After Mercedes picked up maximum points in Australia in the first race of the season, it will very much be a case of picking up from where they left of going into Bahrain this weekend. Nico Rosberg came out on top, with Lewis Hamilton finishing behind his teammate in second. Ferrari may have felt hard done by on the Albert Park circuit however, as their strategy error after the red flag led to Sebastian Vettel seeing his chances of opening the calendar with a victory, all but gone.
If Mercedes needed any warning of Ferrari’s ambitions this year, Ferrari definitely gave them one in Melbourne after Sebastian Vettel raced into an early lead before the red flag hindered the German’s race. After the strategy error by Ferrari, Vettel finished just behind Hamilton, in what was a fascinating final few laps. Hamilton, the three time World Champion also said he was “excited at the thought of more races like Melbourne.”
F1 Bahrain GP: Hamilton wary of Ferrari as he looks to strike back!!! pic.twitter.com/00d1BrMzq3
— F1 Fan Shop (@F1FanShop) March 31, 2016
“There are going to be weekends where we’re a few seconds up the road from Ferrari, races where its wheel-to-wheel and races they might be ahead” Hamilton also admitted that “We really don’t know, and that’s exciting.”
For neutral spectators of Formula 1, strong direct competition between opposing teams has been a dimension that has certainly being missing from the sport in the last few seasons. In 2015, Lewis Hamilton triumphed ten times out of the nineteen races, with Mercedes dominating all but every race weekend. 2014 also was good viewing for Mercedes fans, as the Hamilton Rosberg partnership came out on top, despite Hamilton taking victory at the last race. The year before also marked an emphatic season for Sebastian Vettel.
Going into every race weekend, Mercedes are expected to prevail, but the threat of Ferrari this season is as strong as ever as the opening race in Melbourne suggested. “I’m excited at the thought of more races like Melbourne” said Hamilton. “Bahrain has been entertaining for the past two seasons, so more of the same would be great” Hamilton added, as he clearly relishes the challenge from Scuderia Ferrari.
Bahrain is all set for another thrilling race, on a track which is more suited to Ferrari than it is Mercedes if anything, which will be interesting to see how close the two teams are. However, the question still remains, can Formula 1 go back to a point where there isn’t total domination from one team on the grid? For example 2012, a year where that saw seven different winners in the opening seven races of the season.
There is no question that Mercedes are clear favourites to take the Constructors Championship this year despite Hamilton’s comments, however the threat from Ferrari this year will challenge the Mercedes pair and hope to take them right to the wire. As spectators, there is nothing better than seeing direct competition on the track, and the rivalry would only be a benefit to neutrals if Ferrari were to compete with the might of Mercedes, in 2016.