The dispute between Mercedes and Red Bull that was defined off the track

Toto Wolff and Christian Horner demand more clarity from the FIA ​​to establish limits for overtaking after what happened at the Bahrain GP.


The result of Bahrain Grand Prix de F1 held in Sakhir It may seem obvious, but it was far from it. The scene of the race was a practically flat circuit with a relative humidity of 52% and winds of up to 47 km / h that spread the fine sand of the desert on the asphalt and the cars still in the initial stage of development. A list of factors that can only happen again at the end of the season, when the category returns to the region. The next stage, on April 18, in Imola, it will have a very different atmosphere.

Faced with such a long list, a general analysis of the performances of the 20 drivers indicates some probabilities: the fight for the title of the season will be between Lewis Hamilton y Max Verstappen and as tough as 2016, when English was defeated by German Nico Rosberg in an epic battle. McLaren y Ferrari they should have the company of AlphaTauri in the dispute for the third-team place on the grid and, at the end of the grid, Williams has a chance to leave the team Haas in the spotlight of the championship.

The Bahrain GP start with Verstappen and Hamilton fighting for victory. Photo: Bryn Lennon / Getty Images.

Ultimately, the overriding factor in Hamilton's victory was a mistake by Verstappen. By completing a brilliant overtake on the opponent as they both went through Turn 4 on 53 of 56 laps of the course. Max overtook Lewis and resumed the lead he had already held for much of the race starting from pole. It happens that, to complete the maneuver, the Dutchman left the track with all four wheels, a situation that made him liable to be penalized with a charge of at least five seconds.

His statements that he could open a five-second lead over the next three laps were reminiscent of the hard-hitting and fighter Max from his early days, but he was overly optimistic. At the end of the race, the Dutchman questioned the team's decision and declared over the radio that, "I'd rather finish second trying to open a five-second lead than finish second under those conditions", a reference to the penalty that was supposed to be applied. Christian horner, head of Red Bull, chose to play for safety and his decision makes clear the inconsistency of the FIA ​​when it comes to applying sanctions in such cases.

The possibility of a punishment of the protagonists of the race brought together the two top managers of Mercedes y Red Bull, Toto wolff and Horner, respectively, around the inconsistency of the race director, the Australian Michael Masi, by making clear what it would be to be subject to punishment and what it would not be. In their opinion, the rules were changed during the race and during the broadcast of the competition, Mercedes' message to Hamilton could be heard to avoid overusing the pianos at Turn 4. Wolff told the English newspaper The Guardian that "Before the race it was said that (exceeding) the limits of turn 4 would not be a case of punishment, but during the race we heard that such maneuvers would be punishable."

Classic EnginesMasi clarified that this section, "It would not be guarded, but the pilots would not be able to take advantage of when going off the track in that section." The mess is not new, far from it, and it only grows over time, even in other categories. Drivers complain that sports commissioners have never been inside a race car to find out what happens in a position dispute, a statement that applies to the absolute majority of these officials.

Team leaders use the loopholes that ambiguous definitions allow to gain an advantage, but as they increasingly reason with business logic, they are quicker than top hats to find and propose solutions - not necessarily unbiased. Who loses with this is the public who loves to see two, three or more cars competing for brakes and positions.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2021
Lewis Hamilton withstood the attacks of Max Verstappen and won in the opening of the tournament, something he had not done for five years: Photo: Jiri Krenek.

Regarding the performance of the cars in this first stage, the maximum speed analysis showed that being the fastest on the straights does not guarantee the best lap time. The two Mercedes cars were among the fastest in the mixed section of the circuit and among the slowest on the grid in terms of sheer speed at the start line., where this index is measured at the finish line and at the end of that section. For comparison, Hamilton recorded 290,0 km / h and 315,2 km / h against the 297,3 km / h and 323,6 km / h of George Russell (Williams-Mercedes) at the same points. What explains the difference between the best laps of one (1: 34.015) and the other (1: 35.036) is that in intermediate sectors 1 and 2 Hamilton was faster (239,5 km / h and 267,70 km / h ) than Russell (238,8 km / h and 256,7 km / h).

Relatively close indices indicate that the highest speed on straight lines is achieved with a lower inclination of the wings; Such a solution reduces air resistance and also speed through curves, which are distributed over a section greater than the straight of approximately 750 meters, less than 15% of the total length of 5.412 km. In other words, the cars of the German team are much more efficient in the curves, in contrast to the Williams.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2021
Lando Norris did a great job and took McLaren to fourth place. Photo: Mark Sutton / LAT Images.

In the race for third place, McLaren surpassed Ferrari. The great asset of the English team was to change the engine of Renault by another from Mercedes without losing the performance that left him in third place in the 2020 Constructors' World Championship. Ferrari has already shown that its 065 engine It is more powerful than last season's version: Carlos Sainz was the fastest in the measurements made at Intermediate Points 1 and 2 and made the fourth best lap of the race. His compatriot Fernando Alonso, who returned to F.1 after a two-year absence, walked hard until he dropped out of the race on lap 44, as a result of the rear brakes overheating.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the performances of the veteran Sergio Pérez and newcomer Yuki Tsunoda. The Mexican was forced to leave from the pits after his car's engine died during the warm-up lap; a reset of the electronic system corrected the fault and set the third fastest lap of the race to finish fifth.

Tsunoda, who was nine months old when Kimi Räikkönen and Alonso debuted in F.1 in 2001, he showed that he has everything to be the best among the Japanese drivers who have competed in the category. He finished in ninth place showing a balanced dose of speed and fitness.

Disappointing were the performances of Sebastian Vettel, who did not yet have a reliable car, and Nikita mazepin, a rookie who ran every practice and in the race didn't even pass the first corner.




Automundo is the blog about news from the automotive industry, motorsport and the culture of the region. Director: Diego Durruty.

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