Category Archives: Bahrain

McLaren: Year on Year Comparison – Race 1, Bahrain 2010

This year I am going to have to look at things from two different aspects – with the 2009 points system and the 2010 points system. The drivers are also different – while Lewis Hamilton has stayed, Heikki Kovalainen has been replaced by 2009 World Champion Jenson Button. So, without further ado let’s take a look at the two sets of data.

2009 Points System

2009 2010
LH HK McLaren LH JB McLaren
TOTAL 0 0 0 TOTAL 6 2 8
Australian 0 0 0 Bahrain 6 2 8

 
 

2010 Points System

2009 2010
LH HK McLaren LH JB McLaren
TOTAL 0 0 0 TOTAL 15 6 21
Australian 0 0 0 Bahrain 15 6 21

 

Granted, with the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton in Australia last year and Heikki Kovalainen not managing to complete his first lap it wasn’t going to be hard for McLaren to improve on last year’s start, and that they did. At this point last year both McLaren and the drivers were on zero points, and not looking like progress was going to be made fast. This year, while there is still some work to do to match the speed around corners of the other teams, their straight line speed thanks to their summer innovation is at the top of the pile, so these comparison posts should look very rosey as the season progresses.

We have to remember that while it’s nice to improve from one season to the next,we have to be realistic and realise that in the case of McLaren that’s not a sign of huge achievement. As long as they keep up with the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull then this is going to be a very good season indeed.

As it’s only the first race and there wasn’t a great deal to talk about I’m going to leave with you a rare photo from Bahrain that captured both McLaren cars.

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Filed under Bahrain, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Year on Year Comparisons

McLaren in Bahrain in Pictures (2010)

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at the Bahrain GP Manama Sakhir press conference – 12th March 2010
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Jenson Button during Free Practice 3 – 13th March 2010
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Lewis Hamilton during Qualifying – 13th March 2010
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Lewis Hamilton just ahead of Mark Weber’s cloud of smoke – March 14th 2010
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Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and most of the field, during the race – 14th March 2010
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Lewis Hamilton chases down Nico Rosberg during the race – 14th March 2010
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Lewis Hamilton celebrates his 3rd place finish – 14th March 2010
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Happier times with ex McLaren team mate and race winner Fernando Alonso – March 14th 2010
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Formula 1 Class of 2010 – March 14th 2010
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Filed under Bahrain, In Pictures, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

Bahrain Grand Prix 2010 – Fantastic 3rd for Lewis Hamilton

Let me just remind you of the predictions I made before the race:

1st – Fernando Alonso
2nd – Sebastian Vettel
3rd – Lewis Hamilton

7th – Jenson Button

3 out of 4 is pretty damn good! It was a bit of luck that got Lewis Hamilton his 1st podium finish of the season as he managed to jump Nico Rosberg thanks to Rosberg being held back because of Jenson Button entering the pits. And who said Hamilton and Button could’t work as a team?

Things didn’t start so well for Lewis as he was over-taken by Nico Rosberg at the start. Before the race there were worries that Lewis may be heavy on the tyres, and that would be to the detriment of his race performance. Not only did he cope very well but he mentioned over the radio that Rosberg was holding him up and once in clear space was putting in fast laps up their with the best of them.

Jenson himself lost a place at the start, and mirroring Lewis, he too gained that place back during the tyre change stop. After the race he said that he’d been conserving his tyres in the first stint and thought maybe he’d come in too early. After the one and only pit stop Jenson stayed behind Schumacher for the whole race, who he said held him up but there was no chance to overtake. After qualifying 8th, Jenson finished in 7th in his first race with McLaren.

As the race progressed it became clear that race leader Sebastian Vettel had a problem with his car. This turned out to be an exhaust failure which allowed eventual winner Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and then Lewis Hamilton to pass him. So from a superb 4th place qualifying, Lewis ended up on the podium in 3rd – an excellent start to the season.

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While being interviewed on the BBC F1 Forum Jenson was asked about the 40+ second gap between him and the Ferraris, to which he responded by pointing out that Hamilton was a lot closer at 20+ seconds behind. It was nice to see that Jenson both sees that there is more to get out of the car from him and that Hamilton performed better. So far the McLaren team seem to all be working very well as a team – could Lewis have finally found the perfect team mate?

Lewis gets 15 points for 3rd place while Jenson gets 6 points for 7th place. With a total of 21 points McLaren currently sit 2nd on the Constructor’s Championship, 22 points behind Ferrari and 3 points ahead of Mercedes.

What has become evident after this weekend is that qualification is more important than ever, something Lewis and especially Jenson will have to work on. It wasn’t the most interesting of races and it remains to be seen if this was the result of the no refuelling rule change or the lack of overtaking chances at the Bahrain circuit. As a McLaren fan I’m very pleased with how things have gone this weekend, as it seemed they could have gone a lot worse at one point.

Also worthy of a mention is Heikki Kovalainen, who finished 15th in his Lotus, the highest position of all the new cars.

