Will Gray

Gray Matter: Four things we learned in Bahrain

Will Gray

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So F1 2014’s boring is it? After two dull opening races, the Grand Prix came alive in Bahrain with ferocious battles throughout the field. But what lessons have we learned from the third race of the year?

1. Big boys can race - if they are allowed

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were running nose-to-tail in the closing stages of the race when their Mercedes team bosses gave a simple call over the radio during the safety car period, telling each to ‘bring the cars home.’ What happened next was spectacular. Two top drivers in the best car out there were given the respect from their team and each other to race wheel-to-wheel for victory.

“We were on the knife edge," said Hamilton after the race. “But we didn't damage each other's races and the team put that trust into us, which was great.” It proved that the best drivers in F1 do not need to be wrapped in cotton wool and stopped from racing each other ‘for the good of the team’.

It’s been years since a top team allowed fans that kind of action. The fact that Hamilton and Rosberg know each other so well having grown up on track together gave Mercedes confidence – and although it could have all gone wrong (and looked like it might on several occasions) it proved the best decision for the sport. Hopefully the result will encourage them to take the same approach again and again...

2. F1 needs patience

F1 is notorious for its knee-jerk reactions and so far this season there has been plenty of criticism of the new regulations. In reaction, the sport’s leaders have already moved to increase the noise and some have been pressing to alter the numbers on fuel usage and car weight. But Bahrain showed the sport should give itself time to get used to its new era before bringing in any changes.

If the next few races roll out like the opening two, then maybe there is something to be looked at – but given the people who are complaining are the ones that are behind, is it unfair to ponder whether the criticism is actually more angled at levelling the playing field than improving the show?

3. Perez can use the Force

It was tough at McLaren for Sergio Perez last year but he is facing a different challenge now, racing alongside highly rated German Nico Hulkenberg at Force India. The Silverstone team’s car is proving to be one of the early surprises in 2014 and in Bahrain he showed that he has lost none of his confidence or determination, and is not going to be a push-over for his team-mate.

Perez has always been seen as a bit of a hothead and he almost pushed Hulkenberg off when he made a move on lap 28 in another dramatic display of intra-team rivalry. But on the day he was the better of the two – so if the car can keep the pair fighting at the front theirs could be a very interesting relationship to follow.

4. The F1 field could soon change

The Grand Prix grid could be set to grow as Bernie Ecclestone confirmed on Sunday that the US-based Haas team has been “accepted” for entry and also revealed he has discussed with FIA president Jean Todt about a 13th team, rumoured to be led by former Jordan boss Colin Kolles, joining the sport.

However, given the announcement came on the same day that plans to create a budget cap have been scrapped due to a lack of support from the top teams, Ecclestone’s push for new teams is almost certainly not aimed at increasing numbers but maintaining them, ensuring the sport is protected if it needs to replace any fallers.

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