the mix with the Ferraris and Mercedes. Alonso won’t hesitate to gamble everything for a podium finish if an opportunity presents itself.

The priority, however, for both the Aston Martins would be to keep the Mercedes at bay. The British drivers, Russell and Hamilton, have been sandwiched between the Aston Martins, making up for some engrossing matchups alongside team strategies.

3. Esteban Ocon vs Nico Hulkenberg

Alpine and Haas’s drivers perplexed the pundits with drastic finishes as both the teams had one driver compete in Q3, while their counterparts failed to get out of Q1.

Kevin Magnussen admitted that the new Haas VF-23 is better suited to the German than him. He was not wrong, as Nico Hulkenberg had some impressive qualifying laps to finish 10th, which gave Haas some hopes of contesting a season-long midfield battle.

Hulkenberg needs to chase down a points-paying position, but the Alpine A523 of Esteban Ocon stands in front at 9th to make things difficult. The story was similar for the French team, as Pierre Gasly was far off- in getting the best out of his machine compared to Ocon.

Both teams need to secure point finishes during 57 laps to earn a headstart this season, capitalizing over other midfield contenders like AlphaTauri, McLaren, and Alfa Romeo.

Bonus – Williams duo

It was an unfortunate elimination for the American driver, Logan Sargeant, as he clocked in at the exact same time 1:31.652- as Lando Norris. The rookie failed to escape Q1 because Norris went through after recording his lap earlier.

The new predicament pits Alex Albon at 15th and his new teammate, Logan Sargeant, behind at 16th. The inexperienced American has every chance to usurp his teammate’s experience with equal machinery, provided he has a good start. With two other rookies joining the grid, it presents a unique opportunity for Logan to leave a mark.

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