Despite putting up a fight both Ferrari drivers missed out to the ever-dominant Mercedes F1 team this weekend in Bahrain.
After Malaysia gifted Sebastian Vettel with a race win, stunning fans and the Mercedes team alike, it appeared that they could be top challengers against the team in white.
And though Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen sandwiched himself between the silver arrows of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to take home second this weekend, the Finn was not as pleased with his performance, despite it being his first podium since Italy in 2009.
Challenge From The Beginning
From the beginning there was no clear strength from either team. Raikkonen got in front of Rosberg from the start, wedging both Ferrari’s between the silver arrows. This didn’t last.
The Mercedes drivers and Ferrari drivers were never allowed to relax. Vettel’s pit stop gave the team the perfect undercut, but it wasn’t long before Rosberg stormed back in front, offering up some of his best driving to date.
Ferrari played around with strategy in Sakhir, Raikkonen trying a set of mediums out for size against the three race leaders on their second set of softs. He didn’t let the medium tyre slow his stint however, keeping the hungry Williams driver Valtteri Bottas at bay.
Cat and Mouse
Lap 35 saw the Ferrari undercut Rosberg once again, but Vettel struggled to keep control, running wide and letting the Mercedes through once again. This mishap meant front wing damage was the biggest downfall for the four-time world champion, missing out on the podium after being forced to pit as a result.
Raikkonen kept his second stint much longer than his competitors, holding on as long as possible to remain in first place after the frontrunners pitted. As expected, Hamilton’s speedy Mercedes was too quick, slimming Ferrari’s chances with every corner before the Brit used DRS to pass the Finn.
After finally pitting, the Ferrari driver was spat out in third, but made no errors working his way up the field taking chunks out of Rosberg’s times for each lap.
With 5 laps to go there was a small 3.7 seconds between the two drivers, making for another intense Bahrain battle. On lap 55 the Finn overtook Rosberg with ease finishing in second place and proving that Ferrari’s resurgence in Malaysia was not just a matter of luck.
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) April 19, 2015
Hamilton and Rosberg did both suffer break by wire issues with 2 laps from the end, which may have contributed to the Ferrari threat. Regardless both Mercedes drivers narrowly avoided catastrophe at the end of the race.
Trouble on Track
Due to last years intense Bahrain battle that sparked the beginning of the Rosberg-Hamilton rivalry, the bar was set high for this year’s race. Though we were gifted with a Ferrari-Mercedes tussle and witnessed some of Rosberg’s best driving to date, things didn’t go as well elsewhere on track.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo crossed the finish line with a car bellowing with smoke, further proof that Renault-Red Bull is a match far from made in heaven, the Australian already on his fourth engine.
The Toro Rosso’s also hit trouble as their record of failing to ever score points at the track was continued.Max Verstappen suffered a 17.4 second pit stop after wing damage and later in the race was forced to roll back to the pits in defeat.
Team-mate Carlos Sainz also stopped on track around lap 30 forcing him to retire, saying he was “feeling something strange with the car” on the front left. Force India showed dominance to begin with, Sergio Perez moving up in the early stages of the race into the points, but team-mate Nico Hulkenberg struggled and missed out in 13th place.
Lotus also experienced troubles, Maldonado suffering engine issues coming into the pit lane on Lap 43. McLaren’s Jenson Button also failed to start the race, and Williams’ Massa didn’t make the formation lap, but went on to finish 10th behind his team-mate who was 4th.
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) April 20, 2015
Though both Raikkonen and Vettel were breathing down the Mercedes’ necks for the entire race, they ran out of laps this weekend. But as the season progresses it’s expected to see more battles like this one in Bahrain.
“The Ferraris gave us a real good run for our money and out there it was really difficult to look after the tyres in these conditions”, said Lewis Hamilton. “But fortunately I was able to keep the car together, keep the tyres as healthy as possible and pull it through.”
Bahrain saw Lewis take his third win out of four races, pushing him to the top of the constructor’s championship.
Will Mercedes dominate this season again or can Ferrari give them a run for ther money? Have your say in the comments section below.