Join Paul and me as we review the Bahrain Grand Prix. We discuss each team as they finished and even chat about that super cool new qualifying format as well as Haas F1 and even offer some awards which may or may no be the same as you voted.
Category Grand Prix
It’s a tough way to start your Bahrain Grand Prix weekend but McLaren’s Fernando Alonso will have a new engine already after the ICE used in the Australia was too damaged following a massive crash.
“We have recovered the power unit from Fernando’s car used in Melbourne,” said Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda’s F1 boss.
“After initial investigations, we are massively disappointed that the ICE and most of the surrounding parts have been heavily damaged, as the impact from the accident was just too great. We will be replacing the complete power unit in Bahrain.”
With precious few engines for the entirety of the season, Fernando is already on the back foot this year. You have to hand it to his positive face in the press though:
“Firstly, I’m very pleased to be heading to Bahrain after the crash in Australia. I’ve spent some time resting and I can’t wait to get back in the car,” he said.
“Although on paper Melbourne wasn’t a great race for us, before the crash I’d been having some good battles and the car felt pretty promising, so I hope in Bahrain we can experience more of the same.
“We’re still pushing to bring upgrades to each race, so providing we can get everything to the car in time we’ll be aiming to get as much track time as possible with the new chassis from the start of free practice.”
He’s right though, he was running relatively well compared to last year’s performance and might possibly have scored points if not for the crash with Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez. Regardless, more challenges for McLaren Honda and only the second race into a 21-race season. As Sky points out, having 4 left is an issue considering they used 23 engines between drivers last season.
It’s been a tough beginning to the season for Fernando Alonso in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. After the massive crash in this season’s opening race in Australia, Alonso has had further medical tests and McLaren released a statement:
“Following an examination undertaken this morning at the Bahrain International Circuit Medical Centre, it has been decided that McLaren Honda F1 Team driver Fernando Alonso should not take part in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
“Two sets of chest CT scans were compared and it was decide that there was insufficient resolution of the signs to allow him to compete on safety grounds.
“A repeat chest scan has been requested before the Chinese Grand Prix and the results will be considered before allowing him to race there.”
I’m not sure what issue this statement is referring to with regards to his chest but my immediate worry was concussion given the violent nature of the wreck and compound with his concussion from last years incident (that prompted him to miss the first race of the 2015 season), I was very concerned about the cumulative effect. There is no mention of a concussion in the McLaren statement, rather concerns over his chest.
Reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne will now stand in for Alonso and make his debut in Formula 1 at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, the second race of the season.
Most, but not all of us, have been saying this for the better part of seven years now and it’s never taken root in the decision making in Formula 1 because, in my mind, of two reasons.
Less aero which should beget less aero wake and more mechanical grip for more overtaking. At least that’s our consistent refrain. After all these years, the sport has not changed the levels we feel is needed to achieve this.
With all deference to F1, they have reduced some aero but not enough because teams continually claw back much of the lost aero through crafty interpretation of the regulations.
Aerodynamics is the least expensive way to claw serious time out of an F1 car. Sure, it’s expensive but not as expensive as other more radical means like an all-new hybrid engine development program or changing wheel size and drastically altering the entire chassis design. Before you heap scorn on me, I’ve spoken with a few key engineers in the sport who have told me this, I’m not making it up so it isn’t just my silly hunch here.
Teams know that big gains can be made through magical interpretation of the regulation via aero tricks when the FIA makes big changes to the technical regulations. They still recall 2009 when Brawn GP showed up with a dual diffuser and rubbed everyone’s nose in the dirt over a relatively inexpensive stroke of genius. They also don’t want to eliminate their current performance advantages or mothball their enormous wind tunnels they spent millions on.
Leave it to our friend Lewis Hamilton to say what other drivers won’t and certainly team boss won’t or can’t.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the rules and whether the drivers should be more involved in decision making,” Hamilton said. “It’s not our job to come up with ideas and we all have different opinions anyway.
“But personally, I think we need more mechanical grip and less aero wake coming off the back of the cars so we can get close and overtake. Give us five seconds’ worth of lap time from aero and nothing will change – we’ll just be driving faster.
“I speak as somebody who loves this sport and loves racing. I don’t have all the answers – but I know that the changes we’re making won’t deliver better racing.”
Good on him I say! It’s great Lewis has the brand equity at this stage in his career to call it out when it needs calling out.
It’s not a popular opinion and I know this but it may be one of the biggest ways to get F1 back on track and fans reinvigorated again.
We’ve done the hybrid sustainable thing and the gimmicky baubles like HD Tires and DRS so let’s try something different for the next 4 or 5 years. What do ya say? It couldn’t be any worse could it? On second thought, don’t answer that.
Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1
I’m a bit of a fan boy, admittedly, but I also feel like Ferrari are doing a lot of the right things to get the team positioned for moving back to winning ways. Whether that was all down to the draconian acts of Sergio Marchionne or simply the culmination of what was already set in motion prior to the exodus of Ferrari senior management, it did leave a vacancy that was cleverly filled by Jock Clear.
Jock is no stranger to F1 having been Jacques Villeneuve’s engineer as well as Lewis Hamilton’s at Mercedes. Now he is the engineering director for Ferrari and says that winning the title here would be the biggest in his storied career:
“The championship that I’m going to win with Ferrari is going to be at a new level,” said Clear, who will be responsible for trackside operations at his new team.
“It will be better than we ever were when I won championships with other teams and that’s the same for all of us.
“What I know about winning championships is no longer enough to win championships so I have to evolve as well.
“I’m not coming here and saying ‘I know what you need to do to win the championship’ because that won’t work anymore.
“I’m developing with the team and we’re confident we’re developing in a direction to win a championship with Ferrari.”
Jock says that James Allison has done a terrific job of getting the team motivated and ready to win and win they have. With the sublime driving talents of Sebastian Vettel—a driver who has also slipped into the racing team like a hand in a Mechanix glove—won three races last year and led for the first 17 laps of this season’s opening race in Australia.
Can they win more than three races this year? Many F1 pundits believe they will and some even believe they may put up a serious fight against Mercedes. I’ll reserve my optimism for mid-summer but it does appear that Jock and the team are heading in the right direction.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT