Bahrain – What We Learned
THE BIG PICTURE: Formula One is full of major drama and this race featured a dispute as to whether or not two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso was fit to drive after his major shunt in Australia two weeks ago. The FIA said he was not, regardless of what specialists hired by McLaren said.
EVENT: The contract for this race has been extended through the next decade. Unlike other Persian Gulf states, Bahrain began transitioning from an oil-driven economy years ago. The result is a thriving motorsport industry for the region and a very popular race weekend.
QUALIFYING: Hamilton’s 51st career pole was no surprise. Qualifying should return to its former three-tier qualifications sessions to the relief of all concerned.
RACE: Typical F1 fare. The race was essentially decided on the first lap with polesitter Hamilton beaten back by his teammate Nico Rosberg. Yawn.
START: Once again, it is apparent that Lewis Hamilton is having difficulties with the new-for-2016 single clutch start. Rosberg had little trouble getting by Hamilton to take the lead for the entire race.
ROSBERG: The German has now won five straight grands prix. That is certainly no fluke. The question is, what’s going on? Has Hamilton become less talented? Is Nico’s car being prepared better than Lewis’? Maybe. But whatever the reason, it brings even more drama to this Formula One soap opera.
HAMILTON: Lewis had a bad start again and was only able to recover to the extent of claiming the third and final spot on the podium. Again, what’s going on? It remains to be seen.
MERCEDES: Mercedes looks poised to win yet another Constructors’ Championship. As we said last race, it’s early yet, but this German team has over double the points of their closest competitors Ferrari and Red Bull. If both drivers continue to earn significant points each race, it will be challenging at best for any other team to take the 2016 championship.
VETTEL: He blowed up on the parade lap. If last race was Raikkonen barbeque, this race was Vettel’s mosquito abatement program.
RAIKKONEN: Kimi’s race was very clean and remarkable only because he finished second.
FERRARI: I think everyone was expecting they would be better this year. Only getting one of two cars to finish per race does not bode well for the ever devoted Tifosi and their team.
BEST TEAM: Gotta go with Mercedes for their two race wins in two races and the consistency of both drivers finishing on the podium
MOST IMPROVED TEAM: Red Bull Racing wins this race weekend because their two drivers named Daniel (or Danill), that would be Ricciardo and Kyvat, are the only team other than Mercedes and Ferrari to have both drivers in the top ten in the championship standings.
WHAT WE WILL REMEMBER: The first F1 race of Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne, who was quite impressive in his debut and scored McLaren’s first championship points of 2016. He subbed for the injured Fernando Alonso. Commentator Johnny Herbert says it’s time for Fred to retire. I say, shut up Johnny.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: “Wow, what a weekend! I am so happy with how everything is working out at the moment. The start was definitely the key to my win – and that was a really great moment, as it was an area that we put a lot effort into before the race” Nico Rosberg, on his fifth consecutive race win, a streak which started in 2015.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNER-UP: “It was a very short race today, I didn’t even break a drop of sweat…We had a failure”, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, on recording a rare DNS.
SCHEDULE: In two weeks, the Grand Prix of China in legendary Shanghai.
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