Vettel Claims Back To Back Wins In Bahrain

Philip Boeckman Bahrain Grand Prix

For Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari, the omen looks supremely positive. Not since 1982 has a driver who has won the first two races of a season not gone on to claim the World Championship title. That season, Alain Prost lost out to Keke Rosberg, who won the title despite only winning one race that year.

When told of that stat on the podium, race winner Sebastian Vettel played down the trend and simply said that race calendars are longer these days, dispelling any expectation and lowering the pressure on him.

Deep down, however, the German will be delighted with how the 2018 Formula One season hast started, as will his Ferrari bosses.

Ferrari looked every inch the potential title winners yesterday in the desert. The way Vettel fended off Valterri Bottas, having dealt with a strategy shift midway through the race and effectively racing on bald tires for the final laps, speaks volumes of where the car is at and how focused the driver is to win a fifth world title.

The pre-season talk was of a rapid Mercedes that was once again ready to power through to another Constructors' and Drivers' title. Ferrari showed signs of improvement, but the way they've started this season suggests they will go the distance this year and push the Mercs all the way.

For Lewis Hamilton, the race was one of damage limitation. The Briton qualified with a 5-place grid penalty on Saturday, owing to a gearbox change. During the race yesterday, the World Champion zoomed from P9 to P4 rather swiftly, before eventually locking out the third and final podium sport. It means he already trails Vettel by 17 points in the driver standings.

However, it's not time to draw any conclusions; Vettel and Ferrari started last season in a similar fashion, winning two of the opening three races, with the German racing into an early-season lead in the standings. After the Summer break, normal service was resumed and Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes outfit swarmed to what was a comfortable Driver and Constructor win come October.

Ferrari seem better equipped this year to launch a sustained title charge that will last beyond the summer break and the departure of the European section of the calendar, from September onwards.

Elsewhere, what an achievement for Toro Rosso; their incredibly risky decision to shift to Honda for this season has paid off hugely in the opening part of the season. Pierre Gasly finished in P4 yesterday, a brilliant performance for a sister car and a team that was expected to prop up the midfield this year.

So to, Haas have started this season in very promising fashion. Were it not for a pitlane mix-up in the opening race in Melbourne, they likely would've recorded a P5 finish, and yesterday's 5th place effort represents their best ever start to a season.

The mild McLaren resurgence also continued this weekend, with Fernando Alonso finishing in P7 to lift him up to 4th in the Drivers' standings; it's been a while since the Spaniard can look at the table without a grimace.



Liberty Unveils Future For Formula One

Formula One Philip Boeckman

Liberty have tabled a 'take it or leave it' series of proposals that will drastically reform Formula One, in a move to take back control from the big players within the paddock.

The new owners were always expected to introduce changes to the sport when the current Concorde Agreement ends in 2020/21, but according to some sources, it was less suggestions and a meeting of discussion and more an enforcement of regulations.

It seems Liberty have called the bluff of the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes; the two biggest teams in the sport were vehemently against introducing budget caps and spend limits within F1, even threatening to pull out and launch a rival series if their demands weren't met.

Liberty have seemingly dismissed those threats and have gone through with their promises. The major talking points from the list of new regulations include:

  • A move towards more standard parts within the paddock, with the exception of aerodynamics, suspension and engines.
  • An emphasis on improving the sound of the cars, the power of them, plus the desire to reduce penalties.
  • The introduction of a $150m cost cap and an encouragement to spend budgets more wisely.

The latter may generate some cause for concern for the bigger players. Such an introduction would force the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. Although the regulations provide them with a two year period of grace to overhaul their payroll, news of potential job losses will not go down well and could well prove to be a PR disaster for Liberty.

Currently, money is handed out to the ten teams on the grid based on performance and heritage. Ferrari, having been a founding father of Formula One and essentially brings in the lion's share of wealth into the sport (think F1 and you think of Ferrari), collect a heritage bonus too and so enjoy a rather lucrative spot on the grid.

They would still receive such privileges, but on a much narrower scale. 

Immediately after the meeting, Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene and Mercedes' pair Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda were pictured discussing what was presumed to be the fallout from the Liberty announcement.