Vettel vs. Mercedes – Bahrain GP 2017

Although there were some interesting bouts and a safety car, the latter half of the Bahrain GP turned out to be quite uneventful. Sebastian Vettel reasserted his dominance over the Mercedes drivers after losing out to Hamilton in the prior race.

The Top-10:

  1. Sebastian VettelVettel had a great start and chased down Bottas for many laps. In the end, it was probably Mercedes’s uncharacteristically bad pitstops that granted him the victory. For the first time in a while, Vettel seems like a real contender for the championship.
  2. Lewis HamiltonDespite a botched pit-stop and a 5 second penalty for driving slowly on the pitlane, Hamilton eventually caught up and overtook his team-mate. The move between the Mercedes drivers seemed quite intentional, so it does seem Lewis is the Mercedes favourite for the championship.
  3. Valtteri BottasThough the latest Flying Finn is finally driving the sort of car that makes it possible for him to drive for pole position, Bottas seems to struggle with some very familiar problems, i.e. a botched pit-stop during the safety car. Still, a solid drive and great defending against Vettel at the start of the race. Bottas can pat himself on the back for that one.
  4. Kimi Räikkönen – Räikkönen suffered a bad start and was venting his frustration over team-radio when his wheels were beginning to wear out. The iceman beat Ricciardo easily but it’s a shame Kimi didn’t have a chance to battle for the podium positions today.
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – Ricciardo was left alone to defend Red Bull’s honour after his team-mate’s brakes gave out. A solid drive from Danny boy though the podium continues to elude him.
  6. Felipe Massa – Massa is having a better start to the season “post-retirement” at Williams than he did as an active race driver. =D All joking aside, a really good drive and he even held Räikkönen at bay for a long time.
  7. Sergio Perez – While Force India isn’t wowing me with their speed, their consistency has put them ahead of Williams in the championship. Perez drives now with the with the confidence of someone who’s been around the block. Hopefully we’ll see him make a push for the top-5 in future races.
  8. Romain Grosjean – Haas is slowly making some progress. Both of their cars have finished on points during a Grand Prix this season, now if they could only do the same with both cars in the same race that would be swell. Grosjean was clearly everything he could with the American constructor’s car at the moment (matching his team-mate’s result from the previous race).
  9. Nico “The Hülk” Hülkenberg – Three races in, Nico has finally scored his and the team’s first points of the season. I’ll be blunt, this result isn’t making my panties moist – but it’s at least a step in the right direction. However, the Hülkster started from grid-7, so Renault still seems to have ways to go in defending their positions.
  10. Esteban Ocon – The Frenchman is nothing if not consistent. Three straight races as the last man on the points table. Today, Ocon had to earn his championship point by going toe-to-toe with his ex-team mate who was the Pineapple Man of the day.

Golden Pineapple Award: Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber

Pascal has finally returned and he didn’t disappoint. 13th in the qualifying, Wehrlein landed only one position down from points in his first outing of the season. Compared to his team-mate, that’s huge. I’ve no doubt Pascal is going to be carrying the suffering Swiss team for the rest of the season and, hopefully, this will give the team the push they need to challenge Renault and Haas in  future races.

Drop-out count: 5*

(Stoffel Vandoorne couldn’t start the race and so isn’t counted into the Drop-Outs.)

A season high on the third round. Lots of technical foul-ups (as are to be expected) but also two retirements resulting from a rather stupid collision. Kevin Magnussen was forced to park off the circuit with a technical issue and Marcus Ericsson avoided the indignity of the Dead Last award by luckily clocking out early with a technical issue as well.

Max Verstappen had probably the most needless retirement of all. Soon after his pit-stop, his brakes had cooled so much that they didn’t work. Max ran wide off the track, into the gravel and hit the wall of the circuit. Max was headed for solid points in the Top-5, so this really was unfortunate.

On Lap 13, Lance Stroll was blindsided by Carlos Sainz Jr. who was returning to the circuit after having pitted. Both cars were taken out in the ensuing crash and this also brought the safety car on track. For Stroll, this was his third retirement in a row and really unfortunate to say the least. Although Sainz insisted his own lack of fault in the matter, he received a grid drop penalty for the next race. His move really was completely indefensible considering Stroll had the line of the corner. This is Sainz’s third season and he really should know better.

Back of the Lot News:

Daniil Kvyat’s chances were ruined early on by him going wide off the circuit in the early part of the race. Regardless, he battled Palmer and Alonso valiantly to make it back up to 12th. It saddens me to see the Racing Russki having to scrounge for positions this low and I really hope he’ll have a better time at his home race in two week’s time.

Palmer drove another so-and-so race but was able to keep a double world champion at bay…

Dead Last: Fernando AlonsoI will not fault Alonso for this one. Throughout the race, Fernando was making it clear how the McLaren was just hopelessly outclassed on the straights, though Alonso gave it his all to try and rise a few positions. The only reason Alonso was last today was because Ericsson didn’t finish at all. I’d wish him better luck in Sochi, but the team’s situation is so bad that I think Alonso is just looking forward to his Indy 500 excursion in late May.

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