Hamilton ultimately prevails despite struggling new format
"What a tense qualifying session," is a phrase all F1 fans fantasise to hear this season. Instead, we were subjected to another atrocious and in-exuberant display as all the qualifying action took place at the beginning of the session and petered out before the chequered flag.
On the bright side, Lewis Hamilton left it to the final few moments to set the fastest ever lap in Bahrain's 11th year on the Formula 1 calendar, beating his team-mate; Nico Rosberg by 0.077 seconds. Hopefully, setting the tone for another desert duel between the two driver rivals. They will be followed by the two Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on tomorrow's grid.
They will be followed by a familiar procession of Daniel Ricciardo, who was nowhere near mounting a challenge on the Ferraris and Mercedes, and the two Williams line up sixth and seventh, hoping to mount a challenge for a podium. Elsewhere, the Toro Rossos both impressed, as did Romain Grosjean, who could very well score more points for the deputising Haas F1 Team, he starts ninth, behind Nico Hulkenberg.
Stoffel Vandoorne made his debut and can take comfort that he is 12th, starting ahead of the veteran Jenson Button, who could only manage 14th place, ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who in 15th is about an unimpressive this season as the new qualifying format, or as Martin Brundle quipped, “Hopefully soon to be the old qualifying session,” and I couldn't agree more.
The qualifying session's format, which was revamped into a 90 second elimination style, has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. In all honesty it's probably the only thing hampering the spectacle of the sport as a whole. The fact that it is confusing isn't the issue, as Manor's Pascal Wehrlein proved as he took the grid's slowest car to 16th place on the Bahrain grid. He no doubt capitalized from the early eliminations of both Renaults, Saubers and even Sergio Perez's Force India, and in my opinion was the driver of the day. He would have struggled to impress with the old qualifying session.
The problems at hand with qualifying
What is the issue, not the confusing part, but the fact that it cannot possibly work amid all the current rules already in force. The drivers are so heavily restricted by the shortage of tyre compounds they are allowed to bring to a race weekend, and a fuel cap and banned refuelling, all concocts a rather bland recipe that doesn't satisfy any of our appetites.
Sometimes it doesn't hurt to admit there has been a mistake and revert to the old qualifying format we had grown accustomed to since 2006. The extra tyre compounds for race day have really thrown more variety in the air, and with a more expanded and competitive grid, we can still expect another classic race day this time tomorrow.