Race Report: Nico extends title lead with Bahrain win

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The 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix may not have had the drama of two years ago but it was an exciting race nonetheless and no thanks to the new qualifying format lest you felt compelled to suggest it played a role in the spicing up of the show.

Nico Rosberg continues his run of victories logging five in a row now and starting to bolster his bank account of world championship points. Mercedes failed to deliver a 1, 2 finish in Bahrain as Nico’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, had a turn one collision with Williams F1 driver Valtteri Bottas that damaged both cars and left the 3-time champ struggling to play catch up and conservation for the rest of the race.

WinWin

A win for Rosberg means that he’s in a position to mount a serious world championship run and with nearly 20 points lead, he’ll need to capitalize on the misfortune his teammate is experiencing if not the cob webs of winter with regards to Lewis’s poor starts.

Kimi Raikkonen’s poor start didn’t do him any favors but a second place finish in the absence of a missing Sebastian Vettel was the best he could hope for against a still-quicker Mercedes car. That makes 8 podiums for the Fin at the Bahrain GP.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo said before the race that he hoped to stay up front and pick up the pieces if anyone ahead of him should have trouble. That occurred on the formation lap as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel experienced a DNF with engine failure so the smiling assassin from Australia indeed to pick up a much deserved 4th in Bahrain.

A huge win for Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean who finished one spot higher than in Australia and will give Williams F1’s Pat Symonds even more to be upset with over their accused customer car business model. Haas F1 reversed their Australian strategy and read the tea leaves perfectly in Bahrain as the Super Soft tire was the one to be on and in the hands of a confident and fiercely quick Grosjean, the team scored big points. If there were any concerns about Romain leaving Lotus/Renault and going to Haas F1, I think we’ve answered those today.

Two drivers who also get a big win were Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat. Verstappen kept his head down and made a good strategy work for 6th place. Meanwhile, Kvyat had a stonking run from 15th (after a poor qualifying) and muscled his way back up to 7th in a re-badged Renault powered car.

Another huge win for McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne as he scored a championship point on his maiden race standing in for Fernando Alonso. While team boss Ron Dennis was lobbying at the eleventh hour—almost suggesting he had little confidence in his reserve driver—to get Alonso in the car, Vandoorne quietly scored points and that’s something his teammate Jenson Button couldn’t do as he DNF’d over technical issues on the car.

Another big win for Pascal Wehrlein who drove a magnificent race to 13th mixing it up with Saubers, Renaults and Force India cars. It can’t be overlooked just how special this young man is and what he achieved in a car that most likely didn’t belong in 13th.

FailFail

Certainly Lewis Hamilton’s troubles with clutch bite points has let him down again. A slow start put in in position to be punted by Bottas and it’s two races on the trot that he’s struggled. While he claims the two races are separate incidents, it does seem that Hamilton is getting a slow start to the 2016 championship and if his starts were slightly better, he may be able to get his title defense back on track as he’s just a race win away from being back in the hunt and we know he doesn’t like losing to anyone…especially his teammate.

A fail for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel as the team seemed poised to take the fight to Mercedes in the form of 4-time champ Vettel but that didn’t happen as the engine gave up the ghost on the formation lap and left a dejected Vettel relatively mum in press interviews. He wasn’t happy and nor should he be.

A fail for McLaren who had a veteran 3rd fastest in FP3 and yet left him stranded on track with a mechanical issue. McLaren may have two cars in the top ten or at least more points and with a relatively Spartan black car sans a title sponsor, that might come in handy.

A fail for Valtteri Bottas and his drive-through penalty. Was he being opportunistic in turn one? Perhaps but when you leave the door open, Bottas is going to take it and after all, isn’t that what Senna always said and what Lewis has always done?

WTHWTH

For much of the race I was wondering what happened to Force India and Williams F1. I am lead to understand that Williams were nursing wounded cars and while that was relatively obvious on Bottas’s car, I was sure what Felipe Massa’s issues were. This is a team who finished 3rd in the constructor’s title the last two years and it seems they could be slipping further back which won’t do well for prize money earnings.

