As we move into round 3 of the 2017 F1 world championship for the Bahrain Grand Prix, one thing’s for certain – it is turning out to be a straight fight to world championship claim between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
While this is the big story, there’s a lot more you need to look out for.
Hamilton and Vettel look mighty at the top..
Vettel drew first blood by taking the win in Melbourne. Hamilton replied with a solid win in China. And now they go to the sands of Bahrain locked at the top at 50 points each. It is evident that Ferrari are well and truly able to go head to head with Mercedes this year. The respect between Vettel and Hamilton has been incredible so far, with both drivers talking about how amazing it is for them to fight each other in a championship battle finally.
Photo : WTF1
And it is amazing. The team orders element doesn’t exist when it is two rival teams going at it. In both races, however, we haven’t exactly seen wheel to wheel action between Lewis and Seb with strategy calls and safety cars hindering that, so I’d love to see them battle each other on track and take the race win in Bahrain.
On the flipside, Kimi and Valtteri are under pressure to perform..
With their teammates flying at the top, the Finns have been faltering. With less than impressive performances in the first two rounds, Kimi has been publicly criticized by Ferrari. He’s been complaining about handling issues for a while now, but when your team-mate is winning races in the same car and this is the year you’re going to take the fight to Mercedes, Kimi will know he has to do a much better job in Bahrain.
Photo : Formula 1 / BBC
Same goes for Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas. He did do a decent job in Australia to take P3 but spinning under the safety car was such a schoolboy error, and it resulted in him taking only P6 in China. It’s never easy stepping into a championship winning team with Lewis Hamilton as your teammate, but that’s the point. It’s ruthless at the top. Even if you have a bad day in a Mercedes car, you’re expected to still be on the bottom step of the podium, not P6. The pressure is mounting on Valtteri’s “trial period”, and he knows it.
Where are Red Bull in all of this?
Amidst the Mercedes v Ferrari hype, it is clear that Red Bull Racing as a team have a lot of ground to gain on the leaders.
Coming into this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Red Bull insist that their fundamentals aren’t wrong.
Talking to motorsport.com, team principal Christian Horner said, “I think the philosophy that we have pursued and adopted is slightly different to the competitors and we still believe in the potential of that.”
Photo : Mawater Arabia
Last time out in China, however, aided by rain and safety cars, Max ended up on the podium with Daniel finishing P4 to round off a very good outing for Red Bull. However, they will know that their Chinese GP performance wasn’t representative of where their true performance is, and I look forward to how Red Bull get on in Bahrain.
McLaren Honda’s struggles to continue..
What, did you think all their power unit issues would magically disappear?
Honda say that they are working on an updated power unit that is supposed to solve the massive vibrational issues with the engine, but that’s still at least a month away. So, don’t expect McLaren Honda to be any better. Both cars finishing the Grand Prix would be an improvement. Fernando will probably be dreaming about the Indy 500 whilst in the cockpit in Bahrain, to be fair. Can you blame him? The poor guy needs to feel competitive again, and perhaps returning to F1 after a strong Indy 500 showing could be good for him.
Pascal Wehrlein returns..
After sitting out the first two races of the season citing a lack of fitness, Pascal Wehrlein is set to race his Sauber for the first time. This does mean that Antonio Giovinazzi’s foray into F1 has to be stalled on a horrible note, and that’s disappointing because the guy did so well in Australia on such short notice and people will remember him by his two crashes in China. But I’m glad Pascal is back racing in F1. I hope his fitness holds up well in the humid conditions of Bahrain and he shuts his critics up with a strong performance.
Thank you for reading my Bahrain GP preview. Let’s hope we’re treated to a cracker of a race.
Feature image : Reddit
– Aditya Bhat.