Bahrain Grand Prix: Words and Stuff
Somehow, after trying out a new qualifying system in Australia that was deemed by everyone to be a disaster and never to be repeated, the revised qualifying format was used again in Bahrain. In spite of this nonsensical change to the “show” Sunday’s race would make up for the qualifying snoozer.
If F1 is the real world demonstration of Game of Thrones then Ferrari must be the House of Stark. For every advance they make, every time we cheer them on and rally for their return to the Iron Throne they manage to get kicked in the teeth. Often, these losses are a result of their own actions through failures of strategy, such as the failure to capitalize on the Red Flag stoppages in Australia. Just as everyone thought this might be the weekend to see another chance for a Ferrari win, on the warm up lap, Vettel’s Ferrari engine decided it was going to go to work today by vomiting smoke, oil and bits of molten metal on the tarmac. Before the lights even went green the potential drama of Vettel taking the lead was gone.
Some early contact in the first corner put Hamilton down the field as he struggled back with damage to the important aero bits under the car. He would finish third.
In spite of another potential weekend of the Lannisters (Mercedes) laying waste to the countryside the Iceman would mount a defense. Kimi Raikkonen would start from 4th place but within the first few corners fell back several places in what looked like a complete flub from the Scuderia for the rest of the weekend. Within several laps Raikkonen would push back to his starting spot of 4th place with a great pass on the outside of Daniel Ricciardo. Kimi would put forth a memorable drive as he claimed second place and at one point was only around 4 seconds behind the leader and eventual winner, Nico Rosberg.
McLaren finally found some pace.. It wasn’t the usual lineup of button and Alonso but rather rookie Vandoorne that would score points. Mclaren’s German reserve Stoffel Vandoorne in his first race in Formula 1 managed to score a tenth place finish as he substituted for the injured Fernando Alonso. McLaren still showed major problems as Button retired with an ERS failure.
For the second race weekend in a row, only two races in to their debut season, Haas has managed to score 18 points through great drives from Romain Grosjean. Haas F1 is demonstrating to others how to be a successful newcomer to the sport, though not without controversy and criticism. Haas F1’s business model is to use as much of Ferrari’s technical DNA as the regulations allow, which includes the power unit, suspension and transmission systems, while its chassis is built by Italian company Dallara. The 18 points thus far scored by Haas is more than any other new team (Manor, Caterham and HRT) has scored in the last five years.
This new twist on the F1 game has a lot of potential but Haas faces some uphill battles, namely that they have yet to reach a commercial agreement with Bernie Ecclestone, and there are some hoops to go through over the next two seasons before it can receive its share of the F1’s $890 million prize fund.
Bernie, demonstrating that his time in F1 may be slowly coming to an end, as he spent the weekend criticizing Lewis Hamilton’s use of social media and complaining that qualifying was not exciting enough. At TLP, we’re not dyed-in-the-wool Hamilton fans, but nothing says out of touch mogul CEO than to criticize those “youngins” and their social media usage. Bernie is worried that Hamilton might give away, for free, a blurry pixelated shot of a car or some other feature at a race. If Bernie wasn’t over 100 years old, he would realize that social media brings more fans and more money.
He followed up his hate of social media with a scathing comment about the drivers:
"What sort of interest do they have, the drivers, other than taking money out of the sport?" Ecclestone said. "I've never seen one of them put one dollar in, you go to dinner with them and they don't even pay the bill. They shouldn't even be allowed to talk. They should get in the car and drive it."
Showing more signs of losing grip with reality, Ecclestone, a mere two weeks after saying the new qualifying format was “pretty crap,” now states that he will work with FiA president Jean Todt to block teams from going back to last years’ format and further tabling any alternatives to the current system that everyone appears to hate.
Rather than reversing qualifying to the form it was in last year when it worked just fine, Bernie is recommending some new qualifying system and saying that that is what the sport needs to keep it entertaining and exciting. Perhaps it would make the sport more entertaining if Bernie Ecclestone spent less time worried about drivers and their social media accounts and spent more time ensuring that teams can afford to race.
Even with the sometimes oddball suggestions on how to change the sport, the first two races of the 2016 season have been worth watching from green to checkered flags. Whatever is in the secret sauce at the moment should stay in the ingredients list.