A very interesting weekend at Bahrain. Mercedes were kept honest by an increasingly competitive Ferrari.
At the start of the race day the two Mercedes cars were split by Ferrari on the grid. Mid race was dominated by tactical tyre choices and pit stops. And on the final lap simultaneous brake failures on both Mercedes meant that Hamilton just managed to cliing on to his first place, with Raikkonen overtaking Rosberg to finish second. Vettel made lots of mistakes (uncharacteristically) to claim 4th.
Other items of note:
Williams continue to grow following a great fifth place for the excellent Valtteri Bottas.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took sixth even though his engine EXPLODED as he approached the finish line!!!
A dramatic improvement for McLaren-Honda with Alonso finishing the race and looking to be in contention for points until the last third of the race.
So Hamilton has won three of the first four races. However with growing competition from Ferrari, and possibly Williams, it could be the start to the best season in years.
The next F1 race weekend is Friday 8th May in Spain.
We have patiently waited through several years of F1 predictability. Red Bull and Vettel dominated for 4 years. Then in 2014 it was the turn of Mercedes, albeit with the thrills of watching Hamilton and Rosberg go at each other like rabid dogs. And we thought 2015 would probably be much of the same again…
But maybe not. Last weekend during practice and qualifying the Ferrari looked fast and Mercedes were struggling with reliability. No excuses however on race day. It was a fair fight.
Hamilton got a great start and the Mercedes duo stormed off in front. However Raikkonen ended up at the back after limping back to the pits on a punctured tyre sustained at the start. Another easy win for Mercedes and Hamilton? Surely…?
Not! Vettel and Ferrari pulled off a master piece of tyre management to get the edge, and the pace of the Ferrari meant that the final position was a site for sore Ferrari-red eyes: 1st, Vettel/Ferrari, 2nd Hamilton/Mercedes, 3rd Rosberg/Mercedes, 4th Raikkonen/Ferrari.
Its early days in the tournament but we could be in for a vintage year. We have the bitter intra-team rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg. We have the vitally important inter-team tussle between Mercedes and Ferrari. Vettel is hungry to prove his previous success was not just due to being in the right place at the right time. And Raikkonen should never be discounted as his record of wins shows.
Its just over a week until the battle starts again in China.