On-song or gone-wrong? – Bahrain Grand Prix

Perez begins validating his position at McLaren, while Alonso suffers DRS misfortune. Rosberg and di Resta also in review…
Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22nd, 2013 (F1plus/J. Polychronis).- On-song or gone-wrong? is a segment provided after the completion of each race weekend. It is predominately dedicated to assess the surprise performances within the field, whether it be for better or worse. This week, Perez showed signs of improvement, while di Resta achieved his best F1 result. Rosberg was swiftly forgotten after claiming pole, and Alonso’s DRS failed.

Sergio Perez: On-song
Sergio Perez showed vast signs of improvement on Sunday, finishing in 6th position and claiming a total of 8 championship points in the process.
After Jenson Button finished in 5th position in China, it became clear that the McLaren vehicle was now capable of respectable points finishes. Perez however, was unable to claim a solitary championship point in that same race, finishing in 11th. Not only this, but Perez’ start to the 2013 season has been widely criticised as lacklustre and requiring improvement if his seat at a top constructor is to be validated. In Bahrain, Perez seemingly took his first step in this validation process.

The Mexican finally displayed some of the talent which granted him a position at McLaren in the first place. A highlight of the race for Perez involved a lengthy dual with team-mate, Button. At the race’s conclusion, Perez finished an impressive 5 positions higher than his counter-part, despite starting further back on the grid.
Perez’ exhibition of wheel-to-wheel racing, and his placing of 6th from 12th on the grid was worthy of the ‘on-song’ category.

Nico Rosberg: Gone wrong
Signs were promising for Nico Rosberg after claiming pole position for the race in Bahrain. The hopes created on the Saturday however, were dismantled by the events of the Sunday, which proved to be a disaster.
Rosberg surrendered 23 points from once the lights went out, eventually finishing in a disappointing 9th. The Mercedes driver toppled backwards swiftly in the early stages of the race. Rosberg was unable to construct any formidable form of defence, as cars easily dispatched him.

The Mercedes vehicle alarmingly seems to lack the race pace required to compete for race victories. At least this is currently the case for Rosberg, which may reflect on personal skill rather than the vehicle. This has been the second week in succession where a Mercedes has failed to capitalise on a pole position. Unlike Rosberg however, Hamilton managed to respectfully claim a podium placing from his pole.
A 4th pit stop certainly contributed to Rosberg’s poor finish. Although, it needs to be said that most of the damage was done early, after he dropped numerous places before the first round of pit-stops.

Paul di Resta: On-song
Paul di Resta achieved his highest finish in Formula One on the weekend by finishing in 4th position, just shy of a podium. Not only can di Resta be proud of this achievement, however, so can the team of Force India. Had Adrian Sutil experienced better fortune, perhaps the entire team would have been more suitable for the ‘on-song’ category.
Both Force India drivers completed successful qualifying runs, finishing alongside each other in 5th and 6th positions. It was only di Resta though, which continued the successful qualifying form into the race. Sutil was involved in a first-lap collision with Massa, and subsequently finished a lowly 13th.

The Force India package this year is perhaps their best ever. It holds the capability of being a Q3 regular, which is seemingly coupled with solid race pace. Di Resta, on the weekend, showed he is capable of extracting this performance from the car under both conditions.

Fernando Alonso: Gone-wrong
An unfortunate DRS malfunction destroyed Fernando Alonso’s hope of victory in Bahrain on Sunday. Alonso was running within the top 3 during the early stages of the race, however, he was forced to make unscheduled pit stops in order to mend the rear wing.

The issue was reminiscent of Michael Schumacher in Canada, who was unable to shut the rear-wing after utilising the DRS. Alonso’s rear wing flap jammed open, resulting in a severe lack of down force. After the issue occurred a second time, the Spaniard was forced to forgo use of DRS for the remainder of the race.
Despite the unscheduled pit-stops and the lack of DRS, Alonso managed to finish within the points in 8th position. Nonetheless, it was an afternoon that went wrong for Alonso, and Ferrari for that matter, after Felipe Massa finished in 15th.

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