- F1 touches down in Bahrain for controversial race
- Todt finally breaks silence on Bahrain
- Mercedes reaches F1 summit with 'small budget' - Haug
- Schumacher could be Mercedes' next winner
- Winning 'easier now' for Rosberg - Lauda, Tambay
- Alonso expecting more Ferrari misery in Bahrain
F1 touches down in Bahrain for controversial race
After so much talk about F1's controversial return to Bahrain, the sport's travelling circus has now begun to arrive in the island Kingdom.
Already during Sunday's Chinese GP in Shanghai, some members of the teams as well as tyre supplier Pirelli were across the world busily setting up at Sakhir, upon which the eyes of the world will descend this week.
Then on Monday, drivers Bruno Senna and Sergio Perez, and reserves Sebastien Buemi and Jerome d'Ambrosio, were reportedly among the first F1 personalities to touch down in Bahrain, as was Press Association reporter Ian Parkes.
Another early arrival was The Times' Kevin Eason, who said he was greeted off the plane by a "welcome party and car to hotel".
"All seems quiet on the streets," he Tweeted. "The people here are genuinely nice."
Circuit boss Zayed Alzayani is not expecting trouble.
"We've been in Formula One for seven years and we will be in it for much longer than that," he said.
"Will this year be exactly like it was in the past years? No," he admitted.
"Things are not 100 percent, but they are not as bad as people make them out to be."
Todt finally breaks silence on Bahrain
Jean Todt has broken his long and conspicuous silence over the Bahrain controversy.
Until now, the ultra-low-profile FIA president had been reluctant to speak on the issue, despite deciding that the sport should push ahead with this weekend's race in the troubled island Kingdom.
So unremarkable was Frenchman Todt's visit to Shanghai last weekend that most reporters believed he in fact left China on Saturday.
He then appeared on Sunday's grid, giving reluctantly short soundbites and congratulating his former Ferrari colleague Ross Brawn on Nico Rosberg's win.
Todt even finally commented on Bahrain.
Asked why the event is going ahead despite the ongoing controversy, he told German RTL television: "It has a date on the calendar and was always planned.
"There has been some controversy about it, but the FIA is a sports organisation. We are only interested in sport - not politics.
"Our responsibility is that people can go there and have good and secure conditions. This will be the case," Todt insisted.
"We have spoken in this regard with representatives of the government, with the embassies and with neighbouring countries, as well as with European foreign ministries.
"We have made an extension examination with a lot of checks. It is clear that the Grand Prix can go ahead.
"At the moment, a major golf tournament is going ahead in Bahrain. On one hand, there are unpleasant political aspects as well, but it's the same thing all over the world.
"On the other hand, we are a sport. We are confident that the next Grand Prix will go ahead just as successfully as this one here in China," he added.
Mercedes reaches F1 summit with 'small budget' - Haug
Apr.16 (GMM) Norbert Haug said he is proud Mercedes has reached the top of F1 in a short space of time and with a small budget.
The German carmaker's works team is often lumped together with F1's other grandees including Ferrari and McLaren, but Haug insists the Brackley based outfit is in fact "a small team, with a small budget".
Mercedes' competition boss, who on Sunday collected the winning constructors' trophy on the Shanghai podium, also said some of the team's rivals - undoubtedly Red Bull - "took five years to win".
"We have done it in two and a quarter," the German told the RTL broadcaster. "That's not bad at all.
"And there are other teams that still have not made it."
So is Mercedes now a contender for the world championship, despite Haug's earlier protestations that the team needs a few more campaigns under its belt for that?
"It is too early to make a prediction," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "I hope so, but so far we have seen three different winners in three races."
The newest of those winners is Nico Rosberg, who along with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve are the only sons of F1 drivers to have also gone on to win grands prix.
It is a good omen for Rosberg that both Hill and Villeneuve also won titles.
Rosberg's former Williams teammate, Alex Wurz, has high praise.
"As a teammate (in 2007) he made my life difficult because he was such a fantastic qualifying driver. In the race it was then always okay.
"But for this (race win) he deserves praise," Wurz told the Austrian ORF broadcaster, "because he did everything after his pole position also sensationally."
But in Bahrain, there could be another winner, triple world champion Niki Lauda remarked.
"I have never before seen F1 as interesting as this," said the Austrian legend. "Every race we see another winner."
