December 20 2014 Latest news:
Michael Bailey, Formula One correspondent
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
We’ve been treated to a few excellent F1 races over recent seasons, but I’m not sure anyone anticipated Sunday’s grand prix in Bahrain would join them.
"Mercedes seemed able to pass us very easily. One Force India got me on the exit of corner eight. It was like a different class."
Maybe all Sakhir needed was to turn on some floodlights, and then the fireworks would follow?
Certainly the cooler temperatures and a few chances to test at the track during the winter helped deliver an enthralling race – but Mercedes deserve a huge chunk of the entertainment credit too.
That race could have been a real snooze given the current advantage at the silver arrows’ disposal. Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were a long way clear as the early laps ticked over, to the point where the leaders were being forgotten.
And then, bang! The two are sparring as if they were embarking on their first karting skirmish.
• Pole position – Force India: Led by a rejuvenated Sergio Perez, the Silverstone outfit produced a brilliant weekend that lifted them into second in the early constructors’ championship standings.
• Stalling – Adrian Sutil: Sauber look like lost souls so far in 2014, with Sutil ‘leading’ the way. His weekend in Bahrain was terrible – and given he’s struggling to compete with his team-mate, there appears little to excuse it.
Regardless of what some commentators seemed to bizarrely misconstrue, Mercedes only asked their men at the wheels to be careful. To be respectful. And in response, I think every F1 fan would now return the favour to those at Brackley.
Don’t forget, team orders are now allowed in F1. Any team can order their drivers to do what they want, within reason. Not that Mercedes’ Paddy Lowe is a fan.
“Team orders – putting in artificial constraints – is such a terrible thing for the entertainment, the spectacle, so we believe we should let the guys race, particularly in a situation where we have a pretty dominant car, which has become clear now,” Lowe told Autosport.
“It is all the more important to keep providing that entertainment and that excitement, for all of us. That is what it is all about.
“In any case, when you start putting in team orders, everyone gets unhappy. You just end up with everyone being a loser.”
The concept suited Red Bull down to the ground, as they adapted from party boys to champions. And it may well not be this easy if Rosberg and Hamilton continue to push for the championship.
But that season-long battle is nothing but a tantalising prospect.
• Max Chilton may have had a bit of stick at times – especially on our EDPF1 podcast – for being as slow as he is reliable.
But the Brit really did a terrific job for Marussia in Bahrain.
Chilton kept out of trouble – as he always seems to do. But then he also managed to bring the car home in 13th and regain Marussia’s 10th place in the constructors’ standings from Hingham-backed Caterham.
The fact is, we will almost certainly have to wait until Chilton gets a drive somewhere else before we can tell how quick he is as a Formula One driver. But he’ll get that chance if he keep up his run.