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BLITHERING IN BAHRAIN

 

  Ah well, the pre-season testing is drawing to a close in sunny Bahrain where the weather is just a bit warmer than where most of the F1 workers hail from. I noticed it was a barmy 2 in London the other day. Some sort of order is appearing, which will please some but not others. Some that will not be happy are the true fans who have made it quite clear just what they think about this stupid double points issue and those, well unique, nose cones. Sometimes it’s hard to tell a F1 nose from a mandril’s arse.

 A Formula 1 nose cone

  Testing has suggested that if you have German power behind you, you will be at the pointy end, if you have Italian you will be in that sqidgy middle bit while the French are finding it all a bit hard at the moment. Even on the penultimate day of running Red Bull could not put in a single full lap with Herr Vettel spending three hours in the pits before coasting to a halt on his installation lap with electrical ”ishoos” and on his second attempt in the afternoon the Red Rag cried enough before it even got out of the pit lane. Ricciardo showed the car has basic pace with his time on Friday but they have still not managed a race simulation. Even Caterham and Marussia have done vastly more mileage than the reining champions.

 

  Meanwhile the Mercedes powered squads are jockeying amongst each other to be the pre-season champions. McLaren started quickly but have been not seemingly improving at the pace of its peers while Williams and |Force India have leapt to the front in the last couple of days. If that order is real then Sergio Perez, who set the best time on both Thursday and Friday, will not be able to get the grin off his dial for weeks. Massa and Bottas have both been rapid in the Williams while the Mercedes pair of Rosberg and Hamilton are just looking quietly ominous.

 

  In the Italian camp it’s hard to tell if the horse is prancing or limping as, although Kimi and King Fernando have been racking up decent mileage they have never been quite at the front. Not far back, but more than you would expect they would like. Marussia has surprised so far as the second best Ferrari powered car, again getting in some good distance and often even their times have been better than Sauber who are struggling with any number of problems, most often the new braking by wire set-up.

A Mandril's Arse?

 

  And the Renault boys… None of them have done a race run. Only Ricciardo has been able to put in a half way decent time as they are all having problems with the “power-unit”, mostly to do with overheating and power-recovery from the batteries. Caterham, quite possibly the most hideous of this years cars, has been the only one to be able to put some good mileage in, although as Kamui Kobayashi pointed out, they’d be better off bringing a GP2 car to Melbourne. Lotus struggle to get past 30-odd laps per day and are not showing any real pace while Toro Rosso are at best somewhere in the middle of times and laps and Sebastian Vettel has regularly been sitting at the bottom of the time-sheets because he has been regularly sitting on his bottom in the pits while the Red Rag boys try to find ways to cool the car.

 

  In other news from ‘round the traps Jacques Villeneuve (who will be joining Petter Solberg in the World Rally Cross championship) has been signed by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to do the Indy 500 which will pit him against his old mate Juan Pablo Montoya who has rejoined the series with Penske and all those young whippersnappers like Dixon, Power and Briscoe. And dual Olympic gold medallist Alessandro Zanardi will be back behind the wheel this year in a modified BMW in the Blancpain GT championship. Best of British to the lot of them.

 

  And finally – speaking of British – when the Malaysian Grand Prix comes around you will need to wait for a bit for the results etc as I will be joining some other hardy folk at the 72nd Goodwood Members Meeting. Considering their weather at the moment perhaps I can win for the house in swimming, I am Australian after all and there is a lot of water lying about down around those parts. Snow too, according to the MET but it is supposed to get up to a barmy 8 or 9 degrees by the end of March. Just a bit down on the 30 odd here in Sydney. Maybe I won’t go swimming after all…..

 

Sam Snape

 

02/03/2014