Cumulative Bahrain test stats breakdown and recap

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There was a bit more to draw from the four-day Bahrain test than the four-day Jerez test earlier this winter. For one, you had all 11 teams in Bahrain, and this test would ideally provide an opportunity for teams to sort out the initial niggles and move onto further race simulations and pit stop practice.

Some teams got there, and others did not. Let’s get to the numbers:

For the week, Mercedes-powered teams racked up nearly double the mileage of their two engine competitors. Combined, 2,322 laps were completed over four days:

  • Mercedes: 1,147 (238 Wednesday, 306 Thursday, 342 Friday, 261 Saturday)
  • Renault: 619 (95 Wednesday, 201 Thursday, 209 Friday, 114 Saturday)
  • Ferrari: 556 (149 Wednesday, 169 Thursday, 144 Friday, 94 Saturday)

However, a further look inside those numbers reveals Ferrari isn’t as behind as you’d think. While Mercedes runners swept the top five in times, Ferrari was best of the rest, and both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen completed over 100 laps each. They were the only non-Mercedes team to have achieved that mark, as both Mercedes’ and McLaren’s pairs of drivers also hit the mark.

Ferrari’s cumulative numbers were also dragged down by the fact it only has three teams, compared to four for Renault and Mercedes. And one of the three for Ferrari, Marussia, completed only 29 laps in what was a seriously testing week for the Anglo-Russian team.

Here’s the team lap breakdown:

  • Williams-Mercedes: 323 (Valtteri Bottas 171, Felipe Nasr 87, Felipe Massa 65)
  • Mercedes: 315 (Nico Rosberg 174, Lewis Hamilton 141)
  • McLaren-Mercedes: 296 (Jenson Button 169, Kevin Magnussen 127)
  • Ferrari: 287 (Fernando Alonso 161, Kimi Raikkonen 126)
  • Caterham-Renault: 253 (Marcus Ericsson 102, Kamui Kobayashi 83, Robin Frijns 68)
  • Sauber-Ferrari: 240 (Esteban Gutierrez 151, Adrian Sutil 89)
  • Force India-Mercedes: 213 (Nico Hulkenberg 137, Sergio Perez 76)
  • Toro Rosso-Renault: 139 (Jean-Eric Vergne 77, Daniil Kvyat 62)
  • Red Bull-Renault: 116 (Sebastian Vettel 73, Daniel Ricciardo 43)
  • Lotus-Renault: 111 (Pastor Maldonado 85, Romain Grosjean 26)
  • Marussia-Ferrari: 29 (Max Chilton 21, Jules Bianchi 8 )

Williams led the overall combined lap chart, although those numbers are a bit skewed with Valtteri Bottas’ 55 laps on Friday counting only as in-and-out laps for pit stops, with no official time registered.

Still, the Finn’s 116 laps on Thursday were the most by any driver on one day over the course of the week, and coupled with third driver Felipe Nasr’s 87 laps Saturday, it turned into quite a successful test for Williams despite the fuel system issue that halted their Wednesday.

At Red Bull, the situation is in fact, bad. Lotus nearly outran the four-time defending champions in terms of total laps, and that’s after missing most of Wednesday and missing the Jerez test entirely. It seems that during this week’s test, more mechanical issues have halted Red Bull’s progress, and they’ll have a major thrash between now and Thursday in Bahrain.

When you shift to lap times, again, they don’t mean too much. But ordinarily you wouldn’t be seeing Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil and Romain Grosjean as low as they are. They were among those with the lowest lap counts for drivers, and additionally ran earlier in the week, when less rubber had been laid down and times were at their slowest.

