#F1 Victims of Circumstance: Sakhir 2015 – #BahrainGP

Brought to you by TJ13 Courtroom Reporter & Crime Analyst: Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)


[For those who are new to the page; TJ13 attempts to remove certain aspects of the race to give a fairer reflection of the race result.]

I received an email from a site reader who was not happy about my naming of Verstappen’s overtakes in Shanghai as ‘desperate’.  While I understand how this could be construed, please allow me to clear up what I meant by this.  Having come from a background of lower formula racing I am accustomed to watching somewhat hopeful overtakes – do or die, if you will.  Marcus Ericsson was extremely compliant in not turning in on the young Dutchman back in China, a move which would have surely ended both of their races.

We must question why we are seeing more and more overtakes of this nature though, which is something has been tackled, in part, by Anil Parmar’s article, which leaves the blame at the door of modern circuits.  However, something which has been ill considered before is the lower nose heights affecting air flow coming off the cars. Perhaps a reason for the more risky overtakes we are seeing.

Bahrain, uncharacteristically, saw some good racing even without any spectacular event to define the race as we saw in 2014.  Here is how the ‘Victims of Circumstance’ adjusted finish looks.

Lewis Hamilton - 2015 Bahrain

Hamilton held on despite a brake-by-wire problem


So what really happened?

Nico Rosberg: It’s hard to imagine Raikkonen having actually completed the overtake, or becoming close enough to the Mercedes car, without the intervention of overheating brakes.  Nico Rosberg drove a fantastic fighting race and merited a 2nd place finish, which he is corrected into.

Sebastian Vettel: His off at the final turn which damaged his front wing was attributed to be his mistake and not a fault of the car, which means he cannot be corrected.  The fact he was unable to pass a far inferior Williams on much older tyres speaks volumes about modern Formula One.  He remains in 5th place.

Felipe Massa: According to the rules of the post his pit lane start cannot be corrected, but his collision with Pastor Maldonado can be.  Given the pace of his teammate and the lack of rear downforce that we saw from the Brazilian, shown by the line he took when his countryman Nasr overtook him, Massa would have finished in 7th place.

Carlos Sainz: The 5 second penalty he received can be accounted for, as well as the slow pit stop, but ultimately the Spaniard had out qualified the car on Saturday and consequently dropped back in the race before his problems.  He is reinstated to 14th.

Marcus Ericsson: The slow pit stop that effectively put pay to a single digit finish was probably not so grave after all, given how the Saubers struggled when following anyone in Bahrain.  The 3 stop strategy was dependent on quick overtaking, which proved problematic. He is moved up to 12th place to atone for the pit stop.

Max Verstappen: An evening of languishing at the rear of the field and then the subsequent retirement makes it a weekend to forget.

Pastor Maldonado: When he wasn’t lining up in the incorrect grid slot or ramming into Felipe Massa, the Venezuelan was driving well. Unfortunately, his errors cannot be accounted for and he remains in position.

Jenson Button: As the Briton did not start the race he cannot be corrected, although a minor positive was the strong finish for Alonso and impending upgrades to the MP4-30 for the European leg of the season.

The Verdict
This leaves the revised results table looking like this:

Revised Race Position Driver Result comparison Points Points Difference Grid Position
Start RevisedPosition
1 Lewis Hamilton = 25 = 1 1
2 Nico Rosberg +1 18 +3 3 2
3 Kimi Raikkonen -1 15 -3 4 3
4 Valtteri Bottas = 12 = 5 4
5 Sebastian Vettel = 10 = 2 5
6 Daniel Ricciardo = 8 = 7 6
7 Felipe Massa +3 6 +5 6 7
8 Romain Grosjean -1 4 -2 10 8
9 Sergio Perez -1 2 -2 11 9
10 Daniil Kvyat -1 1 -1 17 10
11 Fernando Alonso = 0 = 14 11
12 Marcus Ericsson +2 0 = 13 12
13 Felipe Nasr -1 0 = 12 13
14 Carlos Sainz Jr RETIRED 0 9 14
15 Nico Hulkenberg -2 0 = 8 15
16 Pastor Maldonado -1 0 = 16 16
17 Max Verstappen RETIRED 0 = 15 17
18 Will Stevens -2 0 = 18 18
19 Roberto Merhi -2 0 = 19 19
20 Jenson Button = DNS 0 = DNS 20


Below, the revised World Drivers’ Championship:

Driver Revised WDC WDC Points Difference
Position Points
Lewis Hamilton 1 93 =
Nico Rosberg 2 69 +3
Sebastian Vettel 3 65 =
Kimi Raikkonen 4 49 +7
Felipe Massa 5 36 +5
Valtteri Bottas 6 30 =
Romain Grosjean 7 18 +6
Daniel Ricciardo 8 14 -5
Max Verstappen 9 11 +5
Felipe Nasr 10 8 -6
Carlos Sainz Jr 11 6 =
Daniil Kvyat 12 3 -1
Sergio Perez 13 2 -3
Nico Hulkenberg 14 0 -6
Marcus Ericsson 15 0 -5
Jenson Button 16 0 =
Fernando Alonso 17 0 =
Pastor Maldonado 18 0 =
Roberto Merhi 19 0 =
Will Stevens 20 0 =

*Those with 0 points will not be ordered

What they would have said

A Mercedes 1-2 would have looked like a non-existent threat from Ferrari had been nullified, if nowhere else, on paper.  The fact Kimi finished in second was good for the tifosi and fans of the sport from all corners of the globe, but it now places Hamilton out of reach of the chasing pack.

