Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

Ambient 22° Track 29° Humidity 37% Wind 3.1 m/s


Alonso v Herbert and Take Two for the Quali revamp dominated the pre race circus. As twilight descended on the desert, the eyes of the media shifted to the start and whether or not Mercedes’ clutch would once again enliven the proceedings.


Well, once again the formation lap provided all sorts of entertainment as this week it was Sebastian Vettel’s turn to not finish the race as his engine did a fantastic imitation of a smoke machine on the formation lap. AS the cars settled into the grid what appeared to be Mercedes strongest competitor rolled off the track and looking for all the world to be yet another boring Mercedes’ 1-2.

Fortunately for race fans, Valterri Bottas had other ideas. As the lights went out yet again Lewis Hamilton had a wretched start, with Nico’s better, but not by much. Bottas on the other hand nailed it and as Hamilton went wide into T1 to avoid Rosberg’s rear end, Bottas tried to slide up the inside. There simply wasn’t enough time or space for him to claim the apex and as Lewis swung across to claim his line Bottas was unable to brake in time and punted Lewis halfway across the track, damaging both their cars. The stewards called it on Bottas and handed him a stop and go to boot. Technically the onus is on the overtaker, but reality is similar situations have also been ruled racing incidents and opinion was split amongst the commentariat.

Regardless, the race was on for real as Raikkonen, also having had a less than stellar start chased down Ricciardo for P5 and Hamilton found himself P7 at the end of the first lap. The William’s slotted into P2 and P3 with the wounded and soon to be penalized Bottas trailing his teammate Massa. Grosjean had a good start up to P6 and the prospects for the HaasF1 team brightened considerably, which was necessary as it wasn’t long before Gutierrez was forced to retire his car, this time for brake failure.

The mental behaviour continued in the opening laps, with Perez and Sainz both suffering contact as carbon fibre began to litter the track. Jolyon Palmer was forced to retire as well, a shame given his drive at Melbourne, as the scrap for the midfield began to hot up in anticipation of DRS being activated.

A mistake from Ricciardo on lap 6 opened the door for Raikkonen and Kimi wasted no time in dusting the Red Bull. Having cleared Danny Boy, Kimi managed to track Bottas down the next lap as Button rolled to a stop with a mechanical failure of some sort, surprising absolutely no one at all. Lewis, meanwhile had been on the move, and had managed to reclaim P4 from Bottas by the 8th lap, which became P3 as Massa rolled into the pits at the end of the lap. This also promoted Grosjean to P5. AS the pit stop cascade started there was a brief moment where Pascal Wehrlein was running P8, happy days indeed for Manor.

Van Doorne provided some solace for Macca fans as he actually managed to pass Hulkenberg and the McHonda began to show some signs of life in actual racing.

AS the leaders rolled into the pits, Grosjean managed to hop out in P9 and elected to carry on with the Super Softs, whereas Mercedes double stacked Rosberg and Hamilton, sending them out on the Soft and Medium respectively. This proved to be a real turning point, as the Mediums were nowhere and Raikkonen, having gone for the undercut, chose the softs as well. What’s slightly surprising is Mercedes had 4 laps of the Williams to look at and still chose to gamble on the Mediums for Lewis. Kimi’s undercut brought him within 5s of Rosberg and the time Lewis lost in this stint would prove unbridgeable due to the lost performance of his damaged car.

Again, the rest of the field stepped up with a tremendous amount of racing as the sharp end settled into their rhythm. Perez and Van Doorne had a fantastic early race scrap and Romain Grosjean put on a veritable clinic of overtaking with his tyre advantage. During his second stint he executed beautiful moves on both Massa and Ricciardo. Verstappen played a much better game this week, banging home a sweet move on Massa as well.

AS Rosberg swanned around in front, Magnussen, Wehrlein and Nasr fought brutally over P14-11 in the second stint. Ricciardo kicked off the 2nd round of stops as Toro Rosso compounded Sainz’ misery by providing him with a terrible stop that saw his car fall off the jacks.

