The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team head into this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit for round two of the 2016 Formula One world championship aiming to pick up where they left off in Australia after a 1-2 finish in Albert Park.
Nico Rosberg took victory ahead of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton who is aiming to do the double having taken victory here last year.
The Brackley based outfit may not have it all their own way in Bahrain as Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe explains:
Bahrain is quite a different track to Melbourne, so it will be interesting to see how we fare. One thing you can normally guarantee is that it will be dry. Unlike the rain-hit Melbourne weekend, this will provide plenty of opportunity for track time. Thanks to their evening timings, qualifying and the race in Bahrain see much cooler track temperatures than the mid-afternoon FP1 / FP3 sessions – making the latter somewhat unrepresentative. This potentially makes tyre selection even more of a factor. We know already that there is a marked difference between the allocations selected by competing teams for this race, so we could see a few surprises. A big positive from Melbourne was seeing how well the new tyre rules delivered in terms of strategy variation – and we expect to see more of the same here. We’ve seen close battles throughout the field in both years of twilight racing in Bahrain, so we look forward to hopefully providing another spectacular evening for the fans.
Nico Rosberg commented on the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix by saying:
We’ve stepped up our game once again with a fantastic car. But Ferrari were a real threat all weekend in Melbourne and it’s clear that we’ve got a big battle on our hands, so we have to keep pushing very hard. The new radio rules make things quite a big challenge. It’s tough out there – and for me it’s a good direction we’ve taken, giving the drivers more responsibility. The important thing is whether it’s what the fans want to see, so we need to listen to them. It’s Bahrain next – a track which always seems to provide entertainment for me! I’ve had some great battles there in the last two years with Lewis and also the Ferraris, so I’m expecting more of the same this time and very much looking forward to that. It was great to win the first race – but the aim is to come out on top at every step of the way this season, starting this weekend. There’s a long way to go…
Head of Mercedes Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff is looking forward to the race weekend in Bahrain but feels that although the team had a healthy gap in Australia the field could be closer at the Sakhir circuit.
Wolff also explained that the team were unanimous following the race on Sunday in their opposition to the new qualifying format which remains in place this weekend an opinion shared by everyone up and down the pit-lane. Wolff commented by saying:
We have made a solid start to the season. However, while our advantage in Melbourne was a healthy one, it was nevertheless close enough that those bad starts could easily have lost us the race. Bahrain is a track that should suit Ferrari, so we expect even smaller gaps and a very close match this weekend. After a successful debut for the new tyre regulations last time out, we can also expect an interesting strategy battle during the race – so there is plenty to look forward to. This weekend we will see the new qualifying system continue after a less-than-impressive debut in Australia. The teams were unanimous in their opinion of it on Sunday in Melbourne and it wasn’t a positive opinion. We haven’t found the right format with this change and it’s hard to see how it might be more entertaining for the fans this weekend in Bahrain. The sport is under scrutiny on this matter, so careful thought is required in order to make coordinated, intelligent steps forward from the position we are in right now. The fans want close racing, in a format they can understand, between the best drivers and cars in the world – in that order. We should be capable of delivering that to the people in the grandstands and watching around the world.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton commented on the race by saying:
I’m excited at the thought of more races like Melbourne. There are going to be weekends where we’re a few seconds up the road from Ferrari, races where it’s wheel to wheel and races where they might be ahead. We really don’t know – and that’s exciting. I have a good feeling about my pace. I was ahead all weekend until the race start last time out, so I’m confident heading to Bahrain. It’s been entertaining on track for the past two seasons there, so more of the same would be great! There’s been a lot of talk about the rules and whether the drivers should be more involved in decision making. It’s not our job to come up with ideas and we all have different opinions anyway. But personally, I think we need more mechanical grip and less aero wake coming off the back of the cars so we can get close and overtake. Give us five seconds’ worth of lap time from aero and nothing will change – we’ll just be driving faster. I speak as somebody who loves this sport and loves racing. I don’t have all the answers – but I know that the changes we’re making won’t deliver better racing.