Ambient 21° Track 45° Humidity 36% Wind 6.1 m/s
Apparently a gearbox wasn’t enough for Lewis as it was a brand new Power Unit that was required to solve his woes. Add Rosberg’s ignition issues and almost dead brakes in Bahrain and perhaps it’s time to wonder whether staying one step ahead of the competition is starting to extract a toll in terms of reliability. Red Bull on the front row, Hamilton on the back and wonky ass tyre strategery plus Bottas P5 and theoretically the ingredients for a quite interesting race had been assembled. Oh, did I mention the track was much hotter than the previous 2 days? Well, I definitely should have as it could precipitously change the tyre strategy.
Well well well, sat here in the wee small hours of the morning with the remnants of a glass of whisky and the things we don’t know loom almost as large as the things we do.
It seemed like a perfect set up, Ricciardo ahead of Rosberg at the start and both Ferrari’s in hot pursuit, Lewis launching a stonking drive from the back to the podium and then it all went so wrong as Kvyat launched a move that ricocheted Vettel into Raikkonen, wiping out Vettel’s front wing and Kimi’s race.
And as the living embodiment of if it weren’t for bad luck he’d have no luck at all (except for y’know all the money and lifestyle and stuff) Lewis, way way way at the back got collected by Nasr who was busy avoiding Raikkonen wandering aimlessly back onto track after his being punted by Vettel. The net result of that was Hamilton’s front wing went skating up under the car for almost the entirety of the first lap and forcing him to pit, ending his race before it had really begun.
It still wasn’t over, though, for despite the fratricide at Ferrari, Daniel Ricciardo actually led the race and thus held out hope that for the first time it might be possible to see Mercedes properly tested. At least until the third lap, when with the assistance of DRS Rosberg blistered past the Aussie who suddenly seemed defenseless as a kitten with an unfortunate haircut.
Or possibly a puncture, which turned out to be the case as his left rear tyre failed spectacularly down the back straight, forcing him to pit and setting him up for a stellar recovery drive, but one that would see him still shy of a podium and Rosberg doing Etch a Sketch on his steering while to pass the time till he won the race.
The failure of Ricciardo’s tyre prompted the stewards to do something about all the debris on track by calling out the safety car, which led to all sorts of shenanigans, including the overtake of the race, Vettel up the inside passing 3 cars between safety car lines, all the while blaming Kvyat for an incident that the stewards didn’t even deign to investigate
The entertainments continued as Lewis was called in 3 times under the Safety Car, Soft, SuperSoft, Soft, to avoid having to pit to satisfy the regs later on, basically a free pit stop under the Safety Car. Of course, as it turned out, the damage to Lewis’ car was such that no amount of cleverness would make up for the lost aero, and in the end trying to run him long on anything was a fool’s errand.
AS the folks on the quali tyre all beat themselves about the head and shoulders for not knowing the rules as well as Vettel whilst they pitted, those further back moved up fairly rapidly, including Wehrlein in a remarkable P4 for a bit. Once the Safety car was lifted though, it was time for some completely mental racing, proving the one thing we do know, that good racing comes when it’s ready, and changing regs every 2 weeks to artificially help that may not be the best long term strategy for the sport.
As previously mentioned, said racing had nothing to do with the actual race winner, who was basically done 3 laps after the Safety Car came in as Massa dropped off Nico’s pace like a stone.
Hamilton fanned the flames of Mercedes being terrible in traffic by ultimately being terrible in traffic, but along the way he raised the hopes of Hamfosi everywhere by ranging all the way up to P3, but the loss of aero meant he would never be able to run the tyres long enough to make it stick.
There was literally so much action in the midfield from lap 9 to lap 20 that one of the announcers succumbed to hypoxia (/humour) trying to cover the action. And it was all wonderful, with overtakes on the inside and outside. Ricciardo pulled a beautiful double overtake, and Vettel came scything through the field, despatching slower runners left and right while continuing to whinge about Kvyat (guilty much?). Kvyat, meanwhile, took a page out of Seb’s book to rather roundly condemn poor blue flag etiquette with a epithet that was, apparently,not fit for out ears.
By the mid 30’s the race had settled except for the unmistakeable spectacle of Lewis Hamilton racing Felipe Massa for position creeping up in the mirror.
By lap 40 it was on and Hamilton continued to get closer and closer without ever being able to get by. Whilst he was thus engaged Ricciardo and Raikkonen both got by him and frankly, by lap 52 or so it was literally all done as the earlier exertions had apparently tired everyone out.
Ehhh, anyway have fun talking about the race. Rosberg was spectacular, Seb made an ass of himself post race, Mercedes needs to get on top of reliability and I’m too tired to have tried to write this up.
Thanks for stopping by and play nice in the comments!