Well, we learned that the “days of rage” did not actually happen, and despite the calls for the race to be cancelled, the F1 circus did what it does best – putting on a show and entertaining the fans. Mind you, there were not many fans in the grandstands…
We also learned that even if you have seven world titles and over 90 pole positions, if your car lets you down in the first part of qualifying you won’t make it through to Q2. Hence Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) starting at the back with the embarrassing company of HRT, Marussia and a Caterham. However, we also saw that Schumi went from 22nd on the grid to the final point-scoring position in 10th.
The Finger was waved again in Bahrain, both in Qualifying and in the race, where Vettel (Red Bull) was not headed, and other than a scare mid-race with Raikkonen sniffing his backside, it was a stroll in the desert for the current world champion, now at the top of the table.
Raikkonen (“Lotus”, nee Renault) won a huge number of fans for his dogged determination to catch Vettel and he deserved his second place. His team mate, the young Frenchman Grosjean also showed lots of tiger and was delighted with his first podium finish. “Lotus” is certainly a strong team and Raikkonen seems to have lost none of his touch following his two year stint of crash testing for Citroen.
Mark Webber did not look happy at any stage and it was a lack-luster 4th for the Australian Red Bull driver, finishing over half a minute behind Vettel. However, on the plus side, his start was OK, so all that practice on the Red Bull factory forecourt was beneficial.
Rosberg (Mercedes) was 5th at the end, but was up before the stewards for two instances of moving over on other cars that were trying to pass him. This form of blocking is far too prevalent in F1 of late (and in some other categories unfortunately). I believe that the stewards should have penalized him but their letting him off means that this dangerous behavior will continue – until someone is launched into the wall, or over the fence and into spectators. There are times when a faster car is going to pass you on the straight, there is nothing you can do about it, so just accept it and try and outbrake him at the end of the straight. Moving over to try and block the maneuver shows poor sportsmanship and is very dangerous. Rosberg went right down in my estimation.
One of the stars of the race was DiResta in the Team Poppadum Force India. Working on a two stop strategy he managed to save his tyres enough to hold off Alonso in the Ferrari over the final few laps and claim 6th. His team mate Hulkenberg (12th) is being overshadowed by his Scottish partner (though I doubt if you will find a DiResta tartan in any of the books on the Clans and Tartans of Scotland).
McLaren had a dreadful weekend, with Button expiring and Hamilton finishing in 8th after the left rear wheel problem experienced on Button’s car in China recurred on his – twice! TV pundits claimed it was a wheel nut problem, while I believe it is a hub design problem.
Massa (Ferrari), only two places behind Alonso. Has he won a reprieve? We shall see.
It was an exciting race with plenty of action as the DRS worked and helped by tyres that last less than 10 laps at racing speed. Strategy has become as important as the driver.