Felipe Massa started last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix from eighth on the grid, lapping the track in 1’30.074.
This year Massa’s place at the team has been taken by Sergey Sirotkin who was their highest qualifier on Saturday, albeit a painful 1.3s slower than the team were 12 months ago. Team mate Lance Stroll was last in qualifying.
This graph showing how each team’s lap time compares to their best effort from the same track last year illustrates the team’s dilemma in stark terms:
The extent of their plight is exaggerated somewhat. Last year Williams reached Q3, by which point the track conditions would have improved, yielding quicker lap times. As both cars went out in Q1 this year they did not have that advantage. But this is a side-effect of their performance shortfall and not the root cause.
“We weren’t quick enough today for a number of reasons,” admitted chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, “some of them we understand, some of them we don’t.”
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Every other teams has found at least 0.6 seconds over the last 12 months. The team which has made the least progress without regressing is Sauber, who also dropped out in Q1. Mercedes, who were beaten to pole position by Ferrari, are next. But even the SF71-H has not made as great progress year-on-year as most of its rival machines.
Surprisingly it is McLaren, who were disappointed at missing the cut for Q3 again, who posted the largest improvement compared to this time 12 months ago.
The track record fell for the third year in a row in Bahrain, but this time it changed hands from Mercedes to Ferrari.
NB. A different track configuration was used in 2010 and no race was held in 2011
2018 Bahrain Grand Prix
- Three errors caused Ferrari’s botched Bahrain pit stop which injured a mechanic
- Verstappen not to blame for Bahrain qualifying crash – Horner
- Steiner warns against knee-jerk reaction to pit lane safety fears
- Ferrari explains why Raikkonen’s pit stop went wrong
- Problems in first two races not down to bad luck – Raikkonen