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Blinking takes between 1-5 tenths of a second. The gap between second and ninth in qualifying was less than four tenths of a second, around the average time a person takes to blink, just once.

Max Verstappen has led a 1-2 finish for the Oracle Red Bull Racing Team at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen headed Charles Leclerc off the line and was never really troubled, apart from an issue with air flow into his race helmet, to cruise to a 22 second victory. Brake problems, which began as early as lap 7 eventually finished behind teammate Carlos Sainz in fourth.

The opening race of 2024 pretty much followed the guide from pre-season testing, though the Oracle Rad Bull Racing RB20s rather predictably produced better speed than those recorded during testing.

Early season teething problems are part and parcel of the opening races; from overweight cars, ill-performing aerodynamics, engine dramas, electrical gremlins and brake issues are amongst the most common ailments.

Lewis Hamilton added a broken seat to the list of woes that can happen during the season opener, whilst Logan Sargeant finished two laps adrift after a brief visit to the circuit run-off with an electrical problem with the steering wheel in his Williams.

There are two points that are worth mentioning from the Bahrain Grand Prix. The first was the Noah’s Ark two-by-two results amongst the top 10 finishers.

An Oracle Red Bull Racing 1-2, followed by the two Ferraris. A formation finish for the AMG Mercedes Petronas F1 team was spoilt by Lando Norris in sixth. Likewise an undercut during the pitstop cycle allowed Hamilton to claim seventh from Oscar Piastri, whilst Lance Stroll recovered from a first lap spin to follow home Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin ARAMCO cars.

In mid-pack Daniel Ricciardo had the benefit of team orders during the final laps to snare 13th from teammate Yuki Tsunoda. It was a decision that raised the ire of the Japanese driver as both have ben rumoured to be potential replacements from Sergio Perez in 2025.

The result itself was perhaps less of an issue for Tsunoda than his decision to delay the move, thus costing Ricciardo the chance of displacing Magnussen from 12th place. A team player rather than simply the faster driver may well be the deciding factor for Red Bull’s 2025 driver line-up.

Gaps, or the relative lack of them in qualifying was the other point to arise from the Grand Prix. From the lap times themselves to the stop-go nature of cars exiting the pitlane there, was plenty to ponder.

Verstappen claimed pole with a time of 1.29.179. Leclerc had ended Q2 in a time just over a tenth of a second better, but couldn’t replicate it in Q3.

A tenth of a second. That is less than it takes to blink!

The average person blinks at between one and four-tenths of a second. Us humans struggle to even notice we’ve blinked on most days, yet that minuscule passage of time separated second to ninth of the grid for the Grand Prix. It was also the difference between 10th and 14th during Q2.

What does a blink look like on the race track? Perhaps a moment’s delay in a couple of gear changes, or maybe the slightest brake lock on the approach to a corner. It could be the difference between a conservative approach to the all important white line on the exit of a corner and the devil may care attitude of drifting through the exit in the expectation of the tyres gripping up once more mere millimetres from the outside edge of track limits.

The race itself began with a spirited battled between the McLaren pair of Norris and Piastri, with both taking turns to head the other, before Norris took charge. He passed Alonso soon after to edge out a small gap as Piastri took another lap to complete his pass.

Stroll, Hulkenberg and Bottas had contact at the opening corner, though all were able to continue.

In fact all twenty car completed the Grand Prix, with tenth placed Stroll the last to finish on the lead lap.

The two Alpine cars finished 17th and 18th, ahead of the damaged Kick Sauber Ferrari of Valtteri Bottas and the Williams of Logan Sargeant.

“It was a special one today, Max Verstappen told Oracle Red Bull Racing Media.

“These kind of days don’t happen that often where the car feels spot on, including the balance and feeling of the car and everything went really well. The start was good and then we also looked after the car really well, so it was an enjoyable race for me. We managed to find a good rhythm and pace on this track and the wind strength and direction helped me extract a bit more from the car. This is one of our strongest circuits and looking to Jeddah we know that the track there is very different, with a lot of high speed corners and less degradation. I am hoping we can bring the same performance to next week: it’s going to be a challenge but I am looking forward to it. We have to thank everyone at the factory who has contributed to a great start of the year. It is always a big challenge to build a new car and follow up such an unbelievable season, but I’m excited to kick things off this season with a win.”

The 2024 Formula One World Championship goes to Saudi Arabia for Round 2 this weekend, tell us what you think might be different at round two in the comments below.

PHOT0S: F1, McLaren & Red Bull Racing Facebook pages


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