Formula 1 starts into its 74th season. With 23 races, the racing calendar is as extensive as never before. Bahrain will start again. The hunt for world champion Max Verstappen begins in the desert on Sunday (4:00 p.m. CET).

Who is the favorite for the opening win?

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Max Verstappen tops the podium. The world champion of the past two years made an excellent impression with Red Bull in the tests. “We’re starting the weekend from a good position,” said the superstar, whose car, in contrast to previous years, seemed mature and reliable straight away. Last year’s winner Charles Leclerc would be only too happy to use a success in the desert as a starting aid for his own title dreams with Ferrari. Mercedes around Bahrain record winner Lewis Hamilton is cautious. You can work with the W14, said team boss Toto Wolff reservedly. However, the racing team is confident “that we are in a stronger position than twelve months ago”.

What can be expected from Nico Hulkenberg?

After three years, Nico Hülkenberg has a Formula 1 regular cockpit again. The US team Haas served Mick Schumacher for him. The Rhinelander is known for getting used to things quickly and delivering consistent performance. “I’ve settled in well, the team has welcomed me well, things are already going well,” said the 35-year-old, who was last a reserve driver at Aston Martin. “I’m more of a racer than a test driver, so I’m happy when it counts.” He was “ready for attack mode”. In terms of performance, Haas can currently be found in the lower midfield, which is why a difficult restart awaits Hülkenberg. The only German with a Formula 1 regular cockpit is very familiar with complicated situations.

What characterizes the route?

The Aachen Formula 1 builder Hermann Tilke embedded the varied course in the rocky desert of Sakhir. In the area of ​​a former camel farm there are long straights, the percentage of full throttle is high. On the nine right-hand and six left-hand corners on each lap, the drivers have to brake hard again and again, which puts a lot of strain on the tires. The race is held under floodlights, more than 1100 palm trees line the course. All this guarantees spectacular pictures. The wind can be a challenge for the riders, but the sand hardly. The surrounding desert is sprayed with an adhesive substance to prevent too much sand from being blown onto the track.

How did the German pilots fare in Bahrain?

Michael Schumacher immortalized himself as the premiere winner in 2004. Sebastian Vettel even won four times in Bahrain (2012, 2013, 2017, 2018). On the way to his World Championship triumph in 2016, Nico Rosberg also won the Grand Prix in Sakhir. However, the record winner is Lewis Hamilton with five trophies (2014, 2015, 2019, 2020, 2021).

Where can I watch the start of the season on TV?

As usual, if you want to watch the opening race on Sunday (4:00 p.m. CET) live, you need a subscription. As in the previous two years, Sky exclusively shows all races in the premier class of motorsport. The pay-TV broadcaster charges 28 euros a month for this, and it is eight euros cheaper for new customers. But you can also follow the first training session on Friday (12.30 p.m. CET).

Which Bahrain race is remembered?

A desert Grand Prix that probably nobody can easily forget is that of 2020. At that time, shortly after the start, former Haas driver Romain Grosjean crashed into the guard rails. His car broke in two, the gasoline ignited and the car burst into flames. The Frenchman only reappeared from the inferno after almost 30 unimaginably long seconds. It was like a miracle: Grosjean only sprained his ankle and suffered burns on his hands. “I saw death coming,” he later recalled. The charred monocoque will also be open to the public at an exhibition in Madrid from late March.