Ferrari to drive home advantage in Bahrain?

2018-04-04 06:04

FERRARI’S Michael Schumacher won the first Bahrain Grand Prix, held in 2004. While it was a new, never before raced at, venue for F1 it didn’t produce much excitement as it earned the unfortunate moniker ‘Bore-rain’ thanks to its processional races.

However, in 2014, as the 10th anniversary of F1 in Bahrain rolled around, no pun intended, organisers decided to run the race under lights.

It was a masterstroke as the formerly docile race came alive and produced some of the most exhilarating racing all season.

It was Lewis Hamilton who beat then Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to victory following a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle for the lead.

Last year , Valtteri Bottas scored the first pole position of his career, but ultimately didn’t have the composure to hold off Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton.

It is a new season though and the race in Australia has not done much to reveal the true pecking order of 2018.

Though Ferrari stood on the top step of the podium in the first race of the season, Sebastian Vettel was the first to admit that the opportunistic win had a definite element of luck infused. Further, he admits that the 2018 Ferrari isn’t yet where it needs to be.

“I think our car has huge potential but I’m still struggling a little bit.

“When you talk about something that you miss as a driver, it’s because the car doesn’t respond the way you like. Ours is still sliding in places you don’t want it to slide. I want the car to be spot-on when I hit the brakes and turn in, and in that window, I’m not yet happy,” says Vettel.

The Sakhir International circuit is not the ideal test of an F1 car but it will allow them to stretch their legs a bit more than in Australia.

Low speed corners dominate the circuit layout, which means that traction and tyre temperatures significantly influence the laptime. Specifically, management of rear tyre temperatures is the key in Bahrain.

The top three teams, Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, have made similar tyre choices for the weekend where the supersoft, soft, and medium tyre will be run. The high desert temperatures and difficulty in managing rear tyre wear could play in Ferrari’s favour as Mercedes has traditionally suffered on the softer compounds of the Pirelli range.

It isn’t all about what happens at the sharp-end though as the tight midfield battle has all the potential to produce some of the closest racing.

The team to look out for is Haas. They were desperately unlucky that cross-threaded wheelnuts forced both cars to retire in Australia. However, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were turning a genuinely quick pace and should be able to replicate it this weekend.

Many drivers, including Hamilton and both Red Bulls, complained about the lack of overtaking opportunities in Australia. This should be somewhat alleviated in Bahrain partly due to its kilometre-long straight.

There was little question in Australia that Mercedes had a quick car.

However, there are several factors, most notably the higher temperatures and rear tyre wear, that could be in Ferrari’s favour. Given that Vettel does not feel 100% comfortable with his Ferrari, it could be Kimi Raikkonen who could add to his record seven podiums in Bahrain.

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