DÉJÀ VU IN THE DESERT FOR RED BULL AND LOTUS

21 Apr

The Michael Report- 2013 FORMULA ONE GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

POLITICAL controversy overshadowed last year’s running of the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir. Thankfully, this year, there was little, if any, disruption, and with Pirelli providing the tyres, this year’s race was made truly unpredictable, it was set to be an exciting race, and apart from the top three, this was achieved.

From the start, Nico Rosberg fought bravely hold on to first place, but unfortunately, the Mercedes car struggled to maintain a suitable grip, and began to slow down, allowing the field to begin overtaking the pole sitter, and once Sebastian Vettel took the lead, he stormed off into the distance and was never to be seen again until he took the chequered flag an hour or so later, only stopping for routine tyre changes, and taking care of the rubber that threw spanners into the works of the other cars, unless your car was a Lotus.

Kimi Raikkönen and Romain Grosjean demonstrated the durability of the harder compound tyres, and managed to outperform the other cars, who may have been quicker, but they weren’t able to cope with the thermal degradation that took place under the roasting heat of the desert sun. In a full replication of last year’s Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel received twenty five points in first, Raikkönen eighteen in second, and Grosjean fifteen in third.

Paul Di Resta demonstrated a superb Force India car today, and if it weren’t for the degrading rubber in the closing stages in the race, he could have achieved his first Formula One podium. Alas, he finished fourth and received twelve points. Neverthelss, it was one of the best races Di Resta has ever had, and paves the way for a possible challenge to the top teams, and securing Force India as the main mid-field team by far. Team-mate Adrian Sutil, however, suffered badly following contact in the early stages of the race, and finished thirteenth.

Technical gremlins wreaked havoc for Ferrari today. Felipe Massa clipped his front wing with the Lotus of Kimi Raikkönen, and had to struggle throughout the race, suffering a puncture in the process, finishing fifteenth. Team-mate Fernando Alonso started promisingly, but his rear-wing flap remained open, and he had to pit twice to have it shut again, meaning that he lost time as well as the use of DRS. However, the Spaniard proved his worth with sublime driving, and finished in a respectable eighth with four points.

McLaren are back on the rise, it seems. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were tussling and pushing each other to the edge, quite literally, several times. The two cars from Woking were challenging the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber. Unfortunately for Jenson Button, he lost his war of rubber, and was forced to pit four times, instead of his planned three, but did manage to finish tenth with one point. On the other hand, Sergio Perez demonstrated why McLaren signed him, and pounced at every opportunity, eventually overtaking Mark Webber on the last lap to finish in sixth place, and received eight points. Lewis Hamilton finished fifth, and took home ten points, and team-mate Nico Rosberg finished ninth, and got two points.

Mark Webber had an average race, and maintained a good pace, but dropped back at the very last minute. In the space of the two last laps, he dropped from fifth to seventh, and finished with six points for Red Bull.

In the conflict between Caterham and Marussia, Caterham fought back today, since Charles Pic finished seventeenth, ahead of Sauber’s Esteban Guttierez, whilst Jules Bianchi only managed to finished nineteenth for Marussia, ahead of his team-mate Max Chilton, who turned 22, and his present was not finishing in last place!

Overall, it was an interesting race plagued with inter-team competition, overtaking and the tyre strategy once again dominated proceedings in today’s race, and the ‘finger’ stood atop the podium for the second time in four grands prix. Sebastian Vettel  has scored points in every race so far, and as the first fly-away leg of 2013 comes to a close, the other Constructors will need to do something to act as a constant threat to Red Bull dominance.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

After Bahrian, Sebastian Vettel now boasts a ten-point lead in the Drivers’ Championships, with 77 points to his name, with Kimi Raikkönen in second place with 67 points. After battling with his tyres today, Lewis Hamilton leapt into third place for Mercedes, with 50 points. Fernando Alonso has dropped down to fourth place with 47 points, and Mark Webber is fifth with 32 points.

A mere two points behind, we see Felipe Massa in sixth place with 30 points, and Romain Grosjean has jumped two places into seventh, now with 26 points. Paul Di Resta received twelve points today, and now has 20 points to his name. Nico Rosberg is eighth with 14 points, Jenson Button ninth with 13 and Sergio Perez tenth with 10.

In the Constructors’ Championships, Red Bull have broken through the century barrier, and now have 109 points in first. Lotus have retaken second place, and now hold 93 points. Ferrari have only gained 4 points, but are third with 77, and Mercedes are now fourth with 64 points. Paul Di Resta’s fantastic performance has meant that Force India have surged back into fifth place with 26 points, ahead of McLaren with 23, who drop back into a lowly sixth place. Toro Rosso have no more points to add, and remain seventh with 7 points. Sauber are eighth, and keep 5 points.

Williams lead Marussia who lead Caterham, but they are still yet to score.

I will be back in three week’s time, when Formula One begins its return to Europe, at the Circuit De Catalunya in Spain. Last year, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado was triumphant, but if they have any chance of emulating their success this year, serious work will need to be done. McLaren, showing baby steps towards improvement, will also be bringing upgrades to Spain. These two teams are probably the most in need of a boost, and we will wait and see who will reign supreme in Europe.

Michael

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