Force India may have been nursing damage on Sergio Perez as well as Nico Hulkenberg but to not have much of an answer for a Manor is a bit of a surprise for me. I’m certainly willing to admit that Pascal is the real deal, because he is, and that Manor is a new team but Nico’s qualifying performance suggested a much better result for the team.

Results:

PosDriverCarGap
1Nico RosbergMercedes1h33m34.696s
2Kimi RaikkonenFerrari10.282s
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes23h26m25.s
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/TAG Heuer23h26m25.s
5Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari23h26m25.s
6Max VerstappenToro Rosso/Ferrari23h26m25.s
7Daniil KvyatRed Bull/TAG Heuer1 Lap
8Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes1 Lap
9Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes1 Lap
10Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Honda1 Lap
11Kevin MagnussenRenault1 Lap
12Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
13Pascal WehrleinManor/Mercedes1 Lap
14Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
15Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1 Lap
16Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1 Lap
17Rio HaryantoManor/Mercedes1 Lap
Carlos SainzToro Rosso/FerrariRetirement
Esteban GutierrezHaas/FerrariRetirement
Jenson ButtonMcLaren/HondaRetirement
Sebastian VettelFerrariNot started
Jolyon PalmerRenaultNot started

DRIVERS’ STANDINGS

PosDriverPoints
1Nico Rosberg50
2Lewis Hamilton33
3Daniel Ricciardo24
4Kimi Raikkonen18
5Romain Grosjean18
6Sebastian Vettel15
7Felipe Massa14
8Max Verstappen9
9Nico Hulkenberg6
10Daniil Kvyat6
11Valtteri Bottas6
12Carlos Sainz2
13Stoffel Vandoorne1
14Kevin Magnussen0
15Jolyon Palmer0
16Marcus Ericsson0
17Sergio Perez0
17Pascal Wehrlein0
19Felipe Nasr0
20Jenson Button0
21Rio Haryanto0

CONSTRUCTORS’ STANDINGS

PosConstructorPoints
1Mercedes83
2Ferrari33
3Red Bull/TAG Heuer30
4Williams/Mercedes20
5Haas/Ferrari18
6Toro Rosso/Ferrari11
7Force India/Mercedes6
8McLaren/Honda1
9Renault0
10Sauber/Ferrari0
11Manor/Mercedes0

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The Captain

I’m gob smacked by Haas. I really am. I honestly thought they’d be in the back this race fighting with Manor. But holy hell they have pace. And over the whole race too. They weren’t even lapped! They took and aggressive strategy and it didn’t bite them in the ass. And I’m loving watching Grosjean look like he’s about to burst with joy during every interview he does now. Oh and Stoffel Vandoorn deserves a ride. If only so we can have a driver who’s name sounds like some kind of Norther European food. No, no, no, I don’t liked… Read more »

geeyore

Argghhh. NBCSN, not. They cannot understand that F1 isn’t NASCAR.

Negative Camber

We need more copper-infused compression wear in our lives as well as the calorie monitor to go with our copper-infused lives.

MIE

Haas, well in Grosjean’s hands at least, looks to be the real deal. While the sixth in Melbourne could be argued as being fortunate (using a conservative tyre strategy that massively benefited from the red flag), this performance was an aggressive strategy after a strong qualifying performance. Wehrlein also had a good qualifying performance, and he also went forwards in the race, even overtaking other cars on track (not just off the start). A performance that didn’t look possible after pre-season testing. Some of the more established teams are going to be under pressure this season, with FOM cash only… Read more »

The Captain

It doesn’t matter where they finish, Haas doesn’t get any money next year for being in the top ten. Because Bernie is such a good deal maker and all.

MIE

Even so, they could stop one of their competitors get any cash either.