Lots of action post stops, but it was Van Doorne in a Williams sandwich that saw plenty of camera time. It was a race for Stoffel to get Bottas’s DRS before Massa could get him and he won it, for a few laps till Bottas slid over and blocked him before heading to the pits, letting Massa by. Thus Felipe picked up 2 spots while Van Doorne netted no improvement.

Mercedes and Ferrari opted to go for used Super Softs, with Mercedes starting things this time on lap 39 by bringing Lewis in to ditch the underperforming Mediums. Making clear their priorities, Ferrari answered immediately bringing Kimi in and mirroring Lewis’ strategy, showing zero interest in taking the fight to P1.

While this was going on, Wehrlein rocked an amazing pass on Ericsson and Grosjean emerged on Soft tyres good to the end of the race. Crucially, he got out just metres in front of Van Doorne, allowing him to get right on the back of Kvyat, who was trying desperately to make up for the image of Verstappen blowing past him earlier in the race by passing everyone else he could get his hands on. Not good for Boy Danii as Young Max looks increasingly likely to get that promotion to the senior team.

With the sharp end looking settled as Hamilton was able to make no inroads on Kimi thanks to his wounded car and the damage done thanks to the underperforming Medium tyres, the only real question was Rosberg’s brakes, which were giving no sign at all of being problematic as his sparkling drive continued untroubled by the slings and arrows of outrageous Williams.

Ricciardo also led the way on the last round of stops at the front, forced onto Mediums for the last laps to satisfy the 2 compounds rule. Sensibly the rest of the top 3 took the Softs on board and after a lap or 2 it was obvious that it was status quo to the end of the race.

Having suffered a long stint on the Mediums, Verstappen was given a set of Super Softs to play with for the end of the race, which he was happy to take maximum advantage of. Grosjean on the Softs, too was forced to carve his way past Massa to regain P5 and Verstappen made Williams day slightly worse by also getting by the Brazilian to claim P6 for Toro Rosso.

Magnussen and Ericsson battled to the finish as well, with Magnussen eventually coming better, and props to Renault for a bit of post quali redemption. Kvyat and Bottas banged up some wheels before Kvyat took the Finn wide into the exit of T3 and set his sites on Massa a bit up the road, a battle that would see them almost unlap themselves on a coasting Nico Rosberg, who wasted little time getting on the go pedal and out of the way. Kvyat wound up getting the better of the Brazilian and seized P7, a bit of damage limitation but with Verstappen in front of him, ominous clouds on the horizon indeed.

Great start to the season for Nico Rosberg, definite reliability issues for Ferrari and HaasF1 the belle of the ball, following up their strong Australia showing with an equally impressive go in the desert. China brings an update to the Mercedes car, but a new clutch is apparently some way off, as apparently an updated qualifying.

Thanks for stopping by and play nice in the comments!


39 responses to “#F1 Race Review: 2016 FORMULA 1 GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

  1. Nice write up matt. Thanks.
    Future looks good. Vandoorne, verstappen, Werhlein and magnussen are pretty exciting.

  2. What about Grosjean and Haas? It definitely shows there is a new way of doing things in F1.

    • So indeed. Thanks to the listed parts being effectively extended into customer cars, put 4 Ferraris (Ferrari + Haas), 4 Mercedes (upcoming, possibly Manor) and 4 Red Bulls (Red Bull + Toro Rosso) on the grid and you drive Williams and McLaren out of business, let alone minnows like Force India or Sauber. Happy times indeed… The customers will NEVER be allowed to finish in front of the parent cars over the season (so forget titles for the likes of Haas), but they will easily put a buffer between the parent car and the competition. Wait to see the fun when there’ll be 4 Mercs occupying the first 4 spots of the podium. Yes, it’s nice to see Haas and Manor and Toro Rosso do well, but this signals death of competition in F1 and institutionalization of a 2-tier grid…

      • Did you guys see the grey steeringwheel force India had? It was 3d printed. To cost less.

