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Lewis Hamilton held off a charging teammate in Nico Rosberg to win his second race of the 2014 season in good fashion. The 2008 world champion was on the harder of the tire compounds and struggling to find the pace of his teammate but managed a spirited and fair defense of his lead to win the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Bahrain GP celebrated its 10th anniversary as part of the Formula 1 calendar and did so in winning fashion by becoming only the third circuit to race into the night under lights. The race also represented two other milestones as the 900th F1 Grand Prix as well as McLaren’s Jenson Button’s 250th race.

The stage was certainly set, now could the series deliver with an exciting race after facing fierce criticism over its 2014 regulation changes and two lackluster opening races of the season?

It delivered in spades. The race was action-packed from beginning to end with what really amounted to a race of teammate battles as the cars were clumped two-by-two Noah style for most of the 57 laps. This allowed for some terrific duels for supremacy amongst teammates from Mercedes, Williams, Ferrari, Red Bull all the way back to Marussia and Caterham.

Lights out

Lights out:

 

The start was overshadowed by a blazing Felipe Massa who seemed to get the jump on just about everyone from his starting position of 7th on the grid up to 3rd behind the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Mercedes had the first turn well in hand but the duel between Rosberg and Hamilton started there and never ended for another 56 laps.

Win

Win:

The sport of Formula 1 had a big win today as criticism was tearing at the seams of the sport after a huge regulation overhaul left many bereft of passion or the sport due to the sound of the cars and the lack of racing after the first two grands prix.

Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit answered that criticism with a stonking race and teammate duel session that may not be indicative of the remainder of the year but it certainly didn’t hurt garner some passion back for good racing.

Once again, the television production was spot on and with so many battles happening on track, the broadcast team for the world feed were reading the timing and scoring charts perfectly anticipating battles and switching to on-screen action right as it was happening. With all the action on Sunday, that wasn’t and easy task to do but their hard work made the already exciting race just that much more enjoyable as fans got to see the majority of the on-track action.

Fail

Fail:

 

Once again Pastor Maldonado made his mark on Formula 1 and not in a way he would have liked to. Pastor’s Lotus clouted into the right rear of Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez flipping his car completely over in turn one and ending his race.

The lengthy Safety Car period didn’t add much to the enjoyment of the race to remove a car and reset the grid but it did add a NASCAR-style 10-lap shootout by clumping the field up and removing any advantages drivers had gained in time. Difference here is, it happened naturally and due to a crash and not just because they spotted a non-existent piece of debris on the track or felt it would be a good time for a “competition caution”.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo turned away from the TV screen in disgust and then promptly left the circuit in a very sour mood. While some have lambasted him for doing so, I have some sympathy for him as his cars look positively beaten on the track. Force India, Williams, Red Bull, Mercedes and most likely McLaren would have beaten them today so it’s not a good time to be a Ferrari F1 employee or fan or president.

WTH

WTH?

If you are a fan of the new regulations, then the Bahrain GP was a vindicating race in which your loyalty and dedication to the new rules and reasons for the regulation changes paid off. Those who took to Twitter with heavy-handed philippic’s slating “deniers” and “dissenters” should realize that the cars still sound like crap and while the race was a great teammate battle, one race does not a season make just the same in that the first two races doesn’t a season make. It is why we must be patient and see how things unfold prior to making any knee-jerk decisions moving forward.

The race today was very exciting and edge-of-seat fun but so was Brazil in 2008, Japan in 2005, Australia in 2003, Mexico in 1990, Spa in 1998 and so on. While being excited about the rules changes, this race doesn’t justify them or marginalize those concerns that many fans have. Time is the only thing that will do either of those things and I think F1 should always be willing to look at ways to improve the sport for the most inclusive style for as many fans as possible. Having said that, fans of the changes have had to endure a bucket-load of derision for the past two races so perhaps a little comeuppance is in order.

taxicab racing

 

photo from here.