Schumacher could be Mercedes' next winner
Michael Schumacher could be the next silver-clad driver who takes a Mercedes to the top step of the podium.
His teammate Nico Rosberg dominated the Shanghai weekend and, at his 111th attempt, finally broke through with a maiden pole and win.
The much-younger German also dominated Schumacher, the 43-year-old, at Mercedes in the last two years - ever since the seven time world champion returned to formula one in 2010.
But former Benetton and Ferrari title winner Schumacher appears much more on Rosberg's pace this season, and in fact even solidly outqualified his 26-year-old teammate in Australia and Malaysia.
"It's simple," Schumacher told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo.
"The way I can drive this car is much more how I have driven a car throughout my whole life.
"If you look at my driving today and compare with ten years ago, not much has changed," said the famous German. "But if you look at 2010 and 2011, my arms never stopped working.
"It wasn't my way to drive," insisted Schumacher.
Having followed Rosberg early in the Chinese Grand Prix - before his retirement - Schumacher admitted that he could not quite match the leading pace.
But, despite not standing on a podium even once since his F1 comeback, he has now smelled that a victory is close.
"It will be the same feeling as when I went to the podium for the first time with Benetton, and Ferrari," Schumacher predicted.
"When I started with those teams, we were far away from being able to think about it. But after a lot of work, I would say years - just as now with Mercedes - we had reached the stage of being able to fight.
"Most people have no idea how many things need to be changed, how much effort and investment is required. At 43 I'm going through all of this again, but it's because I really love what I do."
Schumacher's Mercedes contract expires at the end of this year.
"You might not believe it," he responded, "but I'm so focused on developing this car that I don't think about it.
"Later on in the season, of course, it's inevitable.
"Of course it gives me great pleasure that we are starting to see the results of this great work. I am still perfectly capable of winning in Formula One," Schumacher insisted.
Winning 'easier now' for Rosberg - Lauda, Tambay
More wins could quickly follow for F1's newest race victor, Nico Rosberg.
The Mercedes driver began the 2012 season with more than 100 races under his belt, causing some pundits to predict he would never taste winning champagne.
But he broke through in China just a day after his maiden pole.
"I took 113 (races to win) and he's on 111," 2009 world champion Jenson Button said in Shanghai.
Niki Lauda thinks Rosberg's next wins will be easier.
"It (winning) gets easier," the Austrian legend said in China late on Sunday, "because he know you can do it, and you've proved it.
"The next victories come quite quickly," Lauda told the German broadcaster RTL.
Patrick Tambay won just two grands prix in consecutive seasons, 1982 and 1983, but he said the first one - achieved in Keke Rosberg's championship year - came with "a sense of completion".
"After that, things seem easier," said the Frenchman, "especially so when you've waited 110 grands prix!
"It will feel like a relief," Tambay told RMC Sport. "Now, he's still young at 26 but with a lot of experience; he has everything he needs to reproduce this victory.
"The first is the most difficult."
However, Tambay thinks Rosberg has a fight on his hands if he thinks the Shanghai victory is a springboard to a potential championship challenge.
"I see the McLaren as the best car of the season. They passed up a good opportunity for the (China GP) win," he said.
Alonso expecting more Ferrari misery in Bahrain
Despite winning in Malaysia last month, Fernando Alonso is expecting a miserable weekend in Bahrain.
On the back of his surprise Sepang victory, the Spaniard qualified and finished just ninth in China, and he is not expecting a better Ferrari until next month's return to European Grands Prix.
"Obviously, this (result) does not leave me very optimistic for Bahrain, on a track where traction and speed are vital, exactly the areas where we are weakest," said Alonso in Shanghai.
Even more bluntly, he said the Maranello based team is "far behind" the pacesetters because the F2012 has "big problems" in aerodynamics.
But the bright side, Alonso insisted, is that the field of 2012 is oddly tightly bunched.
"If we improve two, three tenths then we can jump several opponents," he is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo.
"The fight now is for fractions of seconds."
After Ferrari and Sauber were quick in Malaysia, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg dominated in China - but many in the paddock still believe McLaren has the quickest car overall.
Indeed, Jenson Button is ruing a team mistake - a cross-threaded wheel nut during a pitstop - that he says cost him a shot at Shanghai victory.
"There can't be many more mistakes if you want to compete for a championship, definitely not," he said.