        • They’ll still go out of business sooner rather than later. The “Force India broke” story has been running for at least 2 years in a row now, basically since Austin 2014 (the failed protestation day), but it goes back well before that. Since Sauber and Force India barely have the cash to bring their motorhomes to the races these days, how realistic is for them to build cars around the brand new 2017 chassis regulations? Basically what we’re seeing now is customer cars driving a stake through the independent F1 constructors… Even Williams with good drivers looks nowhere compared to a Ferrari-B and a Red Bull-B on a track supposed to suit Williams (Merc PU, slippery chassis)…

      • What surprises me is how long it took for a big team to start this modern day trend (called “B” team/customer car) which is up to now completely within the rules, this trend was started in modern days in 2005 by the cat-piss-in-a-can producers, and although back than totally in breach of the rules in force by using not only the same car, but openly the same chassis, it was back than called “junior formula one team”, it had the blessings of the back than twohalvesoftheF1cancer so it was OK for the owners to get double of everything others were permitted to get.

      • This sounds a lot like someone that doesn’t know what the listed parts are. While I don’t know exactly all of the listed parts, I do know that the listed parts does not include the entire car. They still had to go to Dallara to get a chassis and they still had to do all their own arrow work. If anything, this gives them more of a chance to beat Ferrari. The biggest issue I see is with the way the engine rules are written. This is the area where the customer teams seem to have a huge disadvantage because they get different software.

        • TJ13 has predicted the 2015 regulation changes to the listed parts to be a sneaky way to customer cars more than a year ago:
          “The de-listing in Appendix 6 for 2015 of the brake ducts is a significant move towards customer teams being able to buy highly sophisticated technology from competitors. Brake ducts are no longer for just cooling purposes due to the historic loophole that allows the teams to design brake ducts which deliver aerodynamic advantages.”

          This is indeed the “Haas listed parts” regulation. What we’re seeing today is a logical outcome of the intended changes: allowing a team like Haas, with no interest in building a chassis from scratch (think HRT, Manor, Caterham), to enter F1 on a high. Of course someone cannot just buy the Merc chassis; but now someone can however buy highly sophisticated tech from another constructor. And as with the customer engines conundrum, there is even less onus on constructors to supply the latest and bestest iteration of their proprietary technology to the customer.

          Which brings us to the obvious point: a team that needs to resort to buying unlisted parts (e.g. Haas, Manor, FI, Toro Rosso, etc.) will unlikely outspend or outdevelop the behemoth that developed the said tech in the first place (e.g. Ferrari, Merc, Red Bull, etc.). Even if they by some miracle have Dallara or someone else come up with a wonder chassis that allows them to systematically beat the parent car, expect reduced technical help and suboptimal unlisted parts in the future (i.e. nothing unlike the different software for customer PUs we see now). Which brings us to a fully institutionalized customer cars era, whereas parent constructors can legally modulate the performance of their minnows.

    • Well I’d say that Haas found a “new way” to push the rules to their breaking limit for their own advantage. The overall scheme ain’t new, just the details.

      No doubt they were aided and abetted behind the scenes by a not-so-random, sawn-off personage for “the good of the sport”, for the good of the major teams who will benefit from the customer car idea and the good of his tax-minimised bank accounts when he sells up.

      Haas’ shiny, exciting points finishes are great for a disinterested bystander, but I wonder at the longer-term implications of the submerged 7/8 of that performance iceberg.

      Its not what you know, or even how much coin you have…

  3. Lewis gets his ass handed to him yet again!!! WTF is going on?? Nico has owned Lewis for quite a while now. Will be interesting to see if Lewis can wrestle back some momentum here. The race was another good one, even with the joke of qualy. I liked Max’s work today, pulled his finger out after Melbourne and let talent do the talking – very nice. And HASS?!?!?!?! Oh my – well done. And Bottas??? I just dont get.. Ambition no where matching talent.

    • If Nico had been nerfed at T1 and suffered quite a bit of damage to the floor and his front wing I’d imagine his lap times might have suffered a bit too? Granted his start was way better than Hamilton’s, but we never really got to find out how racey they would have been against each other because Bottas got involved.

