Formula 1 & MotorGP RoundUp - March

Motorsport

With the Motorsport calendar underway, we’re here to keep you updated on everything within Formula 1 and MotoGP on a monthly basis.

MotoGP

The 2022 season looks to be the most exciting and competitive yet in the premier class. Maybe as many as 12 bikes have a genuine chance to be able to put together a title challenge.

Will Marc Marquez’s continued battle with Diplopia (something he was first diagnosed with, in 2011) prevent him from mounting his own campaign? Will Fabio Quartararo become the second-youngest rider after Marquez to win a consecutive world championship?

Perhaps, but one thing for sure is that Jack Miller, Francesco Bagnaia, Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini on the Ducati’s will definitely have something to say about it!

 

Qatar

Final qualifying saw Marc Marquez set the first benchmark time, which was quickly replaced by the trio of Jack Miller, Pol Espargaro, and Jorge Martin. Qualifying was only just starting to get spicy, with Bastianini, Aleix Espargaro, and Brad Binder all joining the party.

The final furious moments saw Jorge Martin take pole, with Bastianini second, and Marc Marquez in third. Perhaps the biggest losers were the underpowered Suzuki riders in 8th (Mir) and 10th (Rins) respectively.

Enea Bastianini took an emotional win for Ducati (riding the 2021 spec bike), but that was about the only good news for the Bologna manufacturer. Bagnaia crashed out taking pole man Jorge Martin with him, while the unlucky Miller retired with electrical issues.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder rode amazingly to get second place. Just 0.346 behind the Italian, with Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro getting a well-deserved third place. Pol had looked good for the win until being caught by Bastianini and lost out to Binder after running wide at turn one with four laps to go.

  • 1st Enea Bastianini, Ducati          
  • 2nd Brad Binder, KTM                   
  • 3rd Pol Espargaro, Honda

 

Indonesia

The first visit to Mandalika International Street Circuit was full of drama.

Reigning Champ Fabio Quatararo took pole after his disappointing Qatar performance, and he was joined on the front row by Pramac riders Jorge Martin in second, and Johann Zarco completing the front row.  Absent from Q2 was 2020 World Champion Joan Mir, and both the Repsol Honda riders. Marc Marquez crashed twice in Q1 and was to also suffer a massive high side in Sunday's warm-up session. Marquez himself described it as “maybe the biggest” he has had.

Red Bull KTM Racing’s Miguel Oliveira claimed a stunning win in the wet weather. The start of which had been delayed after hours of torrential rain.

Marc Marquez did not make the grid after his warm-up crash and was suffering from a concussion.

When the lights went out, it was Yamaha’s Fabio Quatararo who led, but his cautious riding allowed Oliveira, Jack Miller, Alex Rins, and Johann Zarco to pass.

With 20 laps left the rain stopped. Oliveira had pulled out a gap of two seconds with Miller, Rins, and a rejuvenated Quatararo all vying for second.

Quatararo would make the second place his, with Zarco taking third, but neither could catch the peerless Oliveira who took the chequered flag and his fourth premier-class victory. 

  • 1st Miguel Oliveira, KTM     
  • 2nd Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha
  • 3rd Johann Zarco, Ducati

Standings after 2 races:

  • 1st Enea Bastianini, 30pt             
  • 2nd Brad Binder, 28pt                   
  • 3rd Fabio Quartararo, 27pt

 


Formula 1

This F1 season is a revolutionary year for Formula 1, with new regulations being introduced, and a rare opportunity for teams to completely reinvent their car designs. They’ve been meticulously designed to keep the sport refreshed and modernised.

A key addition this year is sustainability, it’s a massive factor within Formula 1 due to the volume of fuel used throughout race weekends, however, 2022 will see the key bio-component Ethanol rise to 10%. With a hope to increase this in later years.

