Now that’s more like it! And if you’ll permit me to mix my animal metaphors,
Badger is a happy bunny. Why? Because the Bahrain Grand Prix was a stormer,
that’s why. And I don’t mean the sand variety.

The scene was set for a tasty battle in the desert moonlight. Ferrari front row.
Overtaking virtuosos, Lewis and Max, out of position. Red Bulls boasting
cracking race pace. Bottas seeking redemption. A Toro Rosso pup playing with
the bigger dogs.

Sadly, not all of these Middle Eastern promises came to pass. The early double
Red Bull retirement had me bleeping more times than Kevin Magnussen’s radio
rants. But there was passing a-plenty, which left me with the enviable dilemma
of having too many Top Dog contenders.

With some thrilling performances up and down the grid, who is the triumphant mutt of Manama? It’s time to graduate
from puppy school…


Image: Scuderia Toro Rosso Media

I’m a sucker for a great story. Starting P5 on the grid was a sensational
achievement for the young Frenchman who is only six races into his F1 career.
Even if he’d stalled on the start line, he would have been well chuffed with his
weekend performance. As it turned out, he defied all expectations to actually
improve on his starting position and take the chequered flag in an outstanding 4 th
place. Cue ecstatic celebrations from the Toro Rosso team, not to mention the
Honda engine bods. Yes, the much-maligned Honda engine is working a treat
with that Toro Rosso chassis. (Best to whisper this if you’re anywhere near the
McLaren garage!).


Anyway, back to the man of the hour. Inexperienced youngsters can often lose
the plot when they suddenly find themselves at the sharp end of the grid. Not so
for young Pierre. He signalled his intent from the off with a blistering pass round
the outside of Oz Top Dog, Daniel Ricciardo. Okay, Dan returned the favour a few
corners later, but Pierre was unphased.

He also stayed calm in wheel-to-wheel combat with Magnussen on the VSC restart. The Haas driver looked to have made his pass stick, but the Frenchman held his ground with some terrific defensive manoeuvres, sending Kevin on a little off-track excursion.

Gasly kept his cool when Lewis Hamilton loomed in his wing mirrors, the
reigning champ hell-bent on making up ground from his penalty-induced 9th
place start. Pierre knew he was no match for the Mercedes and resisted the
temptation for heroics, letting Lewis by without a fuss. He showed great maturity
in what was mostly a very lonely race for the former GP2 champion.

It can be the easiest thing in the world to lose concentration when you are 50 seconds behind the car in front and have a decent gap to the chasing pack. A lesser man might have tried to overdrive the car, but Gasly kept everything nicely under control to
complete a stellar weekend in his fledgeling F1 career.

Formidable, monsieur Gasly. Bienvenue to the Top Dog Club.


There were so many contenders for Deputy Dog, I was tempted to stick the
names in a hat.

In the end, Lewis Hamilton just pips it, purely for his breathtaking triple overtake on Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon on lap five. It literally sent the sparks flying and was reminiscent of his electrifying double pass at Beckett’s corner in his 2006 GP2 race at Silverstone. Nice.

I will leave you with a small confession. I was secretly hoping for a Kimi victory,
purely so I could name him Top Dog of Bwoah-rain! Ah well, maybe next year.

That’s all from Bahrain. Let’s do it all again next week. Don’t forget to join
Badger GP to see if anyone springs a surprise in Shanghai.