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Bahrain Grand Prix predictions: Ricciardo just warming up, Piastri persistent, but it's Mad Max's world

Roar Rookie
29th February, 2024
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Roar Rookie
29th February, 2024
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Just days away from the first Formula 1 Grand Prix of the year, I’ve had many conversations or even an arguments with other F1 fans about where the 20 drivers will finish once they cross the chequered flag in Bahrain. So, I thought I’d compile my thoughts in one list from last to first. Obviously qualifying positions will throw this into disarray, but here are my predictions for the first race of the season, the Bahrain Grand Prix.

20th: Logan Sargeant

Only scoring one point last season slightly lends itself to this ranking. I don’t believe in any way that Logan Sargeant is the worst driver on the grid, however, he seems to have a track record of acting as the least competitive and determined during races, especially at the beginning of the season. He will certainly need some time to warm up, and I wouldn’t rule him out for a top-ten finisher by the end of the season, especially in a Williams car.

19th: Yuki Tsunoda

The new ‘mad Max’ in my opinion. If only he had the same driving skills that Verstappen did when he was Tsunoda’s age. I believe his reputation from last year is only positive because his teammate was Nyck de Vries, who, in Monaco, struggled to change gears. Tsunoda is by no discussion incredibly fast, but not fast enough to compete with his hot-headed personality.

18th: Kevin Magnussen

Unfortunately, I don’t believe the Haas car has improved by much this season, especially after watching the testing in Bahrain. Both drivers are pretty evenly matched, so there wasn’t much debate between where the two drivers would end up. Magnussen is only one place worse than Nico Hulkenberg because he scored three points last season, as opposed to his teammate who scored nine.

17th: Nico Hulkenberg

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As mentioned before, I don’t think Haas is capable of midfield contention. Hulkenberg has definitely proven himself considering the car he’s in, but I doubt he can go beyond that. Remember, not even Guenther Steiner could save Haas.

16th: Zhou Guanyu

An underrated driver, in my opinion, but not one who can make top ten just yet. Stake F1 Team are certainly looking adequate this season, but Zhou Guanyu’s teammate Valtteri Bottas seems to be the one to take that car to new heights.

15th: Daniel Ricciardo

As a big fan of Ricciardo’s, it pains me to say I think he’ll end up 15th in his first race of the season. Unfortunately, the combination of the broken hand last year and the semi-sufficient car means Daniel will certainly need some time after the season starts to not only warm his tyres up, but also his left hand.

14th: Esteban Ocon

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Another driver I always root for, I expect Esteban Ocon to finish 14th. I truly don’t think there is a possibility he can outperform his teammate, Pierre Gasly. The two Frenchmen both have proven they struggle to work collaboratively and cooperatively, which will undoubtedly have a negative impact on Apline’s race standings.

13th: Valtteri Bottas

As mentioned before, Valtteri Bottas is my pick for who’s going to take Stake F1 Team to the top tens. He will certainly need time to warm up, but he is one of the most adept and consistent drivers on the grid, who has had experience in top-tier cars, such as Mercedes.

12th: Pierre Gasly

The French team’s other French driver. Another personal favourite of mine, Pierre Gasly has proven time and time again that he is capable of becoming a top-ten finisher with the likes of Sainz and Norris. The only thing holding him back from a podium is the aforementioned tense relationship with teammate Esteban Ocon.

11th: Lance Stroll

The Aston Martin is fast this season, but I doubt Stroll has the motivation or persistence to take the car to where it deserves to be. Lance Stroll is a good driver, but many believe he is only in the Aston Martin because his father, owner of the team, has thrown that much money into it. That will struggle to get you podiums in Formula 1.

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10th: Alex Albon

Right in the middle of the grid is Alex Albon. It’s often hard to believe that he is one of the older drivers on the grid, but I view that as something that will be very helpful as the 2024 season progresses. His teammate being the second youngest driver on the grid means that not only will he be exemplifying and showing the ropes each race, but, like last season, will be relied on and expected to perform consistently at every race. That combination with Williams team principal James Vowles will make Albon a formidable threat this season.

9th: George Russell

The Mercedes star boy. Once again, he will need time to get back into gear after the break, especially after what we saw in Bahrain. There is also the pressure of carrying on Lewis’ legacy resting on his shoulders, which could end in either chequered flag glory or implosion.

8th: Sergio Perez

Shocking I know. A Red Bull driver being so far down the list might shock some, but with the new design of the RB20 I don’t expect Sergio Perez to adapt as quickly as he did to the last car. It’s not a secret that the car is designed for his teammate Max Verstappen, but I personally believe Perez is a better driver than being in Verstappen’s shadow lets on.

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7th: Oscar Piastri

Debate on whether Oscar Piastri will outperform his teammate Lando Norris has been long argued, and I don’t doubt it, however, Piastri has shown that he is one of the most responsible and calm drivers on the grid, which encourages me to think he won’t want to come out “guns blazing” for the first few races of the year. He has plenty of time to win a world championship, whether it be with McLaren or not.

Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren F1 Team participates in the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on April 2, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

Oscar Piastri. (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

6th: Carlos Sainz

The tactical genius from Spain will certainly be a force to be reckoned with this season. To be axed from Ferrari, a team in which he was the only winner from last season, must be an extremely difficult pill to swallow. I refuse to believe he will focus on the injustice he faced, and more on how he can make the most of his last season with the the Tifosi.

5th: Lewis Hamilton

He may be the one who put Mercedes on the map, but his shock switch to Ferrari for 2025 is just what he needs and leaves his 2024 up in the air. After relentlessly winning championship after championship with Mercedes, a change in scenery could be what vaults him back to glory.

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton. (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

4th: Fernando Alonso

With one of the richest careers in Forumla 1, I find it hard to believe Fernando Alonso will ever take a backseat because of his age. The day he is happy with a finish out of the top five is the day he will retire, and I don’t think he’s ready to hang up his race suit just yet. The Aston Martin also looks very promising this year, which provides not only confidence to fans but also reassurance to the drivers.

3rd: Charles Leclerc

After putting Perez in ninth, most would assume I’d expect Charles to place second. However, if you combine Ferrari’s proven inefficiency and the fact that he’s not being pushed constantly by his teammate each week, I doubt Leclerc will improve much this season. Only when Lewis Hamilton replaces Carlos Sainz next year will Charles Leclerc step up to outperform him, or be overtaken by the seven-time world champion.

2nd: Lando Norris

Lando Norris is the only driver, other than Max Verstappen, that truly accepts when he is the one wrong. He doesn’t blame the car, or his team, or any other factor on the track. It’s a quality Christian Horner must have seen in Verstappen to sign him at such a young age, and I think it’s replicated in Norris. From my perspective, Lando Norris is a future world champion, and ‘the future’ might just mean the end of the 2024 season.

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1st: Max Verstappen

No outrageous claims here. Consistency, persistence and resilience are all words I would associate with Max Verstappen, and that’s what will get him across the line first in Bahrain. As a fan of Formula 1 as a sport however, I would love to see the podium shared among other drivers this season, as to really showcase the talent the other 19 men on the grid have.

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There you have it, my predictions for the first race of the 2024 Formula 1 Season! Will Verstappen claim another title? Or will another force decide to break the streak?

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