Sakhir – Today’s night race from Bahrain was anything but boring. Firstly, I would like the thank the FIA for making it a night race as at long last those of us in the Americas can watch some of these non-European races in real time rather than tape delayed as per usual.
From the very beginning the two Mercedes AMG Petronas cars of Lewis Hamilton (GBR) and Nico Rosberg (GER) left the rest of the grid far behind. The racing between these two teammates was one great highlight of the weekend, showing off not only the prowess and power of the Mercedes engines and chassis, but also the expertise with which those two drive. It was, as F1.com so eloquently put it, an “epic desert duel” between the two Mercedes drivers.
Even more exciting was the equally invigorating drives by the two Force Indias and two Williams, who for much of the race not only outperformed the Red Bulls, but also the Ferraris and McLarens. Sergio Pérez’s 3rd place podium was the best finish for the team from Northamptonshire since their 2nd place at Spa in 2009. Felipe Massa (BRA) and his Williams were able to hold off the rest of the grid, save the two Mercedes for much of the first half of the race, until tyre degradation forced him and a fair number of the rest of the grid, to pit. His teammate, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) was likewise successful, though he did not achieve quite the success of his Brazilian teammate today.
For the three usual suspects near the top of the grid, the Red Bulls, Ferraris, and McLarens, it was not the best of days. Though the Red Bulls were able to hold their own in the latter half of the race, they stayed mostly in the middle of the pack for the first few dozen laps. The previously ill-fated Australian, Daniel Ricciardo, made his way to a 4th place finish just 0.4 seconds behind 3rd place Mexican finisher Sergio Pérez. Ricciardo’s 4 time champion German teammate, Sebastian Vettel, also was able to move well up the pack, finishing just behind fellow German Nico Hülkenberg of Force India.
The Ferraris simply didn’t have a good day. Under the watchful eye of Ferrari President Luca Cordero di Montezemolo the two Ferraris floundered a bit at the first few laps, being quickly overtaken by each of the Force Indias and Williams in turn, a sight that is quite rare in Formula 1 to say the least. The day was bad enough for the Italian team that their aforementioned President left Sakhir before the race was over.
The McLarens equally had a sour day of it, with neither of their two drivers finishing the race. Briton Jenson Button retired on the 55th lap due to a clutch issue finishing in 17th place. Dane Kevin Magnussen retired 15 laps earlier on a similar issue with his car.
The most shocking moment of the day however came afoul of Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez (MEX), whose car was broadsided by Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado (VEN) at Turn 1 just after the Venezuelan had left the pit lane, resulting in Gutierrez’s car performing a spectacular and terrifying roll off to the edge of the track. Thankfully, Gutierrez was able to stand and get out of the cockpit. Maldonado will face a 5-spot grid penalty at the next race in China along with 3 penalty points added onto his Super Licence. I personally find it odd that Ricciardo was given a heavier sentence for a lose tyre in Malaysia, namely a 10-spot grid penalty here in Bahrain, than Maldonado who caused another driver’s car to flip twice, threatening Gutierrez’s life. But, that’s just that.
The resulting safety car laps helped eliminate the distances between the cars on track, adding to some last minute passing and position swapping between the drivers. It should also be noted that thus far in 2014, Marussia has always had at least one car finish the race, which is more than their rivals at Caterham can say. It could very well add up come season’s end at Abu Dhabi in November.
The final race standings are as follows:
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (GBR), 1:39:42.743
- Nico Rosberg, Mercedes (GER), +1.1 secs
- Sergio Pérez, Force India (MEX), +24.1 secs
- Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull (AUS), +24.5 secs
- Nico Hülkenberg, Force India (GER), +28.7 secs
- Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull (GER), +29.9 secs
- Felipe Massa, Williams (BRA), +31.3 secs
- Valtteri Bottas, Williams (FIN), +31.9 secs
- Fernando Alonso, Ferrari (ESP), +32.6 secs
- Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari (FIN), +33.5 secs
- Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso (RUS), +41.3 secs
- Romain Grosjean, Lotus (FRA), +43.1 secs
- Max Chilton, Marussia (GBR), +59.9 secs
- Pastor Maldonado, Lotus (VEN), +62.8 secs
- Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham (JPN), +87.9 secs
- Jules Bianchi, Marussia (FRA), +1 lap
- Jenson Button, McLaren (GBR), clutch, 55 laps
- Kevin Magnussen, McLaren (DEN), clutch, 40 laps
- Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber (MEX), accident, 39 laps
- Marcus Ericsson, Caterham (SWE), oil leak, 33 laps
- Jean-Éric Vergne, Toro Rosso (FRA), accident damage, 18 laps
- Adrian Sutil, Sauber (GER), accident, 17 laps
At the end of today, the current driver’s standings are:
- Nico Rosberg, Mercedes (GER), 61 points
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (GBR), 50 points
- Nico Hülkenberg, Force India (GER), 28 points
- Fernando Alonso, Ferrari (ESP), 26 points
- Jenson Button, McLaren (GBR), 23 points
- Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull (GER), 23 points
- Kevin Magnussen, McLaren (DEN), 20 points
- Valtteri Bottas, Williams (FIN), 18 points
- Sergio Pérez, Force India (MEX), 16 points
- Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull (AUS), 12 points
- Felipe Massa, Williams (BRA), 12 points
- Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari (FIN), 7 points
- Jean-Éric Vergne, Toro Rosso (FRA), 4 points
- Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso (RUS), 3 points
- Romain Grosjean, Lotus (FRA), 0 points
- Adrian Sutil, Sauber (GER), 0 points
- Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber (MEX), 0 points
- Max Chilton, Marussia (GBR), 0 points
- Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham (JPN), 0 points
- Pastor Maldonado, Lotus (VEN), 0 points
- Marcus Ericsson, Caterham (SWE), 0 points
- Jules Bianchi, Marussia (FRA), 0 points
Finally, the constructor’s championship stands at:
- Mercedes, Germany, 111 points
- Force India, India, 44 points
- McLaren, Great Britain, 43 points
- Red Bull, Austria, 35 points
- Ferrari, Italy, 33 points
- Williams, Great Britain, 30 points
- Toro Rosso, Italy, 7 points
- Lotus, Great Britain, 0 points
- Sauber, Switzerland, 0 points
- Marussia, Russia, 0 points
- Caterham, Malaysia, 0 points
The 2014 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix is next on the calendar. Practise will begin in Shanghai on Friday 18 April with FP1 at 10.00 Shanghai (Thursday at 21.00 in Chicago, Friday at 03.00 in London), with FP2 on Friday at 14.00 Shanghai (Friday 01.00 Chicago, 07.00 London), FP3 on Saturday 19 April at 14.00 Shanghai, (Friday at 22.00 Chicago, Saturday at 04.00 London), Qualifying at 14.00 Shanghai (01.00 Chicago, 06.00 London), and the Race on Easter Sunday at 14.00 Shanghai (02.00 Chicago, 07.00 London).
The Chinese Grand Prix this year happens to fall on Easter Weekend, which is by far the most important weekend of the year for me as a Catholic. I follow the custom of doing no work from 15.00 on Good Friday until sunset on Holy Saturday, so there will be no Practise and Qualifying article going up for the Chinese Grand Prix. However, the race article will be up, albeit a bit delayed as per usual due to the time difference.