It was an exciting race under the lights in Bahrain, further setting the scene for a full-on championship battle this season. Take a look at our top 5 talking points from Sakhir.
Every cloud has a sil-Wehrlein-ing…
Pascal Wehrlein was back in the car for his first race of 2017 for the Sauber team yesterday, and drove with vigour, displaying a return to fitness that he said afterwards surprised even him!
After fracturing three vertebrae back in January in a crash at the Race of Champions in Miami, Wehrlein had been forced to miss the first two races, with understudy Antonio Giovinazzi stepping in to drive. However, Pascal had qualified in 13th, and finished the race in 11th position, so very close to getting into the points, and racing hard with some memorable battles including one with Fernando Alonso.
Good on him, and even more impressive having seen the photos that Pascal shared on social media today, perhaps to silence any critics who had made comments doubting his racing commitment whilst out of action with his injury. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do as the season unfurls.
Silver Coloured Swap Shop
After the highs of obtaining his first pole position on Saturday, it was a deflated yet pragmatic Valtteri Bottas that we saw in the post-race press conference, and who could blame him. He summed up how he felt when asked to be a team player and twice move over for teammate Hamilton on a different strategy, saying:
“I think, honestly, as a racing driver, it’s the worst thing you want to hear. But I did it because there was a potential that Lewis could challenge Sebastian, which didn’t happen, but the team tried, which I completely understand. Personally, it is tough, but that’s life. I didn’t have enough pace today and we need to find out the reasons why that was.”
Tough for Valtteri, but the post-mortem by the Mercedes team will be well underway on his race issues, such as his incorrect tyre pressures caused by faulty kit. On social media, we saw the question posed regarding role reversal; would Lewis move over if things had been the other way around? Certainly, Lewis was seen placing a supportive hand on his teammates shoulder on the podium, demonstrating he understood the situation.
There was also much speculation amongst the TV pundits in post-race coverage, already debating if Mercedes, and even Ferrari, should assign “number one driver status” within their teams now, which seems somewhat early. Toto Wolff stated “Three races into the season, you don’t want to go there yet” but admitted that this would be reanalysed as the year progressed, as we would expect.
Not just yet, though, eh guys? We want to see some more wheel to wheel racing before you make that call!
Didn’t see the Sainz…
…as most of us didn’t! The coming together of Lance Stroll with Carlos Sainz as he exited the pit lane on lap 13 of the race certainly divided opinion on social media yesterday, but it did seem that after watching it back again, the balance of opinion agreed with the FIA’s review and subsequent handing out of a three place grid penalty for Carlos Sainz for the next race. It ended the race for both involved, with the ruling stating that the pass had been “a very optimistic attempt” and that Sainz was “predominantly to blame”.
Stroll himself described the clash as “ridiculous” in his media interviews, having watched the footage back, and it is easy to sympathise with his frustrations given this is his third DNF in the three races since the start of the season. It may give him a little comfort to know that Vettel suffered a similar run of luck, actually not finishing any of the opening four races of the 2008 season.
(St)roll on the next race in Sochi where Lance will get his next opportunity to impress!
Look at him go! Who could fail to notice Sergio Perez driving his socks off to jump from a lowly 18th position on the start grid to a superb 7th place finish, making up five places on the first lap alone. As Checo himself tweeted, this represents his 13th consecutive race in the points, and alongside his fellow pink panther Esteban Ocon’s third race in a row finishing in 10th place, we see the Sahara Force India team leap frog over Williams to the fourth spot in the constructor’s championship.
This is all the more impressive given that Bob Fernley had described the period up to the planned Barcelona upgrade for the Silverstone-based outfit as “damage limitation”. Keep it up, guys!
Red car at night, Vettel’s delight!
Topping the podium in Bahrain has given Sebastien Vettel the best start to an F1 season for a Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher in 2004, and that was evident on the faces of the team members celebrating beneath him as the non-champagne was sprayed. Leaping Lewis at the start to slot into second position behind Bottas, and then following up with an aggressive early first pit stop on lap ten put Vettel in the driving seat, showing the undercut was indeed the way to go In Bahrain. We were robbed of the chance of a perhaps more intense battle in the closing laps, when Lewis was given the penalty that we had all been expecting for slowing down Ricciardo as they entered the pitlane together. Despite him closing the gap to Vettel to as close as 5.8 seconds, but it seems clear that this duel is merely just “on hold” until the next meeting when the fight on track will continue.
Whoever said that Formula 1 was boring, eh?!