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. Friday 6 March 2015

  2. Video of the Day: Williams prepares for 2015 05:04

    Video of the Day: Williams prepares for 2015

    Williams gears up for the 2015 Formula 1 season with this promotional trailer, featuring its drivers.

    F1
  3. Thursday 5 March 2015

  4. 18:52

    Subscribe for GPUpdate Manager 2015!

    F1
  5. Manor passes crash tests with updated car 18:46

    Manor passes crash tests with updated car

    Manor Marussia has been officially cleared to compete in next weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, after passing...

    F1
  6. Speed joins Vergne at Andretti for Miami 16:20

    Speed joins Vergne at Andretti for Miami

    Andretti Autosport has confirmed that Scott Speed will make his Formula E debut at next weekend's Miami round, alongside...

    FE
  7. Manor in talks with 'quick young guys' 15:17

    Manor in talks with 'quick young guys'

    Manor's President and Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon says the squad is in discussions with a few 'quick young' drivers and...

    F1
  8. Weekend deadline for German Grand Prix 11:16

    Weekend deadline for German Grand Prix

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says that the future of the German Grand Prix needs to be resolved by this weekend,...

    F1
  9. Van der Garde takes legal action against Sauber 10:25

    Van der Garde takes legal action against Sauber

    Giedo van der Garde is taking legal action against Sauber, claiming that he was unfairly dismissed from the team with which...

    F1
  10. Stöckinger to make GP2 debut with Status 09:05

    Stöckinger to make GP2 debut with Status

    Status Grand Prix has confirmed that Lotus F1 junior driver Marlon Stöckinger will make his GP2 debut with the squad in...

    GP2
  11. Jaafar switches to Fortec for FR3.5 campaign 08:05

    Jaafar switches to Fortec for FR3.5 campaign

    Malaysian driver Jazeman Jaafar will race for Fortec Motorsports in this year's Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Jaafar made...

    FR 3.5
  12. Video of the Day: Ice driving with Rosberg 05:22

    Video of the Day: Ice driving with Rosberg

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg shows off his ice driving skills ahead of the new Formula 1 season.

    F1
  13. Wednesday 4 March 2015

  14. Manor confirms it will race in Australia 16:40

    Manor confirms it will race in Australia

    Manor has confirmed that it will return to competition and race in next weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix,...

    F1
  15. Pirelli names tyre choices for first four races 14:27

    Pirelli names tyre choices for first four races

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has announced its compound nominations for the first four races of the season in Australia,...

    F1
  16. Ricciardo answers GPUpdate reader questions 14:02

    Ricciardo answers GPUpdate reader questions

    Last month, GPUpdate.net gave readers the opportunity to pose questions to Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. We picked out a...

    F1
  17. Marciello to get practice outing in Malaysia 11:26

    Marciello to get practice outing in Malaysia

    Sauber test and reserve driver Raffaele Marciello has announced that he will take part in the opening free practice session...

    F1
  18. Lotus pleased with engine, chassis gains 10:14

    Lotus pleased with engine, chassis gains

    Lotus Technical Director Nick Chester reckons the team is in a much stronger position this year with its new...

    F1
  19. Pons confirms Merhi for 2015 season 09:38

    Pons confirms Merhi for 2015 season

    Pons Racing has signed Roberto Merhi for the upcoming Formula Renault 3.5 campaign. The Spaniard, 23, made his series...

    FR 3.5
  20. F1 2015: How did each team fare at Barcelona? 08:12

    F1 2015: How did each team fare at Barcelona?

    After eight more days of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the pre-season period is officially over....

    F1
  21. Video of the Day: Red Bull driver photo shoot 05:04

    Video of the Day: Red Bull driver photo shoot

    Go behind the scenes at Red Bull's driver photo shoot with renowned photographer Michael Muller.

    F1
  22. Tuesday 3 March 2015

  23. Video: Red Bull puts UE Boom to the test 14:43

    Video: Red Bull puts UE Boom to the test

    After teaming up with Ultimate Ears last year, Red Bull decided to put the UE Boom to the ultimate test.

    F1
  24. Alonso to sit out Australian Grand Prix 12:13

    Alonso to sit out Australian Grand Prix

    McLaren has confirmed that Fernando Alonso will sit out the Australian Grand Prix in the wake of his testing crash at the...

