Judging from the bookmakers Mercedes is already a lock to win the championship. Skybet has the odds of Mercedes winning the constructors title at 1/12. That means a one dollar bet would net you $0.08 in winnings. If you bet the current odds on a Mercedes 1-2 in the driver’s championship you would do a little better are 4/11 odds (or $0.36 per dollar bet).
It’s no surprise then that the Bahrain GP was a Mercedes show from the start. Hamilton and Rosberg traded fastest times through out the weekend with Rosberg capturing the Pole during Saturday’s qualifying session. The big question of the day was whether the Mercedes boys were free to race or whether team orders would be the rule of the day.
Thankfully once the lights went out it was race on with little interference from pit lane.. Hamilton and Rosberg quickly distanced themselves from the field and at numerous times during the race they ran side by side with no quarter given. The hearts of Mercedes executive directors Toto Wolffe and Paddy Lowe must have been firmly in their throats for much of the race. Given the still questionable reliability of the new formula, and the fact that Hamilton and Rosberg nearly touched on a number of instances, it could have all ended very badly for Mercedes. Instead, it ended with another 1-2 and both cars were 23 seconds ahead of the third place Force India of Perez. Even more impressive was that the 23 second gap was built during the last ten laps after the the safety car (brought out when Gutierrez was flipped by Maldonado’s tusked Lotus) bunched the field and turned it into a sprint race.
Behind the untouchable Mercedes was a field made up of equally aggressive drivers. It seemed that the cars sorted out along team lines with many of the drivers battling their own teammates for much of the race.
Perez was able to hold off a charging Daniel Ricciardo for third and directly behind them was a scrum that included Hulkenberg, Vettel, Massa, Bottas, Alonso and Raikkonen, in that order. It seemed that drivers in every team had something to prove and the old axiom that the first person you have to beat is your teammate was never more true than at the 2014 Bahrain GP.
With Mercedes on a level of it’s own the other teams are in a tight battle to determine who will be the best of the rest. At this point it really looks like having a Mercedes power unit goes a long way towards making a car competitive.
Williams, who showed great pace during pre-season testing, had placed a lot of hope on their chances for a good result. With Bottas qualifying fourth and Massa having a heroic start on race day it really looked like they were in for a great day. Through bad strategy or a little bit of bad luck they weren’t able to capitalize and they ended up what must have been a disappointing 8th and 9th.
If Williams were the disappionting underdogs then Force India-Mercedes has to be the Cinderella story of the race. With Perez on the podium and Hulkenberg clawing his way up from 11th to finish 5th (he even manage to lead a lap or two during the pit rotation) Force India-Mercedes was able to nudge McLaren-Mercedes out of second spot in the constructors championship. The dollar to performance ration of Force India must be off the charts. Lets be honest they are a good team but they really have mid-field amounts of money and after three races for them to be ahead of powerhouses like McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull is simply amazing.
Another check box in the amazing column is Daniel Ricciardo’s continued dominance of 4 time champion and teammate Sebastian Vettel. Vettel has more points in the driver’s championship but if Ricciardo hadn’t been disqualified in Australia he would currently be in third place and well ahead of Vettel. Not only did Ricciardo finish ahead of Vettel he also drove past him to get there. It really seems that the new formula has thrown a serious spanner in the works if a four time champion is being regularly caned by his teammate. To be fair there has always been a lot of praise for Ricciardo but so far his performance has been well beyond expectations.
What of the super team of Alonso and Raikkonen at Ferrari? Dissapointing would be a generous term to describe their weekend. It seems that every weekend exposes a new problem with the car that just seems to lack performance in every area. At the 2014 Bahrain GP top speed and power output were the key shortcomings of the 2014 Ferrari. Being down on power must be especially painful for a team that has generally built it’s reputation on the engine and who’s founder had the biased opinion that aerodynamically efficient cars were for teams that couldn’t build engines.
What does the upcoming Chinese GP have in store for the topsy turvy 2014 F1 field? If the racing is even half as excitin as the 2014 Bahrain GP they we’re bound to have a good race one the 300 km/h straights of the Shanghai International Circuit. Check back in a few weeks for our recap.
Until then for more on the 2014 Bahrain GP check out the official Formula 1 website.