Bahrain GP: Five Talking Points

Nico Rosberg maintained his perfect start to the season by following up last month's Australian Grand Prix win with another one here in Bahrain. Here are some of the talking points from the second race of the 2016 season.

Nico Rosberg of Germany (R) and Kimi Raikkonen of Finland celebrate after the Bahrain GP.   -  REUTERS

The 2016 Formula One season has started off in great fashion following an exciting race in Melbourne with another action packed race with incidents, overtaking and varying strategies in Bahrain. Five takeaways from the race.

Rosberg on song

Nico Rosberg took his second win of the season - fifth on the bounce going back to 2015 - and extended his lead over teammate and defending champion Lewis Hamilton to 17 points. Rosberg looked quicker all through practice sessions and up till the first run in the final part of qualifying.

But when it mattered, Hamilton turned on the heat as he secured his 51st career pole position beating Rosberg by less than 0.1 second. However, come Sunday, like in Melbourne, Hamilton had a poor start losing couple of positions before being hit by the Williams of Valtteri Bottas in turn one that pushed him beyond the top five with damage to his car too and had to settle for third.

Deja vu for Ferrari

For the second race in succession, only one Red car made it to the end with Sebastian Vettel retiring on the warm-up lap with an engine failure after Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement due to a turbo failure in Melbourne. While Kimi Raikkonen managed to split the two Mercedes on the podium with his eighth second place finish here, it was a race Ferrari could have won if the Finnish driver had not made a mistake at the start and lose positiont before staging a comeback.

Ferrari has thrown all its financial and resource might at the 2016 car to get back to winning ways but at the same time has suffered gremlins with its cars right from pre-season testing. After two retirements in two races, questions have arisen whether the Italian team has compromised on reliability for performance.

Living the American dream

After a sensational debut in Melbourne with a sixth place finish, new team Haas F1 went one better as Romain Grosjean drove a brilliant race to finish fifth and bag ten points. Grosjean did qualified spectacularly to start ninth and used an aggressive three-stop strategy running on the super soft tyres (fastest tyres) for the major part of the race, as he dispatched the likes of Williams and Force India with ease. For the Frenchman, who moved from Lotus (Renault now) to a new team this year, it is an important season with Raikkonen’s seat potentially opening up at Ferrari for next year.

It has been a fairytale start for the outfit owned by American businessman Gene Haas who has pioneered a new business model by buying as many parts as is allowed in the regulations from Ferrari and producing just enough on its own to qualify as a constructor. With 18 points and fifth place in the constructors championship, Haas could have not asked for a better start but now the challenge is to keep improving as the experienced teams get their act together.

Young brigade shines

While the action always tends to be focused on the stars and at the top of the field, there was some splendid driving down the grid by the gen next of F1 as Stoffel Vandoorne, Pascal Wehrlein and Kevin Magnussen shone under the night sky. Vandoorne has a mighty CV in junior series and the McLaren reserve driver was called in at the last minute to replace Fernando Alonso, after the latter was deemed medically unfit to race following his monstrous crash in Melbourne.

The Belgian was in Japan for his racing commitments in the Super Formula series and dashed to Bahrain late on Thursday and justified the hype around him by outqualifying teammate Jenson Button. On Sunday, he produced a brilliant race after losing a position at the start to finish tenth and score a point on debut.

Another debutant this season, Wehrlein produced a mega drive in his Manor to finish 13th ahead of the two Force Indias while Magnussen started from the pitlane and finished 11th, just outside the points in his Renault.

Fun fact: Vandoorne is now ahead of both the regular McLaren drivers in the standings.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it

We have had two exciting races but the new elimination style qualifying has surely lived one race longer than it ought to have. In Australia, team bosses agreed to revert to the 2015 format which was perfectly fine to begin with. However, the proposed change failed to gather enough votes and the universally despised format continued in Bahrain, and once again qualifying was dull with no cars on track in the final minutes of each session.

We have a competitive Ferrari to challenge Mercedes, some exciting talent, three different types of tyres for a race weekend that has spiced up the racing. If qualifying can be sorted so that fans, at the circuit paying exorbitant prices for tickets and watching on TV don't have to stare at an empty track, the sport might be in for a good season.

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