Verstappen and Red Bull were in unbeatable form at the season-opening 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, while Alonso made headlines with a podium finish on his Aston Martin debut.
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix: Fast Facts
|2023 Bahrain Grand Prix|
|Circuit||Bahrain International Circuit|
|Race at track||20|
|F1 race number||1,080|
|Race Date||Sunday March 5, 2023|
|Race winner||Max Verstappen (Red Bull)|
|2nd||Sergio Perez (Red Bull)|
|3rd||Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)|
|Fastest Lap||1:33.996, Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)|
|Race Director||Niels Wittich|
|Driver Steward||Derek Warwick|
|Race Day Attendance||36,000|
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix: Race In Context
There were a number of driver changes between the 2022 and 2023 Formula 1 seasons. Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher all departed the sport, while Oscar Piastri, Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries all joined new teams.
For both Piastri and Sargeant, the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix marked their debut appearance. De Vries had previously contested in one race, the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, where he filled in at Williams for Alex Albon.
Two drivers joined new teams for the 2023 season. Fernando Alonso moved from Alpine to Aston Martin, replacing Sebastian Vettel. Alonso’s Alpine seat was filled by Pierre Gasly.
Nico Hulkenberg returned to Formula 1 with Haas, replacing Mick Schumacher. 2023 is the first season in which Hulkenberg has a full-time drive, while the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix marked Hulkenberg’s first race appearance since the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where he filled in for Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin.
There were a number of changes of team principals over the winter break. Most notably, Mattia Binotto departed Ferrari and was replaced by former Alfa Romeo boss Fred Vasseur. Vassuer’s place at Alfa Romeo was taken by Andreas Seidl, formerly the team principal at McLaren. Seidl’s job at McLaren was taken by Andrea Stella.
Elsewhere, Jost Capito departed Williams on December 12, 2022. His replacement was announced as James Vowles – Mercedes’ former strategy director – in January 2023.
Unlike in 2022, when the regulations faced a major overhaul, there were no significant changes to the regulations for 2023. The team’s cars were evolutions of their 2022 predecessors.
Red Bull led the way in pre-season testing, which was limited to only three days in 2023. Aston Martin proved to be the surprise package, with some experts predicting the Silverstone-based team to be in the mix for a podium result at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Lance Stroll did not participate in pre-season testing after injuring himself days prior to the first on-track of the year. Having picked up a wrist injury in a cycling incident, Stroll was in doubt of taking part in the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix. On the Sunday prior to the race, Aston Martin announced that Felipe Drugovich would replace Stroll if he was unable to race in the season-opener. The announcement ended speculation that Sebastian Vettel could make a surprise return to the cockpit just one race after his retirement.
It was eventually confirmed on the Thursday before the race that Stroll would indeed race in Bahrain. Over the race weekend, Stroll revealed that doctors had originally not expected him to be fit to return to the cockpit until the Australian or Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Stroll suffered broken bones in his wrist and a broken toe.
The 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix marked Aston Martin’s 50th appearance as a constructor in Formula 1.
At the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso became the first driver to embark on his 20th Formula 1 season.
The 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix was the 20th Formula 1 race to take place at Bahrain International Circuit since the venue first joined the calendar in 2004. It made Bahrain the 19th nation to have hosted 20 races.
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix: Race Recap
Verstappen and Red Bull were in unbeatable form at the season-opening 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, while Alonso made headlines with a podium finish on his Aston Martin debut.
Fernando Alonso stole the headlines in Free Practice for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix. After showing promising pre-season testing pace, Alonso topped the timesheets in both Free Practice 2 and Free Practice 3. Alonso ultimately qualified fifth. Max Verstappen took pole position, with Red Bull locking out the front row and the Ferrari drivers filling the second row.
Verstappen kept his lead at the start but a poor getaway for Sergio Perez saw Charles Leclerc sail by into second place. At Turn 4, Aston Martin’s weekend almost came undone as Lance Stroll made contact with Alonso. The Spaniard was overtaken by the Mercedes drivers but soon found his way back into fifth.
