A celebrated Formula 1 journalist with more than 500 consecutive Grands Prix experiences, David Tremayne is one of those well-known paddock figures who have seen it all, met all of them and wrote about it over nearly five decades of F1 racing. Here, he shares his hot takes after the second round of the 2019 season in Bahrain …
Leclerc has landed
The last (only) time that I felt absolutely convinced that I was watching a future world champion in action in the lowest formulas was with Ayrton Senna in 1983. Now that did not require much cleverness, of course, because it was so. extraordinarily obvious. But I must say that these were the impulses of Charles Leclerc in GP3 and F2 that the way he matured so gracefully in Bahrain was no surprise, and of course I was not alone in thinking about it either. To be honest, I kind of expected it in Australia.
He barely put a wrong wheel, even after being assaulted by Sebastian and Valtteri at first, defended hard against Lewis, then took over and was riding in the race when misfortune struck.
I was so impressed with his way of dealing with the disappointment of having his childhood dream snatched away as I had been by his driving.
"These things happen" – Leclerc in his Bahrain, near miss
MotoGP commentator Toby Moody used to talk about the best dogs – Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoney – as aliens because they could do things from the other world. Sure enough, Sebastian, Lewis and Max now know that another alien has landed. And even at the beginning of the game, it looks alarmingly well-rounded. He may not have won in Bahrain, but in five or six years I'd bet we're counting Vettel's number of victories for this gracious young man from Monaco.
Vettel looks vulnerable … again
Many of us imagine when the news leaked about Charles Leclerc's involvement in Ferrari if we could see Sebastian Vettel fall into the valley he experienced at Red Bull when he joined Daniel Ricciardo in 2014.
The team would not let Charles overtake Seb as soon as he picked him up in Melbourne, but here they asked him to wait two laps before trying. In the end, he needed just one, before the opportunity was eliminated, and the way he passed the outside of his teammate in the first round and after that with the scarper must have been a serious blow to self-esteem of the champion.
So Seb was the victim of his old Nemesis Lewis Hamilton, who passed him so carefree on the outside of turn 4 on lap 38 that he promptly turned.
Was that a worrying sign that he remains vulnerable under pressure? Or just one of those things? Lewis was quick to defend him, but seeing how the German recovers from a poor race in Bahrain will be an important control point in China.
BAHRAIN GP: Vettel turns in a battle Hamilton swirling the wheel
Mercedes without pull?!
When was the last time you heard a Mercedes driver complain about the lack of speed in a straight line?
No, I do not remember either.
And yet there was Lewis, giving voice to the unthinkable after qualifying, while admitting to surprise that he had managed to get so close – 0.324s – to the leading Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
Here is the gene: Seb was the fastest in the speed trap in quali at 327.7 km / h, while Lewis was only 10 at 322.8. Lando was fastest in his McLaren with a Renault engine at the finish line, at 300.5km / h, as Valtteri was the leader of Merc in 10th place at 294.5. Charles was the fastest at 250.6 km / h through Intermediate 1, with Valtteri in eighth at 248.5. And through Intermediate 2, Charles was again at the top with 272.4 km / h, with Lewis at sixth, 271.0.
It is clear that many factors affect straight-line speed, including wing angles and downforce levels, and it may be noted that Lance Stroll's Mercedes-powered Racing Point reached 326.1 km / h and the Williams engine 324.3 of George Russell.
Toto Wolff launched an immediate investigation to see if this was a specific problem for a car or track and, in the second case, whether the lack of power or the excessive drag were down. Anyway, do not be surprised to see an upgrade of a Mercedes in the not-too-distant future, even if Lewis's fastest lap was just one tenth away from Charles.
BAHRAIN GP: Hamilton tries unsuccessfully to keep Vettel at bay
Alonso will be looking forward to experiencing the 2019 McLaren
It would be fanciful and unfair for the underestimated Pat Fry and the McLaren design team to suggest that the presence of new technical director James Key and new managing director Andreas Seidl in Bahrain was responsible for the sudden surge of orange. fortune of the team.
But I think it's fair to say that the seventh on the grid for Carlos Sainz and 10th for Lando Norris (ninth after Romain Grosjean's penalty) was a surprise for the team. As was the strength of Carlos's attack on his former Toro Rosso partner Max Verstappen in the opening laps. This performance was a flash of old McLaren but unfortunately came to an end when Sainz and Verstappen came into contention on Turn 4 on the fourth lap, but Lando brought home the bacon with a great sixth to give a big boost to Woking's clothes. points of the year.
But here's the thing. Fernando Alonso was also in town and is testing the MCL34 at this week's Pirelli test at Sakhir, and none of us assume he's not going for a low-fuel race just to see what the car can actually do. So what happens if he decides he is so competitive that he would like to compete? And which driver would management choose to "rest"?
Some may see this as a good problem, others as something that would risk destabilizing the team when they are starting to look respectable again.
What on earth is happening at Renault?
Charles Leclerc and Ferrari had every right to feel suffocated in Bahrain, but at Renault you could cut the atmosphere with a knife.
Forget that Daniel Ricciardo had his RS19 in the lead for about a mile on the 15th lap, or that Nico Hulkenberg made the fastest lap at one point, or even that they ran into a showdown in the first round on the 41st lap when they got a little close during an intra-team fight as their different strategies worked out (Danny Ric was in a single stop, the Hulk in two).
