Archive for the ‘Bahrain- Sakhir’ Category

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Alonso Takes First Victory of 2010 for Ferrari

March 14, 2010

Fernando Alonso won his debut race for Ferrari at the Bahrain Grand Prix this afternoon, with teammate Felipe Massa making it a one-two for the team.

It had been Sebastian Vettel who had taken an early lead from pole position in the Red Bull, but exhaust problems for Vettel in the second half of the race enabled Alonso to pass him at the end of lap 34. Alonso had been biding his time up until that point and had managed to get the original 5 second gap Vettel had pulled out in the first stint, down to a second before finally making his move. Massa made his move into turn one on lap 35, and by the beginning of lap 38, Lewis Hamilton was also able to pass the German.

Alonso said of his race: “It was a special day for me. Coming back to the top of the podium is always special.” Referring to his first win for the Ferrari team, he said: “There is no better way to start the relationship.”

Alonso had made his first move of the race, passing Massa for second in the first corner. At the same time, Nico Rosberg, who started fifth for Mercedes, was able to pass Lewis Hamilton for fourth, after the McLaren driver ran wide trying to pass Massa into turn four for third. Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber, who had started sixth, fell back after a smoky first couple of corners and Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button were able to gain a place each from him, getting up to sixth and seventh, but Webber quickly claimed seventh back off Button.

In the first round of pitstops, after being held up by Rosberg, Hamilton was able to retake fourth, while Button was able to claim seventh back off Webber. With Vettel, Alonso and Massa then retaining their positions as the front three, it was then Hamilton who led Rosberg, Schumacher, Button and Webber into the second and final stint.

From there, things stayed pretty constant until Vettel’s problems began to persist and the Ferraris and Hamilton were able to pass. Rosberg was unable to pass Vettel in the last lap, despite closing the gap, and Vettel finally finished in fourth. Rosberg was able to continue his form for the weekend, remaining ahead of his seven-time world champion teammate, Schumacher, with the two finishing fifth and sixth respectively. Button was able to keep Schumacher firmly in his sights throughout the race, but unable to pass the German, the reigning champion had to settle for seventh overall. Despite Adrian Sutil and Robert Kubica qualifying in the top ten, both fell back down the pack in the opening stage of the race, and it was Vitantonio Liuzzi and Rubens Barrichello who were the last of the points scorers in ninth and tenth respectively.

Further down the pack, and out of the three new teams, Lotus were the only one who were able to finish the race, with Heikki Kovalainen finishing 15th, and Jarno Trulli 16th, both keeping their laptimes to within three seconds of the frontrunners at times. Karun Chandhok was the first retiree in the HRT, while Bruno Senna retired with a sick engine later on. Lucas di Grassi and Timo Glock failed to finish for Virgin, while Kamui Kobayashi, Vitaly Petrov, Pedro de la Rosa and Sebastien Buemi were the other retirees of the race.

Alonso’s impressive win on his debut for Ferrari sees him take 25 points, with Massa taking 18. The two together put the Ferrari team in a strong position in the constructors’ championship early on, with the team taking a maximum 43 points. McLaren take 21 points from Hamilton and Button’s third and seventh positions, with a solid fifth and sixth for Mercedes putting them third on the constructors table with 18 points, with Red Bull just behind on 16.

The Australian Grand Prix is in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 27th March at 6am (GMT), and the race live on BBC1 at 7am on Sunday 28th.

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Vettel on Pole for First Race of 2010

March 13, 2010

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel will start the first race of 2010 from pole position after showing impressive pace in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix this afternoon.

Felipe Massa will start alongside Vettel, with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton making up the second row of the grid. Reigning champion Jenson Button starts eighth, while seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher starts his first race since 2006 in seventh.

Vettel proved he had the pace throughout qualifying, setting the fastest time for the whole session in Q2, and qualifying with a 1:54.101. Massa made an impressive return to the sport following his accident in Hungary last year, setting a time a tenth off the pace of Vettel, and four tenths of a second faster than teammate Alonso, who many expected would outshine the Brazilian.

