For an island in the middle-east, the weather in Bahrain was expected to be sunny and warm. But guess what we were welcomed by cold winds sweeping across the island, dropping the temperatures down to chilly and dull mode. Its definitely a relief from the hot summer back home in India, but the color of the skies have kickstarted this weekend like a continuation from Australia (weatherwise).
Arrived in Bahrain with a swollen eye (midnight flight + no sleep + contact lenses) this morn, after which the next one hour went in checking into the media hotel and catching up with all the paddock junkies whose faces i saw after 9 days. This time we are all together in two media hotels, conspiring plans for the thursday and friday barbecues coded under the sober term Journalist meet and Photographers meet. Well it is a rare on the calendar when the whole pressroom is compressed into two hotels at a race venue, and when it is, its the debauchery of the season.
Moving on to the more serious stuff there were two critical talking points that stole the show both at the thursday press conference and amidst candid talks in the paddock. The first piece of paper slapped onto our tables as we walked in this afternoon was that concerning Alonso where he wont be driving this weekend, and the second talking point was the reactions in the press room on the open letter form the GPDA (Grand Prix Driver’s Association) to the FIA, FOM decision makers/ stakeholders of F1.
Following his horrific crash at the Australian GP, Fernando Alonso flew into Bahrain this morning thinking he could race, but the aftermath of his crash unfolded a different story when it comes to medical and racing authorities giving him the green signal. At the Thursday press conference Alonso admitted that he had a broken his left rib and further checks post the injury had revealed he had a pneumothorax (air in the cavity between the lungs and the chest wall). On returning to Bahrain, an evaluation suggested that the G-force in the F1 car is not the most comfortable situation to nurse the rib injury. The risk posed by the G-force on a rib injury is that it can further pressure the ribs to hurt the lungs and other organs in the rib-cage. The spaniard refused to return back to Spain and plans to gain insights into the weekend sitting it out on the bench in Bahrain. He will be replaced by reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, but is still not 100 per cent sure if he will be ready for the race in China either. Another chest scan will be done before the Chinese Grand Prix to determine whether he can be cleared to race or not.
Post the Australian GP weekend, the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) issued a statement signed by the entire grid requesting F1 to revise some of the ‘ill-structured’ elements, resulting in a poor show and the sport lacking direction. A key issue highlighted was the new qualifying format and the frequent changes being made to various areas in the sport. The Drivers’ felt that their advice and feedback is critical for the sport because they are the one’s putting up the show and know whats best to make it more exciting. At the Thursday press conference, they collectively felt that they needed to have a say in the sport and forums/ platforms where they could influence the decision making to make it better. The anger of the fans and problems in Formula1 urged them to speak up against the governance structure and decision-making of the sport.
Looking forward to the weekend ahead, one can expect more drama to unfold with the dropping tempratures in Bahrain, which will influence tyre strategies, track temp etc. On raceday, the forecast predicts a minimum of 19 degs, which will be interesting when it comes to tyre degradation and compound choices for the night race. In the meanwhile, coping with the current day, some of us who arrived here with Spring/Summer collection packed in our bags are going to have a tough time coping with the chill and the winds.