      Either way, an interesting race in terms of how strategies played out, how people battled with each other and so on. Good to see Haas continuing to do well (although Grosjean calling this a ‘normal’ race was generous…), Vandoorne not let Button being patronising about/to him in the press all weekend not phase him and Verstappen having a stronger, cleaner race. Some good action from pretty much everyone, really.

    • Hi funkybunch, if Nico has owned Lewis then maybe Lewis is just driving the price down to buy himself back 😉 Seriously though I’d like to see a race where Lewis wins the fight with his clutch away from Pole Position (to be fair they still give that to the fastest driver) before coming to the conclusion of who owns whom 😉 Nico has for me driven faultlessly and is prob not getting the credit he deserves…however, as a stated non-Hamfosi (I very strictly cheer on all drivers simultaneously, hard work some times), my money is still on the Hammy tripple whammy. But so far this year its been great fun watching, silly qualy bedamned, we are in for a great season!!

  4. Monumental performance by Vandoorne, Pascal again super impressive. Can’t help but wonder if Bottas is succumbing to the pressure of the moment, its impress or bust, what with all the impressive younger talent* swimming around, looks like he could be set to take the Hulks mantle of ‘wonder what could have been if he’d gotten a chance with a top team, ah well, too late now’. Verstappen put in a fabulous mature drive, just what was needed to shut the likes of me up 😉 Pressure on oh Danii boy 😂 Loving the Merc clutch, we may yet get a championship battle out of it. And Haas, awesome indeed!!
    *younger talent may include a certain RoGro, dreams of Ferrari drive suddenly seeming not so completely daft (although my funny money is admittedly on a boring Kimi retained for 2017 alongside Seb lineup). Silly season starting way early this year, isn’t that right Jense?

  5. “as Lulu went wide into T1 to avoid Rosberg’s rear end, Bottas tried to slide up the inside, there simply wasn’t enough time or space for him to claim the apex, and as Lulu tried to slid up the inside to claim his line Bottas was unable to brake in time and punted Lulu”.
    (play nice in comments) as nice as I can, but what rubbish reporting is this, what the fricken do you mean by the above rubbish? This is motor racing, Lulu left the door wide open, he then turned in and when the cars touched Bottas front wing was passed Lulu’s head let alone his rear wheels, regardless of the stewards giving the blame to Bottas, I don’t think it was right that bottas got the blame, 44 was just as much to blame as he turned in, Bottas had than nowhere to go, at least they should have declared it a racing imcident.

    • A big steaming pile of crap Salvuborg!!! What race were you watching? Bottas got all excited when he saw the gap open up, and rushed in all guns blazing, without realising that he was rapidly running out of road. As i say, too much ambition not matched by talent to deliver it. Stupid move. Did he think he could stop on a dime and THEN turn it? Amateur at best. Stuffed Lewis’s race completely. Bottas completely earned that penalty. Like I said in my first post, I just dont get him. All hype. Been in F1 now for what, 3 seasons? Shown nothing.

      • According to Petruska’s expert assessment! on the one hand Lulu ran wide to avoid running in the back of his team mate, but on the other hand totally forgetting that running wide leaves the door totally open, Lulu seems in some eyes to have some sort of divine right to claim back his line and close the door he left open, and to top his contradictions, Petruska says that there was no space left for Bottas, No wonder the downward spiral this site suffered by such contributions under the old format, if I am not believed go have a look at what was called “F1 news FUD topic” on another site, it is useless hiding behind (lack of reading comprehension), at least, hopefully so under this new site format, The (if you don’t like it piss-off) is not good enough under this new site format which have transformed this site like never seen elsewhere. As to (factual errors in reporting/commenting/opinions) not long ago I told you about some gross once, mostly idiotic speculations.

        Funky,when a racer sees a gap which has been left open he goes for it, if he doesn’t he is not worth his seat, if a racing follower doesn’t see that, doesn’t agree, he either wasn’t watching the race or else he was smoking something strong, but most probably being a oneeyedhamfosu.

