Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Formula One 2013: Bahrain Grand Prix and the Season So Far

by Tim Bustin

Paul di Resta
(Wiki Commons)
Turning on the news this Saturday was a repeat of what was seen a year ago: controversy over the Bahrain Grand Prix going ahead despite riots and protests over democracy and the view that the Grand Prix is being used to cover rights abuse by the government. In response to these views, Bernie Ecclestone said "I don't think it's for us to decide the politics, good or bad. It's a good circuit, a good race, and we think everybody's happy so we're here."

And what a race it turned out to be. Friday’s practice showed surprisingly good pace from the Force India drivers, but on Saturday’s qualifying it was Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg who took his second ever pole position, with triple and current world champion Sebastian Vettel and the two Ferrari cars right behind him, as Lewis Hamilton was forced to take a 5 place grid penalty from fourth to ninth after his gearbox needed changing and Mark Webber (Vettel’s teammate at Red Bull) taking a 2 place penalty.

Scottish driver Paul Di Resta of Force India and his teammate moved up to fifth and sixth on the grid after these unfortunate penalties but it was great news for them. The two McLarens have had a poor start to this year’s season and nothing changed in qualifying, with British driver Jenson Button barely making it into the final qualifying session and only getting tenth, whilst his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez only managed twelfth, meaning Hamilton’s replacement at McLaren has had the worst debut for the team in years. All this made for a tense start at the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Lights out and Rosberg got off poorly at the start, defending hard against Vettel at the first corner. Vettel’s attack allowed double world champion Fernando Alonso to sneak past him as Rosberg desperately tried to pull away from the 21 cars trailing him. Vettel quickly regained the place on Alonso but as all this was all going on, drama was happening behind. Paul Di Resta had somehow managed to gain a place on the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, whilst Hamilton’s start hadn’t helped him in the slightest. The driving was incredibly close on the first lap throughout the grid but at the front more than most. Rosberg had to continually defend hard against Vettel but once DRS was allowed (allows the cars to have less drag and so increase their speed on certain sections of the track if they’re within one second of the car in front), Rosberg was “a sitting duck”.

Vettel stormed past, quickly followed by Alonso. The same thing happened time and time again to Rosberg throughout the entire race. Vettel however, similar to his performances in 2011, dominated the rest of the race, with no bother from any of the other drivers. Alonso somehow developed a problem with his DRS and quickly pitted to get it fixed (the system is simply a flap on the rear wing, which in his case had jammed). After getting back out, the same thing happened again and another unwanted pit stop combined with the loss of DRS meant Alonso could only achieve eighth in the race.

For the rest of the race, excitement lay at every turn.
  With Perez desperately trying to prove himself, he diced with Button for position, until Button got so fed up he forced Perez off the track. Obviously angry, Button was probably keen to avoid repeating the events of Malaysia’s race, where Vettel had batteled with his teammate Webber.  A last lap fight saw Hamilton take fifth from Webber, whilst his teammate Rosberg only managed ninth, after what seemed like such a promising race for him. Di Resta equalled his best ever F1 performance of fourth, the podium finish snatched away from him in the last couple of laps. The Lotus cars of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean completed the podium, with Vettel on top by a very comfortable margin. Perez actually managed a fairly decent sixth, out doing Button in tenth.

Whilst it’s far too early to predict the outcome of this season, certain points can be made about the performance of drivers and teams. Lewis Hamilton’s controversial and somewhat frowned upon decision to move from McLaren to Mercedes has been proved genius, with McLaren sixth in the Constructors Championship and Mercedes in fourth (with nearly 3 times the amount of points and that’s taking into account Rosberg only finishing half of this year’s races so far). Mercedes really have gone beyond any expectations, having 2 out of 4 pole positions, although it’s fair to say they’ve been of the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari. As for those teams, it looks as though one will emerge on top by the end of the season. Red Bull have done it for the last three years but with Webber and Vettel on bad terms with one another, who knows what will happen. As for Perez, well maybe McLaren should have taken on Di Resta instead.

Current Rankings and Points 
                                                                                      
1
Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull
77


2
Kimi Raikkonen - Lotus
67


3
Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes
50


4
Fernando Alonso - Ferrari
47


5
Mark Webber - Red Bull
32


6
Felipe Massa - Ferrari
30


7
Romain Grosjean - Lotus
26


8
Paul di Resta - Force India
20


9
Nico Rosberg - Mercedes
14


10
Jenson Button - McLaren
13


11
Sergio Perez - McLaren
10


12
Adrian Sutil - Force India
6


13
Daniel Ricciardo - Toro Rosso
6


14
Nico Hulkenberg - Sauber
5


15
Jean-Eric Vergne - Toro Rosso
1


16
Valtteri Bottas - Williams
0


17
Pastor Maldonado - Williams
0


18
Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber
0


19
    Jules Bianchi - Marussia
0


20
Charles Pic - Caterham
0




1 comment:

  1. It's Kimi's year, no doubt about it. Vettel will fade and Alonso coming good with Hamilton being strong in the next 3 races and fading but challenging for victories in Spa and Monza before fading again.

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