We are now close to the first grand prix of the season. It begins in Bahrain with a new programme (just like Abu Dhabi): the engines will start up on Thursday with two sessions of free practice, Friday free practice 3 and qualifying, Saturday 4.00pm the grand prix. This is already the first innovation.

We come to the first round (of 24 GPs) after having seen the three days of collective tests. Three days from which it was hard to draw a conclusion. It starts again from where we left off: A Red Bull in front of everybody. Adrian Newey has taken a different road from the rest of the pack and if everything goes as it should once again there is little all the others can do, also because he has introduced innovations which will be hard to duplicate in short time.

I was particularly impressed by the long runs covered by Max Verstappen on the Friday. He put together many laps at the same pace with extreme serenity and naturalness.

Carlos Sainz had also achieved the same result with the SF-24 the day before (even if the lap times were different), but it is not easy to make comparisons. Ferrari seems to have been born better compared to the previous car.

Another factor that emerged following the tests was the upward reduction of the performances, as well as reliability. Precisely for this reason I expect a very hard-fought Q2.  The cars normally have the same tyres and fuel. Just last year, especially at the end of the season, we had a fine tussle.

At the moment, I find it hard to evaluate the Mercedes. Russell set his best times with compounds that will not be present this weekend, as did Leclerc.

It will be interesting to follow this first round to start to understand the forces on the field and who will be the most skilled in these months, The RD drew attention with Tsunoda and Ricciardo…

But be careful! Eyes are also on Formula 3 with Fomaroli and Mini and the debut of Andrea Kimi Antonelli in Formula 2.

So, we expect a weekend full of Motorsport. Good viewing to everyone.

Gian Carlo Minardi

Ph @F1