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Old 27 Feb 2023, 14:08 (Ref:4145080)   #1
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Bahrain Grand Prix 2023: Grand Prix Weekend Thread - Round 1 of 23

Whether the winter hiatus feels interminably long or all too fleeting, there can be no doubt that there is a sense of 'what, now?', as we get ready for the cars to line up on the grid for Race 1, following the shortest winter testing period we have seen. Three days of testing afforded little margin for error, as teams ran race simulations, aero tests, worked on tyre compounds and ironed out any issues. Fortunately for them, the cars are more reliable than ever and although there are a few teams who will be approaching the impending dawn of racing with a degree of apprehension, by and large they are good to go. The bigger question is whether those who have not produced what they wanted can claw back the deficit, or seen another way, whether the leaders (such as Red Bull, who appear to be the outright pace setters and to be quite easily out front) can be caught in the development race.

The world champions must contend with increased development restrictions, stemming from their punishment for Cateringgate, as well as a potentially rejuvenated Ferrari with renowned team boss Frédéric Vasseur joining the Scuderia and a Mercedes team that appears to have a handle on their 2022 porpoising issues, even if that hasn't yet translated into world championship-winning pace. Thrown into the mixture, we have the potential promise of the midfield teams breaking through, although as is so often the case when expectations are high, will the hope diminish into nothing and the established frontrunners prove to be devastatingly out of touch? Let's take a look at the teams.


The Teams


Double world champion Max Verstappen forms a formidable partnership with a team-mate in Sergio Pérez who seems to have found his feet in the tricky poisoned chalice-like position of being the second driver for the Milton Keynes-based squad. We may wish to hear less of the 'mate' here, as tensions in Brazil were apparently defused, yet Verstappen's more consistently relentless pace should be enough to keep him out of trouble from his fellow driver if the car is way ahead of the rest, but if the title race gets close with other teams, frictions from the past could resurface and prove to be a bit of a drama.

Ferrari blew it strategically last year – of that there is little discussion. Frédéric Vasseur has been sent in to sort the Maranello outfit out, but we will see whether he can work his skills there or there is a more deeply ingrained web of problems there. Still, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz seem to be no-nonsense and clever guys who can deliver big results. Sainz has tidied up his consistency and can read a race excellently. If anyone is poised to take the title from the Bulls, you'd still have to suggest it's them.

Lewis Hamilton failed to win a Grand Prix for the first time in his career last year, but has shown no sign of easing his foot of the pedal. He is still the sport's most successful driver and one of the outstanding talents, who could still yet get that record-breaking eighth world drivers' championship if his team could just go back to producing cars as they did a few years back. The sticking factor is that he faces stiff competition from a marvellous team-mate in George Russell. Russell often outpaced Hamilton last year and their intra-team battle will be a sight to behold.

Without wishing to be unkind, for a man of his talents, Fernando Alonso has a habit of making some awful career moves. 2023 could well be the first year in a while where his professional path appears canny. By joining Aston Martin, he looks like he has just joined the leaders of 'best of the rest' (at worst) and potentially the third-best team (at best?). We can't get carried away just yet, but if the pace is consistent at different circuits, we could be looking at podiums and even the odd race win. The only plus-40 year-old driver in the field, Alonso is relentless, demanding of his team and as motivated as ever. He has said nice things about Lance Stroll, but perhaps it is merely because he knows he has his measure (and Lance's dad is his boss). In any case, reigning Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich is odds-on to make his Grand Prix debut this weekend due to the Canadian driver's wrist injury.

Over at McLaren, pre-season testing has echoed the 2022 pattern of being hampered by problems, although keeping a sense of perspective, it was so short that it is not necessarily indicative of a wider problem. Last year, the team was often a force to be reckoned with, although its inconsistency dropped it behind Alpine in the end. Lando Norris should be formidable again, but it's one Australian out – one in, with 2021 F2 champion Oscar Piastri taking up the other seat.

Alpine lost Piastri, following a wrangled contract dispute, but field now-established Grand Prix winner Esteban Ocon alongisde another victor in Pierre Gasly, breaking free from AlphaTauri after beginning to look a bit stale there.

Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo seem quietly content with their pre-season form, and retain the revived Valtteri Bottas, alongside the calmly-impressive Zhou Guanyu, who despite a lack of dramatic heroics, impressed last season.