 

Bahrain

Practice saw the teams attempt to maximise the potential of the new breed of Formula 1 cars, however, with a new car, come new challenges. One term many of us will be hearing this year is bouncing, scientifically named, porpoising. This was last seen back in the late ’70s and was common with ground effect. To put it simply, the downforce created by the new machines generates more speed due to the cars being lower. Countering the sheer speed is not easy, with the increase in the wind between the car at braking zones creates a bouncing effect which was seen throughout practices 1-3.

Qualifying saw dramatic finishes from the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, who finished in a disappointing 18th. An unusual spot for McLaren to be in, considering their 4th place finish in the constructor’s championship in 2021. Lando Norris also underperformed with his car only qualifying for 13th, a lacklustre start from the Australian & Brit showing signs of the car's underperformance.

Unlike McLaren, a name quite unusual to Q3 is Haas F1. Despite their poor performance over the last three years, they have managed to Kevin Magnussen in 7th for the first race of 2022. Teammate Mick Schumacher also had a very good run, placing in a respectable 12th for Sunday’s race.

Q3 saw the two Ferrari’s dominate, Charles Leclerc topped qualifying for the first pole of the season, with a time of 1:30.558 and the highest speed at 215.1 km/h. With teammate Carlos Sainz finishing in third, a respectable time of 1:30.687. Although third, Sainz narrowly missed out on a 1-2 finish with Dutchman Max Verstappen the difference-maker, 800 thousandths faster than Sainz with a time of 1:30.681.

The opening race of 2022 saw a tepid start with the pack mostly staying in the same positions, up until lap 17 with Verstappen using DRS to complete the move on Leclerc. For the next 3 laps, the pair battled it out until lap 19, with Max suffering a large lockup on turn 1, allowing Leclerc an open track.

Lap 46 saw the first yellow flag of the year with Pierre Gasly’s car suffering a power failure and catching fire, fortunately, he escaped unscathed. However, this then allowed for a safety car to reduce the gap between Charles & Max, an ideal scenario for Red Bull with 7 laps to go.

After Verstappen failed to close the gap after the restart, he suffered catastrophic failure in what was believed to be ‘battery-related' at lap 55, just two laps remained for Red Bull to salvage points with Sergio Perez who currently sits in 3rd. Red Bull’s day, hadn’t quite finished just yet… In the final lap of the race, the same suspecting issue on Verstappen’s car had made its way onto the other Red Bull, rendering it mute and out of the Bahrain race.

A fantastic bit of late weekend racing that thrilled viewers with adrenaline, with Ferrari knocking it out of the ballpark and a 1-2 finish for Leclerc and Sainz. Due to the misfortunes of Red Bull, 7-time world champion Lewis Hamilton finished in 3rd with his new teammate George Russell finishing in 4th. Mercedes grabbing some vital points for the fight with Red Bull, if last year's contention is anything to go by, who was in the midst of Ferrari & Red Bull for most of the weekend

  • 1st Charles Leclerc, Ferrari          
  • 2nd Carlos Sainz, Ferrari                
  • 3rd Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

 

Saudi Arabia

Just 110 days since the inauguration of the Saudia Arabian Grand Prix, the teams return to Jeddah, the fastest street circuit of 2022. The final events of the 2021/22 season concluded in Saudi Arabia, an event that stunned and silenced fans around the world. Since the final race of last season, the track has seen some adjustments and alterations which was to be expected due to this being an entirely new track.

Back-to-back weekends allow the teams to rigorously test their machines, it does however put an added level on teams that didn’t do so well. McLaren has been the team to showcase the largest underperformance in Bahrain, with Ricciardo finishing 14th, whilst teammate Norris coming home in 15th. Not to forget Red Bull and their misfortunes towards the latter end of the Bahrain Grand Prix.   

With the turmoil of Bahrain in the minds of teams that underperformed, it was key that they bounce back in quickly. Practice saw many of the drivers struggle with the initial track redesign in FP1, not forgetting our new favourite term this year, porpoising. After his heroic return to Formula 1 last week, Kevin Magnussen suffered a hydraulic failure in FP1 rendering his session mute. He later returned during FP2, he again sustained a similar outcome with the high curbs affecting the floor of the car.

