After a bizarre Chinese Grand Prix weekend, normal services resumed in Bahrain.
As the dust settles on what has been a busy weekend of action, what did we learn from Bahrain?
- Bottas on fire
Valtteri Bottas took his maiden pole in Formula One this weekend.
Despite Mercedes viewing first and third practice sessions as irrelevant, the Finn was able to challenge come qualifying after a strong second practice session.
In the second part of qualifying, Bottas was very close to Lewis Hamilton with a 0.020 sec deficit. It had been the closest that he got to Hamilton so far this season.
When it mattered most, he saved the tyres in sector one before pushing the tyres al the way to his first pole position.
His race might of been comprised by oversteer and a faster teammate but he is starting to find his feet.
Could this pole be the kick start that Bottas needed to mix up qualifying, even if he falls back during the race?
2. McLaren’s woes continue
McLaren have shown better pace than expected but are still unreliable.
On Friday, Stoffel Vandoorne lost two MGU-H units so is certain to be the first driver to take grid penalties for engine related issues.
Fernando Alonso then suffered his own failure of the MGU-H unit to leave him 15th on the grid for Sunday’s race. New engine elements were put in so that he could participate in the race.
MGU-H cost both drivers in the race with Vandoorne not starting. Alonso managed 55 laps before retiring from the race demonstrating that progress is being made forward.
The car is a decent midfielder in Alonso’s capable hands but reliability is still costing them points. They should take heart from nearly making the finish line with Alonso and strive to complete a full race in Russia.
3. Red Bull on up
This weekend saw Red Bull take massive strides forward and get in amongst the front runners.
After a relatively strong Friday, Max Verstappen topped Saturday’s practice before falling away in Q3.
Daniel Ricciardo has never been out qualified in the desert by a teammate and produced a surprise performance to split the two Ferraris.
The race didn’t go to plan with Max Verstappen suffering a brake failure and crashing out. Ricciardo then struggled to warm his tyres up after a safety car, costing him a possible top four result.
Should this improvement be genuine, could we see a three team battle for the championship emerge?
4. Haas still problematic
Haas found out that their car is still carrying problems over this weekend.
On Saturday, Romain Grosjean struggled in practice and managed to clip the wall on exit of turn four. The incident was caused by the rear stepping out but he was already struggling with other issues prior to the crash.
During the race, Grosjean again reported concerns, this time concerning the engine so plenty of work to do before Russia.
5. Importance of tyre strategies
If a race ever emphasised the importance of tyre strategies, this is the one.
At the start of the weekend, everyone expected to do a one stopper. The race soon became a case of whether a one or two stop would be the best option.
Ferrari chose to undercut Mercedes and the safety car helped Vettel to secure the lead and he never looked back.
Mercedes need to review their pit stop strategies because this is the second time that the Prancing Horse outclassed them so far this season. Hamilton however nearly saved their bacon with his performance in the latter stages.
Now onto Sochi in a fortnight’s time.