Bahrain Saturday Review: No second fiddle for Valtteri

[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”41″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_pro_slideshow” image_crop=”0″ image_pan=”1″ show_playback_controls=”1″ show_captions=”0″ caption_class=”caption_overlay_bottom” caption_height=”70″ aspect_ratio=”1.5″ width=”100″ width_unit=”%” transition=”fade” transition_speed=”1″ slideshow_speed=”5″ border_size=”0″ border_color=”#ffffff” ngg_triggers_display=”always” is_ecommerce_enabled=”0″ order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]Day two in Bahrain brought more F1 goodness, and with it, another case of a pecking order that was quite literally night and day.

Taking place under the afternoon sun, FP3 was a curious affair, its combination of 34-degree heat and heavy winds making it particularly precarious to navigate.

Drivers and teams alike were put off by the conditions, with neither Mercedes, Ferrari nor Red Bull setting a time in the first 45 minutes, while Romain Grosjean struggled for balance and took out his frustrations on the turn 4 wall.

Surprisingly, the fastest time belonged to Max Verstappen, but just as unsurprisingly, it didn’t hold up in qualifying.

Moving on to the hour of power, and what an hour it ended up being for Valtteri Bottas. With electro house god (a.k.a. Steve Aoki) taking a break from Easter festivities to watch from the garage, the Finn took the first pole of his career, giving a much-needed response to the criticism that’s been steadily building this season.

Could Lewis Hamilton have taken pole had he not made a mistake on his final lap? Maybe, however sometimes it’s not all about being the fastest driver, but the steadiest. An impressive job from Valtteri, and one that means for at least tonight, he’s not second-fiddle.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ferrari may have just experienced the first significant disappointment of their season after finishing almost half-a-second down on Mercedes.

Whatever the aero changes to their wing and floor have been, the fact remains they’re further adrift than at either of the previous two races. Maybe their excellent long-run pace will make the difference tomorrow, but Saturday remains the domain of the Silver arrows for the time being.

Quick Hits:

After making massive gains on the 2016 pole time in China, Bahrain’s was only seven-tenths off its predecessor, which can’t be ideal. It seems that with the added width 2017’s cars have struggled to “punch through” the air-resistance Bahrain offers.

Renault deserve plenty of plaudits for getting two cars through to Q3 for the first time this season. At some point, they’re going to be expected to start performing like the high-budgeted factory team they are, and to that end this was a good step in the right direction.

Team radio is used for a lot of things, namely instructions, complaints and questions – but now we can add off-key renditions of “Happy Birthday” to that list thanks to Romain Grosjean.

I wonder what McLaren has used more of: power unit components, or Fernando Alonso’s patience?

Apparently those few extra weeks in the gym doing kegels (at least, that’s what I’m assuming he was doing) have paid off for Pascal Wehrlein, getting P13 in the Sauber. With an engine that will only get more dated, they need to seize every small opening they get.