Ladies and Gentleman, we have an exceptional season of Formula 1 unfolding before us. Round Three of the 2017 season was this past weekend and it was a thriller. Here are the 5 most notable things you might have missed from round three in Bahrain.
FIVE: McLaren-Honda Falls Even Further Down the Totem Pole:
McLaren-Honda has had possibly the worst start to a Formula 1 season, ever. We have seen an extremely frustrated Fernando Alonso fail to finish the first two rounds of the season and it has happened yet again in Bahrain. The engines Honda has been providing for this season have been plagued with all sorts of issues, to the point that even when they are actually running they are pretty far down on power. Alonso and rookie Vandoorne’s had issues in both practice and qualifying. Vandoorne had an MGU-H failure while Alonso lost yet another engine. So while the weather was clear there was a very dark cloud over the McLaren camp. Like the saying goes, ‘when it rains it pours,’ by now McLaren is definitely struggling to keep its head above water. Vandoorne was unable to even start the Bahrain GP due to a failure on the formation lap. Alonso was able to participate in the race, but had little control over the outcome of the race. While his efforts should be applauded he lapped at the bottom of the pack unable to make up much ground. He can be heard saying over the radio “I have never raced with less power in my life,” a bold statement from the frustrated Spaniard.
Alonso will skip the Monaco Grand Prix, instead, he will participate in the Indy 500. This is a smart move for a plethora of reasons even if it only serves to alleviate some of his current frustrations.
FOUR: Bottas Makes a Statement:
Bottas wasn’t kidding when he brought light to his ‘amateur’ mistakes from the Chinese Grand Prix. During the wet and slippery China race, Bottas spun his Mercedes while following the pace car, putting the young Finn in 12th place. He apologized to his team right then and said he would make it up in the next round. Apparently Valtteri Bottas is a man of his word. After stealing pole position from his teammate, Bottas went on to finish a respectable 3rd place. If it weren’t for a broken generator that gave Bottas the wrong tire pressure the outcome may have been much different. Regardless, Bottas now has two out of three podium finishes, a fantastic start for a promising season.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has already touched on the idea of implementing team orders, let’s just hope that doesn’t sacrifice Bottas title hopes.
THREE: Redbull’s Inconsistency is Key:
While the pair of Red Bull RB13’s have started showing some promise, they unfortunately still have a way to go. With a disastrous start to Daniel Ricciardo’s season it’s good to see him get a pair of top 5 finishes since the McLarenesque Austrailian round. Ricardo even felt he could compete for the lead during their first stint. The inconsistency came after they switched to soft tires, resulting in an inconsistent pace until they inevitably switched back to supersofts. 5th place isn’t a bad finish, but it could have been more.
Verstappen was in good form for the opening laps, showing some serious speed. Unfortunately for him, his RB13 suffered a rear brake failure that sent him off the track and into the wall. A disappointing end at only lap 11.
Redbull needs to improve its reliability if it wants to be competitive with the Mercedes and Ferrari’s. Overall the RB13’s are showing decent pace, just inconsistent at the moment.
TWO: Overtaking is a New Masterclass:
Passing has been the most speculated and controversial item on the Formula 1 docket since the announcement of all the rule changes some time ago. The Australian Grand Prix acted as a catalyst to this, when in reality it was the track that’s harder to pass at than the actual cars. This should have been proven with the Chinese Grand Prix, except everyone amounted it to the fact that it was a rain race. But now hopefully the nay-sayers will finally realize that the opportunity to pass is still there. In my opinion, it is much more exciting racing because now, to go for the pass the driver must double down, committing to the overtake more than ever before. It’s spectacular to see razor sharp precision at the hands of new cars that are much faster than last year.
ONE: Ferrari Is In Top Form:
The Scuderia Ferrari piloted by Sebastian Vettel has finally brought the fight directly to Mercedes doorstep. Between clinical precision from the driver and team, Vettel is now up two to one over Hamilton, marking Ferrari’s best start to a season in a decade. While Vettel picked off his closest rival going into turn one, he was behind the Mercedes of Bottas for some time, unable to make his way around. Ferrari used the perfect tactic by pitting early. While it wasn’t all on their own merit, as they were helped by a safety car 3 laps later. Still, I think this strategy would have played out for their benefit regardless of the pace car. Now the battle has official ignited between Vettel and Hamilton, a showdown I can not wait to see play out.
Kimi Raikkonen also finished in a respectable 4th position, which took the lead in the constructor’s championship from the Mercedes, further enticing the battle between the manufacturing giants.
Overall the weekend was a smashing success. The track was perfect and the racing was phenomenal. The best part was possibly the sight of the cars throwing sparks down the main straight before diving into turn one. It was quite the spectacle to watch. All in all the 2017 season is getting better and better with each and every round.