When it comes to the loud criticisms of F1’s new ‘double points’ innovation, Bernie Ecclestone simply points to Mercedes.
The F1 chief executive said he proposed the extra points for the Abu Dhabi season finale to add spice to the tail-end of a championship fight. But even though he dreamed it up to prevent the sort of early title conclusion seen last year with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, Ecclestone admits double points will not be enough to stop a Mercedes triumph in 2014. “It (double points) won’t be necessary this year because the championship will be over much earlier than that,” the 83-year-old told British broadcaster Sky.
When told he is obviously referring to a Mercedes driver, Ecclestone agreed: “Exactly.” Notwithstanding Mercedes’ dominance, the Lewis Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg duel for victory in Bahrain was celebrated as a thrilling triumph for F1. “Mercedes celebrated in Bahrain after a great show that did not feature Ferrari,” Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport said.
The authoritative daily said the duel was “reminiscent of Senna and Prost at McLaren, or Mansell and Piquet at Williams, showing that a fight within a team can make us hold our breath so long as there aren’t team orders.” Corriere dello Sport, a major Roman daily, said Bahrain was further evidence that Ferrari is in “clear decline, not even knowing where to begin to change its situation”. Il Messaggero newspaper added: “The ‘new’ F1 works, and is even thrilling.”
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, however, warned that it is “inevitable” that eventually the in-house scrap between Hamilton and Rosberg will turn sour, and so “internal discussions” about team orders cannot be ruled out. Dr Helmut Marko told Servus TV on Monday that he hoped it had gone sour in Bahrain. “For many laps we were hoping that something (between Hamilton and Rosberg) happened,” he said. But team chairman Niki Lauda insisted: “We are of the opinion that the drivers can race at the highest level, and it will stay that way,” he is quoted by Sport1.
Fernando Alonso admitted he is worried Ferrari is being left behind altogether. “The championship is going away,” the German news agency DPA quotes him as saying. “Hamilton and Rosberg are driving flawlessly and taking advantage of their position. “What we have to do is work harder,” the Spaniard added. “During the tests, we will work night and day.” Indeed, Alonso will drive on both days of the post-race Bahrain test this week.