Bahrain Preview – Can Ferrari Maintain Their Challenge?

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 14.48.53 by JACK PRENTICE

If the form from the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last weekend was truthful, then the Bahrain Grand Prix and beyond could be very exciting.

For all the confusion and lack of leadership off the track, matters on the track do look encouraging, after Ferrari appeared to show that they can fight Mercedes harder this year.

Had Fernando Alonso not had a huge accident to bring the red flag out on lap 19, we would probably have seen a Vettel victory, and even a possible double podium, before Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement two laps after the restart due to a turbo problem.

Ferrari’s form at Bahrain also gives them cause for optimism if not euphoria.

They’ve won four races since the inaugural race at the Sakhir International Circuit back in 2004, having won three in four from 2007-10.

12476899_994821357260658_562555013_o
Vettel was pleased with his performance in Australia despite missing out on victory. (Image Credit: F1fanatic.com)

Their drivers also have records to boast about in the Middle East, with Sebastian Vettel having won twice in 2012 and 2013 and Kimi Raikkonen appearing a staggering seven times on the Bahrain podium.

With all of that being said, Mercedes remain the favourites.

They still have around three tenths of a second in qualifying pace over the Ferrari’s, and it would probably need a mistake from both drivers to see a Prancing Horse on pole.

Like Vettel, Hamilton has won in Bahrain twice and appears to have the edge over teammate Rosberg there.

Rosberg will however take solace from the fact that he has won the last four races, including in Australia two weeks ago. It is also seven successive 1-2s for a team in the middle of the most dominant constructors’ performance in history.

Haas last week became the first team since Toyota in 2002 to score points on debut after Romain Grosjean helped himself to sixth place as others suffered because of the red flag.

While that is not the true pace of the car it will give great encouragement to Gene Haas as one of NASCAR’s more successful owners turns his hand to F1, with help from Ferrari.

That technical partnership, which has seen Haas buy suspension and aero parts as well as a Power Unit from Ferrari, has raised eyebrows. But that will not be the last arrangement of this kind in F1.

It’s the most sustainable way for privateers to go racing and Formula One needs more of these partnerships to work as well.

Another team to watch for this weekend are Toro Rosso, who made plenty of headlines from the Australian Grand Prix.

12922051_994829983926462_1176500148_o
Verstappen racing in fourth in what was a good weekend for Torro Rosso. (Image credit: f1fanatic.com)

 

In qualifying they looked the third quickest team as Verstappen and Sainz climbed to fifth and seventh respectively with their new Power Unit deal with Ferrari, which sees them using last year’s engines.

They were also running well in the race as Verstappen, before the red flag, ran fourth and was easily holding off World Champion Hamilton.

They were eventually forced to settled for ninth and tenth.

With Bahrain being a power circuit that includes four heavy braking zones, this weekend could do much to back up the potential shown Down Under.

Finally, Formula One has taken the rather odd step of returning to the much-ridiculed elimination system used for qualifying on the opening race weekend.

This seems particularly worrying given that it was agreed on the morning of the Australian Grand Prix that this would be abandoned.

Formula One will need excellent on track action to make amends for the lack of leadership at the top of the sport.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s