Race Notes: Bahrain Grand Prix 2009

2009 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix
Circuit: Bahrain International Circuit
Location: Sakhir, Bahrain
Coverage: BBC One
Distance: 57 laps

Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts in the paddock: David Coulthard (DC) and Eddie Jordan (EJ)
Race commentary: Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle
Pit and paddock reports: Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie

We’re using Supersoft and Medium tyres this week.

** Disclaimer – These are notes taken during the race. They may or may not make any sense and I have only edited them for brevity, punctuation and grammar. **

BBC coverage is a GO at 12.10pm UK time. 50 minutes to race start.
EJ: Two clashing pairs of pink shirts, why didn’t you tell me I had to wear pink?

Qualifying report with Ted:
– In Q1 Sutil blocked Webber on the final corner of the lap. Webber was on a hot lap.
– Sutil gets 3-place penalty.
– BMW are 1sec/lap off the pace.
– Kovalainen wasn’t happy with 11th after an electrical problem in practice.
– Raikkonen used all his new tyres in Q1 and Q2 so had none left for Q3, result: 10th.
– RBR has race-winning pace with Vettel.
– Toyota on front row, Trulli says it is time to get the first Toyota win.

Trulli (pole), Glock
Vettel, Button
Hamilton, Rubens
Alonso, Massa
Rosberg, Kimi
Heikki, Nakajima
Kubica, Heidfeld
Piquet, Buemi
Fisichella, Webber
Sutil (pen), Bourdais

Ferrari report, basically saying “Ferrari’s current form isn’t great is it.” Features classic F1 clips!!
Jean Alesi is in Bahrain for Speedcar: One driver is world champion, Kimi, the other nearly won it at the last second. They are missing something technically, they are not quick enough.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari: We need to look forward and solve the issues we have. We could have been faster but even with that we should have scored points in the first three races.

LeeMcK: For now the Prancing Horse is injured.

BBC Trio of Jake, David and Eddie are outside the Ferrari garage chatting about them. Nothing interesting to report here..

35 mins to go and a short 10-15 second ‘local culture’ video montage, excellent!

Jake leaves the other guys at Ferrari and walks to McLaren to introduce a recorded interview with Lewis Hamilton.
Summary: He’s here to have fun and race and win. It was hard to have his integrity questioned. He’s committed to McLaren.
Jakes asks if he’s willing to up with “the bad stuff” in order to stay in F1, Lewis says “absolutely!”.

Hamilton leaves the pits followed by a BMW.

Martin’s track guide:
3.4 miles, hot, sandy. DC is with him.
DC: The apex for turn 1 determines the line for turn 2. I had an accident at 200mph when a brake disc exploded, no worries about safety here.
Nice comparison between Hamilton and Button’s lines – Jenson was faster and you could see it.
DC: No chance of rain but a reasonable chance of a sandstorm bringing sand on to the track. (not necessarily during the race, it could be deposited there any time)

We’re live again.
EJ: Glock is lighter. Trulli did this before in Monaco, he had pole and he won it.

12:37 Martin’s live gridwalk:
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin is also on the grid but doesn’t want to be interviewed on TV – Brundle not happy about that and will doorstop him privately later! Eric Clapton is ready and willing, he’s here now:
EC: I love Ferrari, I love Grands Prix and this is a great venue. Ferrari will be alright, couple more races!
As Eric turns away we see Peter Windsor dive straight in to talk to him!!
The left side of the grid is in the shade which will help them.

His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Bahrain:
HRH: The heat is one of the challenges of the Middle East. I’m careful not to make predictions so I hope we have a successful race.
I like HRH, he’s very relaxed and not ‘up himself’. This is the 6th Bahrain GP!
Martin can’t find any drivers. Maybe keeping cool in the aircon of the garage?
John Button, Jenson’s dad: He’s so totally relaxed it’s unbelievable.
Rubens: It’s gonna be crazy for everyone for water temperatures in the engine. We have to be in free air.
Pat Symonds, Renault: The temp is 6deg higher than predicted and the predicted headwind hasn’t appeared. It’s gonna be hot.
Massa accepts a chat: I wanna finish and I hope with good points. In a hot race like that anything can happen.

Excellent grid walking! Ultra-extended edition.

Bahraini National Anthem. Backing track only, no singing..

Ted’s analysis of qual:
Trulli, Glock, Vettel, Button, Hamilton
Trulli, Vettel, Button, Glock, Hamilton.
Glock and Trulli should stop first.

EJ picks Trulli to lead from the front.

We join Jonathan and Martin in the comm box.
JL’s first line: At least its not raining!
Live timing has reset.

Engines fired and mechanics clear the grid.

