Bahrain GP: What Can We Expect?

Philip Boeckman Formula One

The second round of the 2018 Formula One season arrives in Bahrain this weekend, with the expectation that Mercedes will put the misery of Australia behind them and claim a first win of the season. 

Ferrari, however, will have other things on their mind, specifically claiming back-to-back wins and a second in a row at Bahrain.

Do they really have the pace to compete with Mercedes this season? Time will tell, but do not refer to Melbourne a fortnight ago as evidence that they can. Sebastian Vettel and his team benefited hugely from genius pit lane strategy during the Virtual Safety Car to claim victory. Beforehand, Lewis Hamilton was cruising and on course to claim his first win of the season.

However, it can also be argued that Ferrari and Vettel had the pace to maintain the lead for effectively half of the race, so is that not enough to suggest they have the raw pace to challenge for the drivers and constructors title this year?

Red Bull, meanwhile, claimed the fastest lap in Melbourne, so they cannot be ruled out as a potential Mercedes challenger this year. It seems unlikely, however; Red Bull look to have improved since last season, but they'd need to have had a huge overhaul if they are to compete consistently this season. A win or two is the best they can hope for in 2018.

Haas' performance in Bahrain is an intriguing prospect. Up until their pit-lane mishap in Melbourne, Haas were flying high and were considered the 'best of the rest' behind Mercedes and Ferrari, comfortably fending off the Red Bulls.

This weekend in Bahrain, will they produce similar performances? Whilst some rivals have mooted grievances at they way Haas have embedded themselves in the midfield - by effectively purchasing Ferrari components and making a Ferrari-lite challenger - they are working well within FiA rules and there is no legal question mark hanging over them. 

Their brake system has been their achilles heal during the past two seasons. Assuming they perfect that issue, they should head up the midfield pack alongside a resurgent McLaren and Force India.

Talking of McLaren, was Melbourne a false dawn, or are they slowly getting back to where they belong? ESPN have referred to the P5 finish in Australia as a 'freak result', which is a bit harsh. Had the Haas' cars not retired, Fernando Alonso would likely have finished in eighth place; a position in line with how they ended last season. The British team will be expecting upgrades as the season goes on, so it'd be a disappointment if they didn't progress up the grid as we head towards the Summer calendar. 

Philip Boeckman

Huge fan of @F1 and Motor Racing in general. I blog about anything and everything from the world of Formula 1