Mercedes produces F1’s equivalent of the perfect game

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It’s not often that we can refer to baseball here on MotorSportsTalk. We tend to leave that to the guys over at HardballTalk. However, yesterday’s Bahrain Grand Prix allowed us to draw quite a nice analogy from the sport as Mercedes achieved F1’s equivalent of a “perfect game.”

By this we mean that not only did the team finish fastest in every session, but its drivers actually finished first and second in them, too. The team could not possibly have done any better than it did this weekend, albeit bar not topping Q1 and Q2 (which don’t actually contribute to the grid) and failing to enjoy a greater winning margin thanks to the pesky safety car.

FP1: 1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Nico Rosberg (report)
FP2: 1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Nico Rosberg (report)
FP3: 1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Nico Rosberg (report)
Qualifying: 1. Nico Rosberg 2. Lewis Hamilton (report)
Race: 1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Nico Rosberg (report)

Rosberg also claimed the fastest lap of the race on Sunday. Even over the past five years or so of Red Bull dominance, we have not seen a weekend quite as perfect as this.

What made Mercedes’ victory all the more refreshing was the absence of team orders during the race on Sunday. Many of the great inter-team battles over the past few years have been neutered or prevented by calls from the pit wall to “calm down” or “hold position.” However, just as they had promised to, the Mercedes management allowed its drivers to race and race hard – and boy did they live up to that during the race on Sunday.

The only call given came from Paddy Lowe under the safety car, telling both drivers to make sure they bring their cars home – i.e. race against each other, but don’t crash into each other.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton shared a battle that we have not seen in many a year; two drivers, equal cars, different tires, just pure racing talent. It was a masterclass in defence from Hamilton, and an example in clean racing that the rest of the field should take note of.

Once again, the team was a class apart from the rest of the field, securing its second straight one-two finish and third consecutive win. With a commanding constructors’ championship lead and a pace advantage that makes Newey’s recent cars seem pretty average, it’s difficult to see just when this streak is going to end.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.