Key stats of note post-2014 Bahrain Grand Prix

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A race such as the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix provided a wealth of information and fascinating story lines. Beyond the on-track headlines, here were some stats that emerged from the race:

TEN POINTS SPOTS FOR FIVE TEAMS: ONLY THE THIRD TIME IN FIVE YEARS 

Since the new points system down to 10th place was introduced in 2010, there were only two Grands Prix where a minimum five teams locked out the 10 points-paying positions. It happened twice in 2010: both at China and Germany, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault locked out all points-paying spots. It hadn’t happened since the infamous 2010 Hockenheim race where Ferrari declared over the radio “Felipe, Fernando is faster than you.”

But the five teams for 10 points-paying spots did occur Sunday in Bahrain, courtesy of Mercedes 1-2, with Force India 3-5, Red Bull 4-6, Williams 7-8 and Ferrari 9-10.

MERCEDES’ CRAZY POINTS IMPROVEMENT

Through three Grands Prix in 2013, Mercedes scored 52 points (Lewis Hamilton 40, Nico Rosberg 12). They’ve nearly doubled that in three races this year, with 111 of a possible 129 points scored – all they’re missing is a second in Melbourne. That’s a staggering 86 percent of the maximum achieved.

VETTEL’S POINTS GAP

Four-time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel has scored just 23 points in three Grands Prix in 2014, or less than one win’s haul of 25 points. It’s his lowest points-adjusted start in the first three races since he advanced to Red Bull in 2009.

Previous totals since the new points system was introduced in 2010 include 52 (2013), 28 (2012), 68 (2011) and 37 (2010). His first win in China 2009 netted only 10 points as it was the last year under that points system; it would be worth 25 now. Additionally, he already trails Rosberg by 38 points; he trailed Fernando Alonso by as many as 39 after the 2012 Italian Grand Prix, although a run of four straight victories from there got him back in the championship hunt.

HULKENBERG’S POINTS RUN

With three scores in as many races to open the 2014 season, now with Force India, Nico Hulkenberg has scored points in nine of the last 11 races dating to the 2013 Italian Grand Prix. He ended fifth on Sunday after holding on in the final stint on the prime tires as opposed to the options.

Hulkenberg is also one of only four drivers to have scored in each race this year: Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas. Unsurprisingly this run of success puts “the Hulk” high up in the driver’s standings – he’s third at the moment with Alonso fourth.

CHILTON EXTENDS DEBUT FINISHING STREAK

With 13th place Sunday in Bahrain, Marussia’s Max Chilton has now finished his first 22 career starts. The 13th also moved Marussia back ahead of Caterham in the battle for 10th in the Constructor’s Championship, as it was Chilton’s second 13th-place finish of the year (Australia).

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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