The Captain

True, but with the financial state of some of the teams it’s a bit annoying that denying them money is a good strategy for the others.

Daniel Johnson

Especially if you want to fill out the grid again. Most expansion teams in leagues get some incentives to get going.

mini696

Money or no money from F1. It could bring in sponsors.

Thomas Westergaard

I’m really pleased by the midfield so far.

Negative Camber

Agreed, they look great.

Daniel Johnson

So far of the three races this week Martinsville seems to be the cleanest at least for debris.

I can’t echo everyone’s comments on Haas enough. This is some seriously impressive and legit racing. That was the exact opposite type of race and they improved by one position. At this rate they should be winning in like 4 races right?

Bmore Racing

The pace from Haas on this very conventional track speaks very well for their position through the rest of the season.

Hamilton’s pace through the race is being overlooked in my opinion. There was a substantial amount of damage to the aero on the right, including I’m guessing some floor damage. Yet, he continued to chop through the field and threaten Kimi ever so slightly in the end. At the very least, the 44 car’s showing today is a testament to the dominance and reliability of the W07.

xorpheous

So everyone is over the moon about Haas pace and skillful strategy, and so they should be. They’re never going to win against Mercedes and Ferrari, though, at least not in the dry. What if it’s wet? Say at a place like Monza? You know it always rains at Spa, sometimes only on one part of the track and not the other! I’m just wondering what Haas and Grosjean could do with the equalizer of a wet track.

runnah

It rains at Spa? I’ve never heard that before.

Negative Camber

Sometimes on one part of the track and not the other. Did you know that? ;)

runnah

Mind = blown.

MIE

Be sure to remind me in August, otherwise I might forget.

Negative Camber

I’ll be the first to eat crow, I really felt that given their speed trap times, Haas F1 would be running in that 12th through 16th position and to be fair, there were five cars out of the race but even still, they looked great and they called a tactically terrific race that kept them on SS tires and out front. Now, having said that, I can’t say the first two races have been completely conventional but I wonder if Haas F1 can fight Williams and Red Bull for 3rd and 4th? I would be surprised as I felt they… Read more »

longshot

I’ll eat that crow right along with you. I kept expecting Grosjean to fade but instead he just got stronger and faster, at one point even looking like he might snaffle 4th off Ricciardo. That Haas was handling beautifully.

Williams and FI have been a massive disappointment so far. I just can’t understand why they’ve both lost their race pace. Looks to me like both Haas and STR will finish ahead of them, and possibly even McLaren if they can get their act together.

Merc are still in a world of their own though :

Negative Camber

I understand Bottas after hitting Lewis, but Massa’s two-stop on mediums was a real downer. They gambled, sure, but even Haas knew the SS were the tires that worked and you could see that in real time when Lewis tried his mediums and putted early. It’s easy for me to judge from the couch but I think there were other teams who read the tea leaves correctly and I would assume Williams would too. As for Haas, another thing that has me slightly hedging my bets here is Esteban’s dual DNF. Romain is a very good driver but reliability is… Read more »

geeyore

I believe they swapped for 4th and 5th a couple times, briefly.

longshot

Indeed they did, including one superb pass by Grosjean sneaking past Ricciardo in a narrow inside gap approaching a corner.

However it was always going to come down to their differing tire strategies. When Grosjean had an extra few seconds in his last pitstop due to a sticking rear wheel, that pretty much ended his chances but even without it I think the gap was too large & he wouldn’t have been able to catch Ric before the end.

Andreas Möller

Having watched free practice, quali and the race is one mega sitting, here are some random notes I jumbled down. I apologize in advance for the novel… On friday, Johnny Herbert apparently said he thought it was time for Fernando Alonso to retire (for instance to WEC), since he didn’t feel Alonso’s heart was in F1 anymore. Alonso didn’t take kindly to that notion and confronted Johnny about it, pointing out that he’s a two time world champion while Johnny Herbert ended up as a commenter on tv. Fernando did not look at all amused :-) In quali, Hamilton beat… Read more »

geeyore

A very good race from positions 2 to 7. The swaps around Hamilton, Grosjean, Riccardio and deep into midfield were engaging. On the whole very much better than expected.

