De Vries faced biggest gap in Bahrain, Verstappen the strongest

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Internal duels F1 teams after 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix
9 March 2023 at 09:23
Last update 9 March 2023 at 13:02

In Formula 1, a driver's qualities are best assessed on the basis of the internal teammate duel. After all, your teammate has exactly the same car at his disposal. Bahrain was the first test between all teammates and that already yielded some interesting results.

Little changes at the top of F1

In 2023, a number of teams have stuck to last season's line-up. Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, Mercedes and Alfa Romeo, for instance, see exactly the same duo as last year. The first race weekend in Bahrain also sees few surprises there. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc won their qualifying duel from their teammate by more than a tenth, as was often the case last season too. Verstappen was 0.138s faster than Sergio Perez and Leclerc was 0.154s faster than Carlos Sainz. Verstappen also won the race duel, where Leclerc crashed out through no fault of his own.

At Mercedes, like last year, it was closer together. George Russell was 0.044s faster in qualifying but did finish behind his teammate in the race. At Alfa Romeo, the smallest difference between the two teammates last weekend was 0.030s. On Sunday, however, Valtteri Bottas made the difference and scored points, unlike his teammate.

At the other teams, there are one or two new drivers and so that also means a new duel to look forward to. At Alpine, Esteban Ocon managed to impress in qualifying. In Q1, he was 0.673s faster than Pierre Gasly. In the race, however, Ocon made one punishing mistake after another, leaving Gasly as the hero after all. Indeed, he drove from P20 to P9 after all, scoring two points on his debut.

Lando Norris did not yet have to worry much about his new teammate in Bahrain. The performance of the car is more of a concern for the Briton, who was 0.449s faster than Oscar Piastri in qualifying and saw his teammate retire early in the race. However, P17 was not the hoped-for final result.

De Vries needs to step up

At Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso immediately showed that he is still among the best drivers at the age of 41. Lance Stroll deserves credit for wanting to get into the car at all after his bike accident, so the qualifying difference of 0.500s is not very surprising.

At Haas, the difference is more remarkable. In Q1, Nico Hulkenberg, who returned to F1 after three years without a permanent seat, was a whopping 0.688s faster than Kevin Magnussen. The Dane did finish ahead of his teammate in the race. Hulkenberg did have an excuse for this. Indeed, the German had sustained damage on the first lap after touching Ocon, who had cut him off.

At Williams, rookie Logan Sargeant made a big impression. Alexander Albon was faster than his American teammate in Q1, but surprisingly the difference was 'only' 0.191s. Sargeant will be hoping for more, but it's a good start, especially considering that Albon could already score a point in the first race. They wouldn't have dreamed of that at Williams.

The biggest difference between two teammates we saw on Saturday was between Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda. AlphaTauri's car is far from where it should be, but a gap of 0.721s in Q1 between the two drivers is particularly big. So not an ideal debut for De Vries, who was also unable to close the gap on Sunday. The Dutchman finished the race 28 seconds behind his teammate. For his part, Tsunoda just missed out on the points at P11.

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