F1 News, Views and Reviews

Bahrain GP 2010: Alonso Wins On Ferrari Debut With Impressive 1-2 For Scuderia

Fernando Alonso got his Ferrari career off to the perfect start with victory in the first round of the 2010 season in Bahrain.

The Spanish driver was followed across the line by team mate Felipe Massa, making it Ferrari’s first 1-2 finish in some time.  The joy was evident on the faces of the mechanics post-race.

Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion was 3rd.

Race Review

The anticipation pre-race was unbearable, following the drivers parade we discovered Ferrari replaced both engines and that the Hispania drivers would start in the pits.

The start of the race was fast and furious as expected, with Fernando Alonso managing to squeeze past Felipe Massa as the Ferrari boys snaked through the first few corners behind Sebastian Vettel – who would go on to pull away into a phenomenal lead.

Further back, Mark Webber’s car blew out lots of smoke with excess oil burn off, blinding Robert Kubica’s path and forcing him and Adrian Sutil to spin off.  In the carnage, Michael Schumacher made the most of it and worked up into 6th, also making a good effort was Vitaly Petrov who ended up on the cusp of the top 10.

On the second lap, Hispania’s Karun Chandhok bowed out of his debut after crashing.  Not the start he hoped for.  A matter of laps later, Nico Hulkenberg another rookie spun off, just managing to save his Williams from the gravel trap.  During this action, Lucas di Grassi pulled off and retired with hydraulic failure – something that would stop a lot of cars today.

The laps counted down, without much action until Robert Kubica pitted for harder compound tyres and lit up the track.  The leaders soon pitted as Kubica’s times tumbled, this first and only pitstop for the majority of the field.  The stop allowed Jenson Button, the current World Champion to get past Australian Mark Webber who had been struggling to keep a good pace following that oil blow off on the first corner of the race.

Kamui Kobayashi retired around this time with a hydraulic issue, the same issue would stop his team mate Pedro de La Rosa on lap 30 – the pair hadn’t had a brilliant weekend although De la Rosa had hooked up good pace in race trim.  On lap 14, Vitaly Petrov retired in his pitbox with front wishbone failure – how it got broken is still a mystery.

The pit stops were quick, with the top 3 all being under 4.5 seconds.

From there on in it was relatively trouble free with only two more retirements, of Bruno Senna whose Cosworth engine sounded rather worse for wear, and just before Timo Glock who retired we believe due to a hydraulic failure.

All was going well for Vettel, despite Fernando Alonso attempting to gain on him after the Ferrari drivers were told to slow down as their engines were overheating in the dirty air.  However, Vettel’s exhaust cracked and the Red Bull driver lost all power, Alonso caught him like his car was on fire and powered on passed – the clean air aiding the Ferrari’s cause.

This clean air allowed Alonso to put in a series of amazing hot laps, he is definitely the one to watch for these first few fly-away races.

Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton managed to get passed the ailing Vettel but he did hold off the Mercedes’ of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher who were making large gains on his Red Bull towards the end.

Button and Webber followed Schumacher over the line, and it was Tonio Liuzzi in 9th who had a quiet but consistent race.  Rubens Barrichello held on to 10th to take advantage of the final new point scoring position.

Kubica and Sutil recovered to 11th and 12th respectively following their earlier spins, ahead of Alguersuari and Hulkenberg.

Heikki Kovalainen had a good consistent race for Lotus, overtaking and without technical problems.  He finished ahead of Buemi who retired on the final lap, and Jarno Trulli who struggled to the line with a mechnical issue and also seemingly a seat fitting issue – the Italian was holding his back in pain after getting out of the car on the final lap.

While Alonso will take the glory, and will become the Ferrari fans new hero it is worth mentioning Felipe Massa’s performance finishing 2nd in his first race back following that terrible accident in Hungary last season.

Roll on Australia!

Race Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 F. Alonso Ferrari 1.39.20.396
2 F. Massa Ferrari +16.099
3 L. Hamilton McLaren +23.182
4 S. Vettel Red Bull Racing +38.713
5 N. Rosberg Mercedes +40.263
6 M. Schumacher Mercedes +44.180
7 J. Button McLaren +45.260
8 M. Webber Red Bull Racing +46.308
9 V. Liuzzi Force India +53.089
10 R. Barrichello Williams +1.02.400
11 R. Kubica Renault +1.09.093
12 A.  Sutil Force India +1.22.958
13 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso +1.32.656
14 N. Hulkenberg Williams + 1 lap
15 H. Kovalainen Lotus + 1 lap
16 S. Buemi Toro Rosso + 3 laps
17 J. Trulli Lotus + 3 laps

Retirements:

Driver Team Lap Reason
P. De la Rosa Sauber 30 Hydraulic
B. Senna Hispania 18 Engine
T. Glock Virgin 17 Hydraulic
V. Petrov Renault 14 Suspension
K. Kobayashi Sauber 12 Hydraulic
L. di Grassi Virgin 3 Hydraulic
K. Chandhok Hispania 2 Accident

