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Formula One

What We Learned from Bahrain Grand Prix 2017

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The Big Picture: The Bahrain Grand Prix debuted  in 2004, making it the first Formula One race in the Middle East. It has been reported that the Kingdom of Bahrain has a long-term contract with F1. It remains a controversial event due to concerns about continuing human rights abuses.     

The Event:  Another Hermann Tilke designed track, this one is about 3.5 miles long and with signature features such as long sweeping straights. The track uses adhesive on the sand around the track to keep the surface clear. Attendance at this event is among the lowest in F1 with less than 50,000 seats sold.

In Our Last Episode: Lewis Hamilton mopped the floor with his competition, taking only his 3rd F1 Grand Slam of his career.

Qualifying: Valterri Bottas won the first pole of his Formula One career edging out teammate Lewis Hamilton. So, it will be Mercedes squared followed by Ferrari Red Bull for two rows. Not a remarkable session except for the muchadmired Bottas taking pole.

Start: The start was clean with Bottas maintaining his lead and Hamilton losing one position to Vettel.

Race: It was Attrition City early in the event. First came Kevin Magnussen who retired after just eight laps. Then, fan favorite Max Verstappen had break failure after 11  circuits. On Lap 12, rookie Lance Stoll was taken out in a collision with Carlos Sainz. The race seemed to calm down after these early retirements, but both Fernando Alonzo and Marcus Ericsson were a no go after Lap 50. Is it any wonder why Alonzo wants to run Indy? By far the most exciting moment was Lewis Hamilton paring down an enormous  20-second gap to his rival Sebastian Vettel to six seconds. It made no difference in the race’s outcome because Vettel won that handily, but it was fun to watch and no doubt great to drive.

Best Team: The edge goes to Ferrari with an excellent  performance by Vettel for the win and decent support by Kimi Raikkonen in fourth.

What We Will Remember: It is definite now that this season will primarily be a contest between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, both multiple championship winners. The Constructors looks to be a three-team race between Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull.

Quote of the Weekend: “A great result thanks to all the team! At the start, it was important for me to get second place, and I managed. Also, we got everything right with the strategy. We decided to pit early and this tactics proved to be working. Towards, the end, I tried to manage the gap I had over Lewis. I expected him to charge through, of course I was concerned, with all the traffic ahead of me. But it the end it was all OK. The car was like a dream to drive today. I felt right from the beginning that we had the speed to win today. I had a good feeling yesterday already, and it was just confirmed today. The lap back to pits was so sweet, with all the fireworks around, and I really savored it. Tonight we enjoy the moment, but tomorrow we’ll be back at work. I haven’t changed my mind: to become world champion, you must first beat the Mercedes We’ll take it race after race.” Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari driver who finished first.

Runner-up Quote of the Weekend: “I’m very proud of my team today. To finish seventh after starting from P18 is an amazing recovery and we can be very happy tonight. It’s also our thirteenth consecutive race in the points, which is an incredible achievement. The first lap was very important for my race because I made up five places and was up in P13 by the end of lap one. I had great tyre life in the first stint; we stayed out as long as we could and the safety car played into our hands just when I needed to make a pit stop. So I think we made the most of every opportunity and the whole team – the engineers and the mechanics – played their part in executing a perfect race. We showed, once again, that we never give up on Sundays and we can come back strong after a difficult qualifying. We know there are still areas where we can improve and that there is more speed to come from this car, but for now it feels good to have both cars in the points for the third race this season.” Sergio Perez, Force India driver who finished 7th.

Schedule: The Russian Grand Prix at Sochi follows in two weeks.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.