Can we get back to the racing now? Formula 1 has been wrapping itself up in negativity, controversy and poor decision making ever since the Australian Grand Prix ended. Qualifying remains unchanged despite the outcry from fans in Melbourne, while many viewers in the UK have been left annoyed by the sport’s decision to switch exclusively to pay-per-view television from 2019. Even the drivers have been calling for change to F1’s governance structure amid concerns about its future, which has all been detracting from a very encouraging first race in Australia. Hopefully the focus will switch back to matters on the track this weekend in Bahrain, where Ferrari pushed Mercedes hard a year ago and is targeting more of the same.
Well there is a sense of status quo at the top of the order, but Ferrari looked clearly closer to Mercedes than it was a year ago in Melbourne, and should have won the opening race had it got its strategy under the red flag right. As it was, Mercedes started with another one-two but will know the gap is closing, while Red Bull similarly made a step towards the front. Realistically the RB12 will only be a major threat later in the year but it looks to have the legs on Williams, while Haas has shown it can mix it with the likes of Force India in the midfield. Toro Rosso has more potential than ninth and tenth in Melbourne showed, while Renault can also target points if it can improve its qualifying pace. Perhaps the biggest unknown surrounds McLaren, with Fernando Alonso spectacularly crashing out early in Australia and Jenson Button suffering from a poor strategy that left him at the back of a midfield pack.
Pole position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 1:32.571
Top three: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrar), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Fastest lap: Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1:36.311
SESSION TIMES (All times local)
FP1: 14:00 - 15:30
FP2: 18:00 - 19:30
FP3: 15:00 - 16:00
Qualifying: 18:00 - 19:00
One thing Bahrain tends to be very good for is stable weather conditions and this weekend is set to be no different. Following a rain-affected Friday practice in Melbourne, the teams will be pleased with warm and dry representative running, with temperatures expected to be a relatively cool 24C. With some cloud expected too, that should help ensure track temperatures in FP1 and FP3 are closer to the conditions which will be seen during qualifying and the race which take place under floodlights.
1st - Sebastian Vettel
2nd - Lewis Hamilton
3rd - Kimi Raikkonen
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