April 17th, 2013 (F1plus/R. Creed).- Before racing begins in Bahrain we take a look at five of the things you should be watching out for. From the inconsistency of tyres to the protests in the country these are the five key stories to look out for this weekend:
Tyres once again played a big role in the last round of the championship. Strategy is dependent on where you start and often if you are willing to take a gamble. Some fans have suggested tyres which last just six laps are just plain ridiculous- whilst the intention may have been to make racing exciting having to run tyres which last just a few laps can make or break a driver’s race. Pirelli say they expect a three stop race and the compounds are the same as in China - medium and soft. Bahrain will most likely see split strategies all the way down the field.
The Mexican’s form over the last few races has been a hot topic of conversation. These discussions will continue after McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh suggested Perez needed to “toughen up” in an interview with The Guardian. Whitmarsh said the performance of teammate Jenson Button was adding to the pressure on Perez who is under a lot of scrutiny after moving to the top team. Perez did prove he is more than happy to show some aggression after a tangle with Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday- whether this will continue in Bahrain and later races only time will tell.
F1will return to racing in Bahrain amid fresh protests concerning holding a Grand Prix in the country. The unease in the country is not quite at the level of previous years but security issues will once again be at the forefront of the team’s minds. Protests in 2011 saw the race canceled whilst in 2012 the race went ahead however several teams including Force India were caught up in protests. Following a protest on Thursday night Force India did not take part in FP2 in order to return to their hotel before sunset. The FIA and FOM, which runs the commercial side of the sport, have been largely silent on the political protests in the lead-up to the event.
Two drivers will face penalties in Bahrain after incidents in China. Mark Webber will drop three grid places after hitting Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso as the two fought for position. Rookie driver Esteban Gutierrez will drop five places on the grid after ending both his and Force India driver Adrian Sutil’s race when he failed to stop, driving into the back of the German driver. It will be interesting to see the two driver’s performance on Saturday to minimize their penalties and also on Sunday to see how they progress through the field. A number of drivers also escaped penalty in China over the use of DRS in yellow flag zones- will the FIA have sorted out the telemetry issue in Bahrain.
Ricciardo and Toro Rosso
After his best ever Grand Prix finish will Daniel Ricciardo be able to continue his good form and score points in Bahrain. The Toro Rosso driver qualified well and kept his cool in the race in China to finish seventh and take home six points. The team will be happy after beating Sauber and Force India at the race but it is not yet know if their pace will allow them to continue to compete with these teams. However both Ricciardo and Toro Rosso are in the best position possible heading to Bahrain.