Turn 1 Statistics
Initial speed Final speed Stopping distance Braking time Maximum deceleration Maximum pedal load Braking power 333km/h 62km/h 156m 1.76 sec 5.2g 155kg 2233kW
On a scale of 1 to 10, the level of difficulty on the brakes at Bahrain is 9. The four most challenging braking sections at Bahrain all have a deceleration load greater than 4.4g and a terminal (pre-braking) speed of 300 km/h or slightly less. The harshest of these is the Schumacher curve (turn 1), where drivers arrive at some 330 km/h, and experience a 5.2g deceleration. Williams left Bahrain with questions as to their consistency. In the gaggle behind Ferrari and Mercedes, any lack of pace, or any questionable strategy will translate into lost positions with so many eager, swift rivals around.
Williams’ choice of extended stints on Pirelli mediums for both its drivers was just such a call, in the context of Red Bull, Haas and Toro Rosso majoring on softs and supersofts.
Each of these mideld hustlers had reason to be cheerful this weekend, but what of Ferrari, self-annointed Mercedes-deniers in 2016? It was another mixed bag. Seb Vettel suffered an engine failure on the warm-up lap, which, following Räikkönen’s motor-related retirement in Australia, suggests reliability concerns for the Scuderia that have already undermined their title hopes. Two races down, 50 points adrift.
Räikkönen, meanwhile, started poorly, blaming his “ngers slipping” on the steering-wheelmounted clutch paddle. His tardiness and Vettel’s absence cleared row two for Bottas to take the slingshot into T1 that would prove so signicant for the eventual top-three placings. But Kimi has consistently excelled at this circuit over the years, and he recovered with a decisive, drama-free run to second, ten seconds behind Rosberg. It was his eighth Sahkir podium since 2006, though none of them have been as winner.
Behind the likely title contenders came the ever-charging Daniel Ricciardo. He had already performed with élan in qualifying to start from P5 in a car less powerful than those ahead and immediately behind; to gain a race place when all around are losing theirs indicates yet again that Red Bull and their star driver have lost nothing in performance, despite the ongoing deciencies of the TAG-Heuer/Renault power unit.
They will, though, be looking over their shoulders at the emerging threat of Haas F1. Yes, really. Romain Grosjean, starting from an advantageous P9 (giving Haas a free tyre choice for the race, unlike the rst eight, who must wear their Q3 tyres to the start line) was characteristically eet and error-free on a charge to P5 crafted around an aggressive strategy of three sets of supersofts, plus one soft. “It’s an American dream,” said Romain post-race. For all but Haas’s biggest and best-funded rivals, they’re rapidly turning into an American nightmare.
And a debut point for Stoffel Vandoorne, last-minute sub for an injured Fernando Alonso? This was the stuff of champions.