While second and third places for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix demonstrated that Lotus can have serious hopes of disrupting the Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes monopoly at the head of the field, two teams just behind them might be worth watching in the build-up to the Spanish Grand Prix.

Force India and Ferrari are under scrutiny for entirely different reasons.

One because the last race showed fulfilment of promised pre-season form, the other for the opposite.

While Vettel, Raikkonen and Grosjean rightly grabbed the headlines in the last race, perhaps the best drive of the event came from Force India's flying Scotsman, Paul di Resta. Not only did he finish sixth, the team pulled off a nicely judged two-pit stop strategy too.

The Force India driver's flying lap in the second leg of qualifying was actually faster than eventual pole position man Sebastian Vettel. However, with a number of front-runners expected to improve their times in Q3, the team kept di Resta parked for the final leg, giving him fresher tyres for the race.

As a result di Resta started the race 10th on the grid, but as the front-runners began their first round of pit stops around lap 9, di Resta kept going. The tyre mileage saved by missing the last leg of qualifying was put to good use as he still maintained a competitive pace into his stop on lap 14.

For one glorious lap, di Resta even held the lead, the first time Force India has done so since Fisichella at Spa in 2009. He then sensibly yielded to Vettel fresh off a stop.

di Resta's out of phase pit stops gave him a further chance to make up ground on a clearer track, although he proved he could race too, with a gutsy battle with Williams driver Pastor Maldonado. In contrast Force India team-mate Hulkenberg on a more conventional three-stop strategy spent the entire race stuck in mid-field oblivion.

Perhaps di Resta's finest hour was in the last few laps of the race. Having made up ground by just making a second stop on lap 33, he was caught by Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, which had the performance advantage of a third set of tyres.

di Resta fought all the way to the chequered flag to take sixth place just 0.3 of a second ahead of Alonso. Behind them trailed Hamilton, Massa and Schumacher.

Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, a three-day test at Mugello in Italy has allowed all the teams to evaluate improvements to their cars ahead of the first European races.

Nowhere is that more needed than at Ferrari where the car has not only generated less grip than its rivals, it has also showed a worrying inconsistency to the drivers' steering input.

Alonso has described driving the car as like “walking a tightrope, 30 metres up, without a safety net.” Massa at least looked closer to the pace in Bahrain.

Even though the first of the three days of testing in Italy was rendered inconclusive by rain, it was notable that instead of a wholesale chassis redesign that many thought might be revealed, Ferrari was instead concentrating on aerodynamic refinements.

It could be an indication perhaps that it has found the root of its problems. In particular a lot of attention seems to have been paid to the front wing design, specifically to regain some of that steering ‘feel' both drivers believe the car lacks.

Will it work? Well, only time will tell!

Steve Slater is a Formula One commentator on STAR Sports 

Keywords: FerrariForce India

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