Fastest Lap: F. Alonso 1.58.287

Post Race Interviews
F. Alonso – Ferrari (1st):  “A very special day for me.   Coming back the top of the podium is always special but even more special with Ferrari. We have history behind the team and all the expectations a driver has when he drives for Ferrari.  There is no better way to start the relationship. This is the best team in the world, we worked hard all winter, the guys did a very good job in winter testing.  We have done nothing so far – we only won the first race but to be first and second is the result that the guys in Maranello deserve because they have been working day and night to give us this fantastic car.  This first victory is dedicated to all the people in Italy, the mechanics here and president di Montezemolo. This result is very, very positive.”

F. Massa – Ferrari (2nd):  “First of all I think it is fantastic to be here, so thanks a lot that everything is great.  Being here with a competitive car and going through the whole race with good pace, so thanks to God I am fine and thanks to everybody who was supporting me in a difficult time.  The race was really good and fantastic for us. For sure I didn’t have a good start, I lost an important position to Fernando at the first corner. After that the race was perfect for me on the soft and with the hard.”

L. Hamilton – McLaren (3rd):  I had quite a good race, unfortunately I lost a bit of ground, locked up into Turn 4 and went wide, got in a bad position and Rosberg got past me.  I was then much faster but it’s difficult to follow here and look after the tyres. If I was ahead of him maybe I would have been able to follow the train these guys [the Ferraris] were creating.  It is a strong result for me and the team,” he said. “It was more than we expected. We need to continue to push to keep up with these guys.”

S. Vettel – Red Bull Racing (4th):  “All in all it was a positive except the failure this weekend.   Under any conditions from Saturday morning onwards we were the quickest. I think we had very good control of the race, we had a very good strategy, I knew how my tyres were.  We had quite good control of the tyres and the brakes, everything running smoothly.  I think it was 15-20 laps to the end I just lost power. I don’t know what it was but I think something mechanical broke. Luckily we could continue but we should have won really.”

M. Schumacher – Mercedes Benz (6th):  “It’s the start and then after it is just sort of go your pace and not do mistakes.  Overtaking is basically impossible, other than if somebody makes a mistake – Lewis had a little one so Nico was able to pass him, but got back past at the pitstop. That’s about it.  That’s the action we are going to have with unfortunately this kind of environment of race strategy.  But, anyway, it was good fun. Especially the beginning and now we are going to work forward in order to catch up what is in front of us.”

Robert Kubica – Renault (11th): “All our hard work this weekend was undone by the incident on the first lap.  I think Sutil just didn’t lift off because he couldn’t see anything and he hit me. I spun during the incident and that cooked the rear tyres: they were overheating from that point onwards and I eventually stopped very early on lap 12.  I completed the rest of the race on hard tyres, and that was a big challenge: I just set myself the goal of finishing in the points, but we didn’t quite make it. Without the incident on lap one, I think we would have had a very strong points finish because we showed the pace to fight well.  Overall, it was a positive weekend for us”

Heikki Kovalainen – Lotus (15th): “It was a good race for our team.  To get both cars to the finish is a great achievement. My car didn’t have a single problem, I know Jarno did and managed to nurse his car to the end, but the primary goal was to get both cars to the end and we achieved that. So far the team has reached every goal we set ourselves, so that is fantastic.”

P. De la Rosa – Sauber (Ret):  “I actually had a good start, but then lost positions when I had to go off the track to avoid colliding with other cars. On the grass I lost acceleration and some cars were able to pass, so when I arrived at turn four I had lost several positions.  Then I felt we had a car that was good enough to fight for points, and there still was a chance to achieve this when I was called into the pits on lap 29 because of an hydraulic problem.”

Bruno Senna – Hispania HRT (Ret): “It was certainly a relief to have been in the race for so many laps.  Everything was going well. I felt I had a little too much understeer. I had a good base set-up now after these laps and my engineers will have a better starting point to work from for next race.  There was a vibration from the back of the car a lap earlier and then the car suddenly stopped. We’ll have to investigate what happened.  But I am very happy for the whole team for their incredible hard work to ensure we are in a position to be racing again in Melbourne.”

Lucas di Grassi – Virgin Racing (Ret): “I got a great start and the car was feeling pretty good. I think we could have had a good race with the car that we had but then just a few laps into the race I had to pull over in turn 9 and my race was over before it had really begun. There’s no point being downhearted. We’ll be back in Melbourne with some new developments and a fix for the problems we experienced here. It’s race one of 19 and there’s a long way to go yet. I would like to thank the team for an incredible job here and over the past few months. It’s been a huge effort and I hope for a better result for the whole team in Australia in two weeks’ time.”

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