F1 Power Rankings: Bahrain Grand Prix

Two weeks off and F1 seems on the verge of imploding. The drivers are questioning the decisions of the sport’s governing body and commercial rights holders. The new qualifying format that sent fans home early in Melbourne survives to see another Grand Prix. Bernie continues to chase money with F1 while admitting F1 is broken even though he’s probably the primary cause.

Anyway, among all the controversy over the last couple of weeks, there is a race happening this week. It’s the Bahrain Grand Prix. When Esteban Gutierrez was last there, Pastor Maldonado sent him for a barrel roll. After Australia, hopefully we don’t get any more of that excitement.

f1-lewis-hamilton-helmet-2016#1 Lewis Hamilton (Last Race #1)
Old Louise talks about the rules battles ongoing: “There’s been a lot of talk about the rules and whether the drivers should be more involved in decision making. It’s not our job to come up with ideas and we all have different opinions anyway. But personally, I think we need more mechanical grip and less aero wake coming off the back of the cars so we can get close and overtake. Give us five seconds’ worth of lap time from aero and nothing will change – we’ll just be driving faster. I speak as somebody who loves this sport and loves racing. I don’t have all the answers – but I know that the changes we’re making won’t deliver better racing.”

f1-nico-rosberg-helmet-2016#2 Nico Rosberg (LR #2)
And on that note, Keke’s kid talks about the new radio rules. A lot of people thought that these rules would impact him more than others at the front of the grid: “The new radio rules make things quite a big challenge. It’s tough out there – and for me it’s a good direction we’ve taken, giving the drivers more responsibility. The important thing is whether it’s what the fans want to see, so we need to listen to them.”

f1-sebastian-vettel-helmet-2016#3 Sebastian Vettel (LR #3)
Ferrari very well could have won the Australian Grand Prix on pace. We’ll never know because they bungled the strategy at every turn. While they want to put F1 in the drivers’ hands, it’s a team sport. The Scuderia Ferrari team let Seb down with a too long first stint and one too many pitstops after the red flag. They’ll need to improve their strategy in order to contend for wins from here on out.

f1-kimi-raikkonen-helmet-2016#4 Kimi Raikkonen (LR #4)
Pirelli F1 boss talks about the impact of the new tyre regs for 2016: “The new tyre regulations for 2016 proved to be a big success, providing many different strategy options and talking points for all the teams in Australia. Bahrain is a very different type of circuit, with tyre behaviour affected by a big drop in temperature as the race goes on. This provides a different set of challenges and parameters, so it will be interesting to see who has learned most from Australia in order to take best advantage of another new situation.”

f1-felipe-massa-helmet-2016#5 Felipe Massa (LR #6)
Old Phil quite enjoys running Bahrain from the Ferrari days. Didn’t the track share info with the Scuderia through Shell or am I the only one that remembers that? “Bahrain is definitely a place I really enjoy racing. I’ve won twice there and I’ve had many other good results. I always enjoy going there, including many times for testing. I like the people as well as the place in general and I look forward to having a good race there.”

f1-valtteri-bottas-helmet-2016#6 Valtteri Bottas (LR #5)
For #BO77AS, the season starts this weekend at the Tilke-drome: “The track looks good and is just as nice to drive. It’s a good track for racing and I got a decent result last year. It’s quite a different kind of track to Melbourne, so it’s going to be interesting to see where we are compared to the others; because it’s more like a standard race track rather than the Melbourne street circuit. ”

f1-daniel-ricciardo-helmet-2016#7 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #9)
I’m not a huge fan of the track but Danny Boy is: “The track is good for overtaking, the last corner flows quite well and if you can get close for DRS you can get a good run into Turn 1. If you don’t get it into Turn 1, then there’s Turn 4 or the middle sectors where it’s easy to make mistakes. There’s probably four places you can pass on the track which is pretty good.”

#8 Max Verstappen (LR #8)

#9 Carlos Sainz (LR #12)

f1-nico-hulkenberg-helmet-2016#10 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #10)
The Hulk complained about the red flag in Australia. That’s racing, kid: “We’ve started the season in the right way by getting some points on the board, even though we had the potential to come away from Australia with many more. The red flag came out at the worst possible moment for our strategy and that cost us some positions, but we still managed to fight back and come away with an important seventh place: I am happy with that.”

f1-sergio-perez-helmet-2016#11 Sergio Perez (LR #7)
I think Checo might win generic PR quotage of the week this week: “There are long straights and sharp braking zones so it’s great for overtaking, but the big tractions zones make this a tough track for the rear tyres. I think tyre degradation will be a key factor in the outcome of this race. The track evolves a lot as the race goes on, as the cars sweep away all the sand and dust that the wind has blown onto the track.”

