Can Ferrari bounce back after a subdued opening race in Melbourne? Will the rejuvenated Bottas stamp his authority and make it two wins out of two?
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We head to Bahrain for the second round of the new Formula 1 season with Ferrari scratching their heads and thinking, what the hell happened in Melbourne? During pre-season testing, Ferrari looked utterly dominant and Mercedes vulnerable. The theories circling around are that Mercedes were sandbagging throughout testing, a line of inquiry that Hamilton strongly denies.
However, the facts remain that once we started racing in Melbourne the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas sailed off into the distance leaving the lead Ferrari a minute off the pace. What was more interesting was, it was not the Silver Arrow who we usually expect to lead the race, instead, it was the ‘Flying Finn’ Bottas who sailed off into the distance to claim his 4th career victory.
Hamilton suffered some floor damage early in the race that may have hampered any chance of achieving a race win, however even with his car at 100% it would be hard to argue there is a driver on the grid that would have kept pace with Bottas. Comfortably leading the way Bottas even opted to go and get the bonus point that is now on offer for the fastest lap, a risky manoeuvre for a man who hasn’t won a race since Abu Dhabi in 2017.
Let’s not forget Bottas only finished on the podium 8 times in 2018, compared to Hamilton’s 17 with 11 of those being race wins!
So what has Bottas done to shake off the woes of 2018 and come back stronger, well from the outside we can all see he looks more menacing since he’s grown a beard. From the inside, only Bottas will know what has changed. Whatever it is, it’s working with devastating effect. As an F1 fan, having another contender competing for the most prestigious crown in motorsport can only be welcomed with open arms.
Is it possible we will see another duel in the desert as seen in 2014 between Rosberg and Hamilton. This was a race to remember and probably the most memorable of the hybrid turbo era.
Vettel who has 4 wins in Bahrain, two for Red Bull and two for Ferrari in 2017/18. You can guarantee he will be eager as a dog wanting to leave a kennel, to strap the overalls on and go searching for his cars true potential.
The danger for Vettel is his teammate Leclerc who was looking very racy, so fast, in fact, the Ferrari pitwall warned him off challenging Vettel for a fourth spot. An interesting battle will develop between the Ferrari drivers as the season progresses, last time Vettel had a young gun fast driver as a teammate (Daniel Ricciardo) he ended up leaving.
Can Verstappen claim his first win with his new Honda engine?
Verstappen had a solid performance in Melbourne with his new Honda engine ensuring a smile is back on the faces of the Honda engineers after their disastrous time while partnering with McLaren. Honda had a successful race in 2018 with Red Bull’s junior team Torro Rosso in Bahrain with Pierre Gasly taking a superb fourth place, with that evidence don’t rule out Verstappen standing on the top step come Sunday evening.
There are three DRS zones so expect lots of overtaking as this was in short supply in Melbourne.