Haas have returned to an experience-based approach, bringing back known-quantity supersub Nico Hülkenberg to full-time competition, a year on from awarding Kevin Magnussen his return, which he grabbed by the scruff of the neck, as he does a car, delivering big results and points.

AlphaTauri have retained Yuki Tsunoda for a third campaign. Tsunoda has blown a bit hot and cold and will need to step it up, as he squares up against 2019 Nyck de Vries, who made an assured debut in Monza last year, when he was thrown in the deep end. 2022 was something of an anonymous season for Red Bull's other team, so time will tell if they can return to the kind of form where they could even give the senior squad a fright on more than one occasion.

Finally, Williams are another team who feel on the ascendancy, after more years in the doldrums than most F1 fans would wish to contemplate. It is thought in some quarters that they may have more point-scoring pace to offer up this year. Alex Albon, who delighted with some giant-killing escapades last year , is back for more, alongside American Logan Sargeant, who delivered 4th in F2 in 2022.



The Rules


After quite an overhaul for 2022, 2023 sees some more subtle, but still significant amendments.

The weight limit (with no fuel) of 798kg has been lowered by 2kg. Diffuser throat height has been lifted raised, diffuser edge stiffness has also gone up, floor edges have been raised by 15mm and an additional sensor has been brought in to reduce conversations that look, on the surface, like that aquatic mammal that is known for rising above it and going below again we were so fond of mentioning last year.

Roll hoops being strengthened and fuel being allowed to be cooler are among the other technical changes.

On other fronts, the number of events with sprints will be doubled – with the qualifying replacement race taking place in Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, Austin and Brazil. 'Revised Qualifying Format' rounds will also feature, with mandated tyre compounds in Q1, Q2 and Q3.



Trivia


Of the current drivers, only Fernando Alonso competed in the inaugural outing in 2004.

Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver in Bahrain, with five wins, while reigning world champion Max Verstappen has none.

Of the current drivers, Hamilton, Alonso, Sergio Pérez (in the Sakhir Grand Prix) and Charles Leclerc have taken victory here.

Aston Martin look likely to have one of its drivers replaced for the second year in a row, following Lance Stroll's injury. Last season, it was his team-mate Sebastian Vettel's turn, after contracting COVID. Last year's substitute, Nico Hülkenberg, makes a return, not to replace Stroll, but to full-time racing, with Haas.

If Felipe Drugovich does indeed replace Lance Stroll, he will become the sixth Formula 2 champion to race in F1, making it a full house of the series' champions to compete on the big stage since its re-inception in 2017. Last year, four F2 champions competed simultaneously in F1 at Monza (Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Nyck de Vries and Mick Schumacher), while in Bahrain, that would make five (Leclerc, Russell, de Vries, Oscar Piastri and Drugovich).

The Bahrain Grand Prix is one of three Grands Prix that McLaren has yet to win (the others being Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan).

Eight of the seventeen races have been won from pole, and never has the Grand Prix been won from lower than 4th on the grid (although race winner Pérez qualified 5th for the Sakhir Grand Prix).

Three different layouts have been used for a Grand Prix at the track – the 5.412km 'Grand Prix' circuit, used this time and in most races, the 6.299km 'Endurance' circuit, appearing in 2010, and the 3.543km 'Outer' circuit, put into action for the Sakhir Grand Prix.

On taking victory in the Sakhir Grand Prix, Sergio Pérez became the only person to take an F1 win having been last at the end of Lap 1.

If Alonso wins a Grand Prix this season, he will become the first driver to win past the age of 40 since Nigel Mansell in Australia 1994. Fernando will be 42 in July.



The History


The first Bahrain Grand Prix was won by eventual seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher from his Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button in his BAR. In 2005, the forthcoming new champion Fernando Alonso took the spoils. Schumacher had run off the track in his pursuit of the Renault driver and soon retired with a hydraulic problem, bringing his run of 58 races without a mechanical retirement to an end. Race day also brought the hottest conditions yet seen at a Grand Prix, with 41.9 degree and 56 degree air and track temperatures.

Alonso again had the measure of Schumacher the following year, overturning Schumacher's lead during the pit stops. Bahrain hosted the season's curtain raiser this time, the first race for both the 2.4-litre V8s and for the Q1, Q2 and Q3 qualifying system. Perhaps most memorably, Kimi Räikkönen came a cropper in Q1 with a rear wishbone failure, failing to set a time, and charging through in the race to 3rd on a one-stop strategy.

