Last weekend I watched the Bahrain grand prix. As you're probably aware, before the race there was a ton of media hype about whether F1 should attend the race given the current situation over there. Arguments against ranged from the political, moral and ethical standpoint to the safety elements of holding the race. Personally, I didn't see exactly why the race should be cancelled providing that the area was deemed safe by the relevant authorities. As much as I agree that the human rights situation is diabolical, I hold the view that Formula 1 is a sport - no more, no less. It has no involvement with the politics of a country, and just because the race is held there doesn't mean that it endorses the political regime of the area. Besides, F1 has held races in several countries with somewhat dubious moral standpoints (China the week before, for example), and yet these races had not been questioned. As such, the only difference with Bahrain was related to safety.
While there were several off-track incidents involving a couple of teams, overall the weekend appeared to go smoothly. There was no interruption to the sessions, and so we could finally get down to watching the racing. Saturday's qualifying session came up with a surprise pole sitter (at least in terms of this year's performance standard). No McLaren or Mercedes this time. Instead, the Renault powered Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel was back where it belonged on the first slot of the grid - much to my delight!
With the grid decided and (as far as I'm concerned) back to where it should be, the race on Sunday was promising. The previous race in China was fantastic, with lots of tight racing. Bahrain to me has never been a particularly thrilling race, however once again the value of DRS was proven and we finally saw an exciting race this year. Vettel got a fantastic start and ultimately went on to win the race. The biggest surprise was who was occupying the second and third place slots. While you'd have expected the McLarens or even the Mercedes' to be near the top, Bahrain was obviously favouring the Renault powered cars as Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean joined Vettel on the podium! If you never watch the press conferences, I suggest you try and catch this one - just to see Grosjean's expression of happiness!
So, the race was absolutely thrilling and great fun to watch. Hopefully, this is what this race will be remembered for, rather than for the political circumstances surrounding it. There was a lot of questions whether attending Bahrain would damage F1's reputation, but to be honest so far I haven't witnessed a lot of backlash - I think those of us who watched the race were just concerned with the racing, as any motorsport fan should be.
Now that Bahrain is behind us, we've got a bit of a break before the European rounds begin in Spain on the 13th of May. For me, this time will be filled with revision and exams, and I have no excuse to be distracted by F1 any more! The return to Europe also marks the countdown to Spa - the race that I will be attending this year. My race tickets were delivered today, and so the excitement begins...