Categorized | Motor Racing

Burning Rubber: Controversy & Cornering At The Bahrain GP

“I think it was an incredible race, extremely tough. We had a good start, I was able to pull away immediately which turned out to be a big advantage because we always had to go on a used set of tyres as we used nearly all of them in qualifying. Kimi was very quick, so was Romain.” – Victorious Red Bull driver, Sebastian Vettel.

There were obviously huge issues associated with the running of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix yesterday, the most important globally of course being the wide-scale socio-political disturbances across the Gulf state, including riots and the burning of tyres close by the actual track pre-race – and the firing of teargas and and rubber bullets by police at Shia protesters. The Grand Prix was back after cancellation last year – and the race itself, despite the implications of its presence in Manama, went ahead uninterrupted. At least by protesters…for spectators and viewers though, it was the proverbial wild ride.

There were grumpy faces around Australia as Channel 10 made the call to move the race from HD on ONE to SD on Ten – with ads. I was one of those grumpy faces, and my little band of zoomy brothers (I am the sole – and soul – sister) whom I “watch” and commentate on F1 via social media with – well, the language was less than savoury. This is a subject for a different story – suffice to say, it wasn’t a great start. A similarly bad start for me was Webber’s push off the grid – he simply doesn’t get it right. Vettel was off and flying from the first millisecond and I actually made the call on the second lap that he would come in victorious – much to my own disgust as he is not my favourite driver by any stretch of the imagination.

It quickly became very evident that two drivers were out for a podium position; the Finnish Ice Man, Kimi Raikkonen, and his Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean. Raikkonen has made a stampeding return to F1 this year and he is a personal favourite of mine, not just for his stoic and intensely focused driving style, but for his wry humour and blunt derision of the faff associated with F1. Kimi and Grosjean – Grosjean in particular – started to make some canny moves up the placings, with some great overtakes on extremely difficult turns. It was an inspiring moment for Lotus when Kimi took second place in Lap 24 – cheers all over the world I think to see this great driver making such a powerful move.

For McLaren it was an absolute bugger of a race – the pit stops for both Button and Hamilton were, to put it bluntly, disastrous. At the first stop for Hamilton, the wheelnut pegs did not engage properly with the holes in the rim, while at the second stop the nuts cross-threaded, which is the same thing that happened to Button in Shanghai. The same mechanic was involved in all three incidents, and McLaren is investigating, although defending the mechanic’s reputation. For Button, a puncture with three laps to go meant no chance at fifth place – and then a broken exhaust forced a retirement.

Then of course there was the incident between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, where Rosberg’s so-called ‘defensive driving’ forced Hamilton off the track – and Rosberg repeated this tactic against Alonso later in the race. Stewards are investigating both incidents, and this has raised a lot of ire as to why it was not done during the race, as it may affect placements and standings for the entire season. For me, Rosberg’s moves were dirty and unnecessary – normally I would be the last to defend Hamilton but this was ridiculous.

“I can only say that if, instead of such a wide run-off area there had been a wall, I’m not sure I’d be here to talk about it” – Ferdinand Alonso

For Webber, it was the perennial bridesmaid position of F1 – fourth – but because there have been four different winners from four different teams in the four races run so far (say that quickly), he is actually sitting third in the Drivers’ Championship standings behind Red Bull team-mate Vettel and Hamilton. I’m not sure what, apart from better grid starts, Webber can do to increase his individual race efforts; he is a great driver, but honestly? He is outgunned at the moment by Vettel, Button and yes, Raikkonen. They are hungrier than he is and it shows.

This was a great race from the pure perspective of seeing brilliant drives from Raikkonen, Grosjean and the hold out from Vettel; but it was so seriously overshadowed by the violent protests in Bahrain that the edge of enjoyment was taken off for me at least. To see Kimi in such great form though – magic. I just wish Jenson had had a better race – but that’s girl talk…

Placements after 57 of 57 laps:
Position Driver Team
Fastest lap: S Vettel 1:36.379 on lap 41
1 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
2 Finland K Raikkonen Lotus
3 Switzerland R Grosjean Lotus
4 Australia M Webber Red Bull
5 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes
6 Great Britain P Di Resta Force India
7 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
8 Great Britain L Hamilton McLaren
9 Brazil F Massa Ferrari
10 Germany M Schumacher Mercedes
11 Mexico S Perez Sauber
12 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
13 Japan K Kobayashi Sauber
14 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
15 Australia D Ricciardo Toro Rosso
16 Russian Federation V Petrov Caterham
17 Finland H Kovalainen Caterham
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany T Glock Marussia
20 Spain P de la Rosa HRT
21 India N Karthikeyan HRT
22 Brazil B Senna (ret.) Williams
23 Venezuela P Maldonado (ret.) Williams
24 France C Pic (ret.) Maruss

(images courtesy of Getty and The Telegraph respectively)

 

 

Kate Stone

Kate Stone

Kate Stone (known on Twitter as oskythespy for reasons best known to herself) is cricket mad, rugby union madder and would cheerfully marry Jenson Button, but call her a grid girl and she will kick you. A Waratahs supporter for her sins, you will find her tweeting crankily about the state of Australian cricket, roaring about rugger and frothing about F1. You can follow her personal blog at http://40isthenew30.me for a more positive spin on life. Sometimes.
Kate Stone

@oskythespy

Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.
@autosportlive: Sebastian Vettel is not expected to compete in this session after the engine problems earlier. #F1” one can only hope - 2 weeks ago

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