Mercedes wary of another flying Ferrari start

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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The Mercedes and Ferraris will line up for the Bahrain Grand Prix in the same order as they did in Australia. Can the red cars make the same sensational starts they did in Melbourne?

The team has played down whether it used some technical trickery to get the jump on the silver cars two weeks ago, but the Mercedes pair will be alert to the threat. Lewis Hamilton, however, indicated the team have not made any major gains in this area.

“It will be important to get a good start tomorrow, like always,” he said, “especially as there’s a longer run down to turn one here than in Melbourne.”

“It’s something we’ve been working on – but we’ve only had a couple of weeks since the last race, so I don’t expect big improvements. Hopefully it’s better than last time – we’ll see.”

Honda power beat Renault on the straights
Bahrain’s wide first corner and the long following run to turn four invites first-lap action and promises a feisty exchange between the front running cars. Beyond that the new tactical questions poised by the revised rules will shape the rest of the race.

Last year two soft-tyre stints and one medium was sufficient for almost all the points-scorers. However this Sunday the top eight qualifiers will all have to start on the super-soft tyre. Pirelli believes the rubber can be eked out for at least 14 laps, but that’s a big ask for the Q3 runners whose tyres have already done three laps. The longest super-soft tyre stint so far this weekend was Daniel Ricciardo’s 13 laps.

Last year Felipe Massa made a two-stop strategy work despite pitting for his first stop as early as lap ten. However over the final half-dozen laps his pace dropped off badly.

It therefore looking like being a close call between the two choices. We could see the medium tyre pressed into service by some teams looking to make a two-stopper work – the tyre performed very well for Kimi Raikkonen during last year’s race.

Overtaking is much easier at Bahrain than Melbourne, which may make those who lean on their tyre more heavily content to consider three-stopping.

Haas seriously impressed in qualifying and from ninth on the grid Romain Grosjean has a chance to repeat the team’s points-scoring start to the year. As the first driver on the grid with a fresh set of tyres at his disposal, it’s not impossible we could see him starting on fresh soft tyres and hitting the front after a dozen laps or so – think Nico Hulkenberg at Shanghai three years ago.

Bahrain has exposed the top speed weakness of Renault’s engine and the low-speed grip of their chassis very clearly. Both their cars were out-qualified by Pascal Wehrlein’s Manor, and Honda achieved higher straight-line speeds during qualifying.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’31.3911’30.039 (-1.352)1’29.493 (-0.546)
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’31.3251’30.535 (-0.790)1’29.570 (-0.965)
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’31.6361’30.409 (-1.227)1’30.012 (-0.397)
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’31.6851’30.559 (-1.126)1’30.244 (-0.315)
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’31.4031’31.122 (-0.281)1’30.854 (-0.268)
6Valtteri BottasWilliams1’31.6721’30.931 (-0.741)1’31.153 (+0.222)
7Felipe MassaWilliams1’32.0451’31.374 (-0.671)1’31.155 (-0.219)
8Nico HulkenbergForce India1’31.9871’31.604 (-0.383)1’31.620 (+0.016)
9Romain GrosjeanHaas1’32.0051’31.756 (-0.249)
10Max VerstappenToro Rosso1’31.8881’31.772 (-0.116)
11Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’31.7161’31.816 (+0.100)
12Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’32.4721’31.934 (-0.538)
13Esteban GutierrezHaas1’32.1181’31.945 (-0.173)
14Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’31.9761’31.998 (+0.022)
15Daniil KvyatRed Bull1’32.5591’32.241 (-0.318)
16Pascal WehrleinManor1’32.806
17Marcus EricssonSauber1’32.840
18Sergio PerezForce India1’32.194
19Kevin MagnussenRenault1’33.181
20Jolyon PalmerRenault1’33.438
21Rio HaryantoManor1’34.190
22Felipe NasrSauber1’34.388

