It's certainly been an eventful start to the new Formula 1 season this weekend just gone, with plenty of interesting developments that point to this being another much talked about year of action for motor racing fans. TrackDays have been keeping a close eye on what's been happening, so read on to get all the inside information…
So firstly to last Sunday's first Grand Prix of the season in Bahrain. It was a tense one to say the least, with the lead changing hands several times between Max Verstappen racing for Team Red Bull, and reigning F1 World Championship holder Lewis Hamilton returning to race once again for Team Mercedes after his record breaking performance last season.
They're undoubtedly the two biggest teams and drivers in the world at the moment, so witnessing the nail biting wheel-to-wheel racing that occurred was gripping viewing - amplified by the early lead that Verstappen took being handed back, as it was ruled he had gone off track whilst doing so.
It meant that Hamilton won with a lap time of 1:32:03 - his 98th pole position in all. It appeared to be a surprise to him, given the strong performance Verstappen put in. Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: "Every minute of the weekend I've loved. We knew we were behind in performance. These guys [Red Bull] have done a better job so far. So to come away with this knowing we were not the fastest this weekend is a real result."
But he also hinted that there was every intention for Team Mercedes to double down on their efforts to pose a stronger challenge in time for the next Grand Prix of the season at Emilia Romagna on 18th April, adding: "We have to do better and be smarter, with the fact we don't have the fastest car at the moment. But that's all good for me - I don't mind having to pull out extra in order to make the difference." Fighting talk indeed!
The ruling over Verstappen's off track wheel-to-wheel racing has understandably not been popular with everyone. Not least the two leading F1 team principals - Team Mercedes' Toto Wolff, and Team Red Bull's Christian Horner, who have called for improved clarity and an end to the ambiguous nature of the track limit rules.
Wolff in particular, has gone on record saying that the current rules are 'about as long as a Shakespeare novel', whilst Horner has said there is a need to be 'definitive' rather than 'shades of grey'. Where the confusion mainly lies was when Verstappen overtook Hamilton in the final laps. Were it not for him going beyond the track limits at turn four whilst executing the manoeuvre, the race would have been his.
However, some have suggested that the same ruling didn't apply to Hamilton, who subsequently received a warning and the potential threat of a penalty, despite the fact he appeared to have taken the wide line at the same corner in order to gain advantage.
We suspect this debate is going to carry on for another week or so yet amongst teams and fans alike, but one thing that everyone does seem to agree on is that in order for a repeat of this situation to be avoided, the rules do need to be revisited, even though such changes are unlikely to be implemented until the 2022 season at least.
Speaking after the Bahrain Grand Prix, Horner said: "With these track limit things, they're always going to be contentious. But we do need to just have a consistent situation. You can't say: 'It's OK to use it in the race, but you can't overtake out there.'"
Former Lamborghini president Stefano Domenicali was newly installed as CEO of Formula 1 at the end of last year, and the former Ferrari team principal from 2008 - 2014 has now been speaking this last week about what fans can expect for both the immediate and long term future of the series.
He acknowledges that much has changed in his time away from the paddock - not least of all, global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic that has made it a tricky balancing act to run Formula 1 this last year, but he is optimistic that when it is safe to do so, that spectators will be able to return.
With closer focus on the environmental impact of F1, Domenicali has also addressed the motorsports' target to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2030, but he has comprehensively ruled out the possibility of the series going electric: "We need to stay hybrid. This is a definite decision we've taken, and this is also good for the automotive industry and the OEMs as it keeps our platform relevant for future road cars … the 2025 power-unit will be hybrid and use 100% sustainable fuels, but we need to reduce the costs of the power-unit and platform so it is affordable and less complex."
Make sure you keep visiting our News page here on the TrackDays website to get all the very latest updates on the new Formula 1 season. To book your next Formula 1 Single Seater driving experience via available dates or purchase of our open gift vouchers, visit our dedicated Formula 1 experiences page today.