Hamilton Wins But Ferrari Look Menacing in Bahrain
After the re-establishment of Mercedes' dominance at Shanghai, the lead-up to the race in Bahrain was all about Ferrari; do they have the pace to take on the German team, and can they capitalise on their better tyre management during the races to challenge them on the podium?
Following China, when Raikkonen and Vettel came in solidly behind the 1-2 of Hamilton and Rosberg, with Lewis looking very comfortable leading the race as usual, it didn't look like the hype surrounding the team would turn into results.
However, what happened in Bahrain would turn all that on its head and start the rumour mill whirring once more.
Vettel Sets Sights on Rosberg
Though Hamilton continued his winning streak and took another easy victory, behind him there was a real dogfight for the next two podium places. Vettel was close behind Rosberg for most of the race, pressuring him and looking for a way past – after the first pit stop, he found it and managed to come out ahead of Rosberg.
Ferrari looked to use their superior tyre life to extend the stints and pressure Mercedes' lead, and it seemed as though this strategy would be successful.
Unfortunately, though, disaster struck Vettel in the closing laps of the race as the pressure from Rosberg became too much. He suffered a small braking issue and went very wide of the corner, scraping and damaging his front wing in the process, and Ferrari made the call for him to make a late pit stop which put him far out of contention for the podium.
He ended up coming in behind Bottas in the Williams, unable to recover from the late delay.
However, while this was bad news for Vettel, his teammate Kimi Raikkonen was still hot on the Mercedes' tail.
Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing © Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool
Hamilton had carved out a comfortable lead for himself, but Rosberg was still in the danger zone, and Raikkonen managed to capitalise on this when a braking problem occurred in the German's car on the penultimate lap and he went wide – the Finn zoomed past him and took second place, which he managed to retain until the end of the race, placing him in between the two Mercedes.
Though the front runners were fraught with mechanical problems, it is an encouraging sign for Ferrari that they were able to contend for so long and keep up with the Silver Arrows until they could make the most of Rosberg's slight misfortune. Given more time, it is possible that we could see more Ferrari podiums in the near future and perhaps even topple Hamilton from his gilded throne.
Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing prepares to drive © Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool
Better Days for Red Bull (just)
As far as the rest of the field goes, there were no major disasters or safety cars. Ricciardo managed to cross the line despite having yet another engine explosion, and will soon be facing penalties for replacement power units; Red Bull look to be facing a dismal season if the issues persist.
There will be a break in the season now until May 10, when we catch the Spanish GP in Catalunya. There is sure to be fierce competition between the top two teams, with Ferrari looking to find a way through Mercedes' defences and claim victory.
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