f1-daniil-kvyat-helmet-2016#12 Daniil Kvyat (LR #11)
Daniil Boy talks about one long straight in Bahrain. When I think of it, I think of it as a four straight track: “To me, this track has been OK. Last year there were a few issues, but in the race it was fine. There is a long straight which was our weakness last year but this year we are looking to find some improvements so it could turn out to be quite a competitive track for us.”

f1-fernando-alonso-helmet-2016#13 Fernando Alonso (LR #13)
It’s an all-new everything for Fernando after the last race in Melbourne: “In testing and in Melbourne we’ve had good reliability, which proves how hard the team has worked to make our package stronger. There’s also been a massive effort from the teams in Woking and Sakura, who have been flat-out manufacturing parts for this race to ensure we can get back up to speed after the chassis was damaged, and I’m hugely impressed with how quickly they’ve managed to turn it around.”

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2016#14 Jenson Button (LR #15)
JB looks at how strategy has changed with the new tyre allocation rules and what they’re doing differently in Bahrain: “We made a couple of misjudgements on the strategy side in Melbourne, but it’s all part of the learning curve with the new tyre compound rules. Together with the engineers we’ve studied the data and hopefully we can make some good calls in Bahrain, pull together the various stages of the race and achieve a more representative result.”

f1-kevin-magnussen-helmet-2016#15 Kevin Magnussen (LR #14)
K-Mag thinks that Renault had better pace than Williams who were the third-fastest team in the race… Right… “We had a good pace – on par with Williams and maybe even faster. We didn’t think we would have the pace of the top ten, but in the end we did. I’m gutted as we could possibly have been in the points if I had not had that puncture, but that’s life. For a first race, it looks very encouraging for the rest of the season.”

f1-jolyon-palmer-helmet-2016#16 Jolyon Palmer (LR #16)
Joe Palmer talks about his return to motorsport after a year away: “It felt completely normal. The difference from GP2 to F1 is that there are bigger variables. People are on different tyres and strategies, so you have to work out whether you can realistically fight and keep position, but it was not a problem. I had some good battles and really enjoyed it.”

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2016#17 Romain Grosjean (LR #19)
Romain sounds like he’s calmed down from the Aussie GP: “Sunday is the day you really want to perform, and we did very well. The car was reliable and it went to the end. The strategy was perfect. Since day one the car has shown huge potential. We showed that in Australia. With barely any setup work, we put it on the track and managed to hold on to sixth at the end of the grand prix.”

f1-felipe-nasr-helmet-2016#18 Felipe Nasr (LR #17)
For Young Phil, this is one of two races he considers home races: “The Bahrain Grand Prix is a special race weekend for me. Having Lebanese roots from my grandfather, I have always liked being in the Middle East. For me as a driver it is nice to not only get huge support from Brazil, but also from where we are. The track itself is great fun to drive and to race at night makes the event even more special.”

f1-marcus-ericsson-helmet-2016#19 Marcus Ericsson (LR #18)
While Checo made a good run for generic quotage of the week, I think Marcus may win this week: “The Bahrain Grand Prix is the first night race of the season. I especially enjoy the surroundings under the floodlights, which looks pretty nice on TV. I know the track well from my previous two seasons in Formula 1, but also from GP2, as I have been there many times. Last year I put in a good performance as well as having a strong race. I was going for points, which did not work out in the end due to other circumstances.”

f1-esteban-gutierrez-helmet-2016#20 Esteban Gutierrez (LR #21)
Melbourne had changing conditions. That’s not expected in Bahrain. So how does that change things according to Steve: “It will be very positive because we can finally work and experiment a little bit with the car and its setup. Unfortunately, we have not been able to do that. It’s quite impressive that even though we have not been able to experiment a lot, we have a very good base line. So, I’m really looking forward to get to know more of the car to experiment more and really work on the best direction for our setup. Bahrain will help us a lot to get more consistent running, more laps in practice and hopefully a smooth weekend.”

f1-pascal-wehrlein-helmet-2016#21 Pascal Wehrlein (LR #20)
The new golden child of the silver arrows knows that there’s a lot for he and Manor to improve on: “Qualifying didn’t work out well for us and as we have the same format here in Bahrain we need to put those lessons into practice. We still have a way to go with optimising the set-up to counter the tyre degradation problems we experienced in the second half of the race. It was a good start, but there’s a lot of room for improvement in every area, including me.”

f1-rio-haryanto-helmet-2016#22 Rio Haryanto (LR #22)
Rio spent his time off doing the rounds in Indonesia: “I went home to Solo in Indonesia. Everyone wanted to hear about the racing so I got to relive the experience again and again! It’s my job to reward the support by sharing every detail of the experience with the fans back home, so there was a lot of media work and some appearances, and a little bit of time to prepare for Bahrain.”

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