In what was a shocking and memorable end to the 2022 Formula 1 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Mercedes couldn’t help but take some delight in Red Bull’s unexpected misfortunes.
It looked to be a down weekend for the Silver Arrows, with Lewis Hamilton only managing the fifth fastest time in qualifying and George Russell down in ninth.
While the starting positions weren’t what we’ve come to expect from Mercedes in the past, the gap to pole sitter Charles Leclerc was the more worrying part, with Hamilton and Russell seven-tenths and 1.7s back, respectively.
It was no surprise then to see Mercedes fail to challenge at the front of Sunday’s race at the Bahrain International Circuit, as Leclerc and Max Verstappen battled it out in spectacular fashion.
That all changed in what was a dramatic end to the race. Verstappen pitted on Lap 44, and when the Dutchman rejoined, he made mention over the team radio that he was suffering from a steering issue.
It ultimately proved costly, as after the Safety Car came in following Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri stopped in flames, Verstappen couldn’t keep up with the leading Ferrari.
Although Red Bull thought they could nurse the car home, that ultimately wasn’t the case, as Verstappen was passed by Sainz, before pitting and retiring, ending his hopes of a podium finish.
The horror didn’t end there for Red Bull however, as Sergio Perez complained of a power unit issue while fending off Lewis Hamilton for third, with the Mexican spinning out when his engine gave way at Turn 1 on the final lap.
It was certainly a welcome sight for Mercedes, who said just that on their official Twitter account, as they benefitted from Red Bull’s misfortunes.
Hamilton swooped in to claim the final podium spot, while Russell came home right behind him to give Mercedes a 3-4 finish they thought unlikely prior to the lights turning green.
No love lost between Red Bull and Mercedes
The rivalry between the two teams remains as fierce as ever following last season’s contentions title battle, which saw Verstappen come out on top in controversial fashion.
The FIA finally shared the results of their investigation into last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the findings revealing that both Toto Wolff and Christian Horner both had an adverse effect on race director Michael Masi.