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Next Event Starts in:
3hrs 24min - MotoGP Qualifying
Mar 7, 2024
Brendan Burns

1. Mercedes Power unit -  Mercedes claimed during the race that there was no issue, yet the field performance of the teams using their power unit suggested otherwise. The power unit seemed to be burning energy very quickly, which in turn leads to different issues among the teams. Mercedes and Williams were wrestling with issues during the race, though McLaren and Aston Martin didn’t visibly have many hangups. Despite that fact, pit reports show that Lando Norris and the McLaren engineers had already accessed and installed his backup control electronics and energy store before the race, so perhaps McLaren uncovered and took precautions against some of the power issues beforehand? Either way, the Mercedes’ power unit lack of energy in traffic does not bode well for future races, especially if the teams need to start digging into their limited supply of spare parts to mitigate the issue.

2. Red Bull had an absolutely dominant performance, which was not unexpected. Verstappen got ahead in the early laps and spent the rest of the race looking as if he was out for a Sunday drive. Perez also had a stellar race, performing some excellent defense against Russell, Leclerc, and Sainz (not that he needed to defend the massive gap that Verstappen created). Verstappen’s opening performance has many of the spectator’s writing off the 2024 season already, something that I can certainly identify with, even if I remain optimistic for some competition from Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes.

3. And even if it ends up being a race for second place, it is certainly going to be closer this season. Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren all put up similar lap times during Free practice and Qualifying, something that the final results reflected. Additionally, Haas and Sauber both had drivers competing in the mid-field, which is a very exciting prospect for how these next races will end up playing out, as all the teams fine-tune and tweak their cars.

4. Team RB had a pretty poor performance in this initial race, certainly not at the expected rate after their stellar end to last season. Although after the variety of team changes that we saw in the off season, we could just be seeing the growing pains of a team that is still attempting to hit their stride. The driver swap call towards the end of the race was certainly unpopular among both Tsunoda and Riccardo, leading to a bit of a feisty racing after the checkered flag. However, we would be remiss to not mention Riccardo’s handling issues throughout the front half of the race and point out that even before the Driver Swap, both drivers were fluctuating in and out of the points and then proved unable to hold or regain those critical positions from Haas and Sauber, teams that they consistently outperformed last season. 

5. Very impressed by the performance by Zhou Guanyu and Lance Stroll. Stroll had a good recovery after the incident in turn 1, putting up times consistent with Fernando Alonso by the end of the race. This was a great race for seeing how Aston Martin compares to the rest of the midfield teams. As for Zhou, he was consistently ahead of Bottas, even before the botched pitstop. He maintained good mid-field presence and was even in contention for some points, but was ultimately overtaken by Alonso. 

6. Alpine surely had the worst start to 2024 imaginable. They appeared to be struggling during pre-season testing but surely no one expected one of F1’s engine manufacturers to qualify 19th and 20th. Things didn’t get better during the race with both drivers finishing behind the Haas of Hulkenberg despite his first corner collision and resulting lap one pit stop. To make matters worse technical director Matt Harman and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer have resigned from the team. This is going to be a long season for Alpine and one in which there’s a very real possibility of them finishing last in the constructors championship.

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