Bahrain this weekend hosts race two in the 2019 Formula One calendar and all eyes will be on Ferrari. Maranello suffered a major blow in Australia and will hope for a greater turn of speed.
But, according to pundits, Melbourne does not suit the Ferrari and the boot could be on the other foot.
I wait for that with bated breath. It certainly appeared that Mercedes had all their ducks in a row. Even with a severely damaged floor, Lewis Hamilton managed to fend off the challenge from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to hold on to second, as team-mate Valtteri Bottas claimed the first victory of 2019.
Interestingly, Verstappen does not agree with Dr Helmut Marko’s euphoria or his prediction that Red Bull could win the title this year. The young Dutchman was far more conservative and said so. In the team’s pre-Bahrain release, he is reported as stating: “Starting the season with a podium in Australia is positive, but Melbourne is not a typical circuit, so we cannot get carried away. I don’t think we will really know where we stand until after China (round three).”
But Toto Wolff, team chief of Mercedes, believes Red Bull Honda must be considered as a real threat in this year’s title chase. Mind you, this is the same man who said the new engine from Mercedes was not what they expected during testing. I had to chuckle at the problem experienced at the start of the Australian Grand Prix by Robert Kubica and Pierre Gasly.
Kubica was behind Carlos Sainz on the grid and Gasly tucked up under the rear wing of Daniil Kvyat. Significantly, they were all at the back of the field. As you know, in a bid to increase overtaking, modifications were made to the car’s aerodynamics.
A much wider front wing and a wider and higher rear wing were part of the solution, but there was an issue that no one had foreseen. Sitting low in an F1 car a long way back on the grid with an enlarged rear wing in front of you meant was impossible to see the start lights. Oops. This problem will apparently be resolved by this weekend. So a new saying is born. Now you can accuse someone of “not seeing the lights for the wings”.