Hamilton – 2 / Bottas - 0
Heading into qualifying, it was known that wherever Hamilton qualified, he would be starting five places back from that position, thanks to Formula One’s ludicrous gearbox penalties. Although, it would be Bottas who would shine brightest under the lights in Bahrain; outqualifying his team-mate legitimately, even before the penalties were applied. This set an interesting prospect for the race, with Hamilton starting from ninth on the grid. After earlier squabbles with Verstappen, Mercedes elected to go with a conservative strategy, which very nearly saw Bottas and Hamilton catch the Prancing Horse of Vettel in the lead. The point for this round goes to Hamilton, owing to his race performance.
Vettel – 1 / Raikkonen - 1
The Iceman looked on form again, which begged the question – where the hell was he all this time? We’ve seen Raikkonen conform to being nothing more than back-up for whenever the mercurial men from Maranello decided not to put together Vettel’s car properly. But, it appears that all that has changed. Although, it would be Vettel who would get the upper-hand in qualifying, snatching the pole and getting an all-Ferrari front-row for good measure. Vettel would grab the lead and would remain there for the rest of the race, whilst Raikkonen would spend most of the race staring at Bottas’ gearbox, before running over his mechanic in the pitlane, taking him out of the race and said mechanic to the hospital. Vettel gets this round for his dominant performance throughout the weekend and asserting himself as the favourite for this years’ World Drivers Championship.
Red Bull Racing
Ricciardo – 2 / Verstappen - 0
Verstappen has legions of fans, although the orange-shirt brigade wouldn’t be too pleased to see the #33 Red Bull firing off into the fence in what looked to be a pretty elementary error from the Dutchman. But, if qualifying was bad for the Red Bull squad, the race was nothing short of a nightmare. After having passed Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen made the mistake of assuming Hamilton’s car would vanish into thin air. After colliding out of turn one, Verstappen picked up a puncture and tumbled down the order. The scene went from disappointing to downright horrifying when Ricciardo pulled over to the side of the circuit just a couple of kilometres down the road, leaving the somewhat inalienable sight of one Red Bull on three wheels and one not running at all. Ricciardo wins this round thanks to his fast, consistent performance throughout the weekend.
Perez – 1 / Ocon - 1
Force India once again found themselves in a pickle where both cars failed to make it into Q3, despite this being a power circuit – something the Force India’s traditionally excel at. Ocon got the upper-hand on Perez in both qualifying and the race, with the Mexican struggling for tyre-grip, which is an automatic red-flag given his proficiency in conserving rubber. Both cars struggled all weekend and the year of 2018 looks set to be a case of ‘one step forward and two steps back’. And as we know from the song, nobody gets too far like that. Ocon gets the Bahraini point for being the dominant Pink Panther throughout the weekend.
Alonso – 2 / Vandoorne - 0
The McLaren Formula One team was founded by a man who excelled at engineering as much as he did with the steering wheel. Fast-forward fifty years later, it appears that the team is being run by people who don’t belong there and are being held at ransom by drivers who value themselves too highly. The disaster that was qualifying saw both McLaren’s being outqualified by both Toro Rosso’s. After three years of whinging and crying from Alonso and the men from Woking, it appears it was not all down to the Honda engine bay. Nevertheless, both McLaren’s were in the points, with Alonso hovering around the lower top-10 whilst Vandoorne was struggling to pick up the scraps. Alonso gets another point for keeping his team-mate at bay throughout the weekend and somehow finding himself fourth in the driver standings.
Grosjean – 0 / Magnussen - 2
If a prize had to be given to the most improved team over the summer of 2018, it would go to Haas. Once again, Haas proved to be a rather powerful unit, with Magnussen getting into Q3 with a strong lap. Although, Grosjean had a shocker and got knocked out with the Saubers and the Williams. Grosjean’s race would yield little fruit, whereas Magnussen continuously found himself duelling for fourth with Gasly. In what has been two great performances in the opening couple of Grand Prix, I expect Haas to be the dark horse for this year and serious contender for an upset Grand Prix victory. Point for this round goes to Magnussen for a storming drive in the race.
Hulkenberg – 2 / Sainz - 0
The Banana Brigade maintained good pace throughout the weekend and that transgressed into qualifying, with both Hulkenberg and Sainz getting into Q3. Sainz is perhaps feeling the pinch against his new team-mate, but I can’t help but wonder why he’s having such trouble against a driver whom was beaten convincingly by Perez; a driver many have come to doubt in terms of driver ability. Hulkenberg was always there or thereabouts in the race, involved in the mid-field scraps with Alonso and co. But, Sainz was never really a threat to his status. Therefore, Hulkenberg gets another point for, you guessed it, beating Sainz throughout the weekend.
Stroll – 2 / Sirotkin - 0
If McLaren’s qualifying was horrible, this was worthy of a Greek tragedy. The combo of Sirotkin and Stroll is universally hated by casual Formula One fans and the ‘performance’ in qualifying only added fuel to the fire. Qualifying on the last two rows of the grid made things difficult, to say the least, for the race. The race was equally as pathetic, with both cars struggling to make an impression, whilst Ericsson was up the road battling the McLaren’s. I have long been a supporter of Lance Stroll, but now is the time to step up. Now is the time to assert himself as a legitimate driver. To prove what he is capable of, what he did in the junior formula ranks. If he fails to do so by the end of this year, we may see him set sail come 2019. If I could give neither driver a point, I would. But, the point for this round goes to Stroll for beating Sirotkin in the race, I suppose.
Hartley – 1 / Gasly - 1
I would have loved to have been a Honda employee in Sakhir this weekend. After three years of ridicule from an indesicive, disorganised team, to beat both of their cars with an arguably inferior chassis must be something to take great pride in. And an excuse to look extremely smug. Gasly was immensely strong all weekend and asserted himself as a legitimate Grand Prix driver with a stunning fourth-placed finish. Hartley struggled with enough penalties to make Pastor Maldonado excited and an overall performance which paled in comparison to that of Gasly. Gasly takes the point for this round for an astonishing drive in qualifying and in the Grand Prix.
Leclerc – 1 / Ericsson - 1
Leclerc over-driving in qualifying was a bit unexpected, given what we’ve seen him do in the lower formula, but it did lend perspective into his self-awareness in what he needs to do to improve. Something that Stroll doesn’t possess is the ability to locate and diagnose problems with their driving. With Ericsson outqualifying the Monogasque driver, it was all to play for the in the Grand Prix. I expected him to concoct a masterful stroke of genius in the race. But, it would be Marcus Ericsson who would defy all critics and take a mighty impressive ninth place in a car that undeniably doesn’t belong there. If ever there was proof that Ericsson belonged in Formula One, this was it. Although, I would like to see more of this in the future. Ericsson takes the point for an stonking drive throughout the Grand Prix.