With season’s three races complete, it is abundantly clear that team Mercedes will have a dominant position in Formula-one competitions in 2014 on account of technical superiority of their machines. If engine configurations are maintained for the 2015 season as well, as the authorities have already announced, Mercedes will continue to hold the upper hand until the end of 2015. It doesn’t mean that drivers racing other cars are disappointed – they are doing the utmost to match the Mercedes class. Champion driver Sebastian Vettel said at the conclusion of the Bahrain Grand Prix that Red Bull was fast making improvements, while admitting that Mercedes engines were still superior.
On a track lit by 5000 lamps, season’s third F1 race turned out to be a grand night-racing spectacle on the 10th anniversary of Bahrain’s F1 venue. But more importantly, the event became too frantic and more neck-to-neck than any other F1 race, run in the recent living memory. Mercedes German driver Nico Rosberg, who had secured the pole position yesterday, lost his position on the first corner itself, as Lewis Hamilton whizzed past him purposefully. The top two positions between Hamilton and Rosberg were hotly contested until the end, even with some pretty aggressive driving from both men. Rosberg did his best to regain the lead on several occasions and such attempts led to some fiercely close and dangerous-looking duels. At one time, when 10 laps were still remaining, even Mercedes’s technical head Paddy Lowe got anxious. He spoke to both Hamilton and Rosberg and asked them to ensure that both cars be brought home safely. Finally, they did but not before some breathtaking moments. Rosberg used softer tyres, so that he could add to his speed and tried to pass Hamilton on many corners but Hamilton was not to be outdone, as he fought off all such attempts. The two were side by side and pushing one another to the limits of the track in an obviously bitter fight for top honors. Lewis Hamilton finished first to win his second successive race in 2014, which also turned out to be another back-to-back finish for the team Mercedes. And what is more, Nico Rosberg finished on the podium for the third time in a row.
While the top two drivers indulged in the fight to getting an upper hand, the action behind them was no less thrilling. The two Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg fought a fierce battle for the third spot. Hulkenberg had been recovering from his Q2 exit on Saturday and for pretty long in the race Perez and Hulkenberg remained engaged in the duel for a place behind the 1-2 position of Mercedes. Perez has had a quiet start to the 2014 season but he helped Force India gain the podium finish. Near the end, Hulkenberg was challenged by Red Bull’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, who finally pushed Hulkenberg to the fifth spot. But Nico Hulkenberg’s woes didn’t end there. He had to keep a number of cars at bay, including Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas’ Williams and two Ferraris by Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. But he held on steadfastly to the number 5 position. Vettel finished sixth, Massa was seventh, Bottas eighth, Alonso ninth and Raikonnen tenth.
It was heartening to see the brave Australian, Daniel Riccardio, partly making up for two back-to-back disappointments in this season’s first two races. Recovering from the 10-place grid penalty at Sepang, Ricciardo began the race from the 13th spot and on his way, passed team-mate Sebastian Vettel to leave him at the sixth spot. Riccardio finally collected his first points from the race.
More thrills were added on the Manama race track, when the safety car had to come out 15 laps from finish, after Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado collided with Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez driving the Sauber. The accident looked dangerous but the drivers were not hurt. Maldonado was slapped a stop/go penalty and 5-place grid drop in the Chinese grand prix. Gutierrez had to be taken to hospital for checkup but he was declared fit.
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