Felipe Massa won in his Ferrari in 2007, with Lewis Hamilton 2nd in the McLaren. Kimi Räikkönen was 3rd for the third successive season, this time in a Ferrari. Alonso, Räikkönen and Hamilton all left the race equal on points after three Grands Prix. Hamilton also became the first person to ever take a podium in his first three F1 races.

Massa won again in 2008 from Räikkönen, with pole-sitter Robert Kubica completing the podium for BMW-Sauber. Hamilton drove into the back of Alonso and ended up a lap down.

In 2009, Toyotas locked out the front row of the grid for the first time, with Jarno Trulli on pole and Timo Glock second. Glock took the lead at the first corner, but it was Jenson Button who won for Brawn from fourth on the grid. In 2010, Bahrain had the season opener for the second time and Alonso led home a Ferrari 1-2, where for one occasion only, as it turned out, the Grand Prix used the longer 6.299 km Endurance layout. By taking victory, Alonso became the seventh and most recent driver to win on his debut for the Prancing Horse.

In 2011, a month before it was due to be held, the Bahrain Grand Prix was postponed (and later cancelled) following the Bahraini protests, returning the following season and seeing the first of two successive Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull victories (and two identical podia – with Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean second and third for Lotus both times), before Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes took two in a row in 2014 and 2015. In the first of those two years, there was a particularly thrilling duel between team-mates Hamilton and Rosberg, with some hard and close racing, the event at which Pastor Maldonado tipped Esteban Gutiérrez into a roll.

In 2016, the fairly unanimously unpopular qualifying format which saw a car eliminated every 90 seconds was used for the second and last time. Eventual world champion Rosberg won, and there was a first corner collision between Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo, while Sebastian Vettel didn't even make the grid, thanks to an engine failure. Hamilton managed to get back to third.

The following year, Bottas took pole early in his Mercedes career, but Vettel won in the Ferrari from Hamilton and his team-mate.

In 2018, Max Verstappen, making his way up from 15th on the grid, tangled with Lewis Hamilton, who had fallen to 10th, puncturing his left rear. Kimi Räikkönen collided with Ferrari's Francesco Cigarini, breaking the crew member's tibia and fibula, after his team's pit light changed to green early. Bottas harried leader Vettel, but didn't make it past. They finished like that, with Hamilton in third. Pierre Gasly claimed his first points and Honda's best finish since their return, with an excellent 4th place.

In 2019, Charles Leclerc secured his maiden pole position, but was beaten away off the line by Vettel and Bottas. He got back in the lead, however, but lost likely victory when he lost a cylinder. Vettel was pursued by Hamilton, who got by, causing Vettel to spin on his own. Hamilton won, followed by Bottas and the hapless Leclerc.

2020's race was originally scheduled for March, but was postponed and eventually placed in November in a double-header with the Sakhir Grand Prix, the latter of which would use the outer loop configuration.

Romain Grosjean collided with Daniil Kvyat on the opening lap and managed to extricate himself from his fireball accident after going through the barrier. On the restart, Kvyat again had a crash, this time with Lance Stroll, with the Racing Point driver rolling over (the second time a driver has rolled over in the Bahrain Grand Prix, along with Gutiérrez). Hamilton won from Verstappen and Albon, with Sergio Pérez retiring with flames coming from his car, after an engine failure on Lap 54, while in 3rd.

In the Sakhir race a week later, Pérez would make amends by winning, after an opening-lap accident that eliminated Leclerc and Verstappen and put the Racing Point driver at the back. This win occurred after Mercedes driver George Russell, who was replacing Hamilton due to Covid, hit problems. Russell had made a sensational getaway off the line from 2nd on the grid to take the lead. However, during a pit stop, he was sent out on Bottas's tyres and had to come back in to change them. He later acquired a puncture too and it seemed that if it could fall apart for him, it did fall apart. He nonetheless put a great move on Bottas to get past him. Pérez claimed his maiden win (still without a drive for 2021) and broke the record for the number of Grands Prix before the first victory, with Esteban Ocon 2nd for Renault and Stroll 3rd for Racing Point. Russell scored his first points, in 9th, though that was scarce compensation.