Nico Rosberg continued to set faster lap times than his Mercedes teammate Schumacher, setting the fifth fastest time to start directly in front of the German. Mark Webber lines up alongside Rosberg, with Schumacher and Button on row four. Robert Kubica set the fastest time for Renault in ninth, with Adrian Sutil rounding out the top ten for Force India.

Rubens Barrichello will start his first race for Williams in 11th, with Vitantonio Liuzzi alongside, and teammate Nico Hulkenberg directly behind him. Pedro de la Rosa, who makes his return to a race seat from his test seat at McLaren, will start in 14th, with Sebastian Buemi, Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov in 15th, 16th and 17th, after all having participated in Q2.

Unsurprisingly, the three new teams were the first out in Q1. Timo Glock set the fastest time of the new teams and will start 19th for Virgin. Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen will start from 20th and 21st for Lotus, with Lucas di Grassi in the second Virgin in 22nd. Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok will start on the back row in the two HRTs, with Chandhok finally getting some track time after failing to do any runs in any of the three practice sessions. Jaime Alguersuari was the first driver of the 2009 teams to fail to make Q2, and will start in 18th.

The race starts at 12pm on BBC1 tomorrow.

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Welcome to the 2010 Season

March 12, 2010

After four and a half months without it, Formula One returned to our screens today, with the first two practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Adrian Sutil was the first to top the timesheets for Force India in Practice One, while Nico Rosberg posted the fastest time in Practice Two for the newly-named Mercedes team and reigning constructors champions.

So while the season kicks off this weekend, what has changed, who’s who on the grid, and what is the first controversy of 2010?

BMW Sauber were the first to announce mid-way through the 2009 season that they would be leaving Formula One. Soon after came Toyota’s decision to follow suit and quit the sport. Then came the 2009 world champion’s switch to McLaren, and after weeks of where will Kimi Raikkonen go now Fernando Alonso has taken his seat at Ferrari, the 2007 world champion announced a sabbatical from the sport. And that was all in the midst of digesting the new 2010 rules and regulations. But what happened to last year’s teams and drivers? Here’s a quick recap…

– Despite BMW’s planned exit from the world of Formula One, the team were eventually taken over, and returning to the sport under the wing of Peter Sauber once more, the team were pulled from the precipice, and with the exit of Robert Kubica to Renault, Pedro de la Rosa was confirmed as the veteran driver for the team after making a return to a race seat, with Kamui Kobayashi, who impressed at Toyota in the last two rounds of 2009, replacing Nick Heidfeld. Heidfeld is now a reserve driver for the newly-named Mercedes team.

– Toyota pulled out of the sport at the end of the 2009 season, and it was, as it were, replaced by not one, not even two, but three new teams. The Lotus name makes its return to Formula One, and Richard Branson and the new Virgin Racing team join the grid. HRT (Hispania Racing Team), despite no pre-season testing, head to Bahrain for this weekend’s race, rounding off the three new teams.

– Brawn GP came back from nowhere at the beginning of 2009 to take both the drivers and constructors titles after an impressive season, and in fact it was so impressive, German car manufacturer, Mercedes, ended their partnership with McLaren taking a 75% ownership of the Brawn team, which was quickly remained. The team, having parted company with both Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, signed Nico Rosberg, and eventually delighted fans when they announced their second driver would be none other than seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

– Button departed Brawn for McLaren to team up alongside fellow Brit, and 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton. The new all-British team with its back-to-back world champions meant that Kimi Raikkonen, who had been looking at signing with McLaren, after parting with Ferrari, was left with no race seat, and he eventually announced he would be leaving F1 for rallying.

– Fernando Alonso was confirmed as Raikkonen’s replacement at Ferrari before the end of the 2009 season, and he begins his quest for his third title alongside Felipe Massa, who returns to the driving seat for the first time since his horrific accident in Hungary last season.

– Fernando’s old seat at Renault was given to Robert Kubica, while Alonso’s former teammate, Romain Grosjean, leaves the sport to be replaced by Russian Vitaly Petrov.

– Button’s former teammate, Barrichello made a straight-forward swap with Rosberg, leaving Brawn for the Williams team. GP2 winner, Nico Hulkenberg joins the veteran at the team, making a step up to an F1 race seat.

– For Force India, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, not much has changed between the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi return for Force India, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber remain at Red Bull, and Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari stick with Toro Rosso.

