4th race of the season..and scattered thoughts. Bahrain Grand Prix is the first race that we really never saw this season. I mean that literally, and also it really was never a RACE.
The weekend again fell down to the great Pirelli tires. Handle them well -> win the race. There’s no doubt they add the ‘flavor’ to grand prix racing, but when the real deal, racing, is compromised for bits of rubber.. doesn’t seem legit, does it?
Anyways, on the whole; It was a fly away weekend. Though Nico Rosberg started on pole, he really wasnt up for the fight given by his rivals behind for the lead. And guess who was behind? reigning 3 time world champion, Sebastian Vettel and his arch rival Fernando Alonso. It was a very typical start from Alonso. Knowing that in front of him was a car that lacked straight line speed, he took full advantage to get ahead of Vettel. But clearly being champion means you have the ability to take back the position you lost. And so he did. The jackpot move that practically handed him the victory on a silver platter. Into turn 4, side by side alongside Alonso, got a good exit and nailed the move. P2 Sebastian Vettel. There was more action further behind where Felipe Massa and Adrian Sutil had a racing incident, which saw them both lose positions. And in sutil’s case lose the race. on the contrary, sutil’s teammate, Paul Di Resta managed to move up ahead into 4th chasing Alonso. Lewis Hamilton probably got bogged up in dirty air and slipped to P11. Soon within the 3rd lap, Sebastian Vettel fought for the lead, and as ususal, the Mercedes with it’s tire degradation issues had to succumb to the pressure of the RedBull. And there was Sebastian Vettel taking the lead, and never turning back! Alonso developed problems with his DRS wing and had to pit, which spoiled his race. Again, for the 2nd time this season. Where was the Ferrari’s 200% reliability? Kimi Raikkonen silently made his way to P2 by stopping just twice for change of tires! P5 starting Force India if Paul DiResta was running strongly in P3 until Romain Grosjean [who basically made it through the grid possibly 8 times that race!] chased him down with newer, softer and quicker tires. And then there it was – the same podium as 2012 : Seb taking centre stage, Raikkonen in second and Grosjean in P3
Well, there wasn’t much of a race to see. Sebastian Vettel won the race in the 4th lap when he started to pull away at a rate of nearly 1s per lap. And with no Alonso breathing down his neck, he just flew and flew and possibly even drank tea during the race. A hands down 28th victory now puts him 4th in the all time winners.
Lewis Hamiltion was quoted saying the Bahrain Grand Prix “might have been the worst for Mercedes”, after finishing P5. Mercedes are one of the many teams who are very abrasive on the tires, they do have the qualifying pace and frankly they have the race pace too. But each and every time, the only stick and stone standing between them and the victory are the tires. It was a big surprise when the RedBull managed to pull out the most number of laps in the Hard tires, because they too suffer the ‘high tire degradation’ problem, which is what cost them the race in Australia. RedBulls finally get the tires working in the right window in a desert where tires never tend to wok in the right window. Lotus.. Pirelli’s favorite team. 2 stopper, almost nil deg, race victory.. they are enlightened, truly.
I forgot the best part of the race! Sergio Perez vs Jenson Button! [Dont worry, nothing as exciting as Webber vs Vettel] Perez looked on top of his game that weekend. Probably because Carlos Slim was there? Maybe. But after a week of negative criticism, Checo did move his elbow to finish in a strong P6, beating his older teammate who after making a last pitstop, finished P10. Perez did admit himself that he was “way too aggressive”, but he did put up a good fight, and also made a fool of himself when he went banging JB [totally unnecessary!]
So, finally we move onto the next leg of the season. The much awaited for European leg, starting with the very famous Catalunya, Barcelona. Big teams like RedBull, Lotus and Ferrari won’t bring much upgrades, there WILL be upgrades, but not pace changing upgrades. These teams constantly evolve. Like RBR tested out new aero enhancing hubs on Sebastian’s car in Bahrain, and Ferrari modified their front wing in China and Lotus apparently (not confirmed) have a new ‘active suspension’ [upgrade or not, whatever the Loutuses did, its working for them]On the other hand, teams like McLaren who’ve been awfully struggling this season will bring in major, weighty upgrades to try and up their game. Williams, last year’s winner will hope to bring in upgrades too, which hopefully put them in contention for at least the top 10 in Barcelona.
Caterham and Marussia are in a battle of their own. Geido Van Der Garde was beaten by his teammate on every occasion, and more impressively, Marussia driver Jules Bianchi is getting a lot of attention as he has finished all the races until now and has done them all in style, beating the Caterhams occasionally!
Bring on Spain!