Bahrain Formula One Update - by John
Another stunning victory for Brawn and Button. This time Button really had to show what he is made of and did so magnificently, retaking the place Hamilton had taken off him by using his KERS with a well-executed move at the end of the straight, both drivers showing their maturity and skill in avoiding contact.
Unfortunately, further back in the field, it was not the same story and contact was made. Massa was squeezed between his team mate and Nico Rosberg , resulting in him having to pit for a new front wing and effectively eliminating him from points scoring positions and Kovalainen must have been held up here as well as he ended up down in 17th.
At the front, Trulli had a poor start and was overtaken by his team mate, Timo Glock who lead the race for the first stint. Hamilton made a brilliant start but quickly lost the places he had gained to the faster cars. Vetel was squeezed and ended up in 5th. Having gained 3rd place, Button showed great pace and when the lightly fuelled Toyotas pitted, he took the lead which he never effectively lost from then on, except when pit stops temporarily changed the running order.
Glock's pit stop proved to be unfortunately timed as he was taken by Rosberg on the way out and suffered delays which meant he never got back in touch with the leaders. Trulli's worked out better and he came out in 6th ahead of Alonso. However, on lap 12, as Button hit the front, Alonso took Trulli. Barrichello pitted on lap 14, coming out ahead of Fisichella, who was in 11th, pretty respectable for Force India who have moved off the back of the grid this season, and Button a lap later, Hamilton following him in. Button re-emerged 3rd behind Vettel, who was now in the lead and Raikonnen.
At this point Barrichello was held up by Piquet and was getting a bit Brazilian under the collar about it! However on the next lap the senior citizen of the circuit proved that experience can outwit youthfulness and took the place easily. At about this time Vettel pitted, coming out 4th and on lap 21 Raikonnen pitted, bringing the race into proper order with Button first, followed by Trulli, Vettel and Hamilton, with Barrichello fifth, followed by Glock, Piquet, Raikonnen and Alonso. Webber and Kovalainen had not made much progress and were languishing in 13th and 15th respectively.
The middle section of the race was fairly uneventful and the status quo was maintained in the first half of the pack with just the rearrangements caused by pit stops. However, Button was extending his lead over Trulli to 13 seconds. There looked as if there might be a battle looming as Hamilton closed up on Vettel and Raikonnen closed on Glock in 5th but then Glock pitted, coming out on superesoft tyres with 24 laps to go and Hamilton was unable to challenge Vettel.
On lap 36, Button lapped Massa and then pitted next lap, followed into the pits by Trulli and Hamilton, putting Vettel into the lead. He was doing some sterling work here because after he pitted on lap 39, he emerged 3rd ahead of Trulli and effectively 2nd, as Raikonnen still had to make another stop. Apart from this the finishing order had been established and although Trulli was close behind Vettel he could not challenge him.
Raikonnen finally pitted on lap 44 and we had a little excitment when he re-emerged as Glock was passing. Glock won the battle for 6th place initially but then Raiki showed him who was boss and took it back 2 corners later. Massa pitted lap 46, Barrichelo lap 47, emerging 5th. The order remained unchanged for the last 10 laps, with Vettel closing slightly on Button who had probably eased off with a 12 second safety margin to cushion him.
Brilliant Button Wins.
Button took the chequered flag to the delight of his team and that of Richard Branson of Brawn sponser Virgin, increasing his championship points to 31 ahead of Barrichelo with 19 and Vettel with 18. In the constructors championship, Brawn have scored 50 points, Red Bull 27.5 and Toyota 26.5. Raikonnens finish in 6th finally gave Ferrari its first points of the season. It was noticable too that for the first time this season, Piquet put in a respecable performance and finished 2 places behind Alonso, but out of the points in 10th. Williams again failed to reproduce their practice speed in the race with Rosberg in 9th and the underperforming Nakajima last. The BMW's languished at 18th and 19th beaten even by the Force India cars - how the mighty are fallen!!
One noticable feature of the race was that all 20 cars finished, a testimony to the superb reliablity of todays F1 cars and to driver skill and quite possibly also to track design. The magnificent Sakhir circuit once again produced a memorable GP, efficiently and warmly hosted by the Bahrainis.
More Middle East Grand Prix - a Possibility for Qatar?
From this year, Bahrain will not be the only Middle Eastern Grand Prix as Abu Dhabi gets in on the act. It is also rumoured that Qatar have expressed interest in hosting a GP but it seems unlikely that there will be a third one in this area. However, who knows? The lure of petro-dollars could prove irresistable to the greedy eyes of "our Bernie", who I am convinced has found a way of "taking it with him".
Also See: Racing in the Desert
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