The 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix may not have had the drama of two years ago but it was an exciting race nonetheless and no thanks to the new qualifying format lest you felt compelled to suggest it played a role in the spicing up of the show.
Nico Rosberg continues his run of victories logging five in a row now and starting to bolster his bank account of world championship points. Mercedes failed to deliver a 1, 2 finish in Bahrain as Nico’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, had a turn one collision with Williams F1 driver Valtteri Bottas that damaged both cars and left the 3-time champ struggling to play catch up and conservation for the rest of the race.
A win for Rosberg means that he’s in a position to mount a serious world championship run and with nearly 20 points lead, he’ll need to capitalize on the misfortune his teammate is experiencing if not the cob webs of winter with regards to Lewis’s poor starts.
Kimi Raikkonen’s poor start didn’t do him any favors but a second place finish in the absence of a missing Sebastian Vettel was the best he could hope for against a still-quicker Mercedes car. That makes 8 podiums for the Fin at the Bahrain GP.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo said before the race that he hoped to stay up front and pick up the pieces if anyone ahead of him should have trouble. That occurred on the formation lap as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel experienced a DNF with engine failure so the smiling assassin from Australia indeed to pick up a much deserved 4th in Bahrain.
A huge win for Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean who finished one spot higher than in Australia and will give Williams F1’s Pat Symonds even more to be upset with over their accused customer car business model. Haas F1 reversed their Australian strategy and read the tea leaves perfectly in Bahrain as the Super Soft tire was the one to be on and in the hands of a confident and fiercely quick Grosjean, the team scored big points. If there were any concerns about Romain leaving Lotus/Renault and going to Haas F1, I think we’ve answered those today.
Two drivers who also get a big win were Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat. Verstappen kept his head down and made a good strategy work for 6th place. Meanwhile, Kvyat had a stonking run from 15th (after a poor qualifying) and muscled his way back up to 7th in a re-badged Renault powered car.
Another huge win for McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne as he scored a championship point on his maiden race standing in for Fernando Alonso. While team boss Ron Dennis was lobbying at the eleventh hour—almost suggesting he had little confidence in his reserve driver—to get Alonso in the car, Vandoorne quietly scored points and that’s something his teammate Jenson Button couldn’t do as he DNF’d over technical issues on the car.
Another big win for Pascal Wehrlein who drove a magnificent race to 13th mixing it up with Saubers, Renaults and Force India cars. It can’t be overlooked just how special this young man is and what he achieved in a car that most likely didn’t belong in 13th.
Certainly Lewis Hamilton’s troubles with clutch bite points has let him down again. A slow start put in in position to be punted by Bottas and it’s two races on the trot that he’s struggled. While he claims the two races are separate incidents, it does seem that Hamilton is getting a slow start to the 2016 championship and if his starts were slightly better, he may be able to get his title defense back on track as he’s just a race win away from being back in the hunt and we know he doesn’t like losing to anyone…especially his teammate.
A fail for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel as the team seemed poised to take the fight to Mercedes in the form of 4-time champ Vettel but that didn’t happen as the engine gave up the ghost on the formation lap and left a dejected Vettel relatively mum in press interviews. He wasn’t happy and nor should he be.
A fail for McLaren who had a veteran 3rd fastest in FP3 and yet left him stranded on track with a mechanical issue. McLaren may have two cars in the top ten or at least more points and with a relatively Spartan black car sans a title sponsor, that might come in handy.
A fail for Valtteri Bottas and his drive-through penalty. Was he being opportunistic in turn one? Perhaps but when you leave the door open, Bottas is going to take it and after all, isn’t that what Senna always said and what Lewis has always done?
For much of the race I was wondering what happened to Force India and Williams F1. I am lead to understand that Williams were nursing wounded cars and while that was relatively obvious on Bottas’s car, I was sure what Felipe Massa’s issues were. This is a team who finished 3rd in the constructor’s title the last two years and it seems they could be slipping further back which won’t do well for prize money earnings.
Force India may have been nursing damage on Sergio Perez as well as Nico Hulkenberg but to not have much of an answer for a Manor is a bit of a surprise for me. I’m certainly willing to admit that Pascal is the real deal, because he is, and that Manor is a new team but Nico’s qualifying performance suggested a much better result for the team.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||23h26m25.s|
|6||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||23h26m25.s|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1 Lap|
|8||Felipe Massa||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|9||Valtteri Bottas||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|10||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren/Honda||1 Lap|
|11||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||1 Lap|
|12||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|13||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|14||Felipe Nasr||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|17||Rio Haryanto||Manor/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|–||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||Retirement|
|–||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||Not started|
|–||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||Not started|
|3||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||30|