The most controversial F1 race for a long time has come and gone, and out of the sand thrown up by the Bahrain Grand Prix the Badgerometer tries to pick 5 of the best. Kind of like Lawrence of Arabia, only reeking of petrol.
McLaren are the pits
Does a bad workman blame his tools? Surely not when the tools concerned are space age carbon fibre, right?
The McLaren team lost out on lots of points in Bahrain thanks to one thing – pitstops. Just like China 7 days ago, when a sticky left rear tyre cost Jenson Button a shot at the win, Lewis Hamilton got the worst of it not once, but twice, costing him a chance of a finishing a bit higher up.
It’s just something you don’t associate with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – poor equipment. Don’t forget, this is the team that builds things it can’t get hold of and then patents them for mass production. They are often at the front of the annual development war. These guys know how to make stuff, and make it well.
Yet, a wheel nut assembly has let them down. It’ll need to be sorted ASAP as Lewis seems to have his head screwed on right this season. Shame the left rear wheel wasn’t. Twice.
Force India – gone one minute, there the next
Petty, wasn’t it. Almost something from the playground.
Some of Force India’s mechanics were caught up in the protests before any on-track action and, rightly so, the team wanted to make sure this didn’t happen again. The decision was made to miss Free Practice 2 on Friday afternoon to ensure their team members would get back to their hotel in the daylight.
It appears this didn’t sit too well with FOM – the Twittersphere noticing that the team were quite craftily “removed” from broadcast during Saturday’s qualifying session.
If FOM did “cut” Force India out, then it all backfired Sunday afternoon. Paul Di Resta, was the one driver brave enough (and good enough) to pull off a two-stop strategy. His first stint was so long that he was dicing for position with the leaders. Then, he was somewhere FOM couldn’t hide him – in the lead.
Whether it was a ploy from Force India to get the exposure, or just an ironic twist of fate, it certainly raised a few wry smiles in the Sett.
What does it take to get a penalty?
Nico Rosberg is a very naughty boy. In defending his position, he twice put other cars way off the track, luckily into sand covered tarmac, causing some controversy in the process. Surely the stewards would slap his wrist for that, right?
According to the aforementioned stewards, Rosberg was well within his rights to move across as the move was in a ‘constant and continuous straight line manner’. In short, because his first victim, Lewis Hamilton, was not alongside, but behind, when Rosberg defended, it means it was completely legitimate. The Mercedes man’s second opponent, Fernando Alondo, was also deemed to be behind.
Will this set a precedent for defensive driving this year, when the rules have already been changed significantly for 2012? Well, Fernando seems to think so!
Where did Lotus come from?
Bahrain was a true reflection of just how fast the E20 is this season, with Grosjean and Kimi comfortably attaining podium finishes from 7th and 11th on the grid. They do have something special, because those were the grid spots Mercedes owned for the better part of the 2011 season.
Both drivers were impressive throughout the race, but especially Romain Grosjean. Bear in mind, this was his fourth race back in F1 after last season’s GP2 success and he looks more like a polished F1 driver than anyone else that’s made the step up recently (we’re looking at you, Pastor).
The first lap really made the difference. RG jumped up to 4th, while Kimi got up to 7th, and had a ding-dong battle with Massa that had the Sett cheering. Romain then hunted down and passed both Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton with relative ease and was ahead of Kimi after the first round of stops.
Kimi then showed his greater speed and went about chasing Vettel for the win, mainly thanks to the fact he had some fresher rubber to play with after opting to miss out on a Q1 place.
And that was the key again – tyres. And you thought we’d forgot about them, didn’t you.
Red Bull, and Sebastian Vettel, are back
If leading from the front was an art-form, then Sebastian Vettel is Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh all rolled into one. He just gets the job done and absorbs all kinds of pressure, and steps out of the car with a grin like a 12-year-old on Christmas morning.
That’s the genius of Vettel. When everything is working fine, he steps up his game to another level, like confidence is the trigger to reaching a higher plane. While other drivers, like Hamilton and Alonso, need the adversity of a poor car or a team error to light a fire under them, Sebastian just needs some confidence in his car.
It was vintage Vettel in Sakhir – pole, lead by 2 seconds on lap 1, mercurial in-and-out laps, chequered flag. Only difference this time was that Raikkonen made sure it wasn’t a complete walk in the park. But, like we said before, he took whatever his occasional table tennis partner could throw at him with steely resolve.
For the last month, the German wunderkid has been beaten by Mark Webber each time the RB8 has hit the track, so spare a thought for how the Aussie is feeling on his flight home from Bahrain. All it took was a little tweak here and there from Adrian Newey and the two-time world champion was singing from his old hymn sheet once more.
In the grand scheme of this season, it’s only added to the excitement. McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all have a win apiece, and Lotus are looking to join the gang. Who will take the overall spoils? Red Bull aren’t giving up without a fight, that’s for sure.