Thoughts on F1: Bahrain GP

Preface

In 2008 and 2009 I wrote detailed Race Reviews of each F1 race, and some IndyCar and GP2 races, featuring my reaction to events as they unfolded, which I’d taken as short notes then wrote up more fully. These were moderately popular but took a lot of work and I felt I wasn’t enjoying it any more, so for 2010 I’ve decided to give a more loose account of my general impression from each race.

Here is my reaction to the Bahrain GP which I wrote on the Tuesday after the race while away from the internet during my break in Spain. I guarantee I have not edited this so I’m pretty happy Melbourne turned out well! Thoughts on Australia will follow on Wednesday, and similar posts about IndyCar or GP2 or other races may follow eventually depending on time I have available.

Thoughts on F1 – 2010 Bahrain GP

A lot has been said about how boring the Bahrain GP was… so I thought I’d add to it. Since I was watching without live timing and limited access to online discussions – I’m normally all over these like a rash during any big race – I wondered if I was just missing the extra layer of information the internet brings.

Turns out most agreed with me, the race was a snoozefest. Now – you’re going to tell me I wrote about this a few weeks ago. ‘All races are interesting in some way’, was the message wasn’t it?

I did say that, and I acknowledged at the time that you’re always going to get the odd bad race, my main argument was people were calling races boring when they were just looking at them wrongly. I said Valencia ’08 and Abu Dhabi ’09 were exceptions to that because they were dull. We can add Bahrain 2010 to that list.

Prior to the event I’d suspected it would be a bad one after they announced it would be run on the 24-hour course, the tight twisty slow section. I’m sure they did this in response to claims the other layout was stop/start and not challenging enough – what those critics missed is that actually it wasn’t that bad, perhaps below-average but not awful. The extension made it worse by creating field-spread excacerbated by new rules which were always going to do that anyway.

I think future events will be a little better. Albert Park will be its usual self, then Shanghai and Barcelona are always boring but there will be those who pin that on the new rules too.

The problem isn’t with the fuel rules – they’ve brought even more into focus a problem most of us acknowledged in 2009 after several boring races then – the cars cannot pass each other. The new-for-09 aerodynamic rules closed up the laptimes but they did not help overtaking. This is why last year qualifying was usually more fun than the race. Unfortunately there are no quick-fixes. Adding a mandatory second stop may help a bit but as we’ve seen in DTM you’re going to have to bring in pit windows as well to prevent pitting in say the first and last 5 laps. And in DTM the drivers still wait for the stops.

The other problem is teams are preoccupied with saving engines and gearboxes for the next race. I don’t think that makes for good racing. I’m fine with saving fuel and saving tyres as long as the entire field isn’t doing it, if it is a legitimate strategy versus someone pushing.

I’m less interested in ‘turning the engine down’ just so it can be used again. I’m hoping that engines and gearboxes will be developed enough within the restrictions to eventually be able to be pushed and still last a few races.

I enjoy sportscar racing because this is where this type of fuel and tyre ‘conservation’ racing works best – over a really long race lasting many hours, the car with the best mix of speed and reliability will theoretically win. Is it suited to a 90-minute F1 race? I guess we’ll find out over the season but it doesn’t look good so far.

The other thing to note – perhaps this was a dry run while teams test out the rules to see what the limits are? Will they be as conservative by the time we get to Barcelona or will they feel more free to be creative?

I haven’t mentioned the actual performances yet. Vettel’s pace was very impressive until the car problem, and both Ferraris weren’t far behind, I hope we aren’t in for a dominant season from the trio. I thought the McLarens were supposed to be on top? Special mention for Lotus and Virgin for not looking totally hopeless, things look promising in the long-term. HRT… the jury is out but they did a professional job to test the car while staying out of everyone’s way, and they have a LOT of work to do. And a completely anonymous race for M.Schumacher…

Results

1. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)  49 laps
2. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) +16.0s
3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) +23.1s
4. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) +38.7s
5. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) +40.2s
6. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) +44.1s
7. Jenson Button (McLaren) +45.2s
8. Mark Webber (Red Bull) +46.3s
9. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India) +53.0s
10. Rubens Barrichello (Williams) +62.4s
11. Robert Kubica (Renault) +69.0s
12. Adrian Sutil (Force India) +82.9s
13. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) +92.6s
14. Nico Hulkenberg (Williams) + 1 lap
15. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus) + 2 laps
16. Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) +3 laps
R. Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber)  hydraulics
R. Bruno Senna (Hispania) hydraulics
R. Timo Glock (Virgin) mechanical
R. Vitaly Petrov (Renault) gearbox
R. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) hydraulics
R. Lucas di Grassi (Virgin) hydraulics
R. Karun Chandhok (Hispania) accident

A lot of hydraulic problems in there. I won’t include a driver points table because it is the same as the top ten. I’m not sure whether to include results and points going forwards..

Constructors

1. Ferrari 43 pts
2. McLaren 21
3. Mercedes 18
4. Red Bull 16
5. Force India 2
6. Williams 1

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One thought on “Thoughts on F1: Bahrain GP

  1. It was a sad start to the season and perhaps it seemed more so because we were starved of F1 action for four and a half months and we had been hopeful of so much. Let’s give it another couple of races to see how it goes .. sprinklers on the track anyone?

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