– In the three new teams, Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen join Lotus, while Timo Glock joins Virgin with newcomer Lucas di Grassi. At HRT, Ayrton Senna’s nephew returns the Senna name to F1, with Karun Chandhok taking the last confirmed race seat for 2010.

– With the mixture of old faces returning, and the new faces joining F1 for 2010, several of last year’s drivers have either left the sport or stepped down from their race seat to become reserve drivers. Raikkonen, Grosjean, and Kazuki Nakajima have all left the sport, while Heidfeld joins Mercedes from BMW as a reserve driver, and Giancarlo Fisichella takes up his post as reserve driver for Ferrari.

So that’s the teams and driver changes for 2010. Other changes this season see the return of the refuelling ban and an amendment to the points system, among other things. The refuelling ban has posed the biggest problem for teams as it has meant changing other parts of their cars. As well as the larger fuel tanks, and the extra race fuel, the brakes and the tyres have to be taken care of, particularly in the early stages of the race when the drivers will have more weight as they brake to slow down the cars.

A change to the points system means the top ten finishers will be awarded points, with the winner taking 25 points, the second-placed driver taking 18, third 15, fourth 12, and fifth down to ninth, ten, eight, six, four and two points, with the tenth place finisher taking one point.

And then for the first controversy of 2010. McLaren are at the heart of the latest debate, with their rear wing design being called into question. The air vent, which stalls the rear wing and increases straight-line speed, has been confirmed to be legal by the FIA, but some of the teams are still unsure about the design. A change to the regulations and the introduction of homologated parts means it will be hard and very costly for the other teams to create a similar design to keep them in line with McLaren. As the rest of the weekend develops, expect to see this controversy continue…

For now, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes all look to be in a good position for the first pole and first win of the season. Button and Hamilton finished FP1 in fifth and sixth respectively, with Hamilton second and Button fourth in FP2. Alonso and Massa featured highly in the top ten in both sessions, while Rosberg was faster than teammate Schumacher in both, finishing fastest in FP2, with Schumacher in third.

The third practice session begins at 8am (GMT) on the BBC Red Button tomorrow, with qualifying on BBC1 at 11am (GMT), and the race at midday on Sunday.

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Button Takes Victory in Bahrain

April 26, 2009

Jenson Button has claimed his third, and arguably most satisfying, Formula One victory of 2009 in the heat and humidity of Bahrain.

Button, who is currently leading the 2009 driver’s championship, started from fourth on the grid at the Sakhir International Circuit and brought home his Brawn-Mercedes ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Jarno Trulli. Having passed the Red Bull of Vettel in the first corner, he leap-frogged the Toyotas of Trulli and Timo Glock in the first round of pitstops and dominated the remainder of the race. 

Lewis Hamilton produced his best drive and finish of the season so-far, finishing in fourth behind Trulli’s Toyota.

The reigning champ got off to a charging start, taking both Button and third-place starter Vettel in the first corner. He narrowly missed out on gaining second, and having run wide, was passed by Button into turn five –  a pass that would later help secure Button the win. Vettel got held-up by Hamilton in the first part of the race, costing the Red Bull a lot of time, and eventually robbing him of back-to-back victories. Vettel managed to pass Hamilton in the first round of pitstops.

Ferrari managed to score their first points of the season, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing in sixth and taking away three world championship points for the Italian team. Felipe Massa was less lucky in the sister car, only managing 14th after KERS problems saw him take an early pitstop.

Whilst the first three races of the 2009 season were action-packed, withhigh speed collisions and safety car appearances, and a lot of heavy rain, round four in Bahrain was somewhat subdued and quiet. Threat of a sandstorm, along withthe hot, humid temperatures, were the only problems with the weather, and the race saw only one retirement by Kazuki Nakajima, and that wasn’t even through a high speed crash, but a scrap with Robert Kubica. As far as collisions go, as well as Nakajima and Kubica’s scrap, the hairiest moment saw slight contact between Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella whilst jostling for position.