Results:

 

Pos Driver Team Time/Gap

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h38m42.743

2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +1.085s

3. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes +24.067s

4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault +24.489s

5. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +28.654s

6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault +29.879s

7. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes +31.200s

8. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +31.800s

09. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +32.500s

10. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +33.400s

11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault +41.300s

12. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault +43.100s

13. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari +59.900s

14. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault +1m02.800s

15. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault +1m27.900s

16. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari +1 lap

17. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +2 laps

Retirements

Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 40 laps
Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 39 laps
Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 33 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 18 laps
Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 17 laps

Drivers’ standings:

1. Nico Rosberg 61

2. Lewis Hamilton 50

3. Nico Hulkenberg 28

4. Fernando Alonso 26

5. Jenson Button 23

6. Sebastian Vettel 23

7. Kevin Magnussen 20

8. Valtteri Bottas 18

9. Sergio Perez 16

10. Daniel Ricciardo 12

11. Felipe Massa 12

12. Kimi Raikkonen 7

13. Jean-Eric Vergne 4

14. Daniil Kvyat 3

Constructors’ standings

1. Mercedes 111

2. Force India-Mercedes 44

3. McLaren-Mercedes 43

4. Red Bull-Renault 35

5. Ferrari 33

6. Williams-Mercedes 30

7. Toro Rosso-Renault 7

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Race Rating
8
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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • I’d rather enjoyed the first 2 races…

    -Regret the Safety Car appearance; Luck keeps thumbing her nose at Williams.

    -Pastor. Yikes!

    -The Scuderia must be near-panic. The shortened gearing didn’t compensate alleviate poor top speed and it still looks so much more a handful than the frontrunners. Williams-levels of grip, but less predictable or benign than Williams. I really do hope they improve, as a competitive Ferrari is a healthy F1 (and hopefully a quiet Montezemolo; what a blowhard).

    -Excepting Merc, the top runners seem to change depending upon layout and conditions, strengths and weaknesses being exposed the further into the season we go. The European season/development war is going to be exciting.

    -Drives of the race to Rossberg/Hamilton. Dicing, fighting for the entire race, while keeping it clean. A very honorable mention for Ricciardo comprehensively outpacing Vettel.

    Kudos to Bahrain; perhaps the track’s characteristics highlight the 2014 cars particularly well, or the lights make them look pretty, but this was a visually-stunning race. A calling card for F1.

    • It’s a point worth noting, I think Jeff, as Red Bull’s Horner said it is longer straights that have them beat…simple as that. Ferrari’s president said same thing so each track may produce interesting results. Regardless, we are witnessing Mercedes domination and I hope everyone is ok with that being as they said Red Bull domination and Ferrari domination were ruining the sport. :)

      • Yes, and the relatively slow and short corners, as well hard braking (Regen setups). There was something more IMO though; on track battles despite the DRS zones, differing tire wear… Something good happened today beyond what I expected and forecast for Bahrain.

        Sure, many feel dominance is boring; I’m not really one of them. It’s a measure of team performance, and if the hounds start catching up to the rabbit, it gets all-the-more exciting as a season winds down. In this specific case, it’s even better, as unlike RBR/Ferrari eras, it appears the 2 teammates will legitimately challenge one another, and the team at this point will let them fight.

        Red Bull has real pace as I’ve mentioned; as Renault’s ERS-to-ICE integration improves, they’ll come ever-closer to Mercedes; here’s to hoping RBR and Ferrari push, that those behind keep the frontrunners honest, and Rossberg/Hamilton goad one another.

        Great stuff.

      • UAN

        I keep thinking there’s something more than just straight line speed involved, as RB has always been notoriously slow on the straights, often near the bottom. But they would have gearing and oomph (yes, very technical :) that allowed them to get to their max high speed sooner on the straight, with their competitors being faster by the time they got to the speed trap, but taking longer to build up to that speed – basically by the time another car was fast enough to catch and pass them, the straight was pretty much over.