The kicker was when both cars, running in sixth and 10 places, crashed on the same part of the track – Turn 2 – on the same lap – 54. That was nine valuable and much needed points down the drain …
After suffering electronic mapping problems again in qualifying, having the two cars giving up with suspected MGU-K crashes was enough to make a furious Cyril Abiteboul furious, especially as it was the Achilles' heel of the car in 2018.
Much more of that, and the French can resort to rolling heads …
BAHRAIN GP: Safety car after late double-DNF for Renault
Ferrari reaches another milestone
The way things are going lately compared to McLaren and Williams, you can forgive yourself for believing that Ferrari already had all the statistical records of F1.
But the qualifying suspension courtesy of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel for the first time only put them at the same level as McLaren and Williams when it comes to monopolizing the front row of the grid. All three teams now have 62 units.
I would not bet against Ferrari, significantly redefining that record over the course of the season.
Respect Queen in Bahrain
F1 is in a very good place now. And I think that was underscored by the way the three top riders talked cheerfully during Paul di Resta's post-qualifying interviews on Sky TV.
While Charles was telling the world how good it was to have pole position for the first time, Lewis passed and congratulated him before leaving with Seb. These two had their moments in the past, but it was clear that there was a strong sense of camaraderie between them, and Lewis was talking to Charles when Seb was being grilled.
After the race, Lewis grabbed Charles while he was being interviewed, to make a compliment that was clearly genuine, and later stated that he would soon be winning races as well as Valtteri.
There may be zero quarter given or asked when they are on track, but there is always something compelling for me when the fraternity of pilots is illustrated so well. It's like the fellowship of test pilots in The Right Stuff days.
Norris shows his nous
I'm more and more impressed with Lando Norris, and I'm not just talking about his speed on the rails, or the fact that he ranks in the top ten in his Grands Prix to this day or because he drove a blinder. in Bahrain to mark their first points in the championship with a great sixth place for McLaren.
This weekend he was not ashamed to defend Romain Grosjean when the French inadvertently stopped him in the first qualifying session, or, more importantly, put the real blame on Sebastian Vettel's door, he suggested, breaking the "unwritten law" overtaking another rider before the final corner. It takes courage for a novice to criticize a multiple champion, but there were people in power who agreed to his comment, although there were no effective ways to penalize the Ferrari driver.
Norris delighted with McLaren after scoring the first points of F1
Giving Romain a penalty spot and a three-place grid fall seemed a bit hard for me at the beginning, until I saw the official footage of the incident.
Having been forced to retreat to let Seb go, Romain was doing only 72 km / h when Lando was only 29 meters behind and approaching him at 208! They arrived within 10 meters of a massive collision, hence the punishment. If Romain had been left out of the race line, as well as Daniel Ricciardo, while Lando was passing his Renault, everything would have worked, and although Romain claimed that his team should have informed him about Lando's approach, the stewards decided that he should be aware of this. himself since he was the guy with the steering wheel in his hands, especially at the slow speed he was going.
This "unwritten law" may be something that the bureaucracy has another look at in the races to come.
QUALIFICATION: A Tight Call to Norris with Grosjean
Ocon playing the waiting game
I think everyone took advantage of Netflix's excellent vision of F1: Drive to Survive.
There are some great moments, not least of the extremely fun Guenther Steiner, which is always good value for money, as he never dares to tell as it is. But for me, the guy who comes across is Esteban Ocon.
I ventured into the Mercedes for some lunch on Friday, and realized that the Frenchman was sitting in silence observing the practice of F2. I gave him my opinion on Netflix and reminded him of a conversation we had in Singapore when he joined Manor, in the sense that he should never let his personality change. He did not, and he replied that in life you just have to be yourself. Amen to that.
I also reminded him that he is not the only sapper who had to sit and wait for his chance. Mika Hakkinen did just that in 1993 at McLaren and Fernando Alonso at Renault in 2002. The two subsequently seemed to do very well, and I'm sure that Esteban too, when the opportunity hits again.
Mick and Tick – very, very early?
First and second place finishers at the 2018 FIA Formula 3 European Championship – Mick Schumacher and Dan Ticktum – will have their first taste of hybrid turbo F1 power the week after the Bahrain Grand Prix, as they test for Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, and Red Bull respectively in Bahrain this week.
There are those who believe that this is putting both under a lot of pressure. I disagree. Especially since Mick started Sunday's F2 Sprint Race from pole after finishing eighth in Saturday's Race Feature.
I find it a little strange that he drives the Ferrari SF90 today and then the Alfa C38 tomorrow instead of the other, but I'm sure he'll take it.
GALLERY: Schumacher and Alonso on track in Bahrain
And I'm excited to see what Dan will do. I've seen him for a few years and I can see his appeal to Helmut Marko. The good doctor likes pilots, and he's okay, but he also has a bit of a bad boy that probably resembles the Austrian teenage veteran when he and Jochen Rindt used to compete between villagers from village to village, and whoever. If he got into trouble, he was simply left behind by the others to defend themselves.
Give it another year or two – maybe even less – and hope to see the two newcomers competing in the Great League.