If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Red Bull Racing must be absolutely blushing for the number of compliments it’s getting this year.

Last year’s championship-winning team appears to have penned the defining aerodynamic package of this rules era, with most teams gravitating towards its approach over the off-season.

Learning, copying — whatever you want to call it — is the natural way of things in Formula 1.

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We often talk about the truism of motor racing that the first person every driver must beat is their teammate.

Less talked about is the constructor-equivalent maxim: never be beaten by your customer teams.

It’s the golden rule of running a race team, and Mercedes broke it in Bahrain, where it was trounced by Aston Martin.

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There aren’t many Formula 1-MotoGP crossover opportunities out there, but Lance Stroll found one in Spain as he faced the prospect of sitting out months of the season with broken bones.

The connection was Dr Xavier Mir, the renowned trauma surgeon famous in part for his work on the constantly troubled forearms and wrists of motorcycle riders.

Stroll put his banged-up hands in Mir’s golden ones, and lo and behold he found his way to sixth in the first race of the season — and, in what will come as no surprise to any MotoGP fan, he did so months ahead of when conventional medical wisdom assumed he’d be back.

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Max Verstappen starts 2023 with a dominant victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix to strike fear into the hearts of would-be rivals Ferrari and Mercedes  Featuring former F1 driver turned pundit Alex Yoong.

Michael and Rob are back for another episode to tell you to listen past the five-minute mark of the podcast and please don’t unsubscribe.

There’s a cruel irony to the fact that Oscar Piastri has sacrificed and grafted for nine years to earn a Formula 1 debut that lasted just 13 laps.

It’s safe to say it wasn’t the maiden outing as a Formula 1 driver the 21-year-old was hoping for.

The tone of a career is rarely set by the first race, certainly not for drivers of Piastri’s calibre, but the character of season sometimes is, and for the second year running McLaren, one of the greatest teams in Formula 1 history, embarrassed itself at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

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Max Verstappen crushes the field with a concerning level of dominance, but the Fernando Alonso hype train pulls onto the podium for a well-deserved third place.

Max Verstappen has dominated the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez, but Fernando Alonso stole the show with a thrilling third for the newly competitive Aston Martin team.

If you thought Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing were vulnerable at the start of the new season, think again.

There was no moment on Sunday at the Bahrain Grand Prix that the reigning champion was in anything other than complete control of the race. The extent of his dominion was so great that it was difficult not to see it extending all the way from here to the end of the season.

There were challengers, but none came close. Ferrari succumbed to old foibles, including yet another alarming power unit failure. Mercedes is still well off the pace after an off-season looked back upon as increasingly dissatisfying.

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Max Verstappen dominated the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in a foreboding Red Bull Racing one-two, while a superbly on form Fernando Alonso completed the podium for Aston Martin.

Verstappen aced his launch and never looked back, building an almost second-per-lap advantage early in the race that ensured he never meaningfully lost the lead of the race on his way to a cruisy 12-second victory and a 38-second advantage over the closest non-Red Bull Racing driver.

“It was a very, very good first stint where I basically made my gap,” he said. “From there it was all about looking after the tires.

“I think we have a good race package. Of course it will depend a bit race to race, but we can definitely fight with this.”

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Max Verstappen rises to the top to take pole, but Ferrari is surprisingly competitive — and, yes, Fernando Alonso is very much in the mix.

After all the hype and bluster of preseason testing and practice, at the end of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix reigning champion Max Verstappen led the Red Bull Racing front-row lockout the F1 paddock was expecting deep down.

That’s not to say it was straightforward for last year’s title-winning team.

This was one of the tightest qualifying sessions the sport has seen in a very long time, and with several teams clearly having held back a great deal of pace in the lead-up to the pole shootout, no-one was sure exactly how the chips would fall.

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Max Verstappen has led a Red Bull Racing front-row lockout ahead of teammate Sergio Perez for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen took the first pole position of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix after Charles Leclerc abandoned his shot at a final lap.

Verstappen led Leclerc by 0.103s after their first laps, but Ferrari opted to save Leclerc’s set of soft tires for the race rather than burn them in a pole attempt, handing the Dutchman an open goal.

The reigning champion didn’t need to be asked twice, improving his time to cement top spot for the first pole of the year ahead of teammate Sergio Perez.

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Fernando Alonso beat Max Verstappen to top spot in final practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix to set up an intriguing qualifying hour.

Alonso and Verstappen traded fastest sectors in the final 10 minutes of the session, with both unwrapping a new set of soft tires at roughly the same time, facilitating a direct comparison.

Verstappen had the upper hand in the first two sectors, but a snap of oversteer in the final corner ceded the advantage to Alonso, who snatched top spot by just 0.005s.

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Fernando Alonso sends the Aston Martin hype train into overdrive on an underwhelming day for Max Verstappen, while Mercedes continues to struggle to return to form.

The Aston Martin hype train is gathering an alarming amount of speed just one day into the season proper.

The speculation began during the off-season with whispers of powerful numbers emanating from the wind tunnel.

Fernando Alonso’s performance during pre-season testing got the paddock’s attention with some remarkable long-run demonstrations.

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Fernando Alonso beat the Red Bull Racing drivers to the top spot in second practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix in another tantalizing glimpse of Aston Martin’s potential. The Spaniard hustled his AMR22 to a best time of 1m 30.907s, pipping Max Verstappen by 0.169s. Sergio Perez was a further 0.002s back in third.

Alonso and Verstappen also looked closely matched on long-run pace, which dominated the only practice session of the weekend run in representative night-time conditions — although most teams burned through their stocks of the soft tire to keep their two sets of the more durable hard rubber for Sunday’s race.

As much as it was good news for Aston Martin, Red Bull Racing didn’t look as settled as it did at last weekend’s test.

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