FORMULA ONE RETURNS TO THE DESERT IN STYLE

23 Apr

The Michael Report, Bahrain 2012

Despite it being arguably the most controversial F1 Grand Prix in recent years, the Bahrain GP still managed to deliver an exciting and thrilling hour and a half of racing.

Sebastien Vettel led from the front and looks to have finally re-discovered his form as the dominant driver in the sport- this week-end, he drove almost flawlessly and led the way for practically the whole race, and déjà vu returned as we saw classic Vettel action- careering off from the start, managing his tyres carefully and cruising to a comfortable victory in the sweltering heat of the Gulf desert.

Nevertheless, the Ice Man himself Kimi Räikkönen survived the heat and almost clinched first place after almost overtaking Vettel in the middle of the race, but he managed to secure the first podium for the team under the Lotus name for decades, and his newcomer team- mate Romain Grosjean had a remarkable start in only his fourth GP since his return to F1 and sailed from seventh, up to second, by overtaking Hamilton, and dropped back to third by the end of the race, but this was nonetheless Lotus’ week-end.

It was an exciting race- there was an incredible scrap during the opening laps involving contact, damaged front wings and tyre degradation. This played a crucial role in this race, picking the correct compounds at the correct time was quintessential considering the high temperatures of the desert, and we saw strategies changing all the time, from two to four stops for tyres.

It was a bad afternoon for the McLaren team, who entered this week-end being at the top of the Driver’s and Constructor’s championships and leaving today in an entirely different position. Sticking rear tyre bolts at the Pit Lane twice thwarted Lewis Hamilton’s chance of a podium, despite a strong start- the mechanics must resolve this if they are to return to the top, and all they managed to secure was eighth for Lewis, and Button retired in the penultimate lap after having suffered an exhaust and gear box problem.

Rosberg received fifth place after a controversial race, the stewards investigated two occasions where he was accused of an aggressive driving style that forced Hamilton, and later Alonso, into the dust; no penalty was awarded following their investigation.

Daniel Ricciardo’s best ever qualifying was to no avail, finishing in a dismal sixteenth place, and the Williams team as a whole were losers this week-end, with both their contenders Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado retiring from the race. Charles Pic was Marussia’s retirement, despite beginning from a promising 19th- ahead of his team- mate Glock for the first time.

This website’s founder is likely to be pleased with his favourite team Ferrari securing seventh and ninth with Alonso and Massa respectively, with the latter being the last driver of a high status team to receive championship points. Maybe Ferrari have begun to find their form? Seven time World Champion Michael Schumacher gained an astonishing twelve places to secure the final point in tenth place.

Surrounded in controversy, there was wide speculation of a sombre, riot-ridden week-end, and although the civil unrest and rioting continues, this Gulf Monarchy has proven that F1 can return, still deliver, and has another year to put this behind them, and hopefully the 2013 season will herald even more action!

I will speak again in three weeks’ time as F1 returns to Europe and Catalunya, Spain for race five.

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