Race Results (courtesy of Sidepodcast.com):

1 Fernando Alonso 1hr 39:20.4
2 Felipe Massa +16.0
3 Lewis Hamilton +23.1
4 Sebastian Vettel +38.7
5 Nico Rosberg +40.02
6 Michael Schumacher +44.1
7 Jenson Button +45.2
8 Mark Webber +46.3
9 Tonio Liuzzi +53.0
10 Rubens Barrichello +6
11 Robert Kubica +69.0
12 Adrian Sutil +82.9
13 Jaime Alguersuari +92.6
14 Nico Hulkenberg +1 Lap
15 Heikki Kovalainen +2 Laps
16 Sebastien Buemi +3 Laps
17 Jarno Trulli +3 Laps
DNF Pedro de la Rosa Lap 30
DNF Bruno Senna Lap 18
DNF Timo Glock Lap 17
DNF Vitaly Petrov Lap 14
DNF Kamui Kobayashi Lap 12
DNF Lucas di Grassi Lap 3
DNF Karun Chandhok Lap 2

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Filed under Bahrain, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel

Race Prediction: Bahrain Grand Prix 2010

1st – Fernando Alonso
2nd – Sebastian Vettel
3rd – Lewis Hamilton

7th – Jenson Button

I know Felipe Massa qualified above both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, but I have a feeling that today is the Spaniards day and he’ll have a fairytale first race with Ferrari. I’m banking on Lewis having better race pace than in qualifying, plus I’m letting my heart rule my head a bit with my prediction of him coming in 3rd, and his first podium of many this season.

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Jenson looked like he was struggling with the car yesterday, but I still think he’ll make up a place to 7th, though he’ll finish the race somewhat frustrated with himself and the car. Whatever happens today, the guy who comes in first will not only win the race but get a huge 25 points to lead the Driver’s Championship. If a team gets a 1-2 finish then they’ll be leading the Constructor’s Championship with 43 points!

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Filed under Adrian Sutil, Bahrain, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Race Predictions, Sebastian Vettel

Qualifying: Bahrain 2010 – Surprised to be pleased with 4th

Let’s cover the three practice sessions first, and with just 6 hours till the start of the Grand Prix I’ll keep it brief.

Free Practice 1 – Friday 12th April
Jenson Button – 5th
Lewis Hamilton – 6th

Free Practice 2 – Friday 12th April
Jenson Button – 4th
Lewis Hamilton – 2nd

Free Practice 3 – Saturday 13th April
Jenson Button – 7th
Lewis Hamilton – 12th

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Lewis had a problem with one of his front brakes 15 minutes from the end of FP3 which meant his session was over, meaning he never got a chance to do a simulation qualifying lap ahead. At this point I started to get worried, for 2 reasons: 1) Would they be able to sort Lewis’s car out in time for qualifying?, and 2) How much of a disadvantage would Lewis be at having not done that simulation qualifying lap, given that the Bahrain track had changed since he qualified there in 2010? After what appeared to be a great few weeks of testing, was the McLaren dream of a return to form beginning to unravel?

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That last question seemed to become answered as we started the first qualifying session of 2010, one in which Lewis finished up 6th and Jenson 11th – not what I had been expecting and hoping for, Though both made it into Q2, if Jenson didn’t improve he wouldn’t make it to Q3. The Ferraris and Red Bulls were leading the pack, with Adrian Sutil’s Force India in 3rd.

Q2 saw Lewis remain in 6th, while Jenson did manage to improve from 11th to 10th place – just scraping in to Q3 and a chance to start further up the grid. However, in getting 1st place in Q2, Sebastian Vettel was almost a second faster than Lewis Hamilton and well over a second faster than Jenson Button. It was becoming clear that I comparison to the front runners, McLaren didn’t have the pace.

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You can imagine my delight when Lewis Hamilton managed to claim 4th place on the grid by the end of Q3! 24 hours ago I’d have been disappointed with that result but after Q1 and Q2, the 2nd row of the grid was a major accomplishment. Jenson Button do so well, qualifying in 8th place – but at least it was an improvement from the 10th and 11th place finishes in Q2 and Q1 respectively. In qualifying 4th Lewis was more than 1.1 seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel in pole position, just under a second slower than Felipe Massa in 2nd and more than 6/10ths of a second slower than Fernando Alonso in 3rd. Back in 8th, Jenson was over 4/10ths slower than team mate Lewis in 4th.

While the 4th place achieved by Lewis was a great effort compared to Q1 and Q2 it’s still somewhat of a disappointing first qualifying session for McLaren, not something I either wanted or expected after last season. Downforce on the corners seems to be the problem, so there is hope that on the straights the McLaren’s can make up time and places, especially given the reports that overtaking on the corners is nigh on impossible.

Yesterday evening I received a tweet from 5LiveF1 on Twitter saying this:

Rumours are that McLaren ran with a higher ride height in qualy to counteract the fuel weights tomorrow.

