The Deep Drive: Exploring the stats that matter from the Bahrain Grand Prix

Natasha Henry
The Telegraph
Sebastian Vettel won his second race of the season in Bahrain - AFP
Sebastian Vettel won his second race of the season in Bahrain - AFP

The first night race of the 2017 season did not disappoint as the Bahrain International Circuit gave us overtaking, crashes and some serious racing as the Drivers’ Championship started in earnest. 

Sebastian Vettel won his second race of the season, leaving him seven points clear of nearest rival Lewis Hamilton

They were joined on the podium by Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas who was unable to turn his first career pole position into a win having been twice asked to let the Briton pass as he was unable to match his speed.

Here we look in greater detail into the numbers behind the race result: 

Softs the prime tyre

The hot and dry track in Sakhir left drivers choosing between the soft and supersoft tyre as they navigated the 57 laps on Sunday. Everyone bar Marcus Ericsson in the Sauber started on the supersoft tyres after using them in qualifying. 

In 2016 most of the teams started on the medium tyres with the degradation they experienced far greater. This time teams switched to soft tyres as the data showed they were the quicker boots to put on the car. 

Based on the 19 drivers that started, only four of them managed their best laps prior to lap 33 (all of whom were in the bottom five for fastest laps). Only Daniel Ricciardo in the top sight finished on super-softs.

Explained | F1s colour-coded tyres

Overtaking continues aplenty

The wide track in Bahrain was still able to hold as many as three cars, despite the width of each extending to 180cm for 2017. From the time the lights went out until the chequered flag we saw drivers attempting to get past their opponents - successful and otherwise - in further relief to early-season worries about dull races.

Turns one and four, in particular, were popular corners in which to gain an advantage, with Vettel doing this on the very first lap to get beyond Hamilton. Although the Mercedes driver was on the traditionally dirty side of the track, the huge amount of space that they have to work with meant that even if he hadn’t locked up he probably wouldn’t have been able to get across to defend his place. 

That even Fernando Alonso managed to overtake in the weakly powered McLaren suggested it was less about speed and more about the space available. Furthermore, we also saw that a tight group together would often end with two cars leapfrogging the other as Daniil Kvyat and Alonso did to Jolyon Palmer on lap 30. 

Even with narrower tracks to come on the calendar, the signs are promising.

Fewer stops in 2017

Most of the drivers made a minimum of three stops in 2016 but, in a very short space of time this time around, they only headed into the pits twice. 

If we consider the three who ended the weekend on the podium, Vettel made the earliest stop on lap 10 - a clear sign of Ferrari's aim to undercut the slower Mercedes. Red Bull's Max Verstappen also tried to do this before crashing out. 

Results | Bahrain Grand Prix

Hamilton and Bottas both pitted on lap 13 with neither back in the garage until the laps 41 and 30, respectively. Vettel changed again on lap 33. Hamilton would've surely pitted earlier had it not been for the five-second penalty but the increased strength of the tyres meant that all three were able to go to the end. 

In last year's race, the top three of Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen, and Hamilton had all been in twice by lap 30 after their boots quickly went 'off the cliff. In fact last year, both Rosberg and Raikkonen changed twice within nine laps. 

<span>Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas on the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix</span> <span>Credit: Lars Baron&nbsp;/Getty Images Europe </span>
Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas on the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix Credit: Lars Baron /Getty Images Europe

Battle of the engines

Once again there has been so much talk about the engines, most notably the Honda that seems unable to power the McLarens sufficiently. 

It may not ease the fact that they didn’t win the race but no car with a Mercedes engine - that completed the race - finished outside of the top ten. The one car that didn’t complete the 57 laps was Lance Stroll and his race ended due to a collision. 

Outside of the Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, the other Scuderia engines finished in eighth and 11th in the cars of Romain Grosjean and Pascal Wehrlein.

Renault’s power may be getting ignored because it isn’t as bad as Honda’s but their highest placed driver was Nico Hulkenberg who finished in ninth. It's worth remembering, however, this was Renault’s best result of the season so far. 

Bahrain Grand Prix 2017 team ratings: Who fired and who flopped in Sakhir?


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