2015 F1 Rookie Watch – Bahrain


Rookie of the Race

#12 – Felipe Nasr – Brazil – Sauber F1 Team

For the second time in 2015, Brazilian Felipe Nasr takes home TCF’s rookie of the race accolade, despite the Sauber driver failing to score points in Bahrain.

Nasr had a strong weekend in the desert, posting times that saw him finish inside the top ten in all three free practice sessions, and only missed out on making it through to the top ten shoot-out in qualifying due to last second heroics from both Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Despite losing a couple of places at the start of the race, Nasr began to make amends, and was quick throughout the event, except for a couple of laps when his car lost some power than cost him valuable time. If it had not been for this glitch, Nasr was on course for eighth position.

It was asked in the last race whether Nasr and Sauber could add consistency to their speed in 2015, and while there are still doubts about Sauber, the doubts about Nasr are dwindling, and he is the deserving ROTR for Bahrain.


 

Carlos Sainz Jr had a great qualifying in Bahrain (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)
Carlos Sainz Jr had a great qualifying in Bahrain (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)

#55 – Carlos Sainz Jr – Spain – Scuderia Toro Rosso

Sainz was one of the stars of qualifying when he surprised many, even himself, to qualify inside the top ten. Unfortunately the rest of the weekend was one of disappointment however as the Spaniard was forced to retire from the race, but had dropped out of contention for points by that stage anyway.

The Spaniard had struggled for pace all of the way through free practice on Friday and Saturday, but pulled out a brilliant late lap in the second part of qualifying to secure a top ten start, and ultimately would start the race from ninth on the grid.

Sainz was handed a pre-race five-second penalty for being too slow on the reconnaissance lap heading to the grid, and was down in fifteenth when his race ended with a problem, with the Spaniard complaining of a strange feeling in his front wheel.

Ultimately it was not Toro Rosso’s weekend, but Sainz can hold his head up high after his performance in qualifying. He will next race in front of his home fans at the Circuit de Catalunya next month.

Max Verstappen had a very low-key weekend in Bahrain (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)
Max Verstappen had a very low-key weekend in Bahrain (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)

#33 – Max Verstappen – Netherlands – Scuderia Toro Rosso

For the first time in 2015, Verstappen did not have a strong weekend, with the Dutchman qualifying a lowly fifteenth on the grid and then being forced to retire from the race with an apparent electrical fault.

It was definitely a low-key weekend for the teenager, who couldn’t match his team-mate during qualifying and ultimately was eliminated in Q2. During the race he was not in the battle for points at any stage, and was one of the first drivers to pit as he struggled for grip.

He will now head to Barcelona for his first Formula 1 race in Europe looking to get back to the form that took him to points in Malaysia, but at least he will be racing at a track that he has previous experience on for the first time, albeit during pre-season testing.

Roberto Merhi was beaten by his team-mate again in Bahrain (Credit: Manor F1 Team)
Roberto Merhi was beaten by his team-mate again in Bahrain (Credit: Manor F1 Team)

#98 – Roberto Merhi – Spain – Manor F1 Team

Three race starts for Roberto Merhi have seen the young Spaniard finish three times, but for the second race in a row, it could not stay with the pace of team-mate Will Stevens, ending the race seventeenth at the flag but almost forty-five seconds behind his team-mate.

While there is no doubt about the pace of Merhi, it must be alarming for the Spaniard to be that far away from Stevens, even at this early stage of the season. Yes the Manor is not the best car on the grid, but right now it is Stevens who is making the most of what he has got.

Merhi now heads into his ‘other championship’ in 2015 when he makes his first appearance in Formula Renault 3.5 with Pons Racing, but he will want to hope that when he returns to the F1 paddock for his home Grand Prix in Spain, he will be closer to the pace of Stevens.

Rookie of the Race Winners:

2 – Max Verstappen, Felipe Nasr

0 – Carlos Sainz, Roberto Merhi