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Raising the Bahr for F1 2014

bahrainf1

Over the weekend, the F1 monster machine made its way to the blistering shores of Bahrain. In the past, the Grand Prix at Bahrain has got itself a rather negative reputation, with accusations of both processional and lack luster racing. This in many ways is down to the laborious and ever repetitive circuit design by the grand emperor of tedium Hermann Tilke. An interesting side note, did you know that if you start typing his name into Google, the suggested searches include ‘Hermann Tilke boring’ and ‘Hermann Tilke ruining F1’. What does that tell you? Anyway, the first two races of the new season were hardly anything too spectacular given the level of media hype that has surrounded this new era of Formula One. So when Bahrain came around this weekend, I wasn’t really expecting very much.

And then the race happened, which in turn made this happen…

An accurate reconstruction of my response to the Bahrain GP

An accurate reconstruction of my response to the Bahrain GP

What was so good about the race? 

Well firstly, and most importantly, the race at Bahrain was finally A RACE. The 57 lap race was filled with overtaking left, right and center, which truly was a refreshing sight for the sport. It takes a special kind of race to have position changes on every single lap, from the front to the back of the grid. The battles between the Force Indias, Williams and Red Bull were a sight to behold. Considering what has happened in the past, I had actually forgotten that Red Bull knew how to race. The addition of the safety car towards the end of the race was a stroke of genius (it is almost like Bernie Ecclestone had planned this to happen all along); the final 12 laps were crazy. For the first time,  No one was really able to predict how the cars would finish.

  • The Mercedes Civil War – When it was Red Bull dominating the standings, the fans became bored and almost annoyed at the predictable nature of the results. Chances are, unless the other teams play the biggest game of catch up in history, that this year Mercedes will do the same thing. However, I am of the belief that after the last few developmental years, Mercedes deserve the success they are receiving this year. But most impressively, the F1 world is loving the revolutionary ‘no team orders’ approach to racing. For many years, F1 has been plagued by politics and team orders, considering that usually the teams have a clear lead driver. But what happens when you have two of arguably the best drivers in the field on the same team? Simple, drop any pretense of rules and let them race and just hope they don’t take each other off. The race between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg was absolutely stunning. The race finished and only a second separated them. The safety car lost Lewis Hamilton his advantage over Nico, and on ever degrading tyres he somehow managed to hold off the advantages of Rosberg to win the race. If this is the case for the rest of the year, I am willing to overlook the fact that Mercedes can pull out a 25 second lead in 12 laps (totally crazy right?)
  • Red Bull Does Give You Wings – Well, if you’re Ricciardo anyway. Daniel Riccardo has had truly rotten luck so far in 2014, with a disqualification in Melbourne and a 10 place grid drop at Bahrain. He started the race in 13th and finished in 4th. The man was on fire. My favourite moment came when Vettel was told over the radio, “Daniel is faster than you, please let him past”. Such an utterly beautiful moment; the wonderchild has been told his team mate is faster and he has to move over. It brings back sweet memories of “Fernando is faster than you”, mixed with the ever succulent taste of, “not bad for a number two driver”. Ricciardo is fast becoming one of the new rising stars of Formula One. Move over Vettel, you are the wonderchild no more.
I couldn't resist

I couldn’t resist

  •  Use the Force (India) – For the last few years, Force India have been somewhat of a midfield runner, until now of course. Perez scored an excellent 3rd place in Bahrain, fending off the final charge of Red Bull Ricciardo. My main praise however is centered on Nico Hulkenberg, who charged up from a disappointing 11th place grid slot to an overall 5th position. While watching the coverage, the Hulk stole a great deal of screen time due to his relentless charge past many a foe. This is the kind of determination I love about motor sport. And the overtaking was clean, thank god.
  • The Will of the Williams – The overall finishing positions of Massa and Bottas do not truly reflect the plucky effort they put in throughout the race. Massa had one of the greatest starts I have seen in F1, while Bottas continued his ever impressive run this year, pushing on through in the thick of it right until the end. I think the Williams deserved a higher finish than they managed, but full credit to them. The Williams boys are proving that Williams do still have what it takes.

Just to keep the balance, here is what didn’t go too well…

As great as the race was, there were some elements that did not hold that same level of awesomeness. The first of these was the sad result of Jenson Button in the McLaren. In what was his 25oth GP start, Jenson retired a mere 2 laps from the end of the race, having put in a strong performance throughout. McLaren were aware that they did not have the race pace to keep them challenging for the higher positions, but Button defied the odds and was running in the top end for most of the race before his McLaren gave up the fight. Well, at least he won his 100th race.

And then of course, this happened...

And then of course, this happened…

The picture you see before has definitely done the rounds in the media. What you are seeing is the moment that Maldonado lost all semblance of sanity and reason and completely wiped out poor old Gutierrez. Many have tried to explain what actually happened there; alas there is only one thing that can be said…

Maldonado happened.

Lotus have had an absolute shocker of a season so far, and this incident has hardly helped matters. The new noses on the cars clearly act as a scoop, so when Maldonado’s car met the side of the Sauber, there was only one outcome. Say what you want about it, but it did make for a great picture.

So after Bahrain, the critics are silenced and F1 is great again, right?

Wrong.

One good race does not save a whole series. The fanboys and fangirls are now using this ONE race to say that the argument is over. Granted, Formula One has managed to make the Bahrain circuit exciting, but until this level of racing becomes consistent then I will not be fully convinced. Furthermore, the Bahrain GP was a race full of overtaking, close racing and tension, and people are acting like this was the greatest spectacle ever. It was pretty amazing, but everything I have just mentioned is the common factor in all motorsport. I am happy that F1 has returned to what it should be (possibly), but it is still relevant to point out that most other forms of motorsport have been doing this consistently for years.

My favourite quote regarding the race comes in the form of a tweet:

“@BTCCCrazy: F1 did a seriously good #BTCC impression at the #BahrainGP – terrific racing!”

Let’s hope this quality of racing remains throughout the rest of the F1 season, and who knows, if they continue to do such a good impression of the British Touring Car Championship, then even I may finally become a convert. All we need now is to end the talk of fuel and tire conservation in the first 10 laps of the race and we are sorted.

F1 has definitely raised the Bahr for the rest of the year.

Formula One 2014: Bring It On!

Keep Driving People!

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