I’m not sure how long or short this post will be but here goes. The 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix was nothing short of spectacular. We knew that if Mercedes had no reliability issues, it would be their second 1-2 of the season but what we witnessed was a 10 lap battle between Hamilton and Rosberg that had us on the edge of our seats, it was fantastic to watch.
There has been a lot of criticism regarding Formula 1 this season. Some powerful people, Luca di Montezemolo no less, basically said Formula 1 is boring, I wonder how he feels now. If you’re not enjoying Formula 1 at the moment, you’re watching the wrong sport. Other people have said that the new engines are too quiet and no longer “sound” like Formula 1.
Let’s talk about the race then! The battle started straight away as Hamilton got the better start out of the two Mercedes drivers and was ahead into the first corner. Rosberg fought back and they almost touched a couple of corners later, this isn’t what Mercedes wanted on the first lap! Inevitably, Hamilton and Rosberg were in a league of their own and created a gap.
On lap 41, we had a collision and surprise surprise Maldonado was involved! He was coming down into turn one with Gutiérrez just ahead of him and Maldonado’s front wing touched Gutiérrez’s rear wheel and he was flipped over. Gutiérrez was OK but because the car was heavily damaged and as it was just after the first corner, the Safety Car had to be called out.
Both Mercedes drivers had just pitted. Hamilton was still leading on was on the medium (white-walled) tyre while Rosberg was on the soft (yellow-walled) tyre. Before the Safety Car came out, Hamilton had a 9.5 second lead over Rosberg. Hamilton knew that he had to have a decent gap as Rosberg would be on the faster tyre towards the end of the race while Hamilton would be on the slower tyre. Hamilton had some thinking to do. He had Rosberg behind him and he would be on the faster tyre, somehow he’d have to keep Rosberg at bay. During the Safety Car period, Paddy Lowe told both drivers to bring both cars home. It was great that no team orders were used.
With 10 laps to go, the race came alive as Hamilton and Rosberg put in a fantastic spectacle. It was at turn four when Rosberg had his first crack at overtaking Hamilton, he tried to go around the outside but Hamilton squeezed him off track. A few laps later, Rosberg tried yet again, this time down into the turn one, however, Hamilton stayed ahead. Rosberg had another go down into turn four, but again Hamilton squeezed him off track and it was the closest they had come all race without touching, it was brilliant driving. On the 53rd lap, Rosberg decided to have one final crack at overtaking Hamilton down into turn one, Rosberg though, ran deep and Hamilton cut back and regained the lead. Hamilton somehow kept Rosberg at bay and took the chequered flag.
It was a brilliant race. You could say that the Safety Car created the drama as it closed up the pack. It certainly was, in my opinion, one of the best races I have ever seen. I know both Mercedes drivers are very skilled but I just had a small inkling they’d come together, thankfully, they didn’t. Oh, and while all this was happening it was Perez for Force India who finished in 3rd, a great race from him.
At the moment though, Mercedes are unbeatable and they need to capitalise on their big advantage. Just to put in perspective how fast their car is, I have a few points to mention.
- While Hamilton and Rosberg were fighting towards the end of the race, they were three seconds quicker than any other car on track.
- One lap after the Safety Car went back into the pits, the gap from 1st to 3rd was 4.4 seconds.
- In the 2014 season so far, Mercedes have led every lap.
How long will Mercedes advantage last though, that is the big question? If you follow Formula 1 closely, you’ll know that it’s how Mercedes have packed their turbo engine as to why they are so far ahead of the competition. They’ve somehow managed to package their turbine and air compressor at either end of the W05’s engine. This seems simple but it’s very advanced engineering. Now, the secret may be out but don’t assume other teams will copy straight away. Firstly, other teams, of course, have to figure out how Mercedes have achieved this but secondly, the engines for 2014 are now in lock-down as the 28th of February marked the agreed date by which all of the teams had to register their design for the new season with the FIA. Sooner or later though, their advantage won’t be as big as it is now.
Mercedes are dominating Formula 1 at the moment and from a fans’ perspective it feels great. It would be disastrous if Mercedes didn’t walk away with at least one title this season. They’ve worked so hard and so far, it’s paying off. It would also be disastrous, in my opinion, if Hamilton didn’t win his second World Championship title. He’s the fastest driver in Formula 1 and he’s driving a dominant car. He’s in a very good position this year.