Bahrain Grand Prix 2013: Lewis Hamilton 37 points clear of Jenson Button – Phil Duncan

The Chequered Flag: Hamilton streaks clear of Button as McLaren continue to struggle

with arguably the most complete package on the grid while a top-10 finish for Mercedes became as rare as a nun in a bikini. We mustn’t forget that in the final six races of last season, the Silver Arrows managed only one points-scoring finish when Michael Schumacher ended his F1 career with a seventh place at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

he’d gathered 43.

At the same stage this year, he is 10th in the championship with just 13 points. Unlucky for some. Unlucky for Button.

For his old sparring partner however, this season, in terms of points attained, ranks as a better start for Hamilton than both the 2010 and 2012 seasons.

Indeed with a total of 50 already on the championship table, the 2008 world champion has collated a bigger haul than the man who he replaced – that’s Michael Schumacher for those of you with a short-term memory – managed in 20 outings for the German manufacturer last season.

Off the pace: Button and McLaren have endured a slow start to the season

Promising start: Hamilton has already amassed more points than Schumacher did in his whole Mercedes career

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I cannot recall a time when Hamilton was so happy to finish fifth, but the British star knows Bahrain is Mercedes’ achilles heel, and the fact that he leaves the Gulf Kingdom with a decent haul of points after a troubled weekend, will provide him and his team with a major boost as Formula One heads back to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix in three weeks time.

We should make no bones about it, Hamilton can fight for this year’s title. But whether he will be able to rival Vettel, whose performance yesterday illustrated exactly why he is a triple world champion, remains to be seen.

The same however, probably cannot be said of Button. The McLaren is already beginning to look like a better-tamed beast than the unruly animal which was unleashed in Melbourne over a month ago. But that said, the British star is already 64 points behind Vettel.

Barcelona will provide the Woking-based team with the acid test; a poor weekend in Spain usually translates to a poor season.

And Button, who has finished on the Spanish podium only twice in 12 previous attempts, will want his focus in Barcelona to be on the sharp end of the pack and not banging wheels with team-mate Sergio Perez while fighting for the menial places as in Bahrain.

Flashpoint: Perez and Button were locked in battle

Flashpoint: Perez and Button were locked in battle

Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix are already turning their attention to next season and the 10th anniversary of their hotly-disputed race.

‘We are looking at many options,’ Zayed Al Zayani, chairman of the event, told AUTOSPORT today.

‘A night race is one of them, but it is not the only one,’ he continued. ‘It is our tenth race and our tenth anniversary, so we want to do something different.’

It is also being suggested that the race could be moved to the opening weekend of the season. I for one hope this isn’t the case.

Australia should play host to every Formula One curtain raiser in my opinion, but I guess money will talk…

Five more years: Ecclestone is ready to sign a new deal with Bahrain

Five more years: Ecclestone is ready to sign a new deal with Bahrain

Driver of the Day

So close, yet so far. Paul Di Resta was on course to become the first Scottish driver on the podium in almost five years before he was overtaken by Romain Grosjean in the closing stages of yesterday’s race.

Nevertheless, it ranked as an impressive weekend for the 27-year-old who looks to have the bit between his teeth in his third season with Force India.

The Scot has made no secret of his desire to race for a bigger team, and after being snubbed by McLaren, what better way to bounce back than by doing your talking on the track.

Great Scot: Di Resta finished in fourth

Great Scot: Di Resta finished in fourth