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Bahrain GP 2016 - 5 in a row for Rosberg

Nico Rosberg scored his 5th consecutive win at the Bahrain GP to maintain his perfect start to 2016. Kimi Raikkonen came home 2nd, breaking the record for podium finishes at the same race, whilst Lewis Hamilton had to recover yet another race to finish 3rd. It was another solid 4th for Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean went one better than he did in Australia, bringing his Haas home in 5th. Max Verstappen was 6th for Toro Rosso, with the Williams pair of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas coming in 7th and 8th. Dani Kvyat was 9th after starting 18th and Stoffel Vandoorne was 10th on his McLaren debut, deputising for the injured Fernando Alonso. It was a day to forget for Sebastian Vettel however as his engine starting smoking on the formation lap and didn’t make it to the start.

This failure for Vettel was one of a few incidents that robbed the fans of a potential fascinating battle for the victory, which Rosberg took comfortably in the end. At the start, Rosberg once again got the jump on Hamilton, whilst Raikkonen was almost static and fell back. In the run down to turn one, the fast starting Williams’ were right up there with the Mercedes’, and Bottas tried to go up the inside of Hamilton before with him, causing the Mercedes body damage. The result of this saw Hamilton fall back down the field and another damage limitations drive was needed for the World Champion. Bottas also received a drive through penalty for causing a collision, something I believe was harsh simply because there was definitely a gap for Bottas to try and go for. This, along with Raikkonen’s poor start, allowed Rosberg to control the race from the front again and win comfortably. Had Vettel started, Hamilton avoided contact, and Raikkonen started well, it could have been an absolute cracker up front. A significant thing with this victory is the number five. No driver has ever won five races in a row and not won the World Championship. A sign perhaps?

After another shocking qualifying session, the racing again was exciting to watch, albeit not at the front where everyone wants it. Easily from 4th down to last place, cars were going up the inside, around the outside, any possible way just to make up one place, even if it was just for 11th, 12th or 13th. Pascal Wehrlein was a superb example of this throughout the race, eventually finishing in 13th place and showing the progress the Manor team are making with the Mercedes engines. Amongst all the overtaking, bits of front wing and everything else seemed to be flying all over the place. By the end of lap 1 Hamilton was missing bits of car, as was Bottas and Ricciardo. Sergio Perez also had a collision resulting in a new front wing. Formula 1 had turned into a demolition derby for a few laps at least.


Reliability an Issue for Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel’s failure on the formation lap at the Bahrain GP is the second reliability issue the team has had this season. In Australia, Kimi Raikkonen had some kind of engine issue which saw flames shoot out from the overhead air duct. Vettel also had issues in practise that looked like engine or gearbox but turned out to be a loose wheel. Even the fact that a loose wheel was the culprit, it still shows that Ferrari have issues. A problem with the wheel gun and the wheel nut was the issue in Bahrain. The most concerning however would definitely be the engine issues that seem to be plaguing the team. They have clearly made progress with the power unit and closed the gap to Mercedes.
The fact that they seem unwilling to run the car to full capacity with regards to the engine shows that the team are aware of this, even if they don’t want to openly admit it. Sebastian Vettel has came out and said that the team are surprised by their reliability issues. These engine troubles could also have ramifications for Sauber and Haas who both run 2016 Ferrari engines. For their season to have a real title push, they really need to sort this out fast, or risk losing more ground to Mercedes.

Haas F1 Fallout?

After the Bahrain GP I posted a question on twitter asking should the likes of Williams, Force India and Sauber feel aggrieved by the fantastic start the team have made to F1 life? It prompted many different responses ranging from definitely yes, to absolutely not. Personally I don’t think they should. What the Haas team has done should be the new blueprint for any team wanting to compete in Formula 1. In 2010 when Caterham (Team Lotus), HRT and Virgin Racing came to the grid with no proper financial backing or plan it was a disaster waiting to happen. HRT and Caterham failed to score a single point in Formula 1 during their short tenures in the sport. Virgin Racing have had two name changes, now running under the Manor name and have scored just two solitary points in this their 7th season. Haas in just two races have scored 18 points. The idea of planning out the team and setting it up the way Gene Haas has should be applauded. Essentially they are a Ferrari B team with the amount of Ferrari equipment that has been used and using former Ferrari test driver Esteban Gutierrez as one of its drivers. Williams have been vocal in their opposition to the way Haas have entered F1 but fail to mention that they started in very similar fashion. I can see the point of view of Force India and Sauber a bit more as they have been completely independent since joining F1, and never made a secret of the financial difficulties they’ve encountered. It was even rumoured at Bahrain that the next race in China could be one too many for the Sauber team, something I pray is not true. But what’s done is done now, and it is up to these teams to play catch up or maybe try and strike similar deals elsewhere.

Report courtesy of Simon Gray

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