Mixed bag regarding the tips, overall I’m afraid it was a loss. Barrichello scraped into the points, but my podium suggestion was laughably optimistic. Once again, I tipped Massa to come top and he came second. Naughty Brazilian.
I made a few notes during the latter stages of the race, which I think are of importance. The Red Bull uses a Renault engine (mostly because they left it too late last season to switch to a Mercedes) which apparently is more fuel efficient than the Ferrari, giving it a 10kg weight advantage at the start of the race. It can’t be said it’s a certainty, but the start saw Vettel get away very easily which may be due, in part, to the fuel effect.
Sticking with engines, the Cosworth (which Williams use) is faster in a straight line than the Ferrari, if Barrichello’s easy overtaking of Buemi is anything to go by. The McLaren is also super fast in a straight line, but that’s because of the cunning F-vent in the nose.
Interestingly, the cars never got close to qualifying pace and were always, even on fumes, 4-5s or more slower.
As some suspected, the Red Bull had reliability issues (as it did last season). But for that Vettel would’ve won, or at least come second. As it is, he came 4th after a rather lacklustre challenge from Rosberg. The Red Bull’s soft tyres seem to degrade slightly after 10-15 laps or so, and the Ferraris were so hot they had to avoid slipstreams to stay cool. Obviously, Bahrain is a hot place so this may not be an issue elsewhere.
Also, Bahrain is not a circuit that’s too hard on the tyres. At circuits where this is the case, I wonder if we’ll see multiple stops. There wasn’t much overtaking on the track, which the no refuelling rule was intended to encourage. To be frank, the race was rather dull, with large gaps between most cars and little excitement.
So, what did we learn? The McLaren’s tyres didn’t disintegrate after six laps, as I thought they might. I had been tempted to tip laying Hamilton for the podium at 2.9, but in the morning the odds had lengthened so I didn’t. In addition, Hamilton was markedly better than Button in both race and qualifying. We’ll see if this continues at tracks with higher rates of tyre wear.
Red Bull didn’t get much practice in, and didn’t top the timesheets until qualifying. The car also showed very good, consistent race pace, but being fast means sod all if the reliability isn’t there. It’s just one race, and it might be bad luck, but given what happened last season I think this indicates the team is fast but need better reliability.
Ferrari are fast and reliable, but they did have an issue with overheating. Not all circuits are in deserts, but quite a few are in hot spots. Massa had some issue or other with his, but was still comfortably second, and I think the two Ferrari chaps are pretty evenly matched.
Mercedes continue to underwhelm. It is interesting, though, that Rosberg was 0.5s (consistently) faster than Schumacher in practice and qualified better by 2 places, but only finished 1 place ahead of him. Not yet proven whether Rosberg can cut it at the sharp end on race day. Schumacher needs to up his game.
So, how is the Driver’s Title shaping up? Massa’s now at 8.6 for the title, which remains too long, and Alonso is ridiculously short at 2.34. We have a stack of races (it’s 19, or something crazy like that) and we’ve only had one finished. Vettel’s probably a little too short at 4.7, and Hamilton’s interesting at 8. Not sure why he’s shorter than Massa given the McLaren was slower in practice, slower in qualifying and slower in the race. Oh, and both McLarens finished behind both Ferraris.
I didn’t tip anyone for the Constructor’s, regarding it as very hard to call. Ferrari are at 1.76, which seems rightish. Red Bull are at 3.85, which may be a little long, though I’m not going to back them at those odds. McLaren are surprisingly short at 3.55, and Mercedes are 9.6, which looks about right.
So, where to next? Australia, in a fortnight. Quite unfairly, the 3rd practice session finishes at 4am, with qualifying from 6am, so I’ll probably do the pre-qualifying article on Friday rather than Saturday, with the pre-race on Saturday and the analysis on Sunday (which hopefully won’t include Massa coming second whenever I tip him). We’ve seen how the race goes (boringly) with no refuelling, and there’s some data regarding the recent Australian GP results for the race and qualifying so that’ll give me something to get my teeth into in the meantime.