JL says they are all on the Super Soft.

Rob Smedley on Massa’s radio: The Brawns have cut out the back of their bodywork for cooling.

Trulli is taking his time leading them around. Is this the Ultimate Trulli Train?

Grid forming.


Hamilton up to 3rd straight away. Racing a Toyota now.
Contact at the rear.
Webber is passing cars all over the place! Glock took Trulli on the start.

Lap 1 complete
We’re on L2 – Button takes Hamilton into turn 1.
Webber is still passing, he’s 13th or so. There are cars absolutely everywhere!!

L3 Glock leads.
Glock, Trulli, Button, Hamilton, Vettel, Rubens, Kimi.
Kubica and Nakajima both pit for nosecones.

Start replays.
Replay of Button’s nice move on Hamilton.
L4 Massa pits for new nose and tyres. Ted speculates they may also have a KERS problem.

L5 Cars are spreading out now. Toyotas trading fastest laps.
Webber is up to 11th! Hell of a drive. Helped by 3 cars pitting but that’s impressive from where he started, and for Fisichella one place behind him.

L6 Martin says Vettel needs a faster pace than this, he’s following behind Hamilton at the moment.

L8 Toyotas and Button are really pulling away from the field.
Ted: Button has now been told to ‘turn his engine down’ to keep it cool.
This early??

Nosecam! Camera close to the ground with no bodywork in vision, very cool.

Rubens radio: You will have to use the overtake button to get past him.
He’s behind Vettel.

L10 Martin thinks Glock is going to pit soon (already).
Vettel radio: Target plus 2. Save your tyres.
Martin: Target plus two seconds I’d imagine.

L12 Glock pits from the lead. 9.3? He’s out alongside Rosberg, Nico beats him so he’s 9th.
Hamilton team radio: Prime is slower, Prime is slower recommend Option for next stint.
Hamilton: I agree, I agree.

L13 Trulli pits from the lead. 8.9. He’s out alongside Alonso and beats him! Trulli 6th and has changed to the medium tyres.
Martin says the paddock expected the supersofts to be the things to have and they’ve been taken by surprise.

L14 Heikki pits according to timing, we haven’t seen it on TV yet. Alonso alongside Trulli, he takes him!

L15 Barrichello pits and takes the supersofts. He’s out and beats Fisichella for 10th.

L16 Button and Hamilton pit. Both take supersofts.
Martin wonders if he’s misunderstood the Prime/Option discussion earlier. They don’t call them supersofts and mediums and he assumed prime meant soft, it actually means medium. Are you confused yet?

L17 Alonso pits. Supersofts. Button has passed both Toyotas during the stops and Trulli is ahead of Glock.
We don’t see where Alonso emerges because we’re watching Rubens fight with Nelsinho.
Rubens raises his arm! Does he think Nelson is blocking him? He is being held up but it is for position, can’t expect blue flags. On the straight Piquet has the KERS and Barrichello does not, Barrichello is a lot faster through the corners.
Rubens gets alongside at the tight left but Piquet jumps on KERS and just drives away from him!

L18 Bourdais pits. Replay: Rubens passes Piquet on turn one, nice move.
L19 Vettel pits from the lead. Raikkonen now leads but is yet to stop. Vettel on the medium tyres and he’s out behind Trulli and ahead of Rosberg, so he’s 4th.

L20 Vettel radio: The car in front is Trulli. Rosberg behind will stop in two laps.
Replay: Rubens passes Glock for 7th. Made it look easy, does Glock have a problem? Is it the medium tyres?

Kimi, Button, Trulli, Vettel, Rosberg, Hamilton, Rubens, Glock, Piquet, Alonso, Sutil, Buemi, Fisi, Webber, Massa, Kova, Bourdais, Kubica, Nakajima, Heidfeld.
L22 Kimi pits from the lead. Supersofts. Rosberg is in too. Kimi is out behind Piquet for 9th. Piquet has not stopped.
Buemi pits from 12th.

L24 Massa radio: The KERS is not working very well?
Massa: Yes the KERS.
L25 Hamilton radio: Trulli is on prime, he’s stopping at a similar time to you, we’re trying to out run him.
Button leads Trulli by 9 seconds. Trulli has Vettel and Hamilton close behind with Barrichello catching quickly.
Glock is next and 2 seconds per lap slower.

L27 Barrichello pits from 5th. Comes in just as he catches the slower cars ahead of him, nice timing. Supersofts. Beats Rosberg to the first corner for 8th. Hasn’t he run supersofts all the way? That means he has top stop again to run the mediums.

