Winners and Losers at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Winners and Losers at the Bahrain Grand Prix

7 April 2014 – The 2014 edition of the Bahrain Grand Prix yielded one of the most thrilling lead battles in recent seasons, with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg going wheel to wheel in their respective quests for intra-team supremacy. GPUpdate.net presents its winners and losers from Formula 1's 900th race.

Winners

But for a faulty piece of rubber tubing in Australia – which retails for about a pound – Lewis Hamilton would be in a commanding position in the championship. He's still playing catch-up to Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, but this was a crushing performance by the 2008 World Champion. Hamilton dominated the three practice sessions but the car went away from him as the weekend progressed and he ultimately fell short in qualifying. At the start he made the marginally better start and kept his foot in it when Rosberg edged him towards the boundary of the track. The duo squabbled on the first lap but still Hamilton fended off the advances of Rosberg. Every time Rosberg attacked, Hamilton demonstrated a masterclass in the defensive skills – and when he needed to he pounced, pressing home his advantage as the Mercedes pairing swept into the esses. Late on in the race, he simply should not have been able to defend against a driver with DRS and faster tyres, yet he did. This was one of Hamilton's best drives and there could be many more to come. Once Mercedes were told they could push, the gap to third-placed Sergio Pérez just grew and grew. It was 1.7s when the safety car came in, 4.4s a lap later, then 7.1, 9.8, 12.0, 14.1. Two seconds a lap, at least. They'll take some catching.

Bahrain was to be a huge weekend for Sergio Pérez. The young Mexican went well in Bahrain in 2013 during his difficult season for McLaren, while Force India team-mate Nico Hülkenberg had taken the plaudits so far in 2014 after a fabulous couple of races. Pérez, meanwhile, had been on the receiving end of a dose of bad luck. His race in Australia was compromised after compatriot Esteban Gutiérrez punctured his tyre, while he didn't even make the start last weekend in Malaysia. Pérez, not known for his qualifying skills, comfortably saw off Hülkenberg and despite an enormous lock-up at the start, he managed to maintain his position. From there he managed the gap to the Williams of Felipe Massa and swept by when the Brazilian began to struggle with his tyres. The timing of his pit stop left Pérez behind team-mate Hülkenberg, but he remained calm and took advantage of a couple of battles ahead to scythe past the German. When the safety car was deployed, Pérez's grip in third place was loosened, yet he kept his composure and thanks to a little help from Hülkenberg, claimed a well-deserved podium.

Daniel Ricciardo had endured a miserable start to the season despite showing excellent pace, so in Bahrain it was pleasing to see the Australian having a trouble-free run to fourth place. He started way down the order, a hangover from his pit stop from hell in Malaysia. He was hindered early on by Red Bull's lack of straight line speed but in order to compensate for their deficit, they went for a short-gear meaning only Red Bull regularly reached eighth gear. Allied to a high downforce set-up it allowed Ricciardo to pass his rivals at places where only the Red Bull could go, most notably up the inside of Turn 11 or, in one instance, around the outside of Kevin Magnussen at Turn 12. On options late in the race, Ricciardo charged up the inside of team-mate Sebastian Vettel to prove that he'll be no pushover at the team and while his run to the podium came up just short, this was an exemplary race by the Australian.

Losers

A week ago, Nico Rosberg knew he was outclassed by team-mate Hamilton around the sweeping turns of Sepang. In Bahrain, it was a different story. Rosberg claimed his second successive pole at the track and was the more comfortable of the Mercedes driver with the handling of the W05. But he lost his main advantage at the very start and from there on; he was tactically inferior to Hamilton. This was the circuit where, two years ago, Rosberg announced his arrival as no pushover by edging Hamilton and Fernando Alonso onto the artificial sand, prompting the Spaniard's infamous 'you have to leave a space' rant. Hamilton is frequently labelled as an unintelligent driver compared to Rosberg – in itself a grossly unfair and lazy stereotype – but in Bahrain it was the German who should have pressed him his advantage. The timing of the safety car was a gift for Rosberg yet he tried the same approach several times to no avail. This was his race to lose and he lost it. With Mercedes having produced one of the most dominant cars in the history of Formula 1, he can't squander many more chances if he is to stop Hamilton from winning the crown.

