The start of the 2021 Formula 1 season is here as the Bahrain Grand Prix hosts the first race of the season.

The time for talking is finally over as F1 teams take to the track competitively for the first time since December’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Three days of pre-season testing took place at the Bahrain International Circuit earlier this month, so expect teams to get up to speed quickly.


F1 2021 Bahrain GP- Full Qualifying Results at Bahrain | F1 Starting Grid


Reflecting on pre-season testing, Red Bull enjoyed its best test in years as it had good reliability and a strong turn of pace. The handling of the RB16B looks assured, which has meant Max Verstappen is arguably favourite for the win this weekend.

Mercedes struggled for reliability and ill-handling, but given it has won the last seven drivers’ and constructors’ championships in a row, only a fool would rule out the German manufacturer this weekend in Bahrain.

McLaren appears to be top of the midfield with the likes of Ferrari, Alpine, AlphaTauri and Aston Martin just behind.

Alfa Romeo looks to have closed the gap to the midfield, while Williams and Haas are set to duel it out at the back.

For this season, practice sessions are now just 60 minutes long, rather than 90 minutes.

What to expect from this weekend?

Lewis Hamilton has only won the season-opening round of a season twice in his career - 2008 and 2015, both at Albert Park in Melbourne.

Valtteri Bottas has started the season with victories in 2019 and 2020.

Red Bull hasn’t won the first race of a new season since 2011 with Sebastian Vettel at the Australian Grand Prix.

Pirelli has nominated the C2, C3 and C4 tyre compounds for this weekend’s race.

Speaking ahead of the event, Pirelli’s head of F1, Mario Isola, said: “Just four months after having two races in Bahrain, and two weeks after three days of pre-season testing, we’re back there for the first race of the 2021 season. 

“During the test we saw many teams concentrated on the compounds nominated for the grand prix, but the conditions we experienced in testing might not be entirely representative of the race. The teams also ran a very wide variety of different programmes during just the one condensed session, whereas in the past, with two test sessions, the second session was usually more focussed on tyres.

“So it's hard to draw many firm conclusions. With new specifications of cars and tyres, as well as the shortest pre-season in recent memory, the competition is wide open: especially given that the track characteristics of Bahrain have often resulted in interesting strategic battles, with a number of different tactics used.”