Grand Prix Diary Bahrain 2016

Grand Prix Diary Bahrain 2016
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N Usually, as a journalist in Bahrain you always get to the airport -Gate received by an employee of the Grand Prix organizer. But this year nobody was standing with a sign at the exit of the plane. I think I had sent the info email to the organizers with my arrival time a little too late. So for once we went through passport control and baggage claim without being accompanied. And there was no shuttle service to the hotel either.

But none of that mattered. Without a journalist watchdog you somehow feel better anyway. There was also no danger for the organizers. After all, I had no intention of reporting on a demonstration critical of the government. And the taxis to the hotel are also super cheap thanks to the low fuel prices in the oil state.

As soon as they arrived at the hotel, colleague Schmidt announced. After the opening race in Melbourne, he had added a few days of vacation in Australia and had flown straight from Down Under to the Middle East. After so much free time, he obviously couldn't wait to go back to work. And so we agreed to meet directly for the drive to the track.

Gold Nissan is in the rain

The view of the rental car in the hotel parking lot was a surprise. No, I don't mean the gold paintwork of our Nissan Tiida that takes getting used to, but the drops of water on the body. It had actually rained. I was definitely the seventh or eighth time at the Desert Grand Prix, but I had never experienced a shower here.

Fortunately, the weather improved quickly. The way across the peninsula through the barren stone landscape is always a bit depressing, even with sun and blue skies. The race used to have no atmosphere at all. By moving to the evening, at least the floodlights create a bit of atmosphere.

When friends ask me which is the most unattractive race for Formula 1 fans, I always answer Bahrain. The grandstands are usually only half occupied. And Manama somehow has little flair as a metropolis. Better to go to Abu Dhabi if you're already drawn to the desert.

Apart from the intensive security checks at the entrance to the route, the working conditions for journalists are good. The press room offers enough space and is modernly furnished. Internet access is stable and free, which is not available from allRacetracks can say. In addition, every year there is a barbecue evening in the paddock with oriental dishes, to which all team members and press representatives are invited.

Hamilton makes headlines

However, the first invitation of the weekend came from Mercedes. On Thursday, Lewis Hamilton asked the German media present for an interview. A humorous conversation developed about his private lifestyle, which is known to be somewhat different from his fellow drivers, and his constant presence on all social media channels. The Formula 1 rights holder had given the Briton a rebuke because Hamilton had recorded unauthorized videos on the track. The pilot reacted angrily about the ban.

I asked Lewis if he wasn't worried that his posts could cause criticism from time to time. He replied dryly that he did not care what others think and write about it. When the English press accused him of a lack of respect for the snap chat in the FIA ​​press conference 6 months later in Suzuka, the world champion did not react quite so confidently.

The champion did not look happy on the track either. After the stalled start, the pole setter crashed into the first corner with Valtteri Bottas and fell far behind. In the end, rank 3 was damage control. Nico Rosberg won his second race and was ahead of the championship standings.

In addition to the Hamilton crash, Ferrari in particular made the headlines. We had already written about engine problems in the red cars during the winter test drives - which was still decidedly denied at the time. But after the turbo damage at Raikkonen in Melbourne, Sebastian Vettel's entire engine went up in Bahrain. And still in the introductory round. Now even the Italian press department couldn't gloss over it.

On the fringes of the Bahrain weekend, colleague Schmidt had also revealed that Ferrari could not get full power due to a too weak turbo. This was also immediately denied by those responsible. The GPS measurements gave a clear picture. The turbo modification we announced for Barcelona then came in Canada.

KO qualifying is finally KO

As in Australia, the new KO format also had negative qualifying Headlines posted. That the idea didn't work should have been clear after the first attempt. But after Bahrain, the 'elimination mode' was finally killed. At the next race in China, the starting positions were again extended according to the old format.

Fernando Alonso wrote another big story of the weekend. After his crash in Australia, the Spaniard was banned from starting. Apparently he had cracked 2 ribs, but nobody knew about it. Even McLaren was surprised. Stoffel Vandoorne wasflown in from Japan at short notice as a replacement. The Belgian made it into the points in his F1 debut again in 10th place.

So once again Formula 1 wrote enough good stories. We reporters would actually prefer a little less action after the race. Due to the late start time, our end of the day is always postponed until after midnight. And at 2 o'clock the alternatives for dinner are always limited. In the vicinity of the hotel there is only one small Arabic restaurant that offers warm meals. Surrounded by sleepless sheikhs sucking on their water pipes, we let the weekend end in a relaxed manner.

In the gallery we show you some personal impressions of what went on behind the scenes at the Bahrain GP.


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