So, this grand prix is on for the first time in two years. This is the first time that DRS will have been used on the circuit, which is otherwise very difficult to overtake on. Another first is Pirelli in Bahrain, and they’ve brought the soft-medium combination that was used in China a week ago. The track is reportedly rough on tyres (and moreso if sand gets onto the tarmac) so degradation will be an issue in the race, and will mean that the first lap on the soft tyre will have to be nailed otherwise too much life will have been taken out of the compound for a second effort.
Five laps soft, 10 laps for the medium is the decent performance lifespan according to the BBC’s technical analyst (NB this is not to the cliff, just to the point at which times decline). I think that’s for the Mercedes, but reportedly Red Bull is doing a little better.
Apparently Schumacher’s shredding the tyres much more than Rosberg, who is also very fast in sector 2 especially.
McLaren seems to be alright for race pace, but, unusually, less competitive over a single lap perhaps due to the wind being an issue in Bahrain (it’s quite exposed), and, later in the year, Barcelona (that’s the Spanish GP not the European GP which takes place in the woeful Valencia).
Medium seems to be the best option (if you’ll pardon the pun) for the race, as per Australia and China.
We’ve also seen KERS failures for Hulkenberg and Webber (yet again).
In P1 Hamilton was the fastest, a healthy margin ahead of Vettel and then di Resta. Rosberg, Button and Hulkenberg followed, with Schumacher, Webber, Raikkonen and Grosjean rounding out the top 10.
P2 was most notable for Force India not participating due to their staff being caught in protestor-police crossfire, which also led to two staff members leaving Bahrain. Rosberg was the fastest by almost half a second in the second practice session, followed by Webber and Vettel. Hamilton, Schumacher and Button came next, with Kobayashi, Alonso, Grosjean and Perez next up.
P3 was a bit interesting. So far this year it’s not been a great indicator of pole, and, instead of the 5-10 minute qualifying simulation we saw at the end of most such sessions last year, the fast runs were more spread out. This made the fastest times harder to read, particularly as Bahrain improves significantly as more laps are run. The fact that Rosberg remained top despite posting his time about 20 minutes earlier than second-placed Vettel suggests that the Mercedes’ driver is well-placed. Webber was third behind Hamilton (who was half a second off of Rosberg’s pace but did put in his fast lap at around the same time). Schumacher, Button and Raikkonen are all separated by about a tenth and were followed by Ricciardo, Grosjean and Alonso.
Just the one tip: Rosberg for pole at 2.34. This has since shortened to 2.16 but I’d back him at evens or longer.
I’ve also got one eye on his odds to win the title, presently 8.4. No bet or tip yet, but if they can make the tyres last in Bahrain then it would seem Mercedes’ tyre-shredding problem may be resolved and that could see them compete at the sharp end.