Bahrain Grand Prix 2018
Formula 1 is back and we are already onto the 2nd race of the calendar. This week F1 has arrived at Shakir International Circuit, Bahrain.
Ferrari has once again been lucky at Albert Park, Melbourne where Sebastian Vettel got a lucky break and is not leading the Drivers Championship and both Ferrari Drivers have put them at the top of the constructor’s table as well. Though they were not the strongest team in Melbourne, however a clever strategy and a technical glitch at Mercedes has benefitted them immensely.
This weekend is the real test of the Ferrari 2018 car to show us what improvements have been made since last season. Kimi has looked stronger and Vettel seemed more cautious in approach and only time will tell which one of these drivers will keep them in contention for the Drivers Championship.
This year we expect to see a 3 way battle between the top 3 i.e; Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull at the front of the grid, however, make no mistake midfield also seems to be offering an interesting battle among the rest of the team on the Grid.Let’s see how the Grid Order looks in terms of performance after the 1st Season.
The reigning 2017 champions are the strongest team on the Grid. Hamilton is on the lookout for his 5th Drivers Championship and the team has given him a car which most certainly is an evolution of the previous year’s car. They have proved it in Melbourne in terms of qualifying speed and race pace. Just call it bad luck that a computer glitch cost them the win at Melbourne and hopefully they have a good run for the rest of the season with Hamilton’s car.
The major challenge for Mercedes though is Bottas who has been with the team only for a year and with his position in the team at stake, he has a lot to prove. Since there are potential threats to his seat at Mercedes in terms of Ricciardo and Alonso who are going to finish there contracts at Redbull and McLaren respectively at the end of this season he would have to give his best shot if he wants to secure his position at Mercedes. Mercedes would like to see him step up if they want to Win this year’s constructors championship.
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Ferrari is the challenger and they are hoping that they have done enough during the winter testing too. It has the reliability issues they had at the end of last season. Vettel most certainly is their challenger for the Drivers Championship and though his win at Melbourne was most likely a free handout, however, we should give him the credit for keeping his cool even when his qualifying pace way off Mercedes qualifying pace and his teammate Raikkonen seemed much faster at Melbourne.
Raikkonen seems to be happy with his new Ferrari as he outpaced his teammate in qualifying at Melbourne and looked like had a better understanding of the car. What seems like his final season at F1 Raikkonen would love to end his career on a high note and give a tough challenge on the grid. His form again will be crucial for Ferrari if the Maranello based team wants to have a go at this year’s Constructors Championship.
RedBull has been struggling for the last few seasons in terms of pace however at Melbourne what was evident was that they are much closer this year to the leaders in terms of Pace. They have the duo of Riccardio and Verstappen who currently are the best young talent on the Grid. Though it was unfortunate that Riccardio was penalized and lost grid position at Melbourne, however, his fantastic drive to secure 4th position was a testament to what a promising young talent he is.
Verstappen, on the other hand, is raw talent and if last year was any indication he could very well keep RedBull in the hunt provided the team develops the car during the course of the season.
After a devastating couple of years for McLaren and a breakup with Honda, they are back with their new engine partners Renault and it sure does seem like they have turned their fortunes around in some way. There start to the season has been positive and they sure did deserve to be the team to beat in the midfield battle.
Alonso seems to be enjoying the new car and if he feels that he has a decent car he will certainly give his 100% to give the front runners a run for their money. He is the most experienced driver on the grid and he still has the passion to win another title to keep himself interested to be a part of F1.
Vandoorne has done well for himself at McLaren and secured his first points of the season and McLaren seems to happy to invest in him to develop him for the future. Last year it was an even battle between him and Alonso but with a faster car this year he would need to prove to them that he can challenge his teammate.
Renault being the supplier of Engines to the likes of McLaren and RedBull still have a task at hand. They want to be back to their winning ways. They have left their debacles of 2917 behind them and replacing Palmer with Sainz seems to give them a balanced team in terms of Drivers. Hulkenberg and Sainz have enough experience now in F1 and Renault have the best 2 Drivers who can help them if they want to be the best of the rest.
This year Renault car is one of the most evolved cars and with new sponsor’s backing them they would love to take the fight to McLaren who are running Renault engines. They started their 2018 season with double points and we sure want them to be in the front of the grid.
Force India is facing challenges both on and off the grid. The team is looking at a possible change in ownership and name however they have retained there Drivers from last season Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.
Perez is the most experienced of the two, however, their start to 2018 campaign has not been as good as they expected. They did have a huge aero package at Melbourne however they certainly seemed off the pace at the season opener. From being the 4th team in constructor table last season they have. The uphill task this year with McLaren, Renault, and Has mounting a huge challenge for them.
Williams is the team to have the most evolved car this year. Though there is a lot of controversy surrounding their driver line up which includes Stroll and Sirotkin. Stroll managed to finish the race at Melbourne, however, Sirotkin had to retire car due to an Engine failure. Williams needs to score points this season if they want to attract more sponsors for next year. They have young inexperienced drivers, however, Williams as a team has wealth of experience to develop the cars and their drivers if they want to return to their former glory days.
Toro Rosso has new engine partners and new drivers. Having shifted to Honda this year they have a huge task at hand. They have 2 drivers who are new to F1 and engine partner who has been struggling with reliability issues throughout 2017. This is a partnership which would decide Honda’s association with F1 in the future and both teams are eager to make it work.
Hartley and Gasley are new to F1 but have the great record prior to their stint at F1. Being their 1st full season at F1 we would need to wait and see how they develop themselves at Toro Rosso and try to move up the grid order this season.
Honda is optimistic about their partnership with Toro Rosso and is already looking forward to the challenge at hand.
New name new branding and increased partnership with Ferrari. Sauber is the team which wants to improve and moves up the grid. After a mediocre 2017 and ending at the bottom of the table and change of leadership, they have done enough to secure a sponsor in Alfa Romeo. The new car is a eye candy and looks very different to the 2017 car. Having retained Ericsson and getting on board the 2017 F2 champion Leclerc they seemed to have got their act right and it’s all down to how they develop the car throughout this season. Leclerc finished 13 at Melbourne and he seemed to be getting used to the car. Ericsson started well, however, has to retire due to an issue with the car.
Sauber would need to give it their best shot to climb up the grid this year and challenge teams like Toro Rosso and Williams.
Haas has been a surprise package this year at Melbourne. They seem to have turned their bad fortune around and seemed to the fastest car behind the top 3 in qualifying and halfway through the race at Melbourne. They seem to have the pace and their driver lineup of Magnussen and Grosjean did everything right until the 1st set of pit stops at Melbourne where a wheel gun issue destroyed their chances of having their best start to their F1 campaign since they entered F1.
The American outfit has since been accused of hidden tactics and similarity of their car to 2017 Ferrari however they have now been cleared by F1 pundits and the credit is being to their partner Dallara.
The question however still remains that what they did at Melbourne was just a one trick pony or do other teams have to be wary of the challenge has is throwing at them.
Bahrain is where the next part of this very important season unveils and we start to get a real picture of where all the teams stand in terms of their car development. It’s going to be very important Grand Prix on and off the grid with Liberty Media and FIA set to announce their plans for the future of F1.
Please stay tuned for analysis of this F1 weekend at Shakir.
Don’t forget to catch the action live on Star Sports Select HD from Friday to Sunday Evening IST.