In 2021, Verstappen backed up Red Bull's testing promise by taking pole, but was beaten to the win by Hamilton after an audacious pass on the Mercedes driver at Turn 4 was deemed to have been off-track. The team ordered him to hand back the place, and thereafter he couldn't catch Lewis, ending up in the runner-up spot, while Bottas was a distant 3rd. Lando Norris impressed at McLaren in 4th, while Yuki Tsunoda was somewhat disappointed on his debut in 9th.

Last year, Leclerc made up for the 2019 disappointment by gaining pole and leading team-mate Carlos Sainz home in a Ferrari 1-2, concluding the ideal opening weekend to the season with fastest lap. Verstappen endeavoured to pass the lead Ferrari twice, once being repassed and the next time locking up and failing to make it. He eventually retired with a fuel system issue, as did team-mate Pérez. Hamilton made it back 3rd.


The Track




On this configuration, after the start-finish straight and DRS Detection Zone 1, Turn 1 is a right-hand hairpin, while the gentle left-hand 2 feeds into a small right-hander which just takes drivers onto the next straight (with DRS activation). Turn 4 is a slightly off-camber right, after a crest, while the 5, 6 and 7 left-right-left challenges the downforce. Turn 8 is another right-hand hairpin.

DRS detection can be attained at the end of the next straight, just before the tricky Turns 9 and 10. Drivers go left through 9 and have to brake while turning, making it easy to lock up the unloaded tyre. 10 is a tighter left. The next straight can see DRS activation, before increased gradient and a change in style for the remainder of the lap.

There is a long left-hander in 11, before the flat-out right at 12. 13 is a tighter right and the start of Sector 3. DRS Detection Zone 3 is at the end of the next straight and the lap ends with the 90-degree right of 14 and its extension at the end of 15. The DRS activation will be on the next straight.


Other Information

Circuit length: 5.412km
Number of laps: 57
Race distance: 308.238km
Race Lap Record: 1:31.447 (Pedro de la Rosa - McLaren-Mercedes - 2005)
Dry weather tyre compounds: C1, C2 & C3
First Bahrain Grand Prix: 2004

Have fun joining in our competitions.

The Predictions Contest can be entered every round, before the start of qualifying. See here: https://tentenths.com/forum/showthread.php?t=157758

You have until the start of Free Practice 1 on Friday to enter Fantasy F1: https://tentenths.com/forum/showthread.php?t=157755

Enjoy!

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Old 27 Feb 2023, 15:18 (Ref:4145097)   #2
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Looking forward to the season. I hope we can put 2021/2022 drama behind us. I am also very curious to see the impact of driver moves and new drivers.

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Old 27 Feb 2023, 16:14 (Ref:4145110)   #3
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I'm now an Alonso fan. He's the only guy flying the flag for drivers older than me!
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Old 27 Feb 2023, 16:33 (Ref:4145117)   #4
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Aaaaand we're back in the room again!

Great intro BR, it's like we've never been away
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Old 27 Feb 2023, 17:07 (Ref:4145129)   #5
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Excellent stuff! Hoping to see Lance Norris overcome his car's problems as well as his name change!
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Old 27 Feb 2023, 17:09 (Ref:4145130)   #6
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we back! thanks for the intro BR!

for sure seeing what the actual running order is were the main focus will be but im also very curious about driver stamina and who is already fit enough to run a race weekend after what looked to be a lot of laps by everyone last week.

very excited for this years season!
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Old 27 Feb 2023, 18:16 (Ref:4145142)   #7
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Excellent stuff! Hoping to see Lance Norris overcome his car's problems as well as his name change!
Lando Stroll's second cousin.

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Old 27 Feb 2023, 21:29 (Ref:4145167)   #8
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Excellent stuff! Hoping to see Lance Norris overcome his car's problems as well as his name change!
I promise I'm not trying to fill the late, great Murray Walker's shoes.
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Old 28 Feb 2023, 07:52 (Ref:4145197)   #9
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Trivia
Of the current drivers, Hamilton, Alonso and Sergio Pérez (in the Sakhir Grand Prix) have taken victory here.
A certain Mr Leclerc would like a word with you..... something to do with 2022
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Old 28 Feb 2023, 08:54 (Ref:4145201)   #10
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Oh no - that's just careless.

So determined was I to get the thread up so we could discuss Bahrain as soon as possible and we will be discussing my errors.

