Bahrain approaches. Will we have a fourth different winner in as many races come the checkered flag on Sunday? With the competitive order fluctuating as it has been over the past few weeks, this would not be at all a surprise. With the likes of Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, and Romain Grosjean all in a position to be the next winner in Formula One, we should be in for one heck of a race this weekend.
On the minds of many are the Pirelli tires. These frustrating sources of controversy have caused many a headache in he paddock recently. Their ability for the two soft compounds to create fantastic performance for a couple of laps and then fall off the pace in abrupt fashion is in stark contrast with the two harder compounds which have been relatively consistent in terms of life and pace.
These discrepancies in the tires have created a vast divide amongst fans ever since their introduction in 2011. These days, this divide has narrowed. For the worse. Popular consensus reveals a frighteningly negative sentiment towards Pirelli’s latest construction, and it looks to only grow this weekend. We will see arguably the hottest temperatures of the season in Bahrain. Couple that with an abbrasive and dusty track, and you have a recipe for potential disaster. Don’t expect it, though, because Pirelli always seem to dig themselves out of immediate holes over race weekends, no matter how much we wish to bury them further.
However, don’t expect things to be perfect, either. There is nothing to suggest that Pirelli won’t finally crack under the immense pressure they face this weekend. But, as I have said earlier, there is nothing to suggest they will. It seems that Pirelli’s performances are about as unpredicable as the races this season.
Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes look set to dominate the weekend, just as before. However, circumstances could play to anyone of these teams depending on the conditions of the track. The hotter the surface, the more likely the Enstone squad should triumph. Conversely, the cooler the track, the more likely the Mercedes duo should come on song. This perhaps puts Ferrari and Red Bull in the better position, as both have seemed competitive in both conditions. We will, as ever, have to wait and see at the checkered flag.
Mclaren are, like Ferrari last season, in damage limitation mode. They will look to score as many points as possible and most likely will pin their hopes on a brilliantly executed alternate strategy to get themselves in the top-5. However, the likes of Force India and the relatively rejuvinated Sauber look set to be Mclaren’s biggest competitors. Nico Hulkenberg’s brilliant performance in the first half of the Chinese Grand Prix and his subsequent and as yet still mysterious drop in performance in the second half will perhaps put more pressure on the Swiss-based team, but they at least have a consistently brilliant driver in Nico to bring the best out of any machinery.
Lower down the order, the dream start to the season for Jules Bianchi and Marussia looks set to continue. Their obvious performance advantage over Caterham sets a very good base-line for a successful 2013, and they will look to continue their run of good form in Bahrain.
Civil unrest has also taken some headlines this week, with protests against the Grand Prix casting a rather negative light on the event. Nevertheless, Formula One is here to neither create nor solve any political or social unrest anywhere it goes. Formula One is here to entertain and provide a spectacle to thousands of paying customers. If they accomplish their goal, then we should be in for another exciting, if slightly artificial, race this Sunday.