It’s been an interesting week for the Formula 1 circus. The Bahrain Grand Prix – or as Bernie Ecclestone likes to call it – the ‘Who wouldn’t love to live here with all the sunshine and just the right amount of oppression?’ Grand Prix has been a major talking point, but rarely because of the racing. In between dodging petrol-bombs and ignoring ethical issues, the teams have managed to get their cars on the track and on the evidence of qualifying, we should be in store for an eventful afternoon in the desert.
Sebastian Vettel’s (Red Bull) season to date has gone about as well as anti-Bahraini government protest, but the reigning World Champion finally got it together in a qualifying session to claim his first pole position of the season. Alongside him on the grid, is Lewis Hamilton (McLaren).
The McLaren driver got back together with his Pussycat Doll earlier this year, but the more remarkable achievement is leading the F1 Drivers’ Championship without having won a race. He has been consistent however and his habit of finishing second isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it might explain why Nicole was willing to give him a second chance. Hamilton wasn’t too upset with missing out on top spot on the grid. “I’m definitely very happy with the job we’ve done,” he glass-half-fulled.
Behind them, Mark Webber of Red Bull will do his menacing, gruff thing from third. Despite Vettel’s elated finger-wagging after bagging pole, Webber was more Australian, pointing out he hadn’t been expecting much based on some underwhelming practice sessions. “Seb did a good lap. We are happy to be towards the front, after there was a big gap on Friday in particular. We are pretty surprised,” said the 35 year old.
Dandruff-free shampoo peddler, Jenson Button in fourth. The McLaren driver is the only one of the top four to have won in Bahrain before. That was back in 2009 when the Brawn GP car was hosing everyone else. It’s a different story these days. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) couldn’t recapture the form he had in China, but fifth on a grid is a decent effort and he’s well positioned to take advantage of any mistakes that happen further up the road.
Things got a bit ‘tortoise and the hare’ for Michael Schumacher and he got dumped out of qualifying early on. Despite having one of the fastest cars on the grid, Schumie seemed to be a bit nonchalant in the first part of the session and got eliminated by Pastor Maldonado who surprised everyone by clawing his way into the top 17.
The seven time world champion starts from 18th on the grid which should mean we’re in for plenty of overly-aggressive moves and subsequent angry fists being waved in the German’s direction. He won the race back in 2004, but it’s going to take a lot of running people off the road to get into the frame this time around.
Vettel is the 13/8 favourite to win the race, but Hamilton is 2/1 and snapping at his rear wing disffuser. Button is an interesting bet at 5/1. When it comes to winning in Bahrain, he’s head and shoulders above his main rivals.