Formula One is back in action this weekend as the second race of the 2018 year will contest in Bahrain. The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix (11 a.m. ET/ESPN 2) will be an intense battle as the field is still rumored to be wide open. While parity hasn’t been big in the series over the last several years, 2018 is potentially shaping up to give us that.
Here are five storylines for this weekend.
Historic Starts For Vettel/Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel not only got the win in the season opener in Australia for the second straight year, but the victory was his 100th trip to the podium in the process. Now, Vettel will make a bit more history this weekend by joining the 200 race starts club. He will become just the 18th driver ever to do so. The German has so far scored four world championships, 48 wins and 50 poles in 199 Grand Prix weekends.
Vettel, is the defending race winner in Bahrain too.
He’s not the only one making a historic start. His current rival Lewis Hamilton will too.
Hamilton, will make more history just by starting the race on Sunday. It will be his 100th for Mercedes, making him the first driver to reach 100 starts for two different teams. The England native made 110 starts for McLaren between 2007 and 2012 too.
Hamilton Eyeing Points Record
Lewis Hamilton finished second in Australia and while that was a disappointment for him, one thing wasn’t – his points streak. He’s scored at least a point in 26 consecutive races now and if he can finish inside the top 10 again on Sunday, then he will tie Kimi Raikkonen’s all-time record for most consecutive races scoring at least one point with 27.
Since the summer of 24, Hamilton has a 96-percent rate of scoring points. It appears the record will be tied on Sunday.
Starting Position Matters In Bahrain, But Not Necessarily The Top One
Out of the 13 previous races in Bahrain, none of them have been won by a starter outside of the top four qualifiers. That means starting position matters on Sunday right? In theory yes. But, you may want to start second, third or fourth if you have winning ambitions. Out of the last five years, just once has the pole winner gone on to win the race itself. Lewis Hamilton is the only one to do so and that came in 2015. In fact, the only race of the 2018 season, saw the third place starter win in Australia.
Win In Bahrain, Win The Season Championship
It seems like the winner of the race in Bahrain and the season champion in Formula One go hand-in-hand. Nine of the last 13 years have seen the winner in Bahrain win the season title in the same year. Will that happen again in 2018?
Can Anyone Contend With The Big 3?
Red Bull says they may have something for Mercedes and Ferrari this weekend, but can anyone else challenge for a win, let alone a podium? Haas nearly scored double top five finishes in the season opener but bad pit stops ended their days early. They’ve done really well in Bahrain in the past and vowed to fix the pit road problems. Will their pace stay around again this week?
McLaren is nearing 100 start races without a win. Their last came way back in 2012. But, they scored double top 10 finishes in Australia and looking to do so again this weekend.
Force India is set to introduce a new front wing – and that could lead to a slight shuffling of the pack. They didn’t score a single point in the last race and that was the first time they failed to score a point in any of their two cars since Monaco last May. If they can get back inside the top 10 in Bahrain and score 13 points or more, they will break the 1000-point barrier.