While Oscar Piastri became the first retirement of the race in a disappointing debut, Valtteri Bottas found himself running ahead of Alonso and George Russell as the result of an effective undercut. Bottas could not keep the position however, with the Aston Martin and Mercedes soon finding a way by.
On Lap 26, Perez overtook Leclerc for second place, taking back the position he had lost at the start of the race. Behind them, Alonso battled with Lewis Hamilton for fifth place. A sensational move at Turn 10 saw Alonso take the position.
On Lap 40, Leclerc retired from the race with an engine issue. That moved his team-mate Carlos Sainz up into the podium positions. However, Sainz came under pressure from Alonso, with the Aston Martin closing in. It did not take long for Alonso to find his way past.
Verstappen won the race by 12 seconds from his team-mate, with Red Bull recording their best start to a season since 2011. Alonso completed the podium, taking the 99th top three finish of his illustrious career.
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying Statistics
Max Verstappen took pole position at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix. Taking pole position for the 21st time in his career, Verstappen overtook Damon Hill and Valtteri Bottas for 14th in the all-time list of most Formula 1 poles.
This was the second time Max Verstappen took pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix, becoming Bahrain International Circuit’s seventh repeat polesitter. He last took pole at the track at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.
For the first time in Mercedes’ comeback stint, neither of their drivers qualified in the top five at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The last time the Brackley-based team failed to qualify in the top five at the event was in 2008, when they were under their Honda guise.
With seventh place in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton recorded his worst Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying result to date.
On his Haas debut, Nico Hulkenberg reached Q3 at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix. It marked Hulkenberg’s first Q3 appearance since appearing with Racing Point at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix in 2020.
Lando Norris qualified in 11th place, ending a run of 11 consecutive Q3 appearances.
Valtteri Bottas failed to reach Q3 at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, marking the first time that the Finn has failed to reach Q3 at the Bahrain Grand Prix since his first appearance at the track in 2013.
Qualifying 18th, Oscar Piastri recorded McLaren’s 80th Q2 exit in Formula 1.
Kevin Magnussen qualified in 17th place, marking his fifth Q1 exit at Bahrain International Circuit. He set a new record as the driver with the most Q1 eliminations at the venue, ovetaking Adrian Sutil, Marcus Ericsson and Nicholas Latifi.
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix Race Statistics
Max Verstappen took victory at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, winning for the 36th time in Formula 1. This marked the first time Verstappen won the first Grand Prix of the season, as well as the first time Red Bull have won at the season-opening race since 2011.
Verstappen’s victory made him only the 14th driver to have won in eight different Formula 1 seasons. Having won at least one race in every year since 2016, Verstappen is only the sixth driver to have won in eight consecutive seasons.
Having never previously won the Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain International Circuit became the 22nd different track at which Verstappen has recorded a victory. He equalled Alain Prost for third in the all-time list of most circuits at which a driver has won.
Verstappen’s win marked Red Bull’s first victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix since 2013. With Sergio Perez finishing second, Red Bull recorded their first ever 1-2 finish in Bahrain. In total, this was their 23rd 1-2 finish in Formula 1.
Sergio Perez recorded his 27th podium finish at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, equalling Bruce McLaren and Ralf Schumacher for 37th in the all-time list.
Red Bull became only the sixth team to have won in 14 or more Formula 1 seasons. Their 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix victory saw them equal Brabham for fifth in the list of most seasons in which a team has won.
The 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix was the 20th consecutive race at which Verstappen scored points. It was only the ninth time in Formula 1 that a driver scored at 20 consecutive races and put Verstappen one race away from equalling his personal best consecutive scoring streak.
Having only ever won with Red Bull, Verstappen recorded his 36th win with the team. That saw him move ahead of Ayrton Senna in the list of drivers who’ve won the most races with a single team. Senna won 35 races with McLaren during his career.
