Ranking after Bahrain winter test: Red Bull finally in contention with Mercedes?

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15 March at 10:26
Last update 15 March at 10:26
  • GPblog.com

The winter test in Bahrain is over and that means the speculation can start. Based on the pre-season tests, we at GPblog have ranked the grid. Let us know in the comments the changes you'd make. 

Shift at the top

For the past seven years, Mercedes has been unbeatable in Formula 1. Ferrari were the only ones to come close in 2017 and 2018, but that was all there was to it. Since the hybrid era, Mercedes has been ahead of the rest, and so far the team has always been able to maintain that lead.

In the 2021 winter test, however, problems came to light. Mercedes were inside the garage more often than they'd have liked and drove the least laps of everyone, whereas normally Mercedes collects the most data on the grid. There were also problems with the gearbox, and even Lewis Hamilton was running wide a lot.

The strength of Mercedes

Whilst Mercedes are having problems, their biggest competitor Red Bull Racing is doing just fine. Apart from some minor issues, Red Bull drove a good winter test. They drove plenty of laps (65 more than Mercedes) and were also fast. Max Verstappen is shining in front of the camera, and that body language perhaps says more than we can ever discover on the track.

Still, it remains dangerous to think at this point that Red Bull are ahead of Mercedes. With the past few years in mind, you have to assume that Mercedes can fix the problems from the test towards the first race of the season. Red Bull has found the connection, however, and maybe that's good enough to help Verstappen to a world title.

Turmoil in the midfield

Behind the top two, there's another huge group of teams that are very close to each other. In 2020 that group consisted of Racing Point, McLaren, Renault and Ferrari, but this year you can also add AlphaTauri to it. The team has left quite an impression with Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, which is interesting for 2021.

Whilst AlphaTauri shone, the winter test of Aston Martin (formerly Racing Point) was disappointing. The car driven by Stroll and Vettel did few laps and had a lot of problems. The speed of the RP20 will not suddenly be gone, but there seem to be some shifts in the midfield.

The other three are still very uncertain. Alpine, McLaren and Ferrari each drove a lot of laps, but McLaren was perhaps the most impressive. With the switch to a Mercedes engine, one would have expected more problems, but with a unique diffuser, McLaren might have made a great step.

Alpine drove decent times and a mountain of laps under the radar, but how this compares to the competition is still unclear. The same is true for Ferrari. Power seems to have increased for the Italian team, but when you look at the handling, you have to wonder how much grip Sainz and Leclerc have.

Haas falls further behind

Among the group of midfielders, we have three teams in the rear like last year. Of those three teams, Alfa Romeo has made the best impression with no less than 422 laps. The team has a lot of data, but the step to the midfield seems a bit too big to bridge.

Haas and Williams follow Alfa, but perhaps in a different order this year. Williams has had a good winter test and where Haas is aiming at 2022, Williams has made some changes to the new car. Whether this will result in points again, remains to be seen.

The ranking after the winter test in Bahrain

1. Mercedes

2. Red Bull Racing

3. McLaren

4. Alpine

5. AlphaTauri

6. Ferrari

7. Aston Martin

8. Alfa Romeo

9. Williams

10. Haas