F1 Winners and Losers from 2024 Bahrain GP

Max Verstappen crushed the rest of the F1 grid at the 2024 Bahrain GP while Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc completed the podium

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Roll on 2025! The book on the 2024 Formula 1 season is far from written, but after Max Verstappen‘s dominant win at the Bahrain Grand Prix it’s hard to see how anyone can challenge him for victory in the coming races, let alone the world championship.

It was far from the perfect weekend for Red Bull, with Sergio Perez unable to match Verstappen‘s pace and the developing story around their investigation into Christian Horner for inappropriate and controlling behaviour overshadowing the entire weekend.

Verstappen is now just three wins away from breaking his own record of consecutive race victories set last season, but the battle behind him at least looks open with Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin all showing varying degrees of promise and flaws.

Winner: Max Verstappen

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2024 drivers’ world champion! There’s still plenty of the season to go but even if Verstappen doesn’t win the majority of races by over 20 seconds, he still appears effortless in the RB20.

Loser: Everyone else

Max Verstappen defends from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the first corner of the 2024 Bahrain GP as his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell also battle | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Ok, it’s not quite that bad. But none of last season’s regular podium contenders are looking anything like the complete package.

It’s worth remembering that for Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren this is their first race with a new package. They’ll now have double the data to start making improvements from, and some of the worst gremlins should be ironed out by Melbourne or Jeddah.

Leclerc‘s brakes should be better, Mercedes can fix Hamilton’s seat while McLaren are usually uncompetitive on the Bahrain International Circuit. Meanwhile, Perez wasn’t THAT far ahead of the chasing pack considering the problems that befell his rivals.

However, it was also Red Bull‘s first race weekend with their full concept – a concept designed with significantly less aerodynamic testing time than the rest of the field – so they’ll only improve too.

And no amount of engine patches or seat fixes can make up 25 seconds over a race, so it already looks like fans will be fighting to appreciate scraps for the scraps in 2024 – think Carlos Sainz‘s phenomenal effort for his 2023 Monza podium, or Sainz‘s pole lap from the heavens the day before, or… Some highlights from drivers not named Carlos Sainz.

Loser: Christian Horner & Red Bull GmbH

Horner continues to deny all the accusations against him and was cleared of any wrongdoing by Red Bull‘s investigation – conducted by an external lawyer.

Yet the final 13 words of that sentence are the only new confirmed piece of information that the public knows compared to the start of the Bahrain GP weekend. And that’s part of the problem.

Because a vacuum of information is fertile ground for speculation, and Red Bull could hardly have been any less transparent with their handling of the case.

We still don’t know the specific complaints made against Horner, what evidence was presented to the investigation, or why the team boss was acquitted, so it’s impossible for anyone to draw an informed opinion on the case – including whether to accept the conclusion.

If the leaked Google Drive evidence allegedly showing messages and images sent between Horner and a female team employee is genuine then that casts the whole situation in a new light, but right now the provenance of those is just as opaque as the investigation.

The show of support from Geri Halliwell was nice but Horner would surely have preferred to see things put to bed on Wednesday night and stay there, instead of dominating headlines all weekend.

The only people who benefit from the murky status quo right now are those with things still to hide.

Winners: Haas

Full disclosure, there weren’t many winners this weekend. As someone who took on PR crises even bigger than what Red Bull dealt with in Bahrain might’ve said, it was the start of a chapter of a very thin book that no one will enjoy reading.

But that’s not quite accurate Mr Tucker, as Haas took one of their first steps forward of the decade.

They racked up the most testing mileage and did at least appear to have a reliable car, the question was always whether they could harness that data into a machine capable of points.

And the answer looks like it might be yes. Alpine have taken the wooden spoon at least to start the season, while Nico Hulkenberg proved they’ve retained their qualifying pace from 2023.

Meanwhile Kevin Magnussen‘s impressive rise up the order – after reaching Q2 – indicated they’ve finally stopped munching tyres too. Indeed, Hulkenberg may well have been able to score their first points of 2024 (and their first since the 2023 Singapore GP) if he hadn’t attempted an extremely speculative look at Lance Stroll at the first corner.

Loser: RB

RB drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda talk in the garage on the opening day of 2024 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain | Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
RB drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda talk in the garage on the opening day of 2024 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain | Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Magnussen finishing ahead of both RBs may well be the shock of the weekend. In fairness, the worst-named team in modern F1 history did their best to manage expectations between testing and the Bahrain GP, but didn’t exactly help their case by running first and fourth in FP1.

And even then, Daniel Ricciardo‘s managed expectations were mainly deflating hopes of a podium challenge, and still including targeting Q3 and points. Instead, Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda converted grid spots of 11th and 14th to 13th and 14th-placed finishes.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tsunoda‘s refusal to yield to Ricciardo on fresher tyres gave new team principal Laurent Mekies his first driver disagreement to discharge. With Perez‘s Red Bull seat potentially on the line, it’s not likely to be the last either.

Winner: Lance Stroll

Is it an overreaction to brand Lance Stroll the king of Bahrain? How about the Sultan of Sakhir?

The Canadian’s overcome plenty of hardship to put in two of the best performances of his Aston Martin career in consecutive years at Bahrain, this time when a strong start was undone by Hulkenberg‘s clumsy dive-cum-tip at the first corner.

However, Stroll took advantage of an early pit stop to climb back up the order and largely matched Fernando Alonso‘s race pace on his way to a points finish. Extrapolate this result at your peril, but it’s hard to imagine the Lance Stroll racing at the end of 2023 keeping his head up after that first lap and coming up with such a strong result.

Loser: Alpine

Like with Verstappen at the other end of the field, not much needs to be said. Alpine are the worst team in F1 right now with an overweight car that’s slow over one lap and on race pace, and just saw two senior technical figures depart the team.

The only positive is that the team are under no illusions of how bad the situation is, and Esteban Ocon‘s stirring call to action at the end of qualifying showed he’s not given up on the season yet.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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