L30 Pretty stable at the moment. Things should happen in the final stint when the Brawns and Hamilton are on mediums and Toyotas and run the faster supersofts.
Hamilton radio: We believe you are 2 laps longer than Trulli. Vettel is even longer but you are racing Trulli for a podium.
Martin: So McLaren think Button is going to win it!

We’re a couple of laps over halfway and the first car has only just been lapped! Such a hot pace from everybody. No retirements, just delays to some cars for repairs. Another car is lapped as Nakajima exits the pits.

L32 Button is now 13.9 seconds ahead of Trulli. Not sure why Hamilton’s KERS isn’t getting him past Vettel – we saw the difference between Piquet and Barrichello earlier.

Ted has been running between garages for a straw poll: The consensus among the engineers is that Jenson is on a 2-stop, possibly switched from a 3-stop and that option is still available.

L34 Glock pits from 7th. Supersofts. He’s used both compounds and now can choose the preferred tyre. Now 10th.
L35 Trulli radio: Try to open a gap to Vettel, he’s longer than us but he’s on the prime tyre for the lasta steent.

Shot of John Button in a pink shirt.
Martin: Pink shirts, everyone is in pink shirts. Jake, DC, Daddy Button.
Jonathan: Tempted?
Martin: Not yet.

Kubica pits but he’s a lap down. BMW having a nightmare. 18th and 19th. Massa is about to be lapped by Button but Massa has stopped once more than most of the field.

L37 Bourdais pits from 14th.
L38 Button pits and takes mediums. 2-stopper then. Trulli and Hamilton also pit. Lewis has medium and Jarno has supersoft.
Barrichello passes Hamilton in the stops.
Fisichella, Kovalainen and Webber pit – they were running close together. McLaren was wrong about Trulli stopping later.

L39 Barrichello makes a move on Trulli but overshoots.
Ted says Jenson has been complaining of traffic.
We haven’t seen it.
Hamilton radio: Barrichello has to stop in ten laps.

L40 Vettel leads by 11.5 from Button but needs to stop. He pits now. Long train of cars coming down the road and he beats all except Kimi, he beats Trulli!

L43 Nakajima has jumped the two BMWs which now run dead last.
Martin: Trulli is on supersofts, if he can get past Vettel on the mediums he could get a run on Button who is also on mediums.

L44 Ted: Lots of people at BMW looking miserable. Both cars have sustained aero damage and both were converted to one-stops so their tyres are completely destroyed as well.
I never understood why teams switch to one-stoppers.

L45 Raikkonen pits from a long second stint. He’s out alongside Glock and isn’t able to maintain the place, so he’s 8th. Kimi wakes up and hits KERS, he’s past Glock straight away!

L46 Rosberg pits.
Replay: Kubica takes a look at passing Nakijima but hits him and spins!
L47 Massa pits. He’s well down the order, out of the points.
L48 Barrichello is in from 4th on his 3-stopper and takes his mediums. He just beats Raikkonen and Glock, it was a very short stop.

Button is 12.9 up on Vettel, then 1.1 to Trulli, Hamilton, Rubens, Kimi, Glock, Alonso, Rosbeg, Piquet, Webber, Kova, Bourdais, Fisi, Massa, Sutil, Buemi, Naka, Kubica, Heidfeld.

French Seb is kicking Swiss Seb’s ass today – he needed that to save his career.

L50 Nakajima pits for some reason. Late stop? No we cut to him and he’s pulled into the garage to retire. Only one retiree with 7 to go, that’s impressive in the heat here.

L51 Massa and Fisichella touch as Massa takes the position – all of 14th. Button is up behind them to lap them, Fisi seems to be blocking him!
It cost Button 1.5 seconds on that lap. He’s now 11.1 ahead of Vettel, still a big gap for the laps remaining.

L55 All very stable now, nothing much going on. Vettel and Trulli are catching Button rapidly but he’s clearly turned his settings down.

Grandstands don’t look too bad, the main one has a lot of people. Can’t see into the others dotted around.

JL: What have we learnt? This is the first dry race. (err, what was Australia then, JL?)
Martin: The Brawn is the best car, the gap isn’t great to Red Bull. Ross Brawn’s sabbatical, he hasn’t lost his strategic ablility.

Jenson Button WINS!
Vettel 2nd
Trulli 3rd

Button radio! Congrats from the team, congrats from Button. He’s happy with the big points lead they’ve built up going into the European season. I think he feels very good to finally take a chequered flag at racing speeds in a Brawn!

Cars heading back to Parc Ferme. I never realised how slowly they did it. Now we’re on the BBC we are watching it happen, ITV always went to commercials here.

Button get on to his car and throws his arm in the air!
Martin says the BBC Forum is going to be at Brawn, that’ll be interesting!