Even though the engine in the back of Ricciardo’s RB11 blew up, it was an encouraging display for the Milton Keynes team as they held the pace of the front runners for the first stint of the race. The upgrades cannot come soon enough for the Renault runners, although they will now come with a penalty for the rest of the season.

Quote of the Day

Meg Rosoff, the American fictional writer who is best known for the novel How I live Now, once said, “Ask any comedian, tennis player, chef. Timing is everything.”

Meg Rosoff


The comedy of errors behind the scenes between Renault and Red Bull, the tennis rally of insults and threats between the two companies and the subsequent cooking of engines is captured in this quote.  Luckily, the timing was just about ok as Ricciardo limped over the finishing line.


11 responses to “#F1 Victims of Circumstance: Sakhir 2015 – #BahrainGP

  1. There were definite shades of Verstappen’s overtakes in what Nico was doing though. He too was pretty much just divebombing the drivers in front as Max did – I remember him going so deep into the corner as a result of braking so late that it was almost forcing the car he’d just overtaken off as their apex suddenly had a Mercedes running wide through it. Max at least seemed able to get the car turning more, and consequently didn’t lose as much exit speed.

    As you (I believe?) mentioned with Max though, people will eventually find that type of pass out. It gives the driver being overtaken a perfect opportunity to do an undercut pass back, especially if the person doing the initial overtake goes as deep as Nico was going. That technique’s been used to good effect before by some drivers on the grid, so I’d imagine that if the newer aero packages are going to necessitate that style of ‘divebomb’ overtaking then we’ll start seeing that type of undercut used more frequently. Hopefully that’ll give us a bit more racing rather than just watching people hit the DRS button and cruise past on the straights at least…

  2. Cant agree with Rosbergs adjustment…
    After the overtakes he pulled off in the toughest braking zone on the track, while he knew pre-race he had to be careful with the brakes, it was only inevitable he would run into trouble.

    And Raikkonen still was a second a lap faster at the time Rosbergs brakes failed right? The difference between soft and medium tyres would mean Raikkonen would have a grip advantage in slow corners and therefore likely would have been able to DRS him.

    • Vettel couldn’t overtake Bottas in a much slower car with shot tyres. It’s not a fact that Raikkonen would have overtaken Rosberg in a what still is a quicker car…

    • Rosberg was managing brakes for at least a third of the race. As we saw with Vettel and Bottas, even 2 seconds a lap quicker does not guarantee the pass. Given how hard it was to go off line, which was particular to Bahrain, with all the sand and dirt, Rosberg would have been able to defend well.

    • I quite agree. The overtake was on regardless of the brake failure. Comparisons to Bottas and Vettel are not, in my opinion equivalent. Bottas was able to power out of the corners and use the superior traction to keep Vettel at bay whilst braking fine. Rosberg on the other hand was braking very tentatively in the laps leading up to the failure and would, in my opinion, have been nailed into one of the post-DRS hairpins anyway. OK, you could argue that the Mercedes might still have had enough in the locker to retake, but to say that he WOULDN’T have overtaken at all without the failure is almost a palpable absurdity…

        • Which was a calculated risk Mercedes took before the race when they sacrificed brake cooling for speed, right?
          So its basically cause and effect, not a victim of circumstance.

          • So if he had been forced to retire your logic would see him remaining retired. The fact his braking system came into problems earlier than Hamilton’s did is almost purely down to luck, which is the point of Victims, to try and eliminate certain aspects of luck.

          • Alex wrote, “…calculated risk Mercedes took before the race when they sacrificed brake cooling for…” (faster race pace).

            It’s interesting that Alex is the only one here to touch upon the true difficulty of rating Rosberg’s 3rd place a victim of circumstance (and moving him up to P2).

            After Friday’s FP2 session, everyone saw that Ferrari had the race pace to win. So Mercedes purposely reduced their rear brake cooling to enable improved race pace.

            The consequent improved race pace enabled Hamilton to run untroubled, and more importantly enabled Rosberg to have the pace make an on-track pass from P4 to P3 (Kimi), and then from P3 to P2 (Seb). And then do the same to Seb again after pit-stops. Without the calculated risk in rear brake cooling set-up to improve their race pace, it would’ve been more difficult to make those passes.

            So is the purposely weakened rear brake cooling for faster race pace which also lead to a BBW failure at the end of the race, random circumstance or the predictable (and chosen) calculated risk?

            Without that calculated risk, would Rosberg have finished P3?

            Given Hamilton’s rear brake issues, and comments from Toto and Mercedes after the race, a strong case can be made it was a predictable calculated risk.

            Having said all that, I candidly believe Adam made the right choice. 🙂 I just wanted to point out here that mitigating factors wouldn’t have made this straight forward.

  3. The table is a bit like races so far… bubbling up… but not quite there – no big or controversial adjustments to make yet Adam…. But there is time

  4. Just want to point out Vettel’s collapsed wing could’ve been counted as a victim of circumstance, since Vettel didn’t hit anything, the run-off area was relatively smooth, the curbing was not extreme, the car didn’t get airborne, etc.

    Given that Seb claimed the wing was his own fault, it’s an easy decision for Adam to make as he did. I’d probably do the same. 🙂

    But just saying it wasn’t straight forward, given that plenty of F1 cars make offs like that without breaking anything.

    I expect we may hear more about this incident, btw, as it was surprising.

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