        • Agree with you, even Toto himself gave 80/20 of the blame to Bottas/Lewis respectively.
          I guess Lewis gets certain privileges that others don’t.

        • Salvuborg, RE your comment about when a racer sees a gap he has to go for it otherwise he is not a racer. I know you are channelling Senna vs Stewart at Adelaide all those years ago, but 2 points I would like to make. 1. Bottas is NO WHERE NEAR the talent of Senna. 2.Bottas doesnt have the car underneath him to pull off a move like that. When a gap opens up, a GOOD racer weighs up ALL the possiblities in an instant, then makes the call about the move. F1 is not a fucking finishing school!!! That move showed either a severe lack of judgement, and/or experience, and/or talent. ANY one of those is enough for me to believe that Bottas perhaps shouldnt be in F1. Perhaps. My 2 cents. These drivers get paid for NOT making stupid mistakes like that. Seriously, I thought Maldonardo was back in the Williams!! Gaps are very fcuking dangerous things in wheel to wheel racing, and must be respected for the traps that they in fact are. Only the talented and the brave and those of good judgement, sitting in a capable car, can pull them off. Hell, even Senna stuffed up his share of overtakes in his time, and I think he was an outright genius in a car! What Bottas did was outright stupid. Finally, I am no fan of Hamilton. I am a Kimi fan much to my frustration. But even I admit that Lewis is a fine driver, perhaps the finest of his generation, dunno. He does have championships with 2 different teams, which is more than can be said about Vettel and Alonso. Last guy to do that was Schumi. But I dont have to be “oneeyedhamfosu” to see the stupidity of that move. I would say the exact same thing if it was Hamilton who did that to Bottas. Or Senna to Prost way back when. Stupid IS what stupid DOES. Simples.

    • Ummm let’s see, Bottas penalized, at best racing incident ultimate responsibility on the overtaker and Bottas front wheels clearly behind Hamilton’s at apex so yeah, and considering I report that similar accidents have been rated racing incidents pretty fair reporting, descriptive accurate and entertaining. I fear that once again your lack of reading comprehension has outstripped your intellect.

      SO if you don’t like my reporting, piss off and stop polluting the comments. If you have a factual error, let me know and I’ll correct it. End of Story.

      • What was surprising, though, is to see the FIA investigate a first 1st corner incident. For years Charlie says… that T1 is too many cars, too difficult to investigate, and since forever the FIA hasn’t done anything about T1 abuses, but now all of a sudden T1 can be investigated? WTF?

        • I wonder if it was investigated because it involved a (likely) title contender? I do agree that it should have just been called a racing incident. Lewis was caught out by Nico being slow at the apex, Bottas thought he saw a gap and if Lewis could have opened the steering slightly to avoid or reduce the impact and would still more than likely have stayed ahead.

          All I can think is that they had either footage or traces from the Williams which indicated he would have been unable to make the corner even if Lewis had taken avoiding action. That is the only way I can see it would be a penalty rather than just a T1 incident.

        • yesterday a friend of mine watching with me said “isn’t the first two corners of a race start supposed to be free of penalty for accidents?” I honestly didn’t know about that, but I have traced that “what Charlie says about FIA policy for first corner of race start accidents”.
          the big problem, and I am not talking about this crap being pushed on here, is they not only investigated a first corner of a race start accident plus dishing out a blame, but they also saw fit to dissolve the one that left no space to a car whose front wing was level with his head, let alone level with his rear wheels, and that after running wide and decided to close the door completely on Bottas.

          • You need to revisit the rules and watch the video again. When both Mercedes braked for the corner, Bottas was at no point alongside Hamilton’s car. Bottas himself later admitted he out braked himself and he wasn’t trying to overtake Hamilton, but rather to protect from getting passed by other drivers, which is something he said has happened to him before because he was too conservative.

            The rules did not specifically say “no first corner incidents will be investigated”. So for those still trying to push this nonsense of it just being a racing incident, is yet more bullshit! It was an avoidable accident. There was no way he was going to make the corner and the driver in front has the right to take which line he best sees fit, from once there was not another car directly alongside him. Bottas wasn’t.

