Leclerc and Ferrari 10, Sainz 8.5, Verstappen 8, Hamilton 7.5, Mercedes and Red Bull 5 –

Of Flavio Vanetti

The Cavallino has given wings: the highest marks go to the drivers and the Scuderia di Maranello. The Haas breakthrough (7.5), Tsunoda and Zhou’s surprising 7s, the McLaren and Aston Martin flops (4)

The Prancing Horse has given its hooves wings and so the first brushstrokes on the new F1 World Championship are a fiery red that already ignites the imagination of many fans (not only Italians): Leclerc has broken Ferrari’s fast of victories that had lasted for 903 days (last success with Vettel in Singapore in 2019), while Carlos Sainz takes us back to 12 years ago, the same place, the same desert, when Fernando Alonso made his debut at the wheel of the Red by winning on the first try and Felipe Massa completed the double. But even if the start was triumphant, better take it easy: 2010, it will be good to remember, would have ended for Ferrari with the atrocious mockery of Abu Dhabi.

The new machines: promoted

We open the report cards with a particular voice and with a judgment, rather than with a vote. The general idea is that the cars rethought on the concept of ground effect and with simplified aerodynamics are fully hitting the goal of increasing overtaking and the liveliness of the GPs, even if they are stiff, bounce and have made us do the acquaintance with the term porpoising (meaning “delfination”). More confirmations are needed, but it will be difficult for denials to arrive. The praise must be extended to the FIA: the “federales” often receive well-deserved blows from the critics, but when they get it right, it must be emphasized.

Mattia Binotto: 10

A swallow does not make spring, okay, but in the meantime Ferrari seems to have skipped a season and already seems to bask under a beautiful summer sun. The man in command of Maranello had promised a turning point after a hard chase, sometimes even with humiliating moments: the track says he was speaking and that the F1-75 was born just fine, with a “motorone” but also with everything else in order.

Charles Leclerc: 10

Secret agents in the pay of Carlo da Monte Carlo are said to have hacked Lewis Hamilton’s safe and stolen his “hammer time” activation codes. He had the hammer this time. And we have seen it: pole position, victory, fastest lap and that pushing Verstappen back three times in the spectacular duel after the first pit stop, a clear message that is valid for the entire season. Is the time of the Fated Is Coming?

Carlos Sainz: 8.5

Without the flop of Verstappen’s RB18 he would hardly have been able to finish second and the turnover of the first weekend has always been lower than that of his teammate. But Carlo from Madrid also reiterated that he is a strong and reliable driver. Whether he will have that extra spark to level up remains to be seen.

Max Verstappen: 8

The master’s voice – alias: of the world champion – was choked in his throat in the technical failure of the car a few kilometers from the finish. And previously he had complained about everything: traction, brakes, balance, performance, a little more he would have even contested the color of the livery. Max was quite nervous and the red he saw in front of him was bothering his nerves. In the duel with Leclerc he tried to field all the knowledge of the champion Verstappen, but in the braking-monstre with which he tried to turn the destiny of the race he nailed the car and then as a player he ended up playing.

Kevin Magnussen: 8

Life is a matter of sliding doors and the doors opened on the right side for the Dane who seemed to have finished with F1: the removal of the Russian Mazepin for extra-sporting reasons not only brought him back to his former team, but he put it on a car that was the revelation of the first GP. But he too is good at putting grit and will into it.

Lewis Hamilton: 7.5

The podium arrived by grace received, by virtue of the “plantation” that it has made to find Sergio Perez (grade 6: nothing of that previously; and in any case nothing more than a faithful squire role) with the car sideways. If luck helps, that’s always good news, but if the Mercedes doesn’t take the elevator and goes up to higher floors, even a seven-time world champion will have to row.

Haas: 7.5

It was the “nail” (together with Williams) of last season, also because the team had not invested in the 2021 single-seater with a view to changing the rules for 2022. The Ferrari power unit is a guarantee, but the project looks good. It’s a pity that Mick Schumacher (grade 6: Magnussen did not let him touch the ball) with the eleventh place he remained by a whisker out of the points.

Yuki Tsunoda: 7

The Japanese who as soon as he can shake his hands has put a patch on the disastrous budget of the Red Bull-Alpha Tauri-Honda family: Verstappen and Perez out, Gasly with the car on the spit but he scores with an eighth place, the result of resourcefulness and generosity .

Guanyu Zhou: 7

Treated as a recommended and a little more, the Chinese who goes a little sideways to us Italians because he took the place of Antonio Giovinazzi has proven to be much more than a rider who brings sponsors and that’s it. First race, first point, with the memory of an overtaking even in Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas: 7

King Pasticcio seemed to have remained with last year’s driver, the one who, despite the Mercedes he was driving, wasted a lot of opportunities. Ready, go and here is a disastrous start. But then Valtteri recovered and climbed up to sixth place thanks to propitious situations and an Alfa Romeo of value (in turn powered by Ferrari), but also putting his determination and desire to do. It is right to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

George Russell: 6.5

Fourth, but with nothing memorable to pass down to posterity after his debut as Hamilton’s squire. Here, it just felt like a shoulder.

Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso: 6

A handful of points – with the Frenchman in front of the great Spanish veteran two world champion – but an overall mediocre test with the Alpines dressed in pink in deference to the main sponsor, even if we don’t see much pink in the future of the team for now.

Mercedes and Red Bull: 5

The project of the W13 will also be potentially revolutionary and with formidable developments, but so far there are more problems than glimmers of light. The Rb 18, on the other hand, has shown disturbing reliability problems in the face of a fabric that could be of high quality.

McLaren and Aston Martin: 4

A thunderous flop for those (McLaren) who had trumpeted top intentions and for those (Aston Martin) who felt ready to cancel a 2021 of blows and disappointments. For now we are not really there. If they don’t move, they and Williams will form the Trinity of Horrors.

March 21, 2022 (change March 21, 2022 | 11:53 am)

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