Drivers to the podum, with Ron Meadows the team manager of Brawn. Nice to send him instead of Ross Brawn. Jarno Trulli doesn’t look happy.

British national anthem for Button and Brawn.

Trophies. Legard needs to stop talking about football.

Champaa… no, not champage. Muslim country so we have a local rose water drink instead. We don’t even get Bob Constanduros shouting “rose waaaaateeerrrrrr”.

We’re back with Jake, Eddie and David, seated this time.

Lee with Hamilton: Delighted with 4th, it was so hard to keep up with the guys, they were fast in the corners. It can be hot in this heat.

It is hot in the heat. Yep. Often is.

Press conference with Peter Windsor:
Button: Tough race. We haven’t had the pace we had at the first few races, I guess these guys have caught up. We knew Sebastian was longer but we made it work.
Vettel: The start was okay then all of a sudden Lewis was there, when I looked in my mirror he was not there but I guess he pressed his special button. (he talks about tyre degradation)
Trulli: I am a bit disappointed because I wanted the first win for Toyota. We had a long stint on hard tyres, it was hard fighting a lot of cars. At the end I was quicker (than Sebastian) but could not overtake so that’s how the race was. I want to thank the team.

Drivers of the day?
DC: Jenson and Lewis.
EJ: Vettel, we saw him dominate in the wet and this was his chance to show what he can do in the dry, I’d add him to the two DC gave.

3pm and we’re out of here. BBC closes the show with “I can see clearly now, the rain has gone”. Very good. 🙂

Race Result

1. Button 57 laps [10]
2. Vettel + 7.1 sec [8]
3. Trulli + 9.1 (to Button) [6]
4. Hamilton + 22.0 [5]
5. Barrichello + 37.7 [4]
6. Raikkonen + 42.0 [3]
7. Glock + 42.8 [2]
8. Alonso + 52.7 [1]
9. Rosberg + 65.1
10. Piquet + 67.6
11. Webber 67.6
12. Kovalainen + 77.8
13. Bourdais + 78.8
14. Massa + 1 lap
15. Fisichella + 1 lap
16. Sutil + 1 lap
17. Buemi + 1 lap
18. Kubica + 1 lap
19. Heidfeld + 1 lap
DNF Nakajima + 9 laps

FL Jarno Trulli 1:34.556 on lap 10

Drivers Championship

1. Button 21+10 = 31
2. Barrichello 15+4 = 19
3. Vettel 10+8 = 18
4. Trulli 8.5+6 = 14.5
5. Glock 10+2 = 12
6. Webber 9.5
7. Hamilton 4+5 = 9
8. Alonso 4+1 = 5
9. Heidfeld 4
10. Kovalainen 4
11. Rosberg 3.5
12. Raikkonen 0+3 = 3
13. Buemi 3
14. Bourdais 1

Button extends his lead. Vettel gains on Rubens. Trulli is up two places and Hamilton jumps from 10th to 7th. Raikkonen scores some points!

Constructors Championship

1. Brawn Mercedes 36+14 = 50
2. RBR Renault 19.5+8 = 27.5
3. Toyota 18.5+8 = 26.5
4. McLaren Mercedes 8+5 = 13
5. BMW Sauber 4
6. Renault 4+1 = 5
7. STR Ferrari 4
8. Williams Toyota 3.5
9. Ferrari 3
10. Force India Mercedes 0

Look at that points leads after just four races. Can they be beaten? McLaren have awoken yet are still falling behind the front three. A real shake up in the order this year.

The next race is the Spanish Grand Prix of May 10th, a tighter circuit which is usually one of the more boring races of the year – this will be a good test of the new regulations. Meanwhile the entire F1 paddock will enjoy the break in the knowledge we have no more back-to-back races for the whole year. For the forseeable future we’re back to the fortnightly races around Europe at 1pm, and I for one cannot wait!

* * *
I’m going to be very busy with college work again this week, I hope I’ll get a chance to catch up on the two IndyCar races I’ve not seen yet and post notes about them, otherwise I’ll try to post at least a little something between now and the Previews at the end of the week.


3 thoughts on “Race Notes: Bahrain Grand Prix 2009”

  1. tks fun read! what a beautiful 1st turn they had. I hadn’t thought about the “rose water” b/c of location.


  2. @Journeyer, I saw you asking the same on Sidepodcast. 🙂 I was looking last night but couldn’t find out who it was, so sorry I really have no idea.@Jotham Thanks! And there I was, thinking this wasn’t my best effort, glad you liked it. I think Bahrain is the only one to have it, Turkey doesn’t and we’ll wait and see what Abu Dhabi does.


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