The Sauber drivers didn't have a very good time in Bahrain. As if the fact that the car was reluctant to turn and not exactly rapid in a straight line wasn't bad enough, both drivers were taken out by errant drivers. While Adrian Sutil's clash with Jules Bianchi was more of a racing incident, Esteban Gutiérrez was the passenger in the latest antics of perennial miscreant Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan driver stumbled out of the pit lane and just went straight into Gutiérrez, tipping the Sauber driver into a flip. Maldonado typically shirked responsibility for the accident and hinted that Gutiérrez outbraked himself. The Mexican's baffled reaction while still in his car, 'what was that' suggested otherwise. Last week, we lamented the harshness of the ste wards for not allowing collisions to happen, but there is a difference. Maldonado's actions were simply clumsy and dangerous. He has been penalised, but the question is whether he has the capability to change. It's doubtful.

Luca di Montezemolo has been urging the sport to change but in reality it's not for the interests of Formula 1, it's in the interests of his Ferrari team, which has yet again come up short. Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen were sitting ducks on the straight, while the F14T was hardly handy around the corners either. Alonso conceded after the race that while Bahrain was a weak circuit for Ferrari, ninth and tenth is where they are on pure pace alone. Despite having two of the best drivers, a huge budget courtesy of their position in the sport and having re-opened their wind tunnel, the F14T looks the fifth quickest package at best. Alonso was quick to emphasise how good a job the team had done in terms of pit stops and strategy, but conceded that work has to be done with the F14T. That's an understatement. Barring a huge upturn in fortune, they can wave goodbye to any hopes of a win in 2014, let alone a shot at the world title.

Phillip Horton
Twitter: @PHortonF1

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Monday 1 September 2014

  2. Video: Ronaldo, Button go for a spin 18:57

    Video: Ronaldo, Button go for a spin

    Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo went for a spin with McLaren driver Jenson Button at the Circuito del Jarama on...

    F1
  3. I won't give up in title fight, Hamilton vows 18:04

    I won't give up in title fight, Hamilton vows

    Lewis Hamilton insists that he will not give up in his quest for the 2014 Formula 1 title, as he looks to cut Mercedes...

    F1
  4. Van der Garde gets another FP1 outing 16:00

    Van der Garde gets another FP1 outing

    Sauber reserve Giedo van der Garde will get his seventh practice outing of 2014 at the Italian Grand Prix. The former...

    F1
  5. Honda can match Mercedes, Arai reaffirms 14:09

    Honda can match Mercedes, Arai reaffirms

    Honda's motorsport chief, Yasuhisa Arai, has reiterated his belief that the Japanese manufacturer will be able to match...

    F1
  6. Lotus drivers back Parabolica changes 13:42

    Lotus drivers back Parabolica changes

    Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado have backed the decision to replace the gravel trap on the outside of Monza's...

    F1
  7. Ricciardo collects Lorenzo Bandini trophy 12:50

    Ricciardo collects Lorenzo Bandini trophy

    Daniel Ricciardo collected the Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini at a ceremony in Brisighella, Italy on Sunday. The trophy, awarded...

    F1
  8. 11:13

    Photos: 2014 VKV City Racing Rotterdam

    F1
  9. Álex Márquez seals Moto2 promotion 11:07

    Álex Márquez seals Moto2 promotion

    Álex Márquez, the younger brother of reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc, will step up to the Moto2 class with the Mark VDS R...

    MotoGP
  10. Force India duo confident over Monza chances 10:37

    Force India duo confident over Monza chances

    Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez are hopeful of putting together a more competitive showing at this w...

    F1
  11. Márquez had 'score to settle' after 2013 09:14

    Márquez had 'score to settle' after 2013

    Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez says he had a "score to settle" with Jorge Lorenzo at this year's British Grand Prix, having...

    MotoGP
  12. Monza memories: Button caught out at restart 05:00

    Monza memories: Button caught out at restart

    Relive the drama as Jenson Button is caught out by a slow Safety Car restart at the 2000 Italian Grand Prix.

    F1
  13. Sunday 31 August 2014

  14. Aleshin's condition upgraded to stable 15:57

    Aleshin's condition upgraded to stable

    Mikhail Aleshin will remain in hospital but his condition has been upgraded to stable following his huge IndyCar practice...

    Indy
  15. Verstappen damages wing during Rotterdam run 15:42

    Verstappen damages wing during Rotterdam run

    Dutch youngster Max Verstappen has had a minor crash during his first public Formula 1 outing at the VKV City Racing event...

    F1
  16. Williams plans to retain Massa, Bottas – Smedley 14:31

    Williams plans to retain Massa, Bottas – Smedley

    Williams Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley says the team plans to retain current drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri...

    F1
  17. 13:51

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  18. Márquez beats Lorenzo for 11th win of 2014 13:50

    Márquez beats Lorenzo for 11th win of 2014

    Marc Márquez came out on top in a battle with Jorge Lorenzo to claim his 11th victory of the season in the British Grand...

