F1 Preview: 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix

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With the frivolities of the season-opener in Australia now out of the way, Formula 1 enters the night this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Bahrain International Circuit may not be renowned for being a classic track, but it has provided us with some entertaining racing over the years.

Never was this more true in 2014 when Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg served up a titanic battle at the front of the pack, spending much of the race wheel-to-wheel.

Two years on, their rivalry remains as fierce as ever. Rosberg drew first blood in Australia with a controlled victory, and heads to Bahrain chasing a fifth consecutive grand prix victory, but Hamilton will be doing everything in his power to end this streak.

Under the lights, desert knights will ride this weekend.

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix – Talking Points

Rosberg looks to gain more early ground

It may only have been the first race of the season, but Rosberg’s display in Australia was encouraging for those hopeful of a more serious title fight this season. The German driver arrives in Bahrain chasing a fifth consecutive victory, which would surely give Hamilton cause for concern in the title race even at this early stage.

Rosberg lacked the edge Hamilton had in qualifying in Australia, but remained cool throughout the race. Hamilton, meanwhile, seemed on edge. Quite how that will play out this Sunday will be interesting to see.

Can Ferrari fight Mercedes this time around?

Mercedes dug itself out of a hole in Australia. With Ferrari enjoying the early rule of the race, it took a roll of the dice to get Rosberg and Hamilton back into P1 and P2 by going long on strategy. Ferrari’s decision to bring Sebastian Vettel in again deprived us of the straight on-track fight many were hoping to see.

As such, we arrive in Bahrain still uncertain of the gap between the two teams in terms of race pace. Mercedes still has the edge in qualifying, yet Ferrari will be pushing to prove that it is up for the championship fight this weekend – just as it did in the second round of the season in 2015.

The cooler conditions at night in Bahrain may suit Ferrari as they did last year when Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both challenged the Mercedes drivers early on. A repeat would be most welcome for the neutral.

Elimination qualifying gets another chance

After the disaster that was Saturday in Australia, F1’s team bosses agreed less than 24 hours later to scrap elimination qualifying after just one run due to its failure to address any of the issues it was supposed to. If anything, it made things worse.

However, the failure of the F1 Commission to unanimously agree on going back to 2015-style qualifying meant that the broken system remains for this weekend. It means we’ll likely get the same disappointments and the same outcry of anger in the wake of its inevitable failure on Saturday.

Thankfully, qualifying is up for another review post-Bahrain. Perhaps then sanity will prevail.

Haas chases more points after breakthrough debut

Haas F1 Team’s stunning debut in Australia stole many of the headlines after the race, but the American team now arrives in Bahrain facing the challenge of building on this and keeping the momentum going.

Romain Grosjean’s charge to sixth was not without its luck, meaning that the true pace of the Haas car compared to the rest of the field isn’t totally clear. Sure, it can keep much of the pack behind, but can it truly race its way into the points?

Bahrain should be an interesting race for Haas. Reality may bite much as it did in the second week of testing. That said, if it does follow up with more points, the incredible Haas story will get another chapter.

The kids aren’t alright

Toro Rosso’s line-up may be the youngest in the history of F1, but rarely over the past year or so has that shone through. Both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. have not only been fast on track, but they have held themselves in a very dignified and professional manner.

Things bubbled over in Australia though. The two squabbled over position, with Verstappen asking time and time again to be let past. Sainz refused, and ultimately led his teammate home – albeit only after the two had made contact and Verstappen had spun.

Are the kids alright down at Toro Rosso? The car is quick, and will continue to be in the early part of the season. The team cannot let any tension get in the way of performance, though.

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Bahrain International Circuit
Laps: 57
Corners: 15
Lap Record: Pedro de la Rosa 1:31.447 (2005)
Tire Compounds: Medium, Soft, Super-Soft
2015 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2015 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:32.571
2015 Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:36.311
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T15 to T1); T10 to T11

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 7am ET 4/1
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 11am ET 4/1
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 8am ET 4/2
Qualifying: CNBC 11am ET 4/2
Race: NBCSN 10:30am ET 4/3

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead


With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.

In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list