April 18th, 2013 (F1plus/G. Polychronis).- The Pressure Gauge is a segment conducted before every race weekend of 2013. It is designed to predominately assess the big name drivers in F2 and how their pressure mounts or diffuses, depending on their situation. Amid the controversies of the Bahrain Grand Prix, driver statuses, contracts and positions prove to both mount and alleviate pressure.
Esteban Gutiérrez – High
The main objective of a first year Formula One driver is to prove their worth in Formula One, which brings a copious amount of pressure to these drivers. Gutiérrez,being an F1 debutant, has much to prove to his team. The first three races for the Mexican driver however, have been nothing to speak highly of, considering his qualifying results have been below average for all three races. He has alsofailed to gain a single point. Gutiérrez’ performance at the Chinese Grand Prix only allowed more pressure to be mounted against him. He displayed many signs of inexperience as he recklessly ploughed into the rear of Adrian Sutil at the entry turn 14 on the Shanghai International Circuit.
Gutiérrez will need to use the rest of the season to prove himself to the team, whichwill lift some pressure off his shoulders.
Mark Webber – Ice Cold
As the 2013 season continues, Webber’s future in Formula One is becoming more doubtful. The first three races for Webber were riddled with calamities andmisfortunes. Among these were a KERS issue in Australia, Vettel’s mutiny against team orders and finally a wheel issue in China. Webber’s recurring problems are becoming all too familiar for him, and it is becoming obvious that his dream of becoming the third Australian to win a Formula One championship is slowly deteriorating.
Although Porsche quashed the circulating rumours that Webber signed a 5-year contract to race for their Le Mans Prototype team, it is still hard to deny that Webberwishes to re-explore the different avenues of motorsport. Red Bull owner - Dietrich Mateschitz and team advisor - Helmut Marko, have also reinforced this through talks of replacement drivers, which include both Torro Rosso drivers and Kimi Raikkonen.
For these reasons, not much is expected of Webber throughout the rest of the season, meaning he will be able to enjoy an ‘Ice Cold’ pressure reading.
Kimi Raikkonen – Medium
If the rumours pertaining to Mark Webber’s departure from the sport are truthful, there will obviously be an available seat at Red Bull Racing. There are many potential candidates for this position, with the obvious ones being Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo. Helmut Marko and Dietrich Mateschitz however, have recently stated that Kimi Raikkonen is another possible candidate for Mark Webber’s seat in 2014. The Finnish driver’s contract with Lotus expires at the end of the season and he explained that he “doesn’t have a plan” for next year. He also added that Red Bull’s interest in him was “flattering.”
Raikkonen is arguably, one of the best drivers on the grid, however, if he is seriously contemplating a move to Red Bull, he will need to maintain the pressure andkeep on doing what he does best.
Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) - Extreme
Over the past few years, the Bahrain Grand Prix has proven to be an extremely controversial topic.
The Bahraini government is responsible for providing their citizens with appalling human rights. They have placed strong restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association to name a few. Their legal system is also exceptionally controversial, as torture is known to be a component of it, which was the cause of six deaths in 2011 alone. These components of the human rights system inBahrain, plus many more, has sparked a ‘Bahraini Uprising,’ which began in 2011.
Those who partake in this uprising, contribute to widespread and dangerous protests against the government.
With Formula One being an international sport that is broadcasted all over the world, Bahrain’s human rights activists believe that the Grand Prix provides the world with many false illusions about the Middle-Eastern country. They feel that the event presents the island country with a fabricated sense of normality to the rest of the world.
Many protesters have resorted to extremely violent means of demonstration ahead of the Formula One event, including car bombings and forms of arson to block major roads. It seems like a very suitable decision for Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA to cancel the Grand Prix, considering the safety of F1 team members are at risk. This was proven to be the case last year, as a van containing multiple Force India personnel were placed in the firing line of a Molotov cocktail, which was used during a demonstration. Although no one was hurt throughout that race weekend, the crowd attendance for the F1 action was truly atrocious. During the practice sessions, it appeared as if there were more people in the paddock, than there were in the stands.
Despite the violent protests and poor crowd turnouts however, Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president - Jean Todt, still considers Bahrain as a suitable host for the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix.
The F1 supremoes have made their decisions, and they will be feeling extreme pressure throughout the weekend, hoping that the race is not tarnished by violent protests and civil unrest.