By Tony Dodgins,
C4F1 commentary box analyst
1. Headline news in the paddock
On the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix everyone was talking about the news that Fernando Alonso will miss the Monaco Grand Prix to race in the Indy 500.
It’s an impressive reflection on him that he wants to do it and has ambitions to race in other series.
Not everyone agrees though and Romain Grosjean, for instance, said he didn’t want to be judgmental but he thought it didn’t show enough commitment to F1 that Alonso was willing to throw away the sport's blue riband event to go race in something else.
2. Button comeback
Jenson Button gets the nod to replace Alonso. The fact is he is being paid by McLaren and so he hasn’t got much option. It makes sense because it’s Monaco, Button has always been strong round there and from a PR point of view it’s perfect for McLaren.
The team can’t expect to put a rookie in at Monaco and not expect him to hit a wall.
The only question for Button is that he’s been out of the car for six months by the time he gets to Monaco Carlo and I wouldn’t fancy going up against Stoffel Vandoorne at Monaco when you’re a bit rusty behind the wheel.
3. Bottas feeling confident
Valtteri Bottas says he is feeling more confident going into this weekend. Despite his spin under the safety car in China he’s been satisfied with his pace so far.
There is this perception that he’s not performed at the Nico Rosberg level so far but he actually qualified closer to Lewis Hamilton in Australia than Rosberg ever did in five years together, and in China he was only 0.19 seconds off Hamilton.
Bottas says he wants to stop the Ferrari getting between the two Mercedes in qualifying so that’s his mission for Bahrain.
4. Who’s favourite for the flag?
Hamilton did say on Thursday that he sees Ferrari as favourites this weekend because of the hot temperatures at the Sakhir Circuit.
In Australia it was the hot temperatures on race day that swung the balance Ferrari’s way in terms of race pace. In the cooler conditions on Friday in Melbourne, Mercedes had looked much more competitive than Ferrari but that changed on Sunday, so that’s something to bear in mind for this weekend.
From a tyre perspective Bahrain is the first race where the car is rear limited so the drivers may have to look after the rears a bit.
5. Haas could be hot
Keep an eye on the Haas because they went well in Australia and had a mega result here last year. Grosjean used the tyres well during the 2016 GP, running three stints on the super-soft tyre to finish fifth.
Grosjean would have qualified in the top-seven at the last race in Shanghai too had his hot lap not been interrupted by Antonio Giovinazzi’s crash in qualifying.
The drivers reckon it’s a good car so look out for a decent performance from them this weekend.
By Tony Dodgins,