Carlos Leclerc will be most annoyed at my omission. Actually, to while away the time, as children, my sister and I used to have fun swapping team-mates' names for fun - Eddie Schumacher was a favourite, as was David Hakkinen. I'll get my coat (another 90s child's expression).

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Old 28 Feb 2023, 09:24 (Ref:4145206)   #11
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Oh no - that's just careless.

So determined was I to get the thread up so we could discuss Bahrain as soon as possible and we will be discussing my errors.

Carlos Leclerc will be most annoyed at my omission. Actually, to while away the time, as children, my sister and I used to have fun swapping team-mates' names for fun - Eddie Schumacher was a favourite, as was David Hakkinen. I'll get my coat (another 90s child's expression).
Little known fact: David Schumacher raced in the 1996 Monaco GP for McLaren. 5 years before he was born. Google Image search it if you need proof.
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Old 28 Feb 2023, 10:00 (Ref:4145217)   #12
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Here he is!

I remember the boxer Lennox Lewis being interviewed on ITV (at Monaco, I think it was, actually) being asked about who he was cheering for and saying he liked all the drivers but that David Schumacher was doing well.
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Old 28 Feb 2023, 11:46 (Ref:4145235)   #13
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But it's good to see Hamish Lewilton flying the flag for Scotland, isn't it?

(Poetic licence demands the extra 'h'..... )
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Old 28 Feb 2023, 12:10 (Ref:4145240)   #14
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Shogun Large Ant, bigger than the average insect, will rule over at Williams.

When does the season start again?

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Old 28 Feb 2023, 17:56 (Ref:4145283)   #15
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Excellent intro as ever.

Looking forward to this season. I'm not a Ferrari fan but I would like to see them get the WDC and WCC, it's long overdue and especially after last season. It would be good to see someone else up there, rather than Mercedes or Red Bull.
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Old 28 Feb 2023, 21:34 (Ref:4145317)   #16
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Thanks for the intro BR - nice to have a GP again this weekend and get back into bleary-eyed mode LOL.

With the three days of testing and plenty of head-scratching time between then and the first session on Friday, I expect that most will have their cars sorted for this one and I'm looking forward to dinging out what the pecking order actually is (here at least).
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Old 28 Feb 2023, 21:54 (Ref:4145319)   #17
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codename_47 should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridcodename_47 should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
I don't care who wins, as long as it's a close race.

Sadly, I feel I'm going to be massively disappointed on that front

Oh well, with F3 and F2 around, they'll be providing the close racing, I'll just take whatever I can get from F1!

Bring Back Australia as round 1!
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Old 3 Mar 2023, 10:25 (Ref:4145570)   #18
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Lance Stroll will be back at the helm. Congratulations to him. Hope the wrist holds up. It must be 'painful' (ahem) for Felipe Drugovich to miss out.
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Old 3 Mar 2023, 11:03 (Ref:4145576)   #19
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Shame he's stuck in that Aston, but it will be good to have him back. I'm sure he will be fine. I couldn't see Drugovich doing any better
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Old 3 Mar 2023, 11:45 (Ref:4145584)   #20
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And we're on. And the bullshit stops (or starts).
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Old 3 Mar 2023, 11:48 (Ref:4145585)   #21
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Shame he's stuck in that Aston, but it will be good to have him back. I'm sure he will be fine. I couldn't see Drugovich doing any better
Out of interest, how's he 'stuck' in it?

(PS I'm sure most think Drug would have embarrassed Stroll.)
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Old 3 Mar 2023, 12:36 (Ref:4145596)   #22
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I would love to be stuck in that Aston!
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Old 3 Mar 2023, 20:31 (Ref:4145655)   #23
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bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!bjohnsonsmith is the undisputed Champion of the World!
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I would love to be stuck in that Aston!

Alonso likes being stuck in that Aston, as he tops FP2.


https://www.formula1.com/en/results....ractice-2.html
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Old 4 Mar 2023, 12:45 (Ref:4145709)   #24
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Alonso likes being stuck in that Aston, as he tops FP2.


https://www.formula1.com/en/results....ractice-2.html



And FP3.......


Who'd a thought it?
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Old 4 Mar 2023, 12:50 (Ref:4145710)   #25
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Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!Aysedasi is the undisputed Champion of the World!
I'd seriously like to see Fernando 'bloody' Max's nose in the first race...... (metaphorically speaking, of course.... )
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