This was the 16th time that Verstappen took victory in car number 1. That saw him equal Ayrton Senna for third on the all-time list of most victories in car number 1.
On his Aston Martin debut, Fernando Alonso finished in third place. Alonso became only the fifth driver in Formula 1 history to finish on the podium with five different constructors. Only Stirling Moss and John Surtees have finished on the podium with more constructors than Alonso.
The 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix marked Fernando Alonso’s 99th podium finish – putting him one short of being only the sixth driver to record 100 podium finishes in Formula 1. This was Alonso’s first podium finish since the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.
Finishing on the podium at the age of 41 years, 7 months and 5 days, Alonso became the oldest Formula 1 podium finisher since Michael Schumacher at the 2012 European Grand Prix. Since 1960 only six drivers have finished on the podium at an older age than Alonso at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix: Maurice Trintignant, John Love, Jack Brabham, Mario Andretti, Jacques Laffite and Michael Schumacher.
For the first time in the V6 hybrid era, neither Mercedes driver finished on the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
With fifth place, Lewis Hamilton made 2023 the 17th consecutive season in which he has scored a point. He equalled Jenson Button as the driver to have scored in the most consecutive F1 seasons.
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix Penalties
Ahead of the race weekend, stewards confirmed that no further action would be taken over the matter of Lewis Hamilton wearing jewellery while competing. Hamilton was given a medical exemption from the rule and was able to continue wearing a nose stud while racing over “concerns about disfigurement with frequent attempts at removal of the device.”
Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll, Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly all had lap times deleted during qualifying for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix for exceeding track limits. Gasly’s lap time deletion dropped him from 17th to 20th in Q1.
Pierre Gasly exceeded the pit lane speed limit by 0.6km/h during qualifying. Alpine were handed a €100 fine as a result.
Esteban Ocon gained a 5-second time penalty for being in an accurate position in his grid slot at the start of the race.
Ocon received a 10-second time penalty after it was found that he had served his original 5-second time penalty incorrectly. A mechanic began working on his car 4.6 seconds into his 5-second penalty.
To make things worse for Ocon, when serving the original penalty, the Frenchman exceeded the pit-lane speed limit by 0.1km/h. That saw him handed an additional 5-second time penalty.
Nico Hulkenberg was shown the black and white flag for exceeding track limits three times during the race. After doing so for a fourth time, he was handed a 5-second time penalty. A fifth offence saw the Haas driver handed an additional 10-second time penalty. The penalties were added to his race time and did not impact on his final finishing position.
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix Trivia
With the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix taking place on March 5, this was the earliest date on which a Formula 1 season has started in 21 years, since the season-opening 2002 Australian Grand Prix was held on March 3.
At the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton equalled Daniel Ricciardo as the drivers to have made the most starts in a single car number. This was Bottas and Hamilton’s 182nd start with their respective car numbers.
The 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix was be the second round of the World Championship to be held on March 5. The only race previously held on this date was the 1977 South African Grand Prix.
Oscar Piastri became the 14th Australian driver to race in Formula 1 and made the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix the 340th consecutive race which an Australian driver started.
With Oscar Piastri on the grid at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso became the first driver to race against a competitor who was born after his Formula 1 debut. Piastri was born one month after Alonso’s debut at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.
Logan Sargeant became the first American to start a Formula 1 race since Alexander Rossi at the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix. Sargeant also became the first Williams driver to race in car number 2 since Heinz-Harald Frentzen at the 1998 Japanese Grand Prix.
36,000 fans attended on race day at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, making it the best attended Bahrain Grand Prix in the event’s history. 99,500 attended over the race weekend.
Being handed three penalties during the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon equalled the unwanted record of most penalties received during a single race. Pastor Maldonado also received three penalties during the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Both Formula 2 and Formula 3 began their 2023 seasons on the same weekend as Formula 1, as support events to the Bahrain Grand Prix.
With Fernando Alonso heading the timesheets in both Free Practice 2 and Free Practice 3, this was the first time that the Silverstone-based team were fastest in two practice sessions in a single race weekend since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix, when the team was in its Force India guise.
