These races are coming pretty thick and fast. Apologies for being off radar last weekend for the Chinese Grand Prix. We had a last minute Easter break away and had no way of watching the race. While I was a little dismayed, the husband was almost inconsolable at missing The Big Football Manchester Derby. Holidays hey?! I did contemplate (briefly) watching the race but the result, the race reports and the fact it was the Chinese Grand Prix didn’t really sell it to me. Anyhow normal service shall be resumed this weekend. Who knows whether it will be any more exciting than last weekend’s borefest in the smog of Shanghai but I’m clinging to the faint hope that Bahrain will provide more excitement given it was (to the surprise of many) one of the stand out races from last season. But I promise nothing.
But I have not been entirely remiss on the F1 front. I may have failed to watch the Chinese Grand Prix but in a moment of temporary insanity (school holidays tend to drive you over the edge into a Dark Place) I have got tickets for the whole weekend of the BRITISH GRAND PRIX in July. I am literally The Most Excited Person on the Planet. Obviously I haven’t given a moment’s thought to the full repercussions of going to Silverstone with the 7 year old and 4 year old in tow. But hey what could possibly go wrong?! Cue two days of torrential rain and Glastonbury-esque mudbath, sleeping in a half-collapsed and sodden tent while the kids wail about not having network connection. But for now I am in denial!
Remember when everyone jumped up and down (not-at-all-swept-away-by-a-media-bandwagon) a couple of years back about how it was disgraceful to hold a grand prix in Bahrain with their record on human rights and how Bernie should be ashamed blah blah blah. No one seems all that bothered now hey.
So cracking on with qualifying (which I am being permitted to watch only the barebones of so that the husband can watch Yet Another Very Important Football Match)…
Q1 – The first major casualty is Jenson Button with a broken car (after just one sector) and he starts tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid. In front of the team’s owners. OUCH. Its been said so many times but its hard to comprehend just how staggeringly awful these McLarens are this season. How can be they be so off the pace? For all the much vaunted dominance of the big teams, the smaller or less well-funded teams are not often this crud and certainly not if they used to win titles. Actually I have just thought of Brabham and also Lotus. Swiftly moving on. Personally I didn’t view the recruitment of Eric Bouillier as quite the Second Coming as it was made out to be but to be this far adrift on pace AND to be this unreliable does constitute an epic fail on the design and technical front.
Well something of a shock there – Kvyat has landed up in the Dreaded Dropzone of Doom. Who would have predicted that. Probably not his boss, Christian Horner. So out of Q1 are: Maldonado, Kvyat, Stevens, Merhi and the very lovely Jenson Button.
Q2 – A very slow start to Q2 with all the cars sitting tight in the garage for eons. Bore-a-rama. Both Hulkenberg and Sainz squeeze into the top ten at the death. There’s been a lot of chatter and hype surrounding Verstappen in 2015 but Sainz is very quietly having a most impressive debut season in F1. The superb efforts of Hulkenberg mean that Force India has made it through to Q3 for the first time since Monza.
Out of qualifying after Q2 are: 11. Perez, 12. Nasr, 13. Eriksson, 14. Alonso and 15. Verstappen. I think its important to note that not only Alonso did made it into Q2 but he wasn’t even the last placed car in that session. Perhaps McLaren are making small baby steps of progress on the speed front after all even if reliability is still all over the shop. But all the same where on earth did Fernando Alonso pull that lap out from? A stunning effort.
Q3 – Just asked the 7 year old who is cheering for (he still talks about Schumacher which makes me immensely proud). Having just checked with me that there are no Irish drivers, his allegiances are torn between Grosjean and Hamilton and Raikkonen. There is no point in trying to make sense of it. Silverstone will be interesting to say the least.
So Hamilton, Ricciardo, Nico, Bottas, Vettel and Kimi make up the top six with the final dramatic throw of the dice to come. Two minutes to decide the grid for (and the possible course of) the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Ferrari’s are looking much sharper here in balmy Bahrain than in chilly China and their race performance should be even better than in qualifying with the whole pesky tyre degradation issue.
So Vettel gets provisional pole, Bottas goes second, Kimi goes second, Rosberg goes second BUT Hamilton is still on his flying lap. And Lewis Hamilton takes Provisional Pole to make it 4 poles in a row. And breathe. But if the qualifying pace of the Ferrari’s is anything to go by Lewis will have a real fight on his hands tomorrow. There’s no easy way to say this but Rosberg is really struggling this season. He had qualified on pole here in Bahrain for the last two years and this time last year you couldn’t really split the Mercedes drivers. Remember Bahrain from last season? But Hamilton is just running the show in 2015. It reminds me a lot of the 1995 season where everyone expected Damon Hill (having lost the title so narrowly to Michael Schumacher the season before) to be battling tooth and nail for the championship again with Michael. But it was pretty much a one horse contest and Michael totally dominated and owned Damon. And I don’t mean that badly. I love both those drivers. In some ways this is much harsher on Nico as he has EXACTLY the same machinery as Lewis. There is no hiding place and you have to wonder if or indeed when Mercedes will start deploying Nico as an on-track shield to protect Lewis from the reborn Ferrari team.
So the top ten will line up tomorrow as follows:
1. Hamilton 2. Vettel
3. Rosberg 4. Raikkonen
5. Bottas 6. Massa
7. Ricciardo 8. Hulkenberg
9. Sainz 10. Grosjean
So until tomorrow. Can anyone stop this man riding off into the sunset?