            So to keep saying he was left no space, is just ridiculous.

          • “You need to revisit the rules and watch the video again. When both Mercedes braked for the corner, Bottas was at no point alongside Hamilton’s car.” Well said Fortis. This is exactly right, irrespective of whatever gap was there. At some point, with a move like this, one has to bleed off the excessive speed and turn in with fcuk all time to do so. If one does not, or CAN NOT, then boring things like momentum and gravity and inertia and aerodynamics take over. Things that mere humans have little or no control over. At 300km/h you are all alone AND have no friends…

    • Having watched the video over a few times this was a racing incident, at least in any other form of motorsport and probably had it happened lower down the field.

      Hamilton took a wide line into T1, obviously trying to get a better exit than Nico’s tighter entry. This left the door very much open for Bottas to take a more traditional first lap ‘midfield’ line of fast in wide out. Rosberg obviously cautious of this was slow on the apex to prevent that move, that gave the impression Bottas was charging in to the corner, compared to Massa for example, Bottas wasn’t really flying in there.

      I’m afraid that this sort of move has caught out some of the top drivers in recent times, and perhaps if they don’t want contact they should follow Rosbergs example and jump out of the way. It cost Hamilton here, much like it cost Vettel in Mexico.

      I’d suggest the Perez Sainz incident is the one that needed looking at, Perez front wing to Sainz rear tyre, an incident that cost Carlos a potential points finish. It did make me wonder what the stewards were up to, then I noted that Derek Warrick was the driver rep this weekend….

  6. Nico has taken the lead fairly in both races, out performing Lewis here in Bahrain at the start so why is it constantly painted as if he’s just getting lucky and all those around him the opposite? After 5 (Five!) consecutive wins, which is exceptional , you’d think he’d be receiving some fair plaudits. Regardless of the ham bot collision, rosberg probably had the pace to cover ham anyway. Anyway, sure Lewis will come back and get his own streak at some point.

  7. fortis96, your opinion like the rest on here is a right of yours, but I do not agree, when the cars came together/touched Bottas front wing was passed 44’s head, Bottas was in that space because that space was left wide clear/open by 44. what I cant figure out is, are you arguing that because a driver is in front and rounding a corner he can leave the door wide open and still have a right to close it back when the car behind manages to get halfway alongside?

    • Like I said, watch the replay again, this is not some baseless opinion, the evidence is there and if viewed objectively, the truth will surface.

      If Bottas was alongside Lewis before he started to make the turn, then you’d be correct, but he wasn’t. He out braked himself, something that he admitted to doing.

      So I won’t indulge in a lengthy back and forth with this.

  8. I would like to let the jury know that flaming writers for their work will not be tolerated. We’ve had to mod some comments on this article, they know who they are. We try and be as liberal as possible on TJ13 and allow negative comments on articles AS LONG AS THERE’S A WELL EXPLAINED REASON BEHIND IT.

    Try and remember that our writers do this for free in their own time. Yes, point out errors and have a disagreement about specific points but DO NOT FLAME WRITERS OR FELLOW COMMENTERS.


    • I will put my hand up here and take full responsibility for my stupid comments. I completely and utterly confused myself as to what certain posts were intended for, got myself all riled up, and I ignorantly responded poorly. I want to apologise to all on this site, and especially to Matt for the confusion. I completely retract my comments. I sincerly apologise. I have no excuse. And I need to pay better attention to how the posts are posted so to speak. Again, sincere apologies. Funkybunch.

    • Indeed, good to see Lewis saying so. “whoever was on the inside was in my blind spot. It was just a racing incident,”

      • Doesn’t mean Bottas wasn’t wrong, he’s just stating his opinion based on his limited view in the cockpit. With the raising of the side impact structure around the drivers head, their peripheral vision is prett much nonexistent now.

  9. Yes, I think Lewis realises he left the door open a bit too far. He was absolutely focused on Nico and I think just assumed he was way ahead.

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