        I’m just thinking that the Renault is behind the Merc engine in its ability to get up to full speed at the same or better rate.

    • UAN

      I’d agree RIC is definitely one of the drivers of the race (and weekend). Not sure if he comprehensively outpaced Vettel though, they were on different tire strategies at the beginning (I think many were actually anticipating Vettel to fall way behind at a high rate of knots, let alone hold his grid position on the prime tire). Also, it was reported afterwards by Ted Kravitz that Vettel had an issue with his MGU-H where it didn’t provide enough power at the end of the straights and compromised his top end speed.

      In fact, watching the race, I can’t say I saw much outpacing of teammates by teammates up and down the field – perhaps a bit with Button on MAG and definitely Felipe on the start over BOT! 7th to 3rd by T1, talk about shot out of canon.

  • Manuel G

    Fantastic race given all the team battles, I believe it was clean racing, hard but fair. Being a Perez fan the ending was just nerve racking. Hope there will be more races like this later in the season.

  • Phew what a race! My cudo’s to Hamilton he lost his advantage due to the safety car & still managed to hold off Rossberg. Hope that wasn’t orders

    • He did an amazing job holding him off. I hope it wasn’t orders too. Certainly didn’t hear anything about that on the radio but Nico was very candid that he doesn’t like finishing behind Lewis. :) As we said long before the season started, the real fireworks won’t be Kim and Alonso, it would be right here at Merc. We were right for once. :)

      • Rapierman

        No way were there any team orders. Those guys were going at it hard and fast.

      • Brody

        Regarding Nico’s comments that he doesn’t like to finish behind Lewis, well I’m quite sure that Hamilton doesn’t like to finish behind anybody.
        Lewis put on a masterful display of defensive driving, which Rosberg even with new softer tire advantages, and DRS had a hard time, and just couldn’t make the pass.
        There wasn’t any team orders given to Lewis or Nico towards the end of the race, as Nico said, ” I was well aware the whole world thinking of team orders, but it was not that at all.”

        http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/113321l

        • Brody

          Regarding Rosberg quote source: correction

          Autosport – April 6, 2014 – Bahrain GP : winner Lewis Hamilton says Nico Rosberg did a better job than him

  • Simoncez

    Does anyone publish the radio messages that aren’t broadcast? You are right about Nico’s comments would love to hear everything that was said 446?

    • Not sure if they do. Seems like there was a site that did that but I can’t recall it now. It just struck me as an odd comment but then Nico can be off the cuff like that. Just thinking back in the past when drivers had made statements like that, it was sometimes veiled commentary about a team order or being told to hold station. Not saying that happened here but just curious. Paddy did tell both of them to bring the cars home meaning don’t do anything silly.

    • Sky has it’s Race Control; pretty neat stuff, available even over Slingbox. If unavailable to you, I’ve “heard” f1 pit radio has transcripts. Didn’t bother looking, but worth investigating if you’re curious:

      http://f1pitradio.wordpress.com/about/
      https://twitter.com/F1PitRadio

      I don’t think there’s anything to read in Rosberg’s comments; his Option tires started fading at the end, and his lap times bore that out. If there was an order, I’ve no problem with it. Why jeopardize a 1-2 during the last 5-10 laps? I know, pure racing and all that…

    • Schmorbraten

      f1fanatic.co.uk has taken up again publishing team radio transcripts of qualifying sessions and races, so have a look there tomorrow or tuesday.

  • 1. Is McLaren still struggling like they did last year. They are clearly the last of the Merc’s .
    2. About time Ricciardo had some luck, without the safetycar he would have been 8th or 9th.
    3. I wish I could blame the noses for the rollover.
    4. I am really hating the over-penalisations this year – Maldonado has now been effectively penalised 4 times for the same incident (track time, drive through, points and grid spots). I don’t see how the incident was 100% his fault.
    5. The race was OK overall, some wonderful battles throughout the field.

