Bit of a strange one as the race was actually interesting (surely a first for Bahrain?). In other weird, but welcome, news the race tip came off. Raikkonen was very much in the top 6 (he finished 2nd), making the race and the weekend as a whole green.
The start saw Vettel party like it was 2011, and Hamilton also got off to a good start, remaining 2nd. However, the real story was that both Lotuses had great starts, and Ricciardo, who had qualified in a stellar sixth, had a dire start. Rosberg had a poor start, unusually for a Mercedes.
So much happened it’s hard to know where to start, so I’ll just deal with it team by team.
Vettel did a very good job. He managed to pull a small gap over Hamilton with relative ease, and maintained the lead (barring pit stops putting people out of order) for the entire race. The only real threat came from Raikkonen, who came very close to passing him around halfway into the race, but Vettel drove well defensively and deserved the narrow win. His team mate, Steady Webby, had his fourth 4th in a row and seemed to trundle along without drama or much media attention.
Lotus had a fantastic double podium result. It’s worth bearing in mind Raikkonen had more fresh rubber than anyone else, but even so to come from 11th to 2nd and come close to victory is pretty fantastic. Looks like Lotus finally got their car and luck together, and Grosjean drove a very, very good race to come 3rd.
Rosberg came 5th, after some perhaps dubious moves on Hamilton and Alonso. The radio team reckoned they were out of order but the TV commentators seemed far less concerned. To be honest, I quite like robust racing. Schumacher had a pretty good race after the double dose of bad qualifying luck when his DRS broke and then his gearbox needed changing, giving him a 5 place grid penalty and putting him back to 22nd. He ended up 10th, doubling his points tally, but after the race questioned whether Pirelli were doing a good job as F1 is now more about tyre management than race speed.
Di Resta got a great 6th, and was the only man to make a two stop strategy work. It’s also nice to see Force India do well after their mysterious absence from qualifying coverage. Hulkenberg could only manage 12th.
Alonso battled his way to 7th, after another great start, and was very close to passing di Resta at the end. He’s actually still in decent shape for the title race if Ferrari can turn the car around, but that’s a big ask. Massa scored his first points of the season in 9th.
McLaren had a race to forget. Hamilton started well, retaining 2nd, but 2/3 of his pit stops were hampered by a problem with his left rear wheel, and his third was pretty slow as well. He only finished 8th, but that’s still better than Button. Button had been running about 6th when he suffered a puncture, pitted, and then suffered a reliability problem and had to retire (save the retirement it’s quite reminiscent of what happened in Malaysia).
Perez just missed out on the points in 11th, and Kobayashi was 13th. After their recent strong performances Sauber may be a bit disappointed.
Vergne came 14th, which is not too bad considering he failed to leave Q1, but Ricciardo (who qualified 6th) must be gutted to finish just 15th.
Williams also had a day to forget. Maldonado spun and retired, and Senna had to box and retire late on, so neither troubled the scorers.
HRT, Caterham and Marussia remain pointless.
McLaren have got to sort their pit crew out. Once or twice can be attributed to bad luck, but repeated problems in a single race could end up costing them one or both titles. Apparently the issue is that their rear axle is titanium but the wheel nut is aluminium, making it prone to becoming cross-threaded.
After that result Vettel leads the race for the drivers’ title, but it’s tight:
Alonso’s tally is the most impressive, because his car is a dog. Second most impressive is Button, who’s had some bad luck and failed to score twice out of four races because of that. The result is great for Red Bull, but I’m not sure the combination of high temperature and degradation will be repeated elsewhere, nor that McLaren will suffer such bad luck at most races.
On the betting front, it’s a funny old game. I felt pretty confident about Rosberg, but P3 proved a useless guide and he slotted the car home in 5th. I only bet on Raikkonen because I thought the win was completely unpredictable, and it came off.
Anyway, the race and weekend are green for the first time. Somewhat counter-intuitively, although the season as a whole is still red it’s only half as bad as it was this time last year.
Three weeks to go to Spain, and between now and then I’m going to put up an article about where we are regarding the drivers/cars and also how the betting is going.