Hamilton tops times in Bahrain
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the first day of testing at the Bahrain International Circuit. The three times world champion was over half a second faster than Ferrari’s Antonio Giovinazzi.
The lap times were way off the pace, set by Mercedes on Saturday evening as the teams used the day to try new parts and understand Pirelli’s tyres. Hamilton set the fastest lap during the late afternoon, as the track temperatures dipped allowing a clear gap to emerge between the Mercedes and Ferrari.
Ferrari was the only team to have two cars running as Sebastian Vettel worked on a Pirelli tyre test. But, he was kept off track for four hours because of a technical issue.
Vettel’s afternoon looks set to continue until 21:00 local under the floodlights. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third, almost a second off the off the pace, before an engine issue meant he lost most of the afternoon.
Haas’s Romain Grosjean completed eighty laps and was ahead of Williams Felipe Massa. Massa had split the driving with team-mate Lance Stroll, who was seventh with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in between the two.
Sean Gelael took part in his first test for Toro Rosso completing 78 laps, despite the car twice stopping on track and causing red flags, with race drivers Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz set to take over on Wednesday.
Force India’s development driver Alfonso Celis got another test day in the VJM10 and finished the session 10th fastest.
After hopes of a better day for McLaren were dashed, following a testing weekend Oliver Turvey’s day was halted with a water leak on the Energy Recovery System forced McLaren to abandon most of the day while the mechanics installed a new power unit
India begins extradition of Force India boss
Police in London have arrested the Force India team principal Vijay Mallya. The Indian businessman was arrested by the Metropolitan Police’s extradition unit “on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud”.
The Indian government have been calling for his extradition to face charges of financial irregularities at his defunct Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya is said to owe £600m relating to the collapse of Kingfisher, which he denies and claims he is a victim of a media witch-hunt.
A Met statement read “Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Extradition Unit have this morning, Tuesday 18 April arrested a man on an extraction warrant.”
“Vijay Mallya, 61, was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud. He was arrested after attending a central London police station.”
He is under pressure from the airline’s creditors to repay and settle the debt owed. Kingfisher was grounded in 2012 and its flying permit lapsed the following year.
In April last year, India revoked Mr Mallya’s passport. The following month, it began seeking his extradition from the UK.
Mallya tweeted on Tuesday: “Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in Court started today as expected.” He has been granted conditional bail and the case has been adjourned until 17 May.
Wehrlein surprised by fitness
Pascal Wehrlein says he was surprised by how good his fitness was after finishing eleventh in his first grand prix of the season.
The twenty-two year olds training this season was compromised by fracturing three vertebrae in an accident in January’s Race of Champions. Wehrlein posted images over the weekend of his recovery on social media.
Wehrlein says him missing the Chinese Grand Prix earlier this month played a key role in his fitness improving so much. Wehrlein when asked by Motorsport.com about how he reacted to the race distance, said “I’m surprised how good it is.”
“But that’s what we could have expected because the strength went away but it’s coming back quite quickly. You can see what a big change these two weeks of training have been to me and I’m just really happy overall.
Despite not having problems during the race, Wehrlien said he did experience some pain afterwards.
Mercedes rethink on team orders
Mercedes say they may need to rethink the way they approach the way they use team orders, following the strong start season by Ferrari.
The Italian team took their second victory of the season after Sebastian Vettel chased down Lewis Hamilton in the final snit. But Mercedes have accepted that if they had let Hamilton past Valtteri Bottas sooner, it could have threatened Vettel more but it was wary of treating either of its drivers unfairly.
Mercedes have had a strong ethos of treating and giving their drivers an equal chance of fighting for victories and championships in recent seasons. But, with a growing threat from Ferrari team boss, Toto Wolff says the team may reluctantly have to operate differently from now on.
When asked by Autosport, about the possibility of changing Mercedes’ rules of engagement, he said “We don’t like that at all. It’s not what we have done in the last couple of years but the situation is different now.”
“It needs a proper analysis of what it means and where we are. We’d like to give equal opportunity at the start of the race, I think we owe it to them.”
“Then you see what we did in the race, we made the call, we made the call twice, because we felt it was the only possibility of winning the race.”
However, Wolff made it clear the team will not appoint a clear number one before the race, regardless of their position in the championship.
Max Verstappen has apologised to Brazil following an offensive remark made after qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The nineteen-year-old, accused the Williams veteran of wrecking his best lap in qualifying and was asked by reporters whether he would be speaking to him. “Well, he’s a Brazilian. So there’s not much to discuss” Verstappen had replied.
The Dutchman won huge applause following his drive to third at Interlagos in November last year. On Instagram, Verstappen said, “Being a passionate racer, I was very disappointed with my last (qualifying) stint and gave an emotional reaction that was taken out of context.”
“By no means did I mean to insult the Brazilian people who I greatly respect and are always very nice to me when I visit the country. I would like to apologise to any Brazilians that feel offended and look forward to racing in your country again.”