Q1 saw an immediate halt to proceedings with Wiliams driver Nicolas Latifi crashing out and red flagging the session, just minutes into the first qualifying session. Yuki Tsonoda also saw his session revoked, with a fuel issue on his Alpha Tauri,  he was the only driver on Saturday not to post a time. The biggest shock of the weekend qualifying saw Mick Schumacher launch into the wall, with his car being lifted in two pieces, thankfully Mick was debriefed by medical staff shortly after the crash.

That wasn’t the only shock throughout qualifying however, Lewis Hamilton also gave the fans something to shout about after getting knocked out of Q1, for the first time since Brazil 2017. Showcasing that the Mercedes car is severely underperforming. Q3 saw a similar outcome as Bahrain, with Red Bull and Ferrari topping the top spots for Sunday’s race. Sergio Perez takes pole position with a time of 1:28.200, after 215 races, the Mexican takes his first-ever pole position in his career. Leclerc finished in second with a time of 1:28.225, and his teammate Sainz was close behind with a 1:28.402.

Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda race was cut short, with the Japanese driver's engine halting him from continuing whilst on the formation lap. The first few laps were nothing short of the standard procedure from Red Bull, Perez retaining his first position within the opening laps. The Alpines of Fernando Alonso & Esteban Ocon a close call within laps 5-10, constantly battling it out for 6th position. The Frenchman had to concede with a lack of pace, handing the position to his teammate Alonso, the Spaniard demonstrating his wealth of experience and knowledge of the sport.

Lap 15 saw ‘throw a spanner into the mix’, calling a ‘box box’ for Charles Leclerc, who had retained his position in the race with a gap of +1.719 seconds on the race leader, Perez. This call forced Red Bull and Perez too, in theory, hold first place. However, this was a bluff from Ferrari to force Red Bull in and allow Leclerc to get the overcut. The proceeding lap couldn’t be more unfortunately timed for Perez, with Williams driver Latifi once again crashing out of Sunday’s race. The Canadian crashed out for the second time this weekend at Jeddah which in turn deployed a yellow flag with a safety car.

The safety car allowed all teams to capitalise and get a stop for both their drivers, incredibly unlucky timing for Perez who has now conceded the first position to Ferrari’s Leclerc. With the restart in place, all positions were held tightly throughout the race until lap 36 when drivers started to notice serious issues one after another. Alpines’ Fernando Alonso was the first to suffer a lack of power, dropping from a very impressive 7th and having to retire the car the following lap. One lap later saw McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Alfa Romeo’s Valterri Bottas, also suffering similar effects, the Australian & Finnish drivers having ‘no drive’, with a clear ejection of smoke protruding throughout the cars.

With the McLaren car halted at the pit lane entry, it made coming into the pits impossible for most, the only driver to have not pitted was Hamilton. The Englishman had made up a number of positions to where he now sits in a very hard-fought 6th. Unable to drive safely past Ricciardo to enter the pits, the Britain had to enter the pits under the safety car, rejoining the track in a non-scoring position of 12th.

Lap 42 saw the race resume, with 8 laps to go the fight was on for 1st place. The Monegasque and Dutchman fought valiantly until lap 47 saw Red Bull play a bluff of their own, getting their own back on earlier events. With Verstappen taking the lead and bringing home the race win for Red Bull. A fantastic win for Red Bull after having such a traumatic end to the Bahrain Grand Prix. Next up on the calendar, is Australia.

  • 1st Max Verstappen, Red Bull    
  • 2nd Charles Leclerc, Ferrari          
  • 3rd Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

 

Standings after 2 races:

  • 1st Charles Leclerc, 45pt              
  • 2nd Carlos Sainz, 33pt                   
  • 3rd Max Verstappen, 25pt