Yesterday the Bahrain Grand Prix marked a watershed moment for the 2014 F1 season. We were promised a huge technical shake up, which would lead to a fresh injection of competition and unpredictability on the track, and this is exactly what Bahrain delivered: one of the best races in recent years.
It had been so long since we’d seen a true scrap between first and second that I was beginning to think such an event had become nothing more than an urban myth. But in Bahrain Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were allowed to engage in an all out brawl, with both drivers leaving it all on the track: pushing themselves and their cars to the limit.
But it was Hamilton who impressively came out on top, showing grit determination, and perhaps newly found maturity, to best his teammate in a thrilling wheel-to-wheel contest. Both drivers deserve plaudits, not only for the race, but also for their post-race interviews. Hamilton was humble and gracious in victory, Rosberg dissatisfied and defiant: this is exactly what the sport needs. This isn’t over by a long shot.
And if this wasn’t enough there was also a huge tussle for the “best of the rest”, and more inter-team action. Sergio Perez outperformed Nico Hulkenberg, and Daniel Ricciardo came from 13th to finish 4th, overtaking his teammate Sebastian Vettel in the process.
For those who like to see shunts, and lets face it, so long as no-one is hurt, most people do, Pastor Maldonado inevitably lived up to his ever-growing reputation, by sending Esteban Gutierrez flipping and sailing up into the air. Some say the cause of the crash isn’t as bad as first made out, but let’s be honest, Maldonado isn’t exactly shy from this kind of thing: he’s clearly an idiot.
But as good as the race was, I still came away highly irritated, and this is because Ferrari were bloody awful. Bahrain may have been a track which exaggerated their flaws, but enough is enough. They’ve failed to deliver a good car for far too long: they may be Ferrari, the Scuderia, but they need to change.
I mean honestly, why bother signing Kimi Raikonnen and giving yourself the possible headache of a lifetime between your two drivers, when you can only produce a substandard car? I know they haven’t done an inadequate job on purpose, but this story isn’t exactly new is it? Yes, traditionally Ferrari start slow, it’s only a few races in, and there are upgrades coming in China: but if things continue like this, one day people are going to look at them and think, nah, it’s not worth the effort. Alonso had a decent car in 2010, but since then he’s been given scraps and slapped on the wrist the one time he had the audacity to criticise the team. I mean how dare he, he’s only carried them single-handedly for three seasons and almost won a Championship, presumably using some form of witchcraft in 2012.
If they don’t pull their fingers out soon, they will quickly have two ex-World Champions, and arguably two of the best drivers on the grid, cruising around the mid-field in their nice, shiny red cars. Are they just the supreme paper over some almighty cracks? Kimi will have the beer and ice cream out again before we’ve even got to Europe at this rate.
And this for me is the biggest disappointment, and I’m not just saying this as a Raikonnen fan. At a weekend which was characterised by intense racing and inter-team battles, the pre-season, headline act of Alonso vs Raikonnen, were strolling home to 9th and 10th.
So to conclude I am happy to have witnessed the best Grand Prix in a long-time, but I’m also annoyed. We’re potentially being robbed of one of the most exciting inter-team battles since Prost and Senna. So F1, you’re doing well and i hope this is a sign of things to come. And Ferrari, pull your ***** finger out.
Images courtesy of the bbc.co.uk http://www.dw.de and thejudge13.com