Gasly a more promising prospect for Red Bull, Verstappen nervous?

Rate The Race and Driver of the Weekend. Round 2,

Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, 2018

Mean Reader Score: 8.17

Bahrain always scores pretty highly in our readers’ opinion but this year’s rating of 8.17 was even better than last year’s 7.80, 2016’s 7.06 and 2015’s 6.96.

With Ferrari locking out the front row, (Vettel on pole and Raikkonen in P2) the best Mercedes could do was have Bottas land P3. With his poor showing in qualifying and a five place grid penalty, the current WDC started in P9. The wunderkid which is Max Verstappen took a spin in Q1 and although he made it into Q2 took no further part in qualifying and started from P15.

Last year, Bottas had to follow team orders twice to let Hamilton past: not so this year. Being only the second race of the season, Mercedes actually used Hamilton to help Bottas to a potential win.  This was by far the best race we’ve seen for a while, with lots of overtaking at the beginning (was it really 42 overtakes in the first 10 laps?). We had Mercedes surprisingly having both drivers on a one stop strategy using the medium tyres, Ferrari having to switch to a (suicidal?) one stop in response. Verstappen deployed his ‘get out of my way, you have more to lose’ tactic of barrelling his way forward and taking out anyone who didn’t jump in the process. This time, though, it backfired as he punctured his own tyre when, having overtaken Hamilton, he then tried to ‘close him down’ (i.e. push him off track), puncturing his own tyre in the process and subsequently retiring from the race. (Q: should he really have come into F1 when he did or should he have paid his dues and worked his way up through the smaller formulae first?)

Red Bull’s woes didn’t stop with Verstappen: Ricciardo retired early due to power failure, so it was Null points for them this race.

Hamilton was not perturbed by his brush with Max, as he then went on to a triple overtake, moving rapidly up the field, seeing off Hulkenberg, Alonso and Ocon.

Raikkonen also retired and Ferrari were fined heavily for an unsafe release on his disasterous pit stop: the rear left wheel did not disengage and there was a failure of the lighting system. Kimmi had an erroneous signal to go driving off with two different tyre compounds before being told to stop immediately. Horribly, Francesco Cigorini suffered a broken leg in the process. (ouch, it was horrible to see, but thankfully he’s ok).

Vettel showed exactly why he’s a four (potentially five) times WDC by putting in an unbelievable 39 laps on the medium tyre, staying ahead of Bottas (just) to take his second win of the season. OMG the last five laps of this race even trumped Abu Dhabi 2010 (IMO).

Having finished seventh this race, Alonso is now fourth in the driver standings (and McLaren THIRD in the constructors’ championship). Who, then, won our coveted Driver of the Weekend?

Driver Of The Weekend: Pierre Gasly 48.85% of Reader Vote

Well, well, well. It’s Torro Rosso’s rookie, Pierre Gasly who romped away with the award this race. (and with a Honda engine!!) Coming fourth in this race, this was his best performance in his (short) F1 career.  He qualified in P6 but due to Hamilton’s grid penalty started from P5 and finished in P4. Was he lucky? (due to Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Verstappen all retiring).  He drove the race of his life. What a great start to his F1 career. Will Ricciardo (or Verstappen) have to watch their backs at Red Bull? (he’s currently won more points than Verstappen and equalled Ricciardo’s haul, leaving him P8 in the WDC) Does Gasly have ‘Future F1 WDC’ tattooed across his forehead?  Comments below, please. Well done Pierre!!!



What to expect for the Chinese GP

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