Despite over-heating problems with the Brawn car in the heat of the Sakhir circuit, Button managed to pass the chequered flag 7.1 secs clear of second place Vettel. Prior to the race, team principle Ross Brawn, said that it would be tough to keep up with the front-row sitters Trulli and Glock, and third place Vettel. Lewis Hamilton, and his KERS-assisted car also posed as a threat to the team, particularly if he had managed to make his first corner move on Jenson stick. With the track temperature at 36 degrees at the start of the race, and the ideal temperature of the Brawn car being 33 degrees or below, Button’s performance and victory appear all the more satisfactory for the British driver and team.

Button said after the race that the car hasn’t had the pace of the first three races. He added: “It was a tough race and very enjoyable.” Hamilton said he was delighted with fourth place.

For Button, his third victory out of four races so far in 2009 puts him twelve points clear of teammate Barrichello, with current champion Hamilton trailing on nine and struggling to defend his title. Brawn are now 12.5 points clear of Red Bull in the constructor’s standings.

 

Round five takes place in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 9th May and the race live on BBC One on the Sunday at 1pm.

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McLaren Back on Track?

April 25, 2009

After three races with an under-performing car, McLaren are hot on the pace and chasing down this season’s front-runners in Bahrain, this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the first practice session at the Sakhir circuit on Friday, proving the new aero parts added to the car are certainly helping the team on their quest back to the top. Heikki Kovalainen in the sister McLaren had managed sixth fastest in the first session, but only managed 19th in the second, whilst Hamilton peaked 11th.

In qualifying, Kovalainen just missed out on making it through to quali three, in 11th, and Hamilton put his Number 1 car fifth on the grid ahead of Sunday’s race. During quali one the current champion managed to go fastest at one point.

Hamilton said he was pleased that the team’s hard work had been paid off and that they were able to battle out in the top ten in quali three. “We’ve got a similar pace to some of the guys in the top five; as long as everything goes smoothly we should be able to get a top five finish tomorrow. I can almost see pole position now – and I’m really looking forward to getting there soon!”

Kovalainen said: “I am now looking forward to the race, where my target is to achieve a solid points result.”

The team are stepping up their game after the first three races, in which the highest grid slot they managed was ninth by Hamilton, and the highest race finish was fifth by Kovalainen, both in China last weekend. After the FIA ruled the diffusers of the Brawn, Toyota and Williams teams legal, McLaren have been working on their own double-decker design, introducing it for the first time at the Chinese Grand Prix.

With ‘liar-gate’ being heard before the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) next week, it remains to be seen whether McLaren will be let-off and allowed to move on and continue to race. Speculation over whether the team will receive a ban from part of this season is rife, with the added threat of losing sponsorship, after they brought the sport into disrepute when Hamilton and team manager Dave Ryan lied to officials at the Australian Grand Prix.

The team’s determination to get back on track in the early stages of the 2009 season, hasn’t been dampened by their forthcoming court appearance. However, if the team were to receive a suspension or a ‘disproportionately large’ fine, their sponsors such as Vodafone and Diageo, the owners of the Johnny Walker label, could find a way to pull out of their sponsorship deals, leaving the team in hot water, particularly in the current economic crisis.

For now it seems McLaren are still fighting to both improve the car and to earn valueable points, and their speed on the track yesterday and today in Bahrain has shown they are not about to give up on another world championship this year.

As with the previous two seasons where McLaren have fought with Ferrari for the world title, things can easily change, and teams such as Brawn-Mercedes and Red Bull who so far have had impressive successes this year, could find themselves fighting to stay ahead.

Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from fifth on the grid, with Heikki Kovalainen in 11th, having got the best from the car. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli will start the race from pole position, having lapped the Sakhir circuit in 1:33.431. Trulli said: “I’m thrilled to be back on pole again. This weekend has gone well and it’s great to be starting at the front tomorrow.” His teammate Timo Glock will start alongside him in second, with Sebastian Vettel in third. Jenson Button starts ahead of Hamilton in fourth, with the Ferrari’s of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen starting eighth and tenth respectively. Force India’s Adrian Sutil, who qualified 16th, has been issued a three-place grid drop after getting in the way of Red Bull’s Mark Webber at the end of quali one, preventing him from obtaining a faster lap-time and getting him through to quali two. Webber will start in P18.

 

Coverage starts on BBC One tomorrow at 12pm, with the race due to start at 1pm.