  • Rapierman

    I believe we learned three things from this race:

    1. The Mercedes team is THAT good.
    2. Hamilton is THAT good.
    3. RBR / Renault just isn’t good enough…yet.

  • I wonder if Merc allowed Lewis and Rosberg to race for the first stint, then changed Rosberg’s strategy to seperate them on track, only for that to be ruined by the safety car.

  • Does Vettel have a list at the ready for when he is shown up by his team mate? It seems he has an excuse everytime he doesn’t perform as expected.

    • I don’t think 4-time world champs need excuses mate. ;)

      • Rapierman

        Nope, but 4-time world champs do get their egos bruised when they get beat, and especially when they get beat by their own teammate.

  • Watching replays of Maldo’s shunt of Esteban, it sure looks like Maldo’s snout(s) helped scoop the Sauber over.

  • This race was so exciting. It did not do much to shuffle the constructors but it did significantly give insight as to team operations and competitiveness of drivers. The duals all over the track were handled with class for the most part.

    Sometimes this track has produced a procession of sorts but the night race certainly allowed the most side-by-side driving I’ve seen. Granted some of it was due to the regulation changes and lack of understanding of the cars, but it was also a showcase of skill.

  • jiji the cat

    From The Cats Perspective, the real winner was Bahrain. I was not looking forward to this race, as i don’t like the circuit. Its dull, sandy, hot, gritty, bland etc etc, but, the shift to night racing under lights was a very good move. It seemed to me to bring the track to life and actually give it some new positive character, and i might add, that it looked very beautiful under lights, maybe because you couldn’t see all that lifeless sand in the background? Thumbs up Bahrain.

    Well done Merc and your two drivers for putting on a good fight up front. I thought Lewis put too much of a squeeze on Nico towards the end but it was clean. Good psyche win to Lewis. I did think that when the two were play fighting afterwards that Nico really wanted to deck Hamilton and hid his emotion a little with a play fight instead.

    Well done Perez. A well deserved podium. He certainly didn’t dawdle.

    A little Aussie bias here now, My Drive of the race goes to Smiley. Daniel really dished it out today, overtook Seb, (with some balls i might add) a couple of times, and stamped himself into the RB team (if he already hadn’t at this stage). Good to see him finally get some points for what IMO has been a very good start to the season for him, all be it a little odd with a DSQ, DNF ,and not one but 2 penalties to boot.

    Williams, Ferrari and McLaren were a little disappointing. I think if Williams put some laps down in the practices instead of going off the test data, they could have achieved a better result, i wonder if they didn’t allow enough for the cooler conditions?

    Hats off to Marussia, another 13th place, the battle at the rear is starting to heat up.

    and now to Maldonado… what can be said, other than what was he thinking? i’m glad Gutierez is OK.

    Lotus are starting to get some laps down now, and at times it seemed like they did have good midfield pace. Positive signs.

    The grey livery of Sauber suits them, they are the grey nomads of 2014, languishing at the back they might as well be towing caravans. It might be early days, but is it time to call for Monisha Calternbournes head on a platter? I don’t think so, but i am sure she is feeling the heat. Hope they and her can turn this around.

    • I don’t think Ms. Kaltenborn’s to blame for the bland nomadic wanderings; the Sawards/Windsors/Brundles of F1 disclosed in interviews fear over whether or not Sauber could field a car due to nonexistent budget. They have, but it’s purportedly tens of Kg’s overweight, and w/ little money for development, I don’t see what else she or anyone else can do.

      Sauber took/retained its driver lineup purely for funding purposes IMO, and the duo have shown little historic ability to drag a car above its natural station. A basic car, no development money, average drivers… Ms. Kaltenborn’s cooking with an empty cupboard. Such a sad state for such a wonderful team.

      • jiji the cat

        agree, but a team is only as good as its coach. When teams like Williams, that have come off their worst season in history, can find great sponsors, and a budget, you have to wonder why a team like Sauber over the past few seasons have not been able to do the same.

