It’s always fun when a pattern develops. I’m not talking about Nico Rosberg winning once again. While Nico Rosberg has won five races in a row, he might not have done so if not for another pattern that might be developing this season. Lewis Hamilton once again started on pole but couldn’t cleanly get through the first turn which cost him a chance at the win.
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.
While Ferrari is back in contention this season, the battle that fans are focusing on isn’t silver vs. red. The big battle is between Hamilton vs. Rosberg. Having missed out on pole and finish behind Hamilton in each race, the Bahrain Grand Prix could have been the turning point for Nico’s season. Either he could turn it around and prove himself a contender or he would fall out of the hunt before returning to Europe.
While there were some promising moments during the race, Rosberg once again collapsed under the pressure. Even before his big mistake, he was never going to win. The winner was, once again, Lewis Hamilton.
It’s time for the first back-to-back Grands Prix of the season as the teams make the trip from Shanghai to Bahrain for the Bahrain Grand Prix. It’s interesting to see that the opinion is mixed heading into this race. Despite this being a night race, many expect the heat and tarmac to have a big effect on tyre degradation. That would seemingly play into the hands of Ferrari but who would count out the Silver Arrows.
As part of the changes to all of the technical regulations, the 2014 Formula One World Championship season included a rules change that allows four two-day in-season test sessions for teams to work on their cars and gather data about new parts and Pirelli tyres.
The first of these test sessions was in Bahrain following last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. If you include the pre-season testing, that makes 13 days out of 23 (12 days of pre-season testing, 9 days of race weekends and 2 days of this test) of official running that has been held on this one track. So it should surprise anyone that Mercedes was still at the head of the field after this test.
People were looking for all sorts of reasons why the first two races of the season weren’t as epic as everyone was hoping. Much blame was laid at the feed of the new engines being too quiet. Mercedes engines absolutely dominating proceedings wasn’t helping much. Pirelli tyres, as always, were blamed too.
It turns out, though, that all we really needed to get an exciting race from the new generation of Formula One was a late safety car to bunch the field together and allow people to run all over each other in order. Despite some close side-by-side racing at the end, it was Lewis Hamilton that led the race essentially from first corner to the last as he picked up his second win of the season.
For the first time, the Bahrain Grand Prix will be contested under the lights. While this makes it easier on the viewers in Europe and the Americas because it won’t be competing with other sports in the middle of the afternoon or start at the break of dawn. The downside is that the cooler temperatures likely means that the cars aren’t going to overheat and expire. So we might actually get a normal-ish race this time out.
Unlike most seasons that see the Circuit de Catalunya hosting a pair of tests, this year, the Formula One circus makes a pair of appearances in Bahrain on successive weeks to dial cars in for the season. Even though the two Bahrain tests were only a week apart, teams brought out some new parts and other improvements to tune up for an Australian Grand Prix that’s only two weeks after the conclusion of this test.
Since the Arab Spring protests that started in 2011, Formula One’s stop in a country with protests has been very controversial. Many think that the race should be cancelled because a Grand Prix is just a way to legitimize the Bahrain government because of the economic impact of the race. Other’s think that making a decision based on political reasoning isn’t something F1 should do because it’s a sport.
Still, the race took place again amid the protests. For the second year running we had an all Renault engine podium and it was actually the exact same podium in the exact same order as last year as Sebastian Vettel picked up his second straight Bahrain Grand Prix win.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone likes to claim that the World Championship isn’t used for nor is allowed to be used for political purposes. However, the Formula One World Championship returns to the Kingdom of Bahrain, the land that the press covering the Arab Spring forgot. From the sounds of it, things haven’t gotten better for the people of Bahrain.
I’ll write a bit more about that during my race and news recap. For now, here are this round’s Power Rankings, assuming that this race is allowed to go ahead. Since Bernie appears to be oblivious to how Bahrain’s leadership is using the Grand Prix to portray a positive public image, let’s just assume there will be a race this weekend.