Alonso & Aston Martin Steal Show in F1 Season Opener, Bahrain GP 2023 Review

Alonso & Aston Martin Steal Show in F1 Season Opener, Bahrain GP 2023 Review

Formula One's 2023 season began like a continuation of 2022, with Max Verstappen and Red Bull being in a league of one at the top and self-inflicted wounds for Ferrari.

Published:
March 6, 2023

Formula One's 2023 season began like a continuation of 2022, with Max Verstappen and Red Bull being in a league of one at the top and self-inflicted wounds for Ferrari. Yet there is one notable addition to the frontrunning pack this year thanks to Aston Martin building a mighty F1 car that means there's plenty to be excited about after the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen may have eased into his first win of the year, but Fernando Alonso was the standout driver who took all the headlines. The two-time world champion was back to his best in his first race with the Silverstone-based Aston Martin team. Alonso took the fight to Mercedes and Ferrari and beat them comfortably to score his first Round 1 podium since 2013.

However, it could've been an entirely different story for Alonso after a Lap 1 collision with his new teammate Lance Stroll. Stoll, back from a wrist injury just 12 days earlier, braked too late when battling the Mercedes drivers and smacked into the back of the sister Aston Martin at Turn 4. Fortuitously no damage befell either green machine, but they fell behind Lewis Hamilton and George Russell for the opening laps.

Alonso & Aston Martin Steal Show in F1 Season Opener, Bahrain GP 2023 Review

Elsewhere, a relatively standard race start saw Sergio Perez lose out to Ferrari's Charles Leclerc off the line to allow the Monegasque driver to sit behind polesitter Verstappen. Unfortunately for Ferrari, Perez's attempted defence also hampered their second car of Carlos Sainz, who had to settle for a familiar P4 placement behind the lead three.

The opening stint saw little action, and only when the pit stops began on Lap 10 did 2023's first overtakes come. As the lead Mercedes, Hamilton stopped for Pirelli's Hard compound on Lap 13 first, leaving Russell without DRS to keep Alonso at bay. The Spaniard edged alongside the Mercedes at Turn 4, and Alonso got past even with a spirited fightback from Russell.

That overtake was the first of several for Aston Martin's new driver, who next sized up Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas, whose early stop had undercut Alonso and Russell. Once he had despatched the Alfa, Alonso relentlessly began to hunt down Hamilton's P5, although a mid-race tyre management phase hampered progress.

Get in touch with our team today

To find out more about our comprehensive range of services, or to book your vehicle in, contact our friendly team of experts today.

Contact us
Alonso & Aston Martin Steal Show in F1 Season Opener, Bahrain GP 2023 Review

While Aston Martin enjoyed a near-perfect start to their seasons, McLaren had a painful start to their campaign. Their rookie Oscar Piastri took the unwanted mantle of being 2023's first retirement when a pit-stop steering-wheel replacement failed to fix a problem in his car. Things didn't go much better for Lando Norris, who pitted five times over the race thanks to a pneumatic problem. It meant plenty of pit stop practice for McLaren's mechanics but a concerning Sunday for Zak Brown's team.

The second round of tyre changes for fresh Pirelli rubber triggered more overtakes in the Aston vs Mercedes fight. Hamilton blinked first and pitted on Lap 31 to prevent the undercut from Alonso, but it was Russell who again suffered. Stroll pitted with Hamilton, and the Canadian's early stop meant he could edge past Russell at the pit exit and up into Turn 4 after Russell got fresh Pirelli rubber.

Yet Fernando Alonso was the Aston Martin driver taking all the screentime for his moves. An early entry for overtake of the season came one lap after Hamilton successfully defended a Turn 4 pass from his old nemesis. Learning where he could find traction helped Alonso to accelerate alongside Hamilton out of Turn 8 before a switchback at Turn 9. Then, amazingly, Alonso got his Aston Martin stopped into the downhill Turn 10 braking zone to take P5 on the inside line.

Alonso & Aston Martin Steal Show in F1 Season Opener, Bahrain GP 2023 Review

Alonso's efforts to reach fifth place allowed him to be in the podium fight when P2-running Leclerc retired with an engine problem on Lap 39. If Verstappen is to be as commanding as he was in 2022, this early DNF for Leclerc might already end his title hopes. Perez inherited P2, with Sainz jumping to P3 but with a fast-approaching Alonso behind.

Seemingly wanting to overtake in every corner of the track, Alonso reeled Sainz in by Lap 46 and used DRS out of Turn 10 to get alongside his compatriot. The two Spaniards drag raced down to Turn 11, and Alonso made another unconventional overtake on the inside of the Ferrari to reach P3 and delight his new Aston Martin team – and fans watching on.

Verstappen led a Red Bull one-two finish over the line in a sign of strength that will worry all nine other teams. Yet it's joyous for F1 viewers hoping for a season of fighting; the proximity of Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Ferrari from Round 1 suggests we will see many faces reach the podium this year.

Alonso & Aston Martin Steal Show in F1 Season Opener, Bahrain GP 2023 Review