The combined times breakdown is below:

Combined times, total laps, best session:

1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1m 33.283s, 174 Laps, Session 4
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m 34.263s, 141, Session 3
3. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m 34.910s, 127, Session 2
4. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m 34.957s, 169, Session 4
5. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes, 1m 36.455s, 137, Session 2
6. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1m 36.516s, 161, Session 2
7. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1m 36.718s, 126, Session 4
8. Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes, 1m 37.066s, 65, Session 3
9. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber-Ferrari, 1m 37.180s, 151, Session 3
10. Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Mercedes, 1m 37.328s, 171, Session 2
11. Sergio Perez, Force India-Mercedes, 1m 37.367s, 76, Session 3
12. Felipe Nasr, Williams-Mercedes, 1m 37.569s, 87, Session 4
13. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus-Renault, 1m 38.707s, 85, Session 4
14. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso-Renault, 1m 38.974s, 62, Session 3
15. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-Renault, 1m 39.837s, 43, Session 4
16. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham-Renault, 1m 39.855s, 83, Session 2
17. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1m 40.224, 73, Session 1
18. Adrian Sutil, Sauber-Ferrari, 1m 40.443s, 89, Session 1
19. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Renault, 1m 40.472s, 77, Session 4
20. Romain Grosjean, Lotus-Renault, 1m 41.670s, 26, Session 2
21. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham-Renault, 1m 42.511s, 102, Session 2
22. Max Chilton, Marussia-Ferrari, 1m 42.511s, 21, Session 2
23. Robin Frijns, Caterham-Renault, 1m 42.534s, 68, Session 1
24. Jules Bianchi, Marussia-Ferrari, no time, 8, Session 4

Additionally, here’s a look at how many laps each driver did per day with their best time. All are 1 minute ahead of the number (i.e 1:33.283, 1:36.965, etc.):

TIMES (BY LAPS)
Driver  Saturday        Friday          Thursday        Wednesday       Laps
ROS	33.283	(85)			36.965	(89)			174
BOT			NT (55)	        37.328	(116)			171
BUT	34.957	(66)	34.976	(103)					169
ALO					36.516	(97)	37.879	(64)	161
GUT			37.180	(96)	40.717	(55)			151
HAM			34.263	(67)			37.908	(74)	141
HUL					36.455	(59)	36.880	(78)	137
MAG					34.910	(46)	38.295	(81)	127
RAI	36.718	(82)	37.476	(44)					126
ERI	45.094	(4)	42.130	(98)					102
SUT	NT (7)						40.443	(82)	89
NAS	37.569	(87)							87
MAL	38.707	(59)	39.642	(26)					85
KOB	43.027	(17)			39.855	(66)			83
VER	40.472	(19)			40.609	(58)			77
PER	39.258	(19)	37.367	(57)					76
VET					40.340	(59)	40.224	(14)	73
FRI							42.534	(68)	68
MAS			37.066	(60)			NT (5)		65
KVY			38.974	(57)	44.346	(5)			62
RIC	39.837	(15)	40.781	(43)					43
GRO					41.670 (18)	44.832	(8)	26
CHI			46.672 (4)	42.511	(17)			21
BIA	NT (5)						NT (3)		8

In case you missed anything from the week in Bahrain, here’s a link to all Bahrain test-related posts on MotorSportsTalk:

F1 Preview – 2018 French Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
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It’s hard to believe that the French Grand Prix, the oldest grand prix event on the planet, as it dates back to June of 1906, was ever removed from the Formula 1 calendar.

Alas, not since 2008 at Magny-Cours has Formula 1 held a race on French soil. Yet, that all changes this weekend, as Formula 1 visits the Circuit Paul Ricard for its first French race in a decade.

Formula 1 teams are not strangers to Paul Ricard. It has been a popular testing facility for years, as evidenced by the below photo from 2016, featuring Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in a wet tire test.

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE – JANUARY 26: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Scuderia Ferrari drives during wet weather tire testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 26, 2016 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

However, in terms of racing, Paul Ricard has also been absent from the calendar for quite a long time – the last time Formula 1 race at Paul Ricard was in 1990. Alain Prost won for Ferrari that day.

1990: Alain Prost of France punches the air in celebration after passing the chequered flag in his Scuderia Ferrari to win the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Beausset, France. Mandatory Credit: Pascal Rondeau/Allsport

As such, despite being a known quantity as a testing facility, how a race weekend will shake out is anybody’s guess.

And what’s more, it marks the beginning of three consecutive race weekends – The French Grand Prix, The Austrian Grand Prix, and The British Grand Prix – which F1 teams and drivers are calling “the triple header.”

