Drafting the Circuits

Formula 1 Report

Bahrain Grand Prix

By Steve Aibel


4 flyaway races are in the books for the 2015 Formula 1 Championship and as expected the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team and Lewis Hamilton have dominated the early running. Hamilton has won 3 of 4 races with only Scuderia Ferrari appearing to have the pace to give them a threat when conditions are perfect for the SF15-T.

Bahrain Formula 1 Race again provides fireworks

Bahrain Formula 1 Race again provides fireworks

In Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton took his 3rd victory of the season from pole position gaining his 36th Grand Prix victory. He has won 9 of the last 11 Grand Prix races across two seasons winning his second World Championship title along the way. In Bahrain, Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg took the final two podium positions with Raikkonen besting Rosberg in a straight battle on the track.

Bahrain Podium

Bahrain Podium

Hamilton led essentially the entire Grand Prix only giving up the point due to pit stop sequencing. Other than a small problem with a wheel nut and some brake issues at the end of the race, Lewis was never challenged and showed again that he is at the top of his game.

Hamilton is on top of his game!

Hamilton is on top of his game!

Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen provided most of the action on track. Raikkonen reeled in Rosberg as the laps eroded and was able to pass him in the final laps. Rosberg and Hamilton both experienced a brake by wire system failure. In Rosberg’s case the failure occurred as he was braking in Turn 1. This caused him to run wide allowing Raikkonen past for second position.

Kimi Raikkonen was on fire in Bahrain!

Kimi Raikkonen was on fire in Bahrain!

When a brake by wire system fails, the driver still has brakes but it takes more to activate them as Toto Wolff explained. “We had brake-by-wire failures on both cars at the same corner. “When that happens the brake-by-wire switches into the conventional system and you are without weapons to defend. On Nico’s car the failure didn’t come as a surprise – on Lewis’s car it did come as a surprise.”

While Rosberg did lose second position in the Bahrain Grand Prix, he did take over the second spot in the Driver’s Championship overtaking Sebastian Vettel who finished in 5th position.

Vettel never found his rhythm in Bahrain

Vettel never found his rhythm in Bahrain

Vettel and Raikkonen both had great starts passing Rosberg but they quickly succumbed to the speed of the Mercedes. Vettel, twice, undercut Rosberg by pitting early and taking second position. Each time, Rosberg was able to recover the position on track. Vettel had to take an extra pit stop to replace a damaged front wing which put him behind Valterri Bottas and resulted in a 5TH position finish.

Bottas and Vettel ran nose to tail during the final race segment, with Bottas maintaining the lead and keeping Vettel behind. Sebastian was quicker than me, and closed up behind very fast, but the fight was really good fun. I know a few tricks that can really help to defend and they all worked today, and I am delighted to come out on top today.”

Things did not work out quite as well for Williams teammate Felipe Massa. The Brazilian suffered a sensor failure on the starting grid and was forced to start from the pitlane. It was a frustrating day for me to have to start from the pitlane. The car struggled to fire-up and once under way I had a lot of positions to make up. A few laps in at Turn Four, Maldonado ran into the back of me and damaged something. From then on I really struggled with the rear and the car was very hard to drive. It was a difficult day but one point is better than nothing.”

Massa raced up to 8th position but had to settle for a 10th place finish. Still, points for both Williams drivers positioned them comfortably in 3rd for the Constructors Championship.

Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat both gathered points as Red Bull moved up the ladder to 4th place in the Constructors Championship.   Although both drivers worked hard to score points, Daniel Ricciardo’s engine blew up as he crossed the finish line.

A 4th power unit up in smoke for Ricciardo

A 4th power unit up in smoke for Ricciardo

Another power unit expended!

Another disaster for Renault!

Ricciardo will use his 4th and final power unit when the teams return to the track in Spain next month. This will inevitably result in grid penalties for Ricciardo and Red Bull.

Christian Horner summarized the performance of Red Bull who I am sure will be pleased to return home to Europe while they await upgrades to the Red Bull power unit.

“I think both drivers got the absolute maximum out of the cars today. Daniel drove a very clean race; his engine seemed to join the firework party in the end, but he finished a strong sixth. Daniil made a good recovery from his P17 start to finish in ninth. It’s good to have both cars finish in the points today.”

McLaren played A Tale of 2 Cities in Bahrain. Jenson Button was unable to finishP1, P2 and was unable to set a time during Qualifying. He was unable to start the race due to a problem with the energy recovery system related to the problem suffered in Q1.

So an absolute disaster for Button!

Fernando Alonso, on the other hand, was just 3.9 seconds from scoring points for the team and finished in the 11th spot. Either way, performance is below par for the prestigious team from McLaren.

So as the caravan packs up and returns to action in Europe, the biggest story is who can take the fight to Mercedes? Does Ferrari have the sheer pace to challenge the Silver Arrows? With more development tokens available to improve their engine, Ferrari is in a strong position and improving every race.

The second big story involves Nico Rosberg. Rosberg needs to find some speed and find it quickly or he will be battling Ferrari’s, instead of pushing Hamilton for a Driver’s Championship.

Round 5 resumes in Barcelona, Spain on May 10th.

Drivers’ Championship

  1. Lewis Hamilton 93
  2. Nico Rosberg 66
  3. Sebastian Vettel 65
  4. Kimi Raikkonen 42
  5. Felipe Massa 31
  6. Valtteri Bottas 30
  7. Daniel Ricciardo 19
  8. Felipe Nasr 14
  9. Romain Grosjean 12
  10. Nico Hulkenberg 6
  11. Max Verstappen 6
  12. Carlos Sainz Jr. 6
  13. Sergio Perez 5
  14. Marcus Ericsson 5
  15. Daniil Kvyat 4


Constructors’ Championship

  1. Mercedes 159
  2. Ferrari 107
  3. Williams 61
  4. Red Bull 23
  5. Sauber 19
  6. Lotus 12
  7. Toro Rosso 12
  8. Force India 11
  9. McLaren 0
  10. Manor/Marussia 0