Bahrain Grand Prix | Bahrain International Circuit | Sunday 21 April | 14:00
This weekend, Formula One leaves Asia for the Middle East, with the teams traveling to the dusty desert to race in the ninth Bahrain Grand Prix. The race has historically been plagued by political protests, with the 2011 instalment being cancelled because of anti-government demonstrations. This year, despite calls to boycott F1 in Bahrain and threats of petrol bombs, Bernie Ecclestone remains unfazed and is determined that the race shall go on as planned. The weekend promises sunshine and high temperatures, a fair contrast to the previous conditions the drivers have tackled this season.
Ferrari are back on form with their first win of the season, which was also Fernando Alonso’s first win since Germany last year. Kimi Raikkonen managed to secure second place despite a poor start and a damaged front wing. Hamilton came in third after narrowly avoiding being passed by a swift Vettel on fresh tires, but lucked out when the Red Bull hit traffic. Speaking of Red Bull, Vettel’s teammate Webber had a dreadful weekend. After failing to make it back to the pits in qualifying and lacking the amount of fuel required for the mandatory fuel sample, the disgruntled Australian was forced to start from the pits. His race went from bad to worse when a failed pass on sister team’s Jean-Eric Vergne’s Torro-Rosso resulted in damage to his right wheel, which then detached itself and rolled across the track. His bad luck continued as he was slapped with a three place grid penalty in Bahrain for causing the collision. McLaren seem to be slowly improving, with Button coaxing his car over the line to take fifth, followed by a rejuvenated Massa in sixth. Young Ricciardo impressed in his Torro-Rosso and earned his highest finish yet, crossing the line to take seventh. Rookie driver Gutierrez smashed his Sauber into the back of Adrian Sutil’s Force India, ending both of their races and earning himself a five place grid penalty this Sunday. Rosberg had his second retirement of the season after suffering mechanical issues.
The Grand Prix takes place at the Bahrain International Circuit, which is considered to be one of the safest tracks on the F1 calendar because of the large run-off areas. Despite the high temperatures, which cause rapid degradation of the tires, the track is popular with drivers because of its high level of grip. Each lap is 5.412km and the teams must complete 57 laps around the circuit. With three long straights and challenging slow corners, it boasts some excellent points for overtaking, particularly at turns one and four. Pirelli has chosen the hard and medium compound for the Grand Prix and tire management will be extremely important because of the high track temperatures. Rain is pretty unlikely considering the track is in the middle of a desert; the appearance of a safety car is rare. Ferrari are the dominant team here with four wins under their belt, but Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took home top points last year.
To Win Outright:
Fernando Alonso 2/1
Sebastian Vettel 5/2
Kimi Raikkonen 4/1
Lewis Hamilton 17/2
Nico Rosberg 18/1
Mark Webber 18/1
Felipe Massa 22/1
Jenson Button 22/1
A stellar drive from Alonso at the Chinese Grand Prix saw him take home a well-deserved twenty-five points. He’s won here three times in the past, once with Ferrari and twice with Renault. The Spanish driver is definitely a force to be reckoned with on this track and I don’t doubt that he’s going to be a main contender for the top spot on Sunday.
Vettel will be itching to improve on his result in China after narrowly missing a podium finish. Consistently quick and notoriously aggressive, he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on this weekend. He won in Bahrain last year and secured the hat-trick with pole position and the fastest lap, so he’s definitely a big contender for the win.
Raikonnen managed second place even with a damaged front wing, so there’s no denying he’s quick. He’s a very consistent driver, managing to finish in the points in his last twenty races. He’ll definitely be competitive, but whether or not he can manage another win so soon remains to be seen.
It still surprises me that Hamilton hasn’t yet won a race. He’s been consistently fast and has managed to score decent points in all three races this season. After two third place finishes, perhaps this weekend he’ll manage to take the checkered flag and collect those elusive twenty-five points.
Fastest in Practice 1
To Win: Lewis Hamilton 17/2
This season has seen three different winners in three different races and Sunday may provide a fourth. Vettel seems like a probable choice; he’ll be even more motivated after missing the podium last week and he cleaned up in Bahrain last year. Alonso is the most successful driver here and he’s sure to pose a threat to Vettel in the battle for the top spot of the podium but I’m still convinced that a win for Mercedes is coming soon and I think Hamilton is the man to do it.
Think we've got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this one is going to play out.