The 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix has been and gone. As always, it created a few talking points for us to dive in to. Chris Fawcett has been looking at some of the more obscure things that this year’s barnstormer may be remembered for.
The green, green, grass
Let’s just stop and take in the real success story of the weekend; 4th placed Pierre Gasly. What an amazing performance for the young Frenchman. Of course, he benefited from the Red Bulls retiring, but don’t forget that he stuck the Honda-powered Torro Rosso in 6th on the grid, just 1.3 seconds off pole position. This improved to 5th after Lewis Hamilton’s penalty. Gasly gave himself the best possible opportunity for a decent points haul and he carried it through. It begs the question, what must McLaren be thinking?
This was the best finish for a Honda-powered car of the hybrid era, just one year removed from the horror show/straw that broke the camel’s back in the Honda/McLaren partnership.
That said, it is too soon to judge if Zak Brown’s band of merry (papaya) men and women jumped ship prematurely, don’t forget the fortunes of the Red Bull junior team in Melbourne – it wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies down under.
This weekend, however, will mean that the midfield teams have to sit up and take notice and, more importantly, McLaren have to push on with Renault to make sure they don’t finish the season with egg on their faces.
Oh, so that’s what overtaking looks like
After a rather uninspiring race in Melbourne as far as on-track action was concerned, Bahrain dished up a tantalising taste of what we hope will be in store in the years to come, if Ross Brawn gets his way and changes regulations to aid overtaking.
There were five overtakes in Australia. That’s it. In Bahrain, there were 42 in the first 10 laps alone, including the frankly amazing imagery of Lewis Hamilton overtaking three cars, sparks blazing on the run into Turn One of the fifth lap. Personally, I thought as a spectacle, that this move was more impressive than the infamous Nigel Mansell/Ayrton Senna battle in the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix.
My only reservation about this particular race was something that many pundits picked up on; DRS made it too easy to overtake.
There does have to be some jeopardy involved in pushing yourself through on the inside or forcing a driver into making a mistake. It seems like the only man who couldn’t make it work was Valtteri Bottas, who didn’t do himself any favours in the closing moments of the race. You can’t help but think that if that was Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen or Hamilton they’d have been through without mercy.
The Haas driver battle
After a heart-breaking weekend in Australia, a solid result was much needed to bind the team together – pity no one told Kevin Magnussen or Romain Grosjean.
Perhaps the two angriest drivers in the sport squared off with one another on lap 31 unnecessarily. Logic dictates that if you’re a driver on heavily-worn tyres and a different strategy, you should move over for you fast-approaching, racier teammate. Not only did Grosjean nearly take Magnussen’s front wing off, he potentially stopped him from taking 4th place from Pierre Gasly in the closing proceedings too.
The ever-entertaining team radio highlighted the Dane’s frustration and after pulling into the pits at the end of the lap in question, it looked to me at least, like Romain’s decision was either one of idiocy, or it was personal. This is one team battle to watch for the remainder of the season.
Pit lane safety
First and foremost, at the time of writing, the Ferrari mechanic who suffered a broken leg after a confused and botched Kimi Raikkonen pit stop has thanked his team and family for their support, following successful surgery, something we can all agree is great news.
But let’s get to the heart of the matter, what went wrong? Kimi drove off after being given the green light, but to any casual viewer it was apparent something was going wrong during the pit stop so how can it even get to the point of releasing a driver? After an earlier misdemeanour on Friday resulting in a 50,000 Euro fine due to an unsafe release, you’d expect a renewed sense of composure amongst the pit lane staff in a similar way to how Haas reacted in the wake of Melbourne’s set back.
Warning – the following video contains distressing scenes.
— Tom Ruzyllo (@truzyllo) April 8, 2018
Is the answer to go back to a crew member holding a lollipop stick? The technology used and created by Ferrari currently utilises lights linked electronically to the jacks and wheels guns; when all the wheels are replaced the green lights show, or that’s the theory behind it.
Vigorous testing of the technology is needed because we got another reminder in Bahrain just how dangerous a pit lane can be. The FIA have invested a lot in the Halo protecting a driver in a fairly safe cocoon, what about the mechanics?
Drivers v The Media
Yes, yes, Lewis Hamilton had a few choice words about Max Verstappen’s aggression on his overtake of the Mercedes, resulting in a puncture for the feisty, young Dutchman.
As per usual, the post-race camera picked up everything in the podium holding room. It wasn’t until later though that it turned into a proper talking point.
When questioned about his comments in the press conference following the race, Lewis didn’t get a look in. Instead, Sebastian Vettel interjected asking if he could answer. He then went on to say that it “wasn’t fair” to the drivers to be asked about things said in the heat of the moment, referencing the less-than PG language heard on a football pitch. He carried on to say that it wasn’t “justified” to have a story made out of it and that it’s nothing personal, it’s just “human reaction”.
Well said Seb… and also, well done for allowing your hair to grow out.