The first race of the new era of Formula 1 is finally over. After much anticipation, the 2022 F1 season is a go and the first impressions are positive. The new technical regulations of the sport reintroduced a design that was outlawed in the 80s. It now looks to be the solution to F1’s woes of the last couple of decades. The new ground effect cars and the new rules were designed to make F1 cars follow each other more closely to provide better racing. The change seems to have paid off.

The new rules involving the F1 cars now employing ground effect aero design, new tires, and the use of more sustainable fuels have resulted in a new pecking order in F1 among the 10 teams.

F1 2022: The New Pecking Order

Ferrari Drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Claim a 1-2 for The Team in Bahrain

Without a question of a doubt, Ferrari is back at the top where it belongs. The Scuderia is now officially a force to be reckoned with and so are its customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas. Red Bull seem like the only team capable of taking the fight to Ferrari, however, a double DNF for a seemingly similar problem on both cars meant a large chunk of championship points evaporated in the blink of an eye. Defending champion Max Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez were fighting for podium spots when their Honda/Red Bull power unit failed in the closing stages.

Closer Racing In F1 With New 2022 Cars

While Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz took a 1-2 for the team. Red Bull’s late retirement allowed the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to cash in on some unexpected points with a podium for Hamilton. Should Red Bull sort out their reliability issue, they could be back in the game. Mercedes look to be fairly off the pace, a similar position Ferrari was in back in 2020 and 2021.

The midfield however is another ball game entirely. Kevin Magnussen drove valiantly to finish fifth for Haas on his second return to F1. Behind him was another Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas in sixth. Alfa also had both cars in the points as Zhou Gyanyu climbed up to 10th on his F1 debut. Something tells us we haven't seen the last of the Alfa Romeos this year. Alpine had both cars of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon finished in the points as well.

Related: Why The Last Generation Of F1 Cars Were Flawed Masterpieces

Mercedes Power Struggle

Mercedes-Powered Teams Were On The Back Foot In Bahrain GP

The new regulations this year may not have affected the engines and power units as much. However, F1 has made the move to use more sustainable fuels with a 10% mixture of ethanol. Running E10 biofuels, all four engine manufacturers — Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull Powertrains, and Renault/Alpine needed to adapt them.

The Ferrari power unit seems to be bulletproof after the first race. The Red Bull engines are a close second, but only if they manage to sort out their reliability woes. Renault/Alpine engines are also performing well. However, Mercedes-powered cars look to be in a bit of a struggle.

While the engine may not have anything to do with the results, Williams, McLaren, and Aston Martin, all three Mercedes customer teams were at the back of the pack for one reason or another. The major problems being reported around the paddock involve teams trying to get their aerodynamics packages to work. The Mercedes-powered teams seem to be struggling the most with porpoising.

Related: 2022 Formula 1: Let's Look At The Key Changes To This Year's F1 Cars

F1 2022: Worth The Wait?

F1 2022 Ground Effect Cars With New Design

The new regulations were highly anticipated as they promised better racing on track. The first impressions we gather from the Bahrain Grand Prix prove that it has worked extremely well. The bigger tires do mean that pit stops are a touch longer, but we expect them to be sub 2.5 seconds as teams adapt to the heavier wheels. We would like to add that F1 needs to take a closer look at the new on-screen graphics as sometimes, they are not entirely legible or accurate. Furthermore, as the wheel covers are standardized for all teams, maybe rims could be color-coordinated with the tire compounds, so they are more obvious to viewers.

One thing is for certain, the battle between Verstappen and Leclerc for the lead was extraordinary. The battles behind the leaders and the drivers having to adapt their driving styles to the new cars and tires were also exciting to watch. But, it was only Race 1 of 22 of the 2022 season. Before we get too excited, we must tread with caution to see how the year plays out before we make our final judgments regarding the new rules.

Thankfully, we won't have to wait long for the next race in Jeddah. The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is scheduled for 25-27 March. If the Bahrain Grand Prix is anything to go by, we cannot wait for the next round of Formula 1 this coming weekend.

Image Source: F1.com, Red Bull Content Pool

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