Fernando Alonso’s podium, along with Lance Stroll’s points for sixth place, put Aston Martin second in the Constructors’ Championship. It was only the fourth time that the team has been in the top two in the standings since joining Formula 1 as Jordan in 1991. The other times it has happened were at the 1999 Australian and Brazilian Grands Prix (under their Jordan guise) and at the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix (as Force India).
The top four on the grid qualified in the same order at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix as they did at the previous race – the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It was the first time this happened since the same four drivers qualified in the same order at the top of the grid at the 2019 Singapore and Russian Grands Prix.
Just 1.128 seconds separated the fastest and slowest lap times in Q1 at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix – the smallest gap between the fastest and slowest cars in Q1 since the knockout system was introduced in 2006.
Logan Sargeant was eliminated in Q1 on debut. He missed out on Q1 by qualifying in 16th place, despite setting the same lap time as Lando Norris. Norris had set the lap time first, so he progressed to Q2 while the Williams driver was out in Q1.
Scoring from 20th, Pierre Gasly became the first driver to ever score having started 20th on the grid at Bahrain International Circuit. His ninth place also equalled the best result from the grid slot in Bahrain’s history. Rubens Barrichello finished ninth having started 20th in the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix, before the finishing position provided any points.
With Lance Stroll finishing sixth and Alex Albon tenth, the duo became tied on 202 career points. It left them both tied with Daniil Kvyat – who also scored 202 career points – for fifth in the all-time list of most points without a victory.
With Oscar Piastri recording the first retirement of the race, McLaren extended their record of being the team with the most first retirements of a Formula 1 season. This was the seventh time that one of their cars was first to retire in an F1 season.
At the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso became the first driver to race with all four engine manufacturers involved in Formula 1 during the V6 hybrid era. Having already raced in Ferrari, Honda and Renault powered cars, this was Alonso’s first race in a V6 Mercedes car. This wasn’t Alonso’s first race in a Mercedes-powered car, however. He last raced with the manufacturer on his final appearance in his first stint at McLaren, at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix.
This was the first time Red Bull converted a 1-2 start into a 1-2 finish since the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Multi-time world champion Grand Prix motorcycle road racer Giacomo Agostini waved the chequered flag at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix.
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix: Qualifying Result
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||Honda RBPT||01:31.295||01:30.503||01:29.708||1|
|2||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||Honda RBPT||01:31.479||01:30.746||01:29.846||2|
|5||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||Mercedes||01:31.158||01:30.645||01:30.336||5|
|8||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||Mercedes||01:31.184||01:31.127||01:30.836||8|
|10||27||Nico Hülkenberg||Haas||Ferrari||01:31.204||01:30.809||No time||10|
|12||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari||01:31.504||01:31.443||–||12|
|13||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari||01:31.615||01:31.473||–||13|
|14||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||Honda RBPT||01:31.400||01:32.510||–||14|
|15||23||Alexander Albon||Williams||Mercedes||01:31.461||No time||–||15|
|19||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri||Honda RBPT||01:32.121||–||–||19|
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix: Race Result
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||Honda RBPT||57||01:33:56.736||1||25|
|2||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||Honda RBPT||57||+11.987s||2||18|
|3||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||Mercedes||57||+38.637s||5||15|
|4||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||Ferrari||57||+48.052s||4||12|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||Mercedes||57||+54.502s||8||8|
|8||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari||57||+72.647s||12||4|
|11||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||Honda RBPT||57||+90.870s||14|
|12||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams||Mercedes||56||+1 Lap||16|
|13||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||Ferrari||56||+1 Lap||17|
|14||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri||Honda RBPT||56||+1 Lap||19|
|15||27||Nico Hülkenberg||Haas||Ferrari||56||+1 Lap||10|
|16||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari||56||+1 Lap||13|
|17||4||Lando Norris||McLaren||Mercedes||55||+2 Laps||11|