5 things we learned from the Bahrain Grand Prix

17 April 2017 12:24

Sebastian Vettel has taken sole control of the Formula One World Championship after his victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Vettel, the 29-year-old Ferrari driver, is now seven points clear of Lewis Hamilton, who crossed the line in second place.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things we learned from Sunday's race in the desert.

1. Mercedes cracking under pressure?

Mercedes may have claimed a hat-trick of consecutive drivers' and constructors' championships, but this is the first year in which they have had to deal with another team. That offers up an altogether different proposition, and Mercedes showed signs of getting it wrong on Sunday. A problem with their power generator on the grid left Valtteri Bottas with too much air in his tyres during his first stint. Then Bottas' and Hamilton's first pit stops were slow, with the latter penalised for trying to block Daniel Ricciardo (it turned out he need not have bothered). Mercedes then spent seven laps dithering over whether to order Bottas out of Hamilton's way. By the time they decided he should, Vettel was too far up the road for Hamilton to catch. Considering Mercedes locked out the front row in qualifying - and Hamilton probably had a quicker car than Vettel - it will not be marked down as one of the team's finest races.

2. Vettel on top of his game

Vettel has got his mojo back. The four-time world champion, endured a torrid time last year, and was even warned by the Ferrari hierarchy that he would have to earn his next contract - with his current deal expiring at the end of this season. The German however, is doing just that. He was faster out of the blocks than Hamilton in Bahrain, and then later on the brakes at turn one, to get ahead of his title rival. He, and Ferrari, then made the undercut (at the opening round of pit stops) work to perfection. A flawless drive from then on in ensured he returned to the top of the standings.

3. Team orders at Mercedes

Nico Rosberg's retirement effectively made Hamilton the defacto number one at Mercedes, and while Bottas insisted he did not join to play second fiddle to the Briton, Sunday's race provided the first glimpse of what may be to come for the Finn. After it was deemed that he was slowing Hamilton up, Bottas, who started the race from pole, was ordered to move out of his team-mate's way. A downbeat Bottas said: "It is the worst thing you can hear as a driver." Explaining the decision, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added: "It is not what we have done the past couple of years. But the situation is different now. So it needs a proper analysis of what it means and where we are."

4. What's going on at McLaren?

McLaren's relationship with Honda hit another low on Sunday after engine problems contributed to one of their cars failing to start the race, and the one which did, not making it to the end. An engine fault prevented Stoffel Vandoorne from getting on to the grid while Fernando Alonso, who retired in the closing stages, blasted Honda through a series of angry radio transmissions. "I have never raced with less power in my life," he yelled at one stage. Roll on the Indianapolis 500.

5. Pits for Palmer

Britain's Jolyon Palmer is coming under increasing pressure at Renault after yet another race to forget. While the 26-year-old from Horsham qualified a career-high 10th he struggled for pace and finished last of the 13 runners who got to the end. He also damaged his front wing following a tangle with the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat, while his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg finished in the points. Paddock speculation that Renault are sniffing around Alonso for next year is unlikely to do little to improve Palmer's mood.

Source: PA