Bahrain GP: Sparks fly in the dark from the duelling Arabian Knights…

 

Could there have been a more dramatic start to the race? Even before lights out we’d lost Jolyon Palmer with a reported electrical fault. Then Ferrari’s 2nd DNF from 2 as Vettel suffered a catastrophic engine failure. This was his 1st DNS of his F1 career.

Hamilton once again struggled with the new start and by the time he’d reached the 1st corner, he’d not only been past by Rosberg, but both Williams, having flown off the line, caught him off guard. Massa took 2nd place, and Bottas, overbraking into the corner, side swiped Hamilton taking half the Mercedes front wing with him. The Finn was forced to serve a drive through penalty for the incident and gained 2 penalty points in the process. He never did recover despite some wheel to wheel racing with Kvyat, though he’ll be happy to get away with 9th.

Indeed, Williams will be disappointed after their incredible start, which they were unable to sustain, and by lap 20 Massa was acceding to Torro Rosso as Verstappen flew by. To finish only one place ahead of his team mate and all his woes isn’t a good day at the office.

The Podium

Rosberg, on the other hand had a magnificent start, and like Australia, didn’t put a foot wrong. At times Raikkonen made a bit of headway, but, there’s no telling how much extra Nico had left in the tank. He’ll be more than delighted to be leading the championship following his 5th win in a row.

Mercedes sponsors will be happy in the sense that with Hamilton in the mix for so much of the race, they at least had some TV time. Nico disappearing off in to the distance to be followed by Lewis, while all the action behind gleaned the coverage would have been awful. Kudos to Lewis, to bring the broken Mercedes home in 3rd. His late pit stop caused confusion with the pundits, but it turns out he was no longer competing with Raikkonen. His damage too great, they held the tyres as long as they could in the hope a safety car would give them one last shout. Alas it was not to be, and 3rd was his lot for the day.

Kimi was his usual effusive self post race. Happy enough with 2nd, but mindful Seb’s retirement was another missed opportunity for the team. Bahrain suits him well, although given his penchant for champagne, the rose water may not be quite so much to his taste.

Torro Rosso

It’s 10 years since the Red Bull family took over Minardi. Torro Rosso has bred so many top class drivers – all the Red Bull drivers of the past few years have come up from the sister team. They’ve also given experience to drivers who’ve gone on to success in other formulae. At the moment Sebastien Buemi is 2nd in the Formula E championship. None however have impressed so quickly as Sainz and Verstappen, and today was no different. Sainz finally retired on lap 31 to save the engine as his race was virtually over having suffered a puncture after contact with Perez. Verstappen on the other hand, showed more of the promise from last year with some sweet passes coming from 10th to take 6th position.

Big sister will be keeping a watchful eye. Daniel Ricciardo was delighted to finish 4th. Qualifying in 5th, he’d expected to struggle more against the Williams, and he had his fair share of battles, but in the end a clean 4th was his. Kvyat on the other hand made good his poor qualifying, bringing the car home in 7th. Considering both cars ran with missing front wing end plates after some crash bangs early on, they’re more than happy.

Young guns (having some fun)

The promise of the newbies in Saturdays qualifying came good in the race. Pascal Wehrlein had a fantastic race. An argument could be made that with the new Mercedes engine, the car was always going to be more competitive, yet Rio Haryanto held MRT’s usual position at the back of the pack. Wehrlein doesn’t know what that’s all about. He ended up the filling in a Sauber sandwich, and gave Force India a day they’ll happily forget. A truly bad day for Perez and Hulkenburg.

Vandoorne’s F1 debut could not have gone better. Given how uncompetitive the McLaren has been, to score the teams 1st points of the season while his 2 World Champion team mates sat in the garage, was very sweet. While Button had a fantastic start, passing the youngster and getting up to 9th from 14th, he suffered an ERS failure on lap 8 and had to retire the car. Stoffel took the opportunity, and showed himself to be a clean racer, very deserving of the opportunity handed to him. Alonso’s recovery will determine whether or not we see the youngster again in China. He shares the honours of driver of the day with…

Grosjean… ???

Seriously, did Romain not get the memo!? His smile said it all. No one told him he wasn’t supposed to better his 6th place finish in Oz by bringing the car home in 5th. The fact that Haas sit 5th on the constructors table with 18 points, and he is above Vettel on the drivers table, beggars belief. The joy he brings to each race, the enthusiasm and tenacity, is wonderful to watch. However, Gutierrez retired early on, so whether the car has reliability issues remains to be seen. Lets hope not.

 

 

 

Formula One returns on 17th April for the Chinese Grand Prix

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