        • Wlliams has its engineering arms (1 of which it recently sold), as well as a winning history and historical ties it can call upon. I agree, management from the top can sway performance, but it can’t overcome foundation weaknesses, namely money. Likewise, it’s a vicious circle with sponsorship. Exposure is key, but w/o performance, a brand-elevating name, or marque drivers, no one is willing to pay, and vice versa.

          No other team is similar; Williams/Mclaren started as independents, but in a different era in which they were able to build their brands. Lotus is the fabled Endstone team, and even it is struggling mightily. Every other team was formed or purchased by goods-manufacturers.

          Sauber is the last model of the independent teams; how sad that Kobayashi, the last bankable asset I recall Sauber having, entered the team as the Japanese pulled out.

          • jiji the cat

            Sauber has been around in F1 for 21 years, they have a name and history. Management can overcome foundation weakness because management create the foundation, they bring all the pieces together to form the foundation.

            Lotus’ problem is very different, they were poached heavily, had many talks with sponsors and failed, for whatever reasons. They are run by capitalists. They have had quite a number of sponsors over the last few seasons, just seems they cant keep a budget together.

          • Oh I agree, a name which I admire greatly. However, the team’s had little success throughout that time, unlike the others. Yes, management forms the business model; one could argue that Kaltenborn/Sauber have done a poor job securing sponsorship. I looked at it from a sporting side, but if she’s responsible for the managerial as well, then…

            Lotus is no different; yes its funded by venture capitalists, but the failed sponsorships and bleak outlook is the same; they don’t have backers w/ an interest in the sport (consumer goods advertising or development/prestige), so interest in sponsorship is fleeting at best. With no other industry to support them like road car manufacturing or Tier 2 technology supply, the difference is merely Lotus has the name and Endstone’s winning history, which attracts certain interest (Maldonado and his money.)

          • jiji the cat

            fair enough.

  • F1_Knight

    If i may, I would like to come to the rescue of McLaren. They have had a rotten few years, but lets not let that skew our view of their performance. Last year they had no pace and no reliability. Now they have real pace and are struggling with reliability. Not many other teams.

    on Maldonado; what a pillock! This guy barrels out of pit lane, waaaay back from Gutierrez. he strides in with reckless abandon, and hits Gutierrez when he’s almost at the apex. 10 seconds stop and go? Great! Hefty grid penalty? Even better. He could have killed the poor kid! Enough of this “he lost track position, that’s a penalty too!” its not! Did you see that Sauber? It was killed brutally. What Luckily there was a Pastor on hand.

    no one likes superfluous penalties for being an inch or two off os a battle. But that was bone headed idiocy.

  • gsprings

    i think rosberg had better get used to hating finishing behind hamilton

  • nofahz

    I was traveling & just caught the race from my DVR. I really enjoyed the race and at Sakhir nonetheless. The safety car was a bummer

  • A fan since 2007, i love how the cars sound, and if anything i want to hear the “whoosh” of the turbo get louder, not the bashee scream of the old v8s.

  • Brilliant drives by both Hamilton and Rosberg. If it has shown us anything, it’s that Hamilton is the more ruthless driver. Rosberg did everything to protect his car, whereas Hamilton was very aggressive. I’m sure, had Senna sat in Rosbergs car, he would have taken out Hamilton just to prove a point. From then on, Hamilton wouldn’t have tried to pull anything like that on him again. Rosberg has done the opposite and now Hamilton knows that he can always handle him that way.

    In a sense, it’s Prost vs. Senna all over again. One calculating driver vs an aggressive driver in the same team that has a car that is heaps and bounds above anyone else.

    As for the race in general: Yep, I do feel vindicated. Who would’ve thought that we’d see some real racing again? Sure, it’s not all down to the new formula, but it certainly helped. It’s the logical conclusion of mixing less aero with more torque. As for the sound, the more I hear it, the better I like it. I never had any problems with it to be honest though. Granted, the Renault engine sounds terrible, but overall, I actually like the new, more complex sound.

