Teammate battles in Bahrain a refreshing tonic for F1

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I touched on this briefly in another MST piece this am, but the 10 points-paying finishers in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix came from the minimum possible number of teams, five.

What was intriguing about all that was that in each team instance, there weren’t any major dramas or public team orders determining how the pair of drivers would finish.

Mercedes’ pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had the epic scrap for the win between them. Hamilton and Rosberg would exchange moves that borderlined on crazy if one was established number one, but it was just a pure fight between them. Even in the final stint, as Rosberg was on the softer option tires, he should have by rights had the position over Hamilton. But he had to earn it, and despite several attempts, he was unable to pass Hamilton on the primes.

Red Bull provided the rare “Sebastian, Daniel is quicker than you” line on a radio transmission at one point as Daniel Ricciardo was, at that early point in the race, quicker than teammate Sebastian Vettel. Ricciardo had to fight to get ahead of him and ultimately ended fourth, while the four-time champion ended sixth. Ricciardo has done pretty much all that could be expected of him, and more, through three races thus far and his improved race pace has been a welcome sight for those more accustomed to his qualifying prowess at Toro Rosso.

Force India? What is it with Sergio Perez and Bahrain that ignites a fire under the young Mexican, where he’s fearless on passing maneuvers in places of the Sakhir circuit that you otherwise wouldn’t dare pass? He and Nico Hulkenberg had multiple great dices during the day, with Perez ultimately securing the team’s first podium in four and a half years, much to the delight of team principal Vijay Mallya.

Same story at Williams – the consternation of Malaysia had been replaced by another great, clean, fair fight between Felipe Massa and emerging superstar Valtteri Bottas a week later in Bahrain. Massa’s start was sublime; both were unlucky in the safety car period to fall from podium contention down to seventh and eighth.

Even Ferrari had Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen close, although Alonso appears ahead in that internal team battle thus far. There’s bigger issues at Maranello than the driver lineup; the car and power unit package weren’t in the same zip code this weekend.

But in all five of those instances, it’s hard to pinpoint a specific number one versus number two driver situation other than at Red Bull. And even there, Ricciardo’s established himself quickly as worthy of the seat to make it a near 1-and-1A situation.

With no established hierarchies within the teams – as yet, anyway – we were treated to five teams’ epic scraps as on-track battles won out over team preferences from the pit wall.

Team orders will always exist to a degree, but for less than two glorious hours Sunday night in Bahrain, they were not the story.

Here’s the 33-driver starting field for today’s Indianapolis 500

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Want to know which driver is starting where in today’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Here’s the full 33-driver starting field:

Row 1

20 Ed Carpenter (USA)

Ed Carpenter Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 1st

Past Indy 500 starts: 14

Best finish: 5th (2008)

 

22 Simon Pagenaud (France)

Team Penske

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 2nd

Past Indy 500 starts: 6

Best finish: 8th (2013)

 

12 Will Power (Australia)

Team Penske

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 3rd

Past Indy 500 starts: 10

Best finish: 2nd (2015)

 

Row 2

1 Josef Newgarden (USA)

Team Penske

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 4th

Past Indy 500 starts: 6

Best finish: 3rd (2016)

 

18 Sebastien Bourdais (France)

Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 5th

Past Indy 500 starts: 6

Best finish: 7th (2014)

 

21 Spencer Pigot (USA)

Ed Carpenter Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 6th

Past Indy 500 starts: 2

Best finish: 18th (2017)

 

Row 3


13 Danica Patrick (USA)

Ed Carpenter Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 7th

Past Indy 500 starts: 7

Best finish: 3rd (2009)

 

3 Helio Castroneves (Brazil)

Team Penske

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 8th

Past Indy 500 starts: 17

Best finish: 1st (2001, 2002, 2009)

 

9 Scott Dixon (New Zealand)

Chip Ganassi Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 9th

Past Indy 500 starts: 15

Best finish: 1st (2008)

 

Row 4

 

14 Tony Kanaan (Brazil)

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 10th

Past Indy 500 starts: 16

Best finish: 1st (2013)

 

4 Matheus Leist (Brazil)

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 11th

Past Indy 500 starts: 0

Best finish: none

 

98 Marco Andretti (USA)

Andretti Herta Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified 12th

Past Indy 500 starts: 12

Best finish: 2nd (2006)

 

Row 5

19 Zachary Claman Demelo (Canada)

Dale Coyne Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 13th

Past Indy 500 starts: 0

Best finish: none

 

28 Ryan Hunter-Reay (USA)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 14th

Past Indy 500 starts: 10

Best finish: 1st (2014)

 

23 Charlie Kimball (USA)

Carlin Motorsport

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified 15th

Past Indy 500 starts: 7

Best finish: 3rd (2015)

 

Row 6

 

30 Takuma Sato (Japan)

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 16th

Past Indy 500 starts: 8

Best finish: 1st (2017)

 

32 Kyle Kaiser (USA)

Juncos Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 17th

Past Indy 500 starts: 0

Best finish: none

 

6 Robert Wickens (Canada)

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 18th

Past Indy 500 starts: 0

Best finish: none

 

Row 7

 

33 James Davison (Australia)

A.J. Foyt with Byrd/Hollinger/Balardi

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 19th

Past Indy 500 starts: 3

Best finish: 16th

 

59 Max Chilton (England)

Carlin Motorsport

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 20th

Past Indy 500 starts: 2

Best finish: 4th (2017)

 

29 Carlos Munoz (Columbia)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 21st

Past Indy 500 starts: 5

Best finish: 2nd (2013, 2016)

 

Row 8

 

88 Gabby Chaves (Columbia)

Harding Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 22nd

Past Indy 500 starts: 3

Best finish: 9th (2017)

 

25 Stefan Wilson (England)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified 23rd

Past Indy 500 starts: 1

Best finish: 28th (2016)

 

24 Sage Karam (USA)

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified 24th

Past Indy 500 starts: 4

Best finish: 9th (2014)

 

Row 9

 

26 Zach Veach (USA)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 25th

Past Indy 500 starts: 1

Best finish: 26th (2017)

 

64 Oriol Servia (Spain)

Scuderia Corsa with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 26th

Past Indy 500 starts: 9

Best finish: 4th (2012)

 

66 J.R. Hildebrand (USA)

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Engine: Chevrolet

Qualified: 27th

Past Indy 500 starts: 7

Best finish: 2nd (2011)

 

Row 10

7 Jay Howard (England)

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports/AFS Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 28th

Past Indy 500 starts: 2

Best finish: 30th (2017)

 

10 Ed Jones (United Arab Emirates)

Chip Ganassi Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 29th

Past Indy 500 starts: 1

Best finish: 3rd (2017)

 

15 Graham Rahal (USA)

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 30th

Past Indy 500 starts: 10

Best finish: 3rd (2011)

 

Row 11

 

60 Jack Harvey (England)

Meyer Shank Racing with Schmidt Peterson

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 31st

Past Indy 500 starts: 1

Best finish: 31st (2017)

 

27 Alexander Rossi (USA)

Andretti Autosport

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 32nd

Past Indy 500 starts: 2

Best finish: 1st (2016)

 

17 Conor Daly (USA)

Dale Coyne Racing

Engine: Honda

Qualified: 33rd

Past Indy 500 starts: 4

Best finish: 22nd (2013)

 

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