Negative Camber

I wasn’t sure how it would play out but I feel like we missed something not having Seb in the battle given his good starts. :)

228929292AABBB

The sentiment ‘no thanks to the new qualifying format lest you felt compelled to suggest it played a role in the spicing up of the show.’ was echoed on NBC – I think it’s a stretch to be sure qualifying played no part in a good race, that sounds a touch begrudging. For instance, some of Haas’ success was attributed to starting 9th with more tire choice &c while some of Hulkenberg’s woes were put down to being in the dreaded 8th spot – is that not clever use of the qualifying format affecting the race? Don’t get me wrong,… Read more »

MIE

The free choice of tyres happened under the previous qualifying system, it is just that the cut off was at tenth place rather than eighth. The new qualifying system may make it slightly easier to come ninth though, as the driver in eighth place really only has one driver to be concerned about, and if he chooses no t to defend his position will only drop one place.

Negative Camber

I would add that the tactics of 8th vs. 10th isn’t really something new and we would be really stretching to suggest it added to the race. Five cars out, carbon fiber everywhere and attrition added a lot and so did slow starts. The new quali isn’t working…period.

228929292AABBB

A big thumbs up for turbo-hybrids. Good racing, lots of passing, exploded motors, ( I personally think DNFs should be a part of F1 or any series which is supposedly pushing limits), a new track record on 1/3 the fuel used to set the last one, new teams mixing it up with the big boys. Time for credit where it’s due – those motors are working.

228929292AABBB

agreed about F1 and Williams – well said. Weird.

dude

The solution for McLaren seems to be to let Alonso sit out for the rest of the season because he doesn’t want to drive the crap car anyway. Let Vandoorne takes his seat this year. Then next year, it’ll be Alonso and Vandoorne.

Negative Camber

You think? I was under the impression that it was jense that has to look over his shoulder.

Schmorbraten

Great numbercrunching from F1fanatic.co.uk:

“However in race pace terms F1 is still almost four-and-a-half seconds
per lap slower than it was 11 years ago. Yesterday’s race ran Safety
Car-free in the evening cool and took 93 minutes, 34.696 seconds; the
2005 race also stayed green throughout, and in blazing heat with
refuelling pit stops it took 89 minutes, 18.531 seconds.

To put it another way, Rosberg would have finished the 2005 race 11th behind Tiago Monteiro’s Jordan.”

Negative Camber

Keith does a great job, one of fav’s. Don’t know him but he seems like a great guy and I like his number crunching. :)

MIE

It’s OK, If Better was driving his 2013 Red Bull with the 2.4 litre V8, he would have finished two laps down, a lap behind even Rio Haryanto in 17th place.
Yes these cars are faster than the V10’s over a single lap, but much slower in the race. They are however much faster in all respects than the V8’s that they replaced.
All this shows is that lap time is virtually irrelevant when it comes to producing a good race.

Negative Camber

If you’ve listened to Paul and I, it isn’t the lap times we’re after here. If we were using V10’s today, they would be faster than they were back then and faster than these current hybrids, that’s how technology and evolution of the science works. That’s why lap times from 1987 are not still standing on the same circuits. It’s a red herring to argue these hybrids are faster. V8’s would be too.

Wahoo

IMHO, Bottas would have gotten the penalty even if he was on the outside and Lewis was on the inside…

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Race Report: Nico extends title lead with Bahrain winA good race and while it seemed to be full of carbon fiber shards, it perhaps added to the drama with damaged cars and mid-field teams charging through the field. One has to admit that while five cars were out, perhaps Haas F1 is running better than mid-field at the moment and with Williams falling back, they could be chasing 3-5th in the title hunt.
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