    F1
  25. Force India braced for early regression 09:31

    Force India braced for early regression

    Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley says the squad is braced for a slow start to the 2015 campaign following the...

    F1
  26. Williams confirms Wolff's on track programme 09:24

    Williams confirms Wolff's on track programme

    Williams has confirmed the details of Susie Wolff's on track programme for the 2015 season. Wolff, who stepped up to the...

    F1
  27. Toro Rosso has performed 'as expected' – Key 08:42

    Toro Rosso has performed 'as expected' – Key

    Toro Rosso Technical Director James Key hailed a positive pre-season campaign for the Italian squad, believing that the new...

    F1
  28. Video of the Day: Berlin ePrix launch 05:24

    Video of the Day: Berlin ePrix launch

    Highlights from the launch event of Formula E's Berlin ePrix, which will take place later this season around the grounds of...

    FE
  29. Monday 2 March 2015

  30. Arrivabene urges concentration at Ferrari 15:42

    Arrivabene urges concentration at Ferrari

    Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has emphasised that the Italian outfit must remain disciplined as it prepares for...

    F1
  31. Renault 'quietly confident' ahead of Australia 14:14

    Renault 'quietly confident' ahead of Australia

    Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says the French power unit supplier is 'quietly confident' ahead of the opening...

    F1
  32. FIA confirms clampdown on helmet changes 13:08

    FIA confirms clampdown on helmet changes

    Formula 1 drivers will be restricted to just one helmet design per season after a proposals put forward by figures inside...

    F1
  33. Final Barcelona pre-season test in numbers 11:01

    Final Barcelona pre-season test in numbers

    The final pre-season test at Barcelona saw Nico Rosberg and Mercedes top the timesheets, and Sauber lead the mileage stakes....

    F1
  34. Vettel expecting close fight behind Mercedes 10:52

    Vettel expecting close fight behind Mercedes

    Sebastian Vettel says he expects a close fight between Williams, Red Bull and his Ferrari team this year – albeit some way b...

    F1
  35. Mick Schumacher to race in German Formula 4 10:45

    Mick Schumacher to race in German Formula 4

    Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael, will make his car racing debut in German ADAC Formula 4...

    Misc
  36. Pons Racing parts company with Tunjo 10:33

    Pons Racing parts company with Tunjo

    Formula Renault 3.5 outfit Pons Racing has confirmed that it has parted company with Colombian youngster Óscar...

    FR 3.5
  37. 09:57

    Photos: Red Bull presents RB11 livery

    F1
  38. Red Bull reveals final RB11 livery 09:32

    Red Bull reveals final RB11 livery

    Red Bull has revealed the RB11 in its final race colours, ahead of the squad's planned filming day at the Circuit de...

    F1
  39. Tost happy with Toro Rosso's preparation 08:38

    Tost happy with Toro Rosso's preparation

    Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost says he is encouraged by the progress the squad has made across its pre-season testing...

    F1
  40. Chilton joins Nissan's LMP1 project 08:15

    Chilton joins Nissan's LMP1 project

    Former Formula 1 driver Max Chilton has confirmed that he will make the switch to the World Endurance Championship this year...

    LM
  41. Video of the Day: Chilton links up with Nissan 08:12

    Video of the Day: Chilton links up with Nissan

    Former Marussia racer Max Chilton and Nissan GT Academy mentor Alex Buncombe discuss their roles with Nissan ahead of the...

    LM
  42. Sunday 1 March 2015

  43. 19:26

    Photos: Barcelona pre-season testing – Day 4

    F1
  44. Pérez upbeat after first experience of VJM08 19:12

    Pérez upbeat after first experience of VJM08

    Sergio Pérez expressed his optimism after he received his first taste of Force India's VJM08 at the Circuit de...

    F1
  45. McLaren prepared for tricky start to 2015 18:57

    McLaren prepared for tricky start to 2015

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says the squad is prepared for a tricky start to its 2015 campaign after pre-season...

    F1
  46. Lotus: Brake issue caused Maldonado crash 18:33

    Lotus: Brake issue caused Maldonado crash

    Lotus has confirmed that a brake problem caused Pastor Maldonado's crash on the final day of pre-season testing in...

    F1
more news