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton28.343 (1)38.655 (1)22.449 (1)
Nico Rosberg28.405 (2)38.658 (2)22.507 (2)
Sebastian Vettel28.504 (3)38.838 (3)22.643 (3)
Kimi Raikkonen28.549 (4)38.906 (4)22.718 (4)
Daniel Ricciardo28.817 (7)39.290 (5)22.740 (5)
Valtteri Bottas28.672 (5)39.440 (7)22.759 (6)
Felipe Massa28.823 (8)39.405 (6)22.914 (8)
Nico Hulkenberg28.894 (9)39.545 (8)23.077 (13)
Romain Grosjean28.814 (6)39.812 (12)23.071 (12)
Max Verstappen29.054 (13)39.663 (10)23.001 (10)
Carlos Sainz Jnr28.999 (11)39.625 (9)22.968 (9)
Stoffel Vandoorne29.090 (14)39.818 (13)23.026 (11)
Esteban Gutierrez29.008 (12)39.679 (11)23.079 (14)
Jenson Button28.923 (10)39.826 (14)23.172 (15)
Daniil Kvyat29.284 (16)39.997 (16)22.912 (7)
Pascal Wehrlein29.386 (19)40.226 (18)23.183 (16)
Marcus Ericsson29.380 (18)40.188 (17)23.272 (18)
Sergio Perez29.091 (15)39.892 (15)23.211 (17)
Kevin Magnussen29.345 (17)40.488 (20)23.348 (19)
Jolyon Palmer29.524 (20)40.284 (19)23.533 (22)
Rio Haryanto29.794 (21)40.960 (21)23.436 (21)
Felipe Nasr29.908 (22)41.053 (22)23.427 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes335.5 (208.5)
2Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes335.1 (208.2)-0.4
3Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes335.1 (208.2)-0.4
4Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari334.3 (207.7)-1.2
5Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes333.5 (207.2)-2.0
6Pascal WehrleinManorMercedes333.2 (207.0)-2.3
7Esteban GutierrezHaasFerrari333.2 (207.0)-2.3
8Rio HaryantoManorMercedes332.4 (206.5)-3.1
9Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes332.1 (206.4)-3.4
10Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes331.4 (205.9)-4.1
11Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari331.3 (205.9)-4.2
12Max VerstappenToro RossoFerrari331.1 (205.7)-4.4
13Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari330.9 (205.6)-4.6
14Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoFerrari329.2 (204.6)-6.3
15Felipe NasrSauberFerrari329.0 (204.4)-6.5
16Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda328.1 (203.9)-7.4
17Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari327.7 (203.6)-7.8
18Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer327.4 (203.4)-8.1
19Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda327.3 (203.4)-8.2
20Daniil KvyatRed BullTAG Heuer326.6 (202.9)-8.9
21Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault324.8 (201.8)-10.7
22Kevin MagnussenRenaultRenault322.2 (200.2)-13.3

Over to you

Can Ferrari make good on the promise they showed in Australia? And who will emerge on top in the tight midfield contest?

Share your views on the Bahrain Grand Prix in the comments.

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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5 comments on “Mercedes wary of another flying Ferrari start”

  1. Top 4 setting top4 sector times in the same order :) How often does that happen.

    Anyway, coming to the race the long run stint during FP2 from Kimi was pretty good. IMO Ferrari should go for a win and not necessarily a Vettel win. Anything to get points off the Mercs. Vettel has his advantage in all other places. Can’t put Kimi on the back burner for this.

    Hoping for a great race. Ferrari should not have any reliability issues, hopefully.

  2. We had the same top 8 in last year, only Vettel and Ricc changed the order…

  3. The thing is a good start from either Ferrari isn’t a guaranteed win, Bahrein is a ‘very easy’ track to overtake on.

  4. Last year the soft tire was clearly dominant over the medium tire, so I don’t expect many drivers to use mediums in the race, especially as overtaking should be quite easy. The supersoft tires will be the big question mark in the race. Can they compete with the soft tires or are they even worse than the mediums?

Comments are closed.