Bahrain Grand Prix: Alonso Takes Podium on Aston Martin Debut 


LAT Photographic

Max B (Year 11), Chief Contributor


Somewhere among the island of Bahrain is the Bahrain International Circuit and opening round of the 2023 Formula One season. This 5.4km Circuit holds 57 laps on race day and race goers will most likely find a ‘duel in the desert’ as each teams’ new vehicles for the season roll out of the garage and show us their full potential. 

After coming out of Pre-Season Testing, the cars rolled out onto the track for their free practice sessions, Lance Stroll, with screws in his wrists and a broken toe from a bicycle incident, endured the fight against comfort with his partner Fernando Alonso putting in quick laps around the circuit. The RedBull’s were having problems with their vehicle, whilst the Williams surprisingly were showing some pace.

The lights flashed brightly on the circuit for the Saturday evening qualifying, once again we went through the 3 Qualifying stages (Q1, Q2, Q3), removing the 5 slowest drivers until we come to a top 10 shootout for pole position. With the drivers on putting out times onto the board we watched the Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari take the fastest lap with a 1:30.993 in Q1 with Nyck Devries Alpha Tauri in 20th, the Rookie Australian Oscar Piastri in 19th, Kevin Magnussen in 18th, behind him, Pierre Gasly’s Alpine in 17th for his first qualifying with the team after many years with Alpha Tauri and to finish off Q1 we saw Logan Sargeant’s Williams take 16th 

Qualifying two began with the remaining 15 cars lined up at pit exit eager to get out onto the track. By the end of Q2 Max Verstappen’s RedBull took the fastest lap with a 1:30.503. Alex Albon’s Williams took 15th with Yuki Tsunoda in front of him took 14th, 2.2 seconds behind Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo qualified 13th. Valtteri Bottas pushed the other Alfa Romeo in 12th and Lando Norris fought hard for a spot in the top 10 but just got pushed out at the end by Lance stroll which left Norris in 11th. 

The final qualifying for the evening came around and it was a top 10 shootout for the remaining 10 cars. It was a fight between the Ferrari’s and the RedBull’s which both the drivers took the quickest time, but it ended with Max Verstappen taking pole position with the fastest time of 1:29.708 and the RedBull of Sergio Perez taking 2nd making it a Redbull, one-two. The two Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz locked out the second row in 3rd and 4th respectively. The Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso pushed the limits with him taking 5th, and just behind was the Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in 6th and 7th. Even with screws in his wrists and a broken toe, Lance Stroll qualified his Aston Martin in 8th, Esteban Ocon took 9th and Nico Hulkenberg, back in F1 for the first time in three years, took 10th in his Haas. 

Sunday rolled around and the track came alight with 35,000 people filling the stands, the excitement booming and people cheering louder than the cars. The cars lined up for the formation lap as the sun began to set…

“It’s lights out and away we go”. 

Verstappen led the race out of turn one getting a clean getaway with the Ferrari’s lacking the pace to keep up. Lap 1 brought Lance Stroll to tap the back of his teammate Fernando Alonso whilst defending from the Mercedes of Russell. It was lap 9 and the rookie Australian Oscar Piastri had to retire his McLaren because of electrical issues. Lap 13 saw Alonso have a waltz with the Mercedes of Russell pushing himself into 5th place. Pushing to lap 16, Bottas flew past both Russell and Alonso to take 6th place fighting for the position through the next few corners until lap 17 where Alonso got DRS on Bottas taking back that 6th position, ready to push his way back up to 5th. 

Russell had too much pace for Bottas to handle, taking back 7th into turn 1. Lap 26 saw Leclerc and Perez fight for P2 Leclerc fought hard for P2 until Perez had too much power to be defended, taking that P2 and it was a RedBull one-two.  

Lap 32 Lando Norris came into the pits for the 3rd time to fill up the air in his car, it was at this point when everyone started to question. Is this a waste of the car?  

It was Lap 37, and as they say, it takes two to tango, and Hamilton and Alonso did tango alright. Alonso just put in the fast lap, he pushed his way right onto Hamilton’s gear box closely following until Alonso slivered on the inside of Hamilton before coming out of the corner exit, Alonso not hitting the apex, Hamilton taking back the position. Alonso followed closely and going into turn 10 Alonso pushed on the inside of Hamilton taking the position back. 

It was the end of the line for Charles Leclerc again, having power unit problems, the car slowed to a stop before a distraught Leclerc jumped out of the car as we watched the Ferrari reliability problems strike again. With the demise of Charles Leclerc, the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso was in 4th and Sainz was in 3rd. Alonso wanted a scrap and he certainly got one.  

Alonso stuck to the back of the Ferrari like a bug to a windscreen not letting go. It was into turn 11 when Alonso forced his way on the inside of Carlos Sainz to push the Ferrari out of the way, grabbing P3 in the race giving him his 99th career podium. Lap 57 brought the win for Max Verstappen, 2nd for Sergio Perez and the Aston Martin debut for Fernando Alonso taking 3rd. Pierre Gasly had an incredible race first race with Alpine pushing from 20th to 9th 

So, the Bahrain Grand Prix came to a close. Rookies went high, and some original drivers took high podiums. The Mercedes got a reality check seeing they aren’t where they used to be, and Ferrari still has problems from 2022 to solve. And the Redbulls still have their momentum. But remember. This is race one. We have 23 races left until the chequered flag is waved in Abud Dhabi, and we will all be watching very closely to see who comes out on top. 


Bahrain Grand Prix – Classification 

Position  Driver  Team 
1  Max Verstappen  RedBull Racing 
2  Sergio Perez  RedBull Racing 
3  Fernando Alonso  Aston Martin 
4  Carlos Sainz  Scuderia Ferrari 
5  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes  
6  Lance Stroll  Aston Martin 
7  George Russell  Mercedes  
8  Valtteri Bottas  Alfa Romeo  
9  Pierre Gasly  Alpine 
10  Alex Albon  Williams  
11  Yuki Tsunoda  Alpha Tauri 
12  Logan Sargeant  Williams  
13  Kevin Magnussen  Haas  
14  Nyck De Vries  Alpha Tauri 
15  Nico Hulkenberg  Haas  
16  Zhou Guanyu   Alfa Romeo  
DNF  Lando Norris  McLaren  
DNF  Esteban Ocon  Alpine 
DNF  Charles Leclerc  Scuderia Ferrari 
DNF  Oscar Piastri  McLaren