Stop the clocks. Let's go back a year: Bahrain 2013 - a Checo Perez with a lot to prove at McLaren needed a good result that race... And he went for it: An aggressive Mexican battled it out against his teammate at the time, Jenson Button. A very intense wheel-to-wheel mid-race duel culminated at Bahrain's Turn 4, where Checo showed tough racing instincts while trying to be too ´cheeky´ at the end of the straight and turn into corner 4 on the inside... Ending up with a damaged front wing after having banged wheels twice.
A year later, Checo is driving for a new team, Force India, has a new teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, and wants to prove a point again, but his Turn 4 Bahraini moves haven't changed... And he went for that exact inside line manoeuvre at Turn 4 to overtake his teammate again. This time he made it stick beautifully, maintaining the Incredible Hulk behind him and finally crossing the line in third position, giving the team its first podium since Belgium 2009 and only the second in the team's history. Aggressive, dangerous, dirty, determined... Many ways to describe his driving in Bahrain throughout the years, but Turn 4 is certainly Checo's Cheeky Corner!
Stoffel Vandoorne. 22 years old. He's a GP2 rookie driving for ART Grand Prix, and today in Bahrain he won his first ever GP2 race on his debut weekend in the series.
Only 2 rookies in GP2 history - also driving for ART - have ever won the Championship in their first year: Nico Rosberg (2005) and Lewis Hamilton (2006). They both graduated to Formula One the year after winning their respective championships. Only one other driver has ever come close to repeating this achievement, and that was Nico Hulkenberg in 2009 - he won the GP2 Series after ending up 6th in the 6-round GP2 Asia Series 2008-2009.
10 years later, can Vandoorne become the third driver to win in his rookie year? His fight for the title has started perfectly. Not even Rosberg or Hamilton won a race on their debut weekend - they had to wait until later on in the year (Nico, race 9; Lewis, race 5). The potential is certainly there and McLaren are following him closely. Next stop, F1?
Jenson Button joins an exclusive club this weekend, as he becomes the fifth driver in Formula 1 to reach the milestone of 250 Grand Prix starts. He follows Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, Riccardo Patrese and Jarno Trulli's footsteps.
I remember being at his 200th Grand Prix celebration in Budapest, 2011. A nice informal gathering of friends, family, F1 family, team members, team PR's and errr... biscuits - Button biscuits! - in the McLaren Hospitality in the Paddock. He then went on to win the race that weekend. 50 races later, will he be able to do the same in Bahrain? The answer, this Sunday!
(Photo: The Button biscuit from Hungary 2011 to celebrate Jenson's 200th Formula 1 Grand Prix)
"It's crazy, it feels only like yesterday that I was celebrating my 200th, with a win for McLaren in Hungary back in 2011. It means I've been around for a long time! I'm very happy with my career, even though there have been highs and lows. One of the things I'm most proud of is the way I've stacked up against my teammates. I've had 10 of them in 15 seasons, so I've needed to prove myself to the new guy say beside me virtually every year. It's a very funny sport in that respect because even after everything you've achieved, you've still got to prove yourself again and again" - Jenson Button.