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Hamilton holds off Rosberg in Bahrain thriller

NEWS STORY
06/04/2014

In terms of excitement, today's race has a lot to live up to. We are not talking about the Porsche race or even the GP2, but rather the media buzz surrounding Bernie Ecclestone and Luca di Montezemolo as the great debate over the 2014 regulations continues.

Describing them as "unacceptable" and suggesting that the ‘green agenda" is more suited to Sports Cars and Touring Cars, Ecclestone insists that any changes will not damage Mercedes, though it is hard to see how.

Consequently, with an eye on the future, not to forget those double points on offer in Abu Dhabi, the German team will need to press home its advantage in these early races, and what an advantage.

The pair were both over half-a-second quicker than third-placed Daniel Ricciardo who was already facing a grid penalty carried over from Malaysia. Taking the Australian out of the equation therefore, there remained a gap of 0.7s over Valtteri Bottas.

The Mercedes duo are free to race and while Hamilton was clearly smarting from losing out to his teammate (and good friend), Nico Rosberg is well aware that he must prevent the Englishman from building up championship momentum if he is to keep his own hopes alive.

The Silver Arrows will disappear into the floodlight distance tonight but it is the battle behind which excites.

Behind Bottas, who will have relished out-qualifying his Williams teammate, we have Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen who both also have their in-house issues to deal with. Then there are the veterans Felipe Massa and Jenson Button, the McLaren driver participating in his 250th Grand Prix this weekend.

As if that wasn't enough, we then have Magnussen, who heads Alonso, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Ricciardo, each with something to prove.

Sauber and Lotus will no doubt be looking forward to later tonight when they can pack up and put the misery behind them, the Swiss outfit's lousy weekend compounded when Adrian Sutil was handed a five place - admittedly richly deserved - penalty.

With absolutely no chance of the weather gods spicing things up, we are going to have to rely on the determination of the drivers especially those wanting to assert themselves within their respective teams. If Vettel's lowly grid sot comes as a surprise, what of Hulkenberg and Kvyat.

Tyres available this weekend are medium (prime) and soft (option), whilst the two DRS zones are on the start-finish straight and on the approach to T11.

Three stops is theoretically the quickest strategy, but teams with lower levels of degradation may try two stops. The ideal three-stop strategy for the race is: start on soft, change to soft again on lap 17, medium on lap 33, and a final stint on soft from lap 41. A two-stop strategy could be: start on soft, change to soft again on lap 22, then to hard on lap 44.

The pitlane opens and the drivers make their way to the grid, lots of burnouts, drive-throughs (not the stewards' type) and practice starts.

All starting on options except Vettel and Sutil, who are clearly aiming to get them out of the way as soon as possible.

Grip has been a problem all weekend, as have the gusty winds. As they head off on the parade lap, the air temperature is 25 degrees C, while the track temperature is 28 degrees.

Perez is slow getting away for the parade lap, a couple of cars have to take avoiding action.

In the cooler evening temperatures, the drivers are working furiously in order to generate heat into their tyres.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by bfairey, 07/04/2014 10:20

"A new rule to come into effect immediately, the safety car must be deployed at least three times during a race so as to bunch up the field like NASCAR and make the race more competitive and entertaining."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Carugatese, 07/04/2014 9:21

"Great race; chapeau for Merc duo and Ricciardo. SC shuffled some strategies and the final laps were breathtaking, but I need a check, about the show, on european tracks like Barcelona, where we had a dull race last year.
"

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3. Posted by Podge, 07/04/2014 8:30

"After the safety car, the Mercs were unleashed and smashed a 23s lead over ten laps. That is the first time we got a true insight into the pure performance of those cars. That is not all engine, that is a perfectly balanced car. It's beyond even Brawn levels of domination, but Mercedes will move forward at least a little bit, unlike the Brawn. I think a few people in the pitlane should do a little less bitching and do a little more work. They might not like it, but as long as there are 2 'drivers' racing for the lead, then the audience doesn't care if they are in the same car. The key word is racing.

It's funny too, not once during the Hamilton/Rosberg fight did I notice the engine noise; I completely forgot about it. It shows what F1 actually needs to improve, doesn't it.

I'm going to say it, that was the best race for at least 5 years."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by TokyoAussie, 07/04/2014 4:49

"A breath of fresh air, that race.

A couple of thoughts...

1. The SC implementation needs to change. It simply should not take that long to get it out, and even more so to get it back in after the danger has been removed.

2. There is a possible safety concern with the low noses on these cars. The low nose on Maldanado's car looked to me to flick Gutierrez up and over. "

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5. Posted by marltoro, 07/04/2014 2:40

"Bahrain was a great race with intense competition between the team mates from at least half the teams - Mercedes, Williams, Force India, and Red Bull in particular. the safety car actually spoiled some of the strategies and created, if anything, and imbalance in some teams ability to do as well as they might have in an uninterrupted race.
I have no issue with any particular dominance because the last nine races of 2013 were won by one team and what we can (potentially) is better racing than we had last year. The current domination may not last all year and if it does we may be treated to a battle between team mates that resembles 1988 when Prost and Senna won 15 of 16 races between them. That was still a great year."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by Kkiirmki, 06/04/2014 23:03

"I'm in two minds about this race. The action after the safety car was intense, but only because there was a safety car (which by the way took a ridiculously long time to be deployed - where's the FIA when you really need them?). Some very exciting midfield (every car after the Mercedes duo can probably be grouped into this category?) action but it raises concerns that the season has already turned into a 1 horse race. The way Rosberg and Hamilton could pull a gap to the reset of the field while battling they way they did doesn't bode well for the other teams.

It's good to see that Mercedes do have 2 equally matched drivers though (Hamilton may have a slight advantage, as he showed in the last few laps today) which hopefully takes the title down to the wire, I just hope the other teams can lift their game and join in the battle."

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7. Posted by ape, 06/04/2014 20:42

"Lucu should make less noise and end using Bernie , Ferrari fans and some journos to protest the new rules because his cars are losing .
Maybe he should hire an engineer like Aldo Costa ...LMAO.
Great racing in Bahrein !!"

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8. Posted by The stogie, 06/04/2014 20:24

"Great race!! A few comments however.
The safety crew response to the roll-over of Guitierrez was BRUTALLY slow! For the 'best racers with the best teams in the best series in the world' this was pure amateur hour. He was out of the car after sitting there for almost a full lap before anybody showed up. Not acceptable.
The ONLY good sound to come out of my surround sound was the bad-ass Mercedes pace car. The lawnmower motors were booooooooooooring to say the least.
The racing was AWESOME!!! See what happens when Larry, Curley and Moe LET THEM RACE???? Continue this trend and the AWOL masses WILL return."

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