While his pole position in the desert sun was certainly laudable and, to be honest, unexpected, Nico Rosberg faces an extremely tough day in the race tomorrow. Immediately behind him are two of the favorites for the race tomorrow and the very promising Felipe Massa immediately behind them. Tire strategy, as always, will be the most important aspect of the Grand Prix tomorrow.
Felipe could arguably be considered the favorite for the race tomorrow, as his alternate strategy provides him the perfect opportunity to push at different, and perhaps more important, parts of the race. Starting 4th is a good position to begin with by itself, but the hard tires Felipe will be starting on could propel him to his first race victory since 2008.
Barring a terrible disaster, Felipe Massa will be leading the race after the medium tire-shodden cars and, will be able to use the clean air ahead of him to put in a series of fast laps to propel him to a legitimate lead. Using this type of strategy is what allowed Kimi Raikkonen to win in Melbourne from 7th on the grid. From 4th on the grid, however, it seems Felipe could has this win locked up before the race even starts. Do not count out Red Bull, Lotus or Felipe’s teammate, however. The Lotus drivers looked to be the best over longer stints during friday practice with the Red Bulls and Ferraris perhaps just a little bit faster, but lacking that extra bit of consistency that has become a trademark of the Lotus. All of this will add up to a very interesting mix of on track action and strategy comparison. If you thought China was a great race, then you will most likely adore the race tomorrow.
If you feel that the racing in Formula One these days is all fake, then you have a point. The DRS was arguably too helpful in China last weekend, turning on track battles into fleeting moments of positional dispute. In Bahrain passing is much harder, and the DRS zone on the infield straight will not guarantee a pass. The length is perfect for making passing opportunities arise without handing them out on a silver platter. If the GP2 feature race from this morning is anything to go by, we should see a lot of battles that take several nerve-bending, reflex-testing laps rather than the length of the main straight.
Personally, I have been torn between who I think will win the race. After FP2, I thought Kimi would walk away with the race, providing he started in the top-5. After third practice, I thought the race was Fernando’s for the taking (it still could be). Now, I really, genuinely believe this race is Felipe’s to lose. He has a fantastic strategy planned out that will allow him to run in clean air for much of the race. Providing the team allow it, Felipe is primed for this first Grand Prix win since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.