    • jiji the cat

      i thought along similar lines re: nico hamilton, prost senna, only i think there will come a time during the course of the season where Nico will not put up with it. Maybe the sparks will fly after that and the gloves are off, who knows, maybe Bahrain was the impetus that Rosberg needed for a bit more aggression. I thought the play fight after the race was Rosberg showing how much he didn’t like the way Hamilton defended and maybe a little underlying malice or disdain in the play fight.

      It was great to see a fight up front thats for sure.

      • Yeah, I can for example see Rosberg taking the route of diplomacy: Instead of risking a crash in Bahrain, he decided to settle it after the race and to make clear that he will not let it happen again.

        The thing is though: Will Hamilton change anything because of such a talk? I doubt it, even if the team’s involved. Then the question follows whether Rosberg is the type to follow through on his promise. This I think is very much open. If he doesn’t, Lewis will always have the upper hand. A lot will of course also be down to the team and how they would deal with any of this.

  • jiji the cat

    I’d really love to know what Keke said to Nico after the race (if anything). Just wondering if Keke will start nurturing some aggression out of Nico.

    Yeah, Hamilton will not change his stripes, its up to Nico now to raise the bar, or at least match it. I hope we see more races like this up front.

  • Aadil

    Hi Negative Camber

    I totally agree Its only 1 race!!!

    The race was good but its hardly the race of the century as some British press are labeling it!

    Yes exactly what about all those other races you mentioned mentioned!
    What about Donington Park 1993? What about spain 1996? what about Hungary 1998?

    People have selective memories!!

    Just coz a Brit is winning again the British press are going to blow everything out of proportion!

    It wont be long before we start hearing how Hamiltons the greatest driver in F1 history!

    This race just a random coincidence the rest of the seasons going to be as boring as the first 2 races!!!!

    What I wouldn’t give to see Vettel start winning again just to shut the British press up!!! :)

    Vettel for 5 times World Champion!!!!

  • MIE

    There were certainly a lot of battles through the field and some good close racing. Rosberg’s comments indicate the driven nature of an F1 driver, unlike a club racing driver he is not satisfied merely to be part of a great battle for the lead, he is massively dissapointed that he didn’t win.
    While the Bahrain race was certainly the best of the year so far, I am concerned that most of the battles appeared to be between team mates – the car seems far more dominant at this stage of the season than the driver. But even if this turns into a season with 1988 levels of dominance by one team, from what we have seen so far we will at least get a race between the team mates, which hasn’t been the case so far this century in seasons where one team has been dominant.

  • Anybody think a 10 second drive through penalty was enough for Pastor?
    On the other hand, hand down a penalty for the FIA and their scoop-it-up-and-over nose design.

    • Nope. I think this was a grievous error on Pastor’s part. Totally unnecessary and extremely dangerous. Gutierrez had no chance to even see what hit him (Pastor, that’s what).

    • No, and neither were the 3 points. Say what one will about the points system, the intent is to discourage repeated behavior. For whatever the reason (his own epiphany or pressure from the team), R. Grojean changed his driving approach after his post-Spa race ban. He’s been tough but fair since then.

      Pastor’s post-Bahrain interviews, blaming Gutuierrez for the crash? If the regulations mandate a specific points number per infraction, there IMO should be an escalator clause for “reckless driving” or some such intent, to be determined by FIA. At the least, 6 total points on the license, halfway to a ban, but preferably a ban itself.

      I don’t believe Pastor’s the type to analyze and change his attitude., but at least the immediate fear of exclusion might temper his aggression.

      What a distasteful character (IMO)

    • jiji the cat

      it was a bad outcome, but if it was just a normal collision that didn’t flip the Sauber it would have been the same penalty. I don’t want a return of penalties based on outcome, but rather like this, based on cause.

      10 second stop go was right imo.