NOTEBOOK – Bahrain Practice

Features Notebook

Ferrari Sebastian Vettel was fastest in both the practice sessions for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. However, the gaps between Ferrari and Mercedes is very tight.

Ferrari v Mercedes

We always say about Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi that FP1 is not the best to see the true performance of the cars in terms of pace. That was again true as watching the sessions this afternoon, you had that feeling that Mercedes may turn it up in qualifying.

FP3 tomorrow afternoon will not really tell us, but we could get a slight indication of this, however, when we get into Q3 in evening we could see a close for pole tomorrow. In FP2 the gap between Vettel and Valtteri Bottas, was less than six-hundredths of a second.

Ferrari stop prancing

While Vettel set the fastest times in both the practice it wasn’t a trouble-free evening. Vettel stopped on track with him needing to be pushed back to the pits midway through the second session, but the team was able to get it running again and back out.

Vettel told ESPN “We were quite busy obviously, we had a bit of an issue. “I think we were lucky to recover and get some laps in the end. I think overall it was OK but we can improve, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

When we saw that we had alarm bells ringing in our heads after the Kimi Raikkonen’s engine issues in FP1. The issue for Raikkonen resulted in a new engine, turbocharger and MGU-H being fitted between sessions.

The problem on Vettel’s car appears to be completely unrelated and he suspects it was down to a software glitch.

Button back

Before FP1 this morning we had the confirmation that Jenson Button will race in Monaco in place of Fernando Alonso. Today, Eric Boullier has said that Button did not need to be persuaded to return to F1 for next month’s Monaco GP and will be back up to speed within “10 laps”

Earlier this week it was announced Alonso will do the Indy 500 rather than the Monaco Grand Prix. Speaking about the initial discussion with Button lasted all of “two minutes” before an agreement was reached on the 37-year-old’s return.

He told Sky Sports “It was an easy discussion, to be honest – very straightforward. He was the choice. He had a contract with us anyway, but you could feel his excitement over the phone was real and I’m happy that it will be part of his adventure.”

Boullier also confirmed that Button will not take part in next week’s test in Bahrain.

Hamilton v Hulkenberg

Lewis Hamilton nearly collided in with the slow running Nico Hulkenberg in FP2. Hamilton comes out of turn ten building his speed, not expecting to catch Hulkenberg but luckily pulls out just before hitting the rear. He runs wide after locking up his tyres.

There was nothing Hamilton could really do, he wasn’t expecting I feel to catch Hulkenberg that quickly after the corner you imagine. But, it underlines the power and performance deficit that Renault have to Mercedes.

Stoffel

Stoffel Vandoorne had a mixed day on track he stopped on track in FP1 because of an ERS-related fluid loss. This prompted McLaren to replace the whole power unit.

This is not what they need at this issue will cost the team later in the season, if they need to replace the engine. We know McLaren has struggled with the Honda power unit this season, but they are bringing a fix for Monaco or Canada.

That cannot come soon enough for the team they have under performed on track and maybe that the reason Alonso’s going to Indy next month rather than Monaco.

T-wings

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has called for a ban on T-wings after Max Verstappen damaged his car in FP2. The T-wings sit on top of the shark fins and appear to be very flimsy as they wobble. There has been incidence in China when Verstappen damaged the floor of his Red Bull when he drove over it, prompting £50,000 worth of damage.

Horner told ESPN “It cost us a few quid today… Several thousand pounds and a lot of downtime. I think they should be absolutely banned, get rid of them, illegal, dangerous, all of those things!”

“[FIA race director] Charlie [Whiting]’s got that lovely cop-out of ‘grounds of safety’, so if he wanted to use it he could do.”

Qualifying Preview

Mercedes will be under pressure once again from Ferrari, who appear once again to have the pace on a single lap. But looking at FP2 Mercedes were lapping consistently on high fuel runs. FP3 in the last two races has been Vettel, however it hasn’t meant pole.

Pole isn’t as key here because unlike in Shanghai you have a decent run Turn One and you can overtake. The battle could be interesting!

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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