    MotoGP
  19. Lotterer open to more Caterham outings 11:49

    Lotterer open to more Caterham outings

    André Lotterer says he is open to more Formula 1 outings with Caterham, having made his debut in the sport with the team at...

    F1
  20. Gastaldi adamant Lotus can revive fortunes 10:09

    Gastaldi adamant Lotus can revive fortunes

    Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi is adamant that there is 'plenty to look forward to' at Lotus, despite the squad...

    F1
  21. 06:00

    Latest IndyCar photos: Saturday at Fontana

    Indy
  22. Power finally captures title, Kanaan wins Fontana 05:54

    Power finally captures title, Kanaan wins Fontana

    Will Power's voice cracked audibly as he spoke to his team on the cool-down laps at Fontana on Saturday night.  Three times...

    Indy
  23. Video of the Day: Formula 1 in every Renault 05:00

    Video of the Day: Formula 1 in every Renault

    Renault drivers receive an unexpected, special welcome whilst arriving at a supermarket car park.

    F1
  24. Saturday 30 August 2014

  25. 18:24

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  26. Márquez beats Dovizioso to Silverstone pole 15:01

    Márquez beats Dovizioso to Silverstone pole

    MotoGP championship leader Marc Márquez claimed pole position for the British Grand Prix in cool and cloudy conditions...

    MotoGP
  27. Maldonado anticipating tough Monza weekend 13:18

    Maldonado anticipating tough Monza weekend

    Pastor Maldonado is anticipating a tough time for Lotus as Formula 1 heads to the high-speed Monza for next weekend's...

    F1
  28. 12:30

    Photos: Red Bull's 50 Formula 1 wins

    F1
  29. Márquez quickest despite fall at Silverstone 10:48

    Márquez quickest despite fall at Silverstone

    Marc Márquez set the fastest time during the third practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, before...

    MotoGP
  30. Aleshin in 'serious but stable' condition 10:09

    Aleshin in 'serious but stable' condition

    SMP Racing driver Mikhail Aleshin is in a 'serious but stable' condition following a violent accident during practice for...

    Indy
  31. Video of the Day: Singapore winner's trophy 05:00

    Video of the Day: Singapore winner's trophy

    View the winner's trophy for this year's Singapore Grand Prix, inspired by the Singapore Airlines logo.

    F1
  32. Aleshin airlifted to hospital after violent crash 04:50

    Aleshin airlifted to hospital after violent crash

    Russian rookie Mikhail Aleshin has been airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center in California after a violent...

    Indy
  33. Friday 29 August 2014

  34. Castroneves chips into points lead with Fontana pole 23:57

    Castroneves chips into points lead with Fontana pole

    Helio Castroneves picked up his second pole position of 2014 at the most crucial time possible: On the eve of the...

    Indy
  35. 23:57

    Latest IndyCar photos: Friday at Fontana

    Indy
  36. IndyCar to lose Houston, switch Toronto for Mosport 20:17

    IndyCar to lose Houston, switch Toronto for Mosport

    IndyCar confirmed today that the Houston street course would not be a part of the 2015 schedule.   Twice a sight of...

    Indy
  37. Season finale preview: Power heads three-man fight 19:51

    Season finale preview: Power heads three-man fight

    The MAVTV 500 at Fontana will be the ninth consecutive time that the last race of the year will determine the champion, and...

    Indy
  38. 16:00

    Latest MotoGP photos: Friday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  39. Márquez stays fastest in second practice 15:26

    Márquez stays fastest in second practice

    Repsol Honda's Marc Márquez remained in charge during Friday afternoon's second practice session for the British Grand...

    MotoGP
  40. Mercedes drivers react to crunch talks 14:53

    Mercedes drivers react to crunch talks

    Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have publicly responded to the clear-the-air talks staged at the team's...

    F1
  41. Ex-Caterham staff start legal action 14:26

    Ex-Caterham staff start legal action

    Ex-Caterham staff have started legal action against the F1 team's new owners, claiming unfair dismissal. Having...

    F1
  42. Video: Verstappen drives F1 car in Rotterdam 14:04

    Video: Verstappen drives F1 car in Rotterdam

    Max Verstappen made his first public outing in Formula 1 machinery on Friday, the 16-year-old getting behind the wheel of a...

    F1
  43. Rosberg accepts responsibility for Spa clash 13:07

    Rosberg accepts responsibility for Spa clash

    Nico Rosberg has "acknowledged his responsibility" and apologised for clashing with team-mate Lewis Hamilton at last...

    F1
  44. Márquez tops opening Silverstone practice 11:08

    Márquez tops opening Silverstone practice

    Marc Márquez set the pace during Friday morning's opening practice session for the British Grand Prix at...

    MotoGP
more news