Talking points ahead of the French Grand Prix are below.

A Journey Into the Unknown?

Like all new venues, or resurrected and refurbished ones in this case, the Circuit Paul Ricard represents somewhat of an unknown, as there’s no available race data to make predictions off of.

And the 3.61-mile, 15-turn track itself represents a range of challenges. It has fast corners, like Turns 1 and 2 (S de la Verrerie), a technical section between Turns 3 and 7 (Virage de l’Hotel through the Mistral Straight Start), and a 1.1-mile straightaway in the Mistral Straight, though it is separated by a chicane (Turns 8 and 9).

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff discussed the challenge of the circuit, highlighting the lack of data to build off of as well the tough three-race stretch ahead as especially challenging, in a preview on Formula 1’s website.

“France should be an interesting race. We don’t often get to race on a track where we have little to no historical data. It makes preparing for the weekend a bit trickier than usual, but that element of the unknown also adds to the challenge. The French Grand Prix marks the first race of the triple header, which will test all F1 teams to their limits, but also offers the chance to score a lot of points over the course of three weeks – which is precisely what we’re setting out to do,” said Wolff.

That element of the unknown makes Paul Ricard one of the biggest wildcards on the 2018 F1 calendar, and a championship shake up could be in the cards as a result.

Ferrari, Mercedes Continue Their Back and Forth

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari and Mercedes have traded jabs throughout the 2018 season, with neither able to pull away from the other so far through seven races.

Sebastian Vettel enters the French Grand Prix with a one-point lead over Lewis Hamilton, and holds a slight edge in victories – three to Hamilton’s two – and comes off a thorough domination of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel led every lap at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on his way to victory, while Valtteri Bottas had to carry the Mercedes flag in finishing second. Hamilton languished in fifth, a surprising and disappointing result given his previous success there.

The aforementioned Toto Wolff described it as a “wake up call,” though Mercedes will roll out a power unit upgrade this weekend – Ferrari and Renault, which also powers Red Bull Racing, rolled out upgrades of their own in Canada.

With four long straightaways present at Paul Ricard, power will certainly be at a premium, so such upgrades will be vital in giving Mercedes a chance to make amends after Canada’s disappointment.

Trio of French Drivers Look to Impress on Home Soil

It comes hardly as a surprise that the three French drivers – Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon – are keen to make an impression at their home race.

And all three could certainly use a boost. Gasly has only one finish inside the points (seventh in the Monaco Grand Prix) since his stellar fourth place effort in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ocon is coming off back-to-back points finishes (sixth in Monaco, ninth in Canada), but he has only one other finish inside the points this year (tenth, in Bahrain). And Grosjean, despite showing the speed to finish in the points, is yet to score any in 2018.

As such, all three are hoping for big things in their home race this weekend.

“I want to get a good weekend, have some luck, get my first points of the season, and get a lot of support from the fans,” said Grosjean. “I think we should be in a nice place at Paul Ricard. I’m always looking forward to jumping back in the car. I just love driving an F1 car.”

Ocon, who has raced and won at Paul Ricard in the past, expects his prior experience could be a big help.

“I did race at Paul Ricard early in my career – it was actually where I had my first victory in single seaters in 2013 so I have some fantastic memories of the place,” Ocon described. “I hope we can add some more success this weekend. Having been there in the junior categories makes getting used to a new track in a Formula One car much easier. I think I will find my rhythm quite quickly.”

Gasly’s excitement level obviously matches that of his French compatriots, with the added bonus that the return coincides with his rookie F1 effort.

“For me it will be absolutely incredible that my first full season of Formula 1 coincides with the return of a French Grand Prix to the calendar for the first time in 10 years,” said Gasly. “That has to be a reason for me to be very happy and I’m really excited to be racing in my home country. I can tell it will be a special feeling going out on track and actually, I have spoken to Jean Alesi and Alain Prost about it and they both told me that it will feel really special and something that you really have to experience as a Frenchman racing in France.”

Qualifying for The French Grand Prix begins at 9:55 a.m. ET on Saturday, with Sunday’s race at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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