If this is the case then the McLaren MP4-25s of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could perform better in the race than qualifying would have us believe. Until that’s proven it looks like it’s a Ferrari race to lose to lose in Bahrain, given than Vettel’s Red Bull will apparently be harsher on its tyres and has question marks over its reliability.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=2010+bahrain+grand+prix&iid=8218874″ src=”1/f/8/0/F1_2010_f779.jpg?adImageId=11238278&imageId=8218874″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]
 
It took half a season for McLaren to catch up last season, but they were in a much worse position in comparison to the fastest cars than they are this year. If when the dust settles later on today and we see McLaren with some catching up to do, we can take solace in the fact that they this will happen a lot quicker than last year, and with so many cars with a chance of getting big points the championship would still be within McLaren’s grasp.

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Filed under Adrian Sutil, Bahrain, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Qualifying, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel

Is 2010 the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 season ever?

I personally have been counting down the days till the start of the 2010 F1 season, and from the amount of people on Twitter, websites and other Formula 1 blogs, I’d say I’m not alone. The anticipation and almost lack of patience to get to the Bahrain Grand Prix seems to have Grand Prix Fever at an all time fever this year, but why is that? I don’t think it’s one thing, but many factors are contributing to people’s desire to see the season start.

The Brawn Dominance of 2009
Last year Brawn, and in fact Jenson Button himself, won 6 out of the first 7 Grands Prix.The extra months of development put in by Honda before the buyout gave them an insurmountable advantage and though Red Bull gave them a few tense moments towards the end, the season was almost over before the halfway point. As such fans never got much of a competition last year and after the nail biting climax of both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, they are desperate for a Formula 1 season with some exciting rivalries and championship battles.

The Return of Michael Schumacher
Love him or hate him there is no other driver in the history of Formula 1 who has made such an impact as Michael Schumacher. At 41 years old and after 3 years away from the sport as an active driver, he’s back. Just what effect will that have on the other drivers and the season as a whole? Speaking for myself, I am relatively new to Formula 1, at least as fan at the level where I watch everything, every week. That means I’ve never watched every race in a season where Schumacher has dominated, or at least been a factor in determining who would be champion. To have him on track at the same time as drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel is a mouth watering prospect, and has brought even more attention to an already fascinating 2010 season.

McLaren’s Poor 2009 Season
While the second half of the 2009 season was one of improvement and success, the first half was so bad that McLaren failed, at least by their standards. As a McLaren fan it was very disappointing not to be in the championship race, neither for the drivers or constrictor. Testing seems to have gone well for McLaren so I’m anticipating starting the 2010 season with a chance of victory from the very first race, and that alone is enough for any fan of McLaren to want to get the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend started as soon as possible. The sooner we see success in 2010, the sooner we can forget the mediocrity of 2009.

Most Competitive Season in Recent History
McLaren and Ferrari seem to have pulled themselves back from the doldrums of 2009, we have no reason to believe Red Bull have dropped performance from being the fastest car on the grid last year and Mercedes have taken over the championship winning car of last year and have had an off-season of development with a high level of funding. Add Williams and BMW Sauber Ferrari (wow, that’ll take some getting used to) into the mix and it’s looking like we are in for a season with more possible race winners than there has been for a long time. The first few races may tell a different story but on paper it would appear we are in for a very exciting season, and one which will see the championship race go right to the very end with no clear favourites right now.

New Teams and Drivers
Lotus, HRT and Virgin are brand new to 2010, while Sauber and Mercedes have been taken over fro the teams they were on 2009. Add in new names to Formula 1 like Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg plus the likes of Pedro de la Rosa, Lucas di Grassi, Vitantonio Liuzzi & Kamui Kobayashi and the 2010 season has a grid that looks vastly different to 2009, both in quantity of cars n the grid and the number of new or returning names behind the wheel. While a lot of these drivers may not be vying for the lead themselves, what they do on track will inevitably affect those that are gunning for big points – remember Spa last year?

Rule Changes
There have been a multitude of rule changes for the upcoming season but the three that make the most difference, at least from my perspective, are:

  • No refuelling during the race – this means that the cars have to fuel up at the start of the race with a full tank, enough to last them the whole race. This has a massive effect on qualifying where we used to see cars fuel light for pole position but have to come into the pits early in the race for more fuel. Conversely, some cars would fuel a bit heavier hoping the extra laps they stayed out would be enough to keep them in the lead after their later pit stop.
  • Tyres at end of qualifying just be used for the start of the race which gives way to one of two strategies; 1) Choose soft tyres in order to get near the start of the grid, but suffer greater wear with a heavy fuel load at the start of the race, or 2) choose the harder tyre and maybe not qualify as well, but have less wear on the tyres from the race start and thus go longer and better on the first set of tyres.
  • New Points System – this is the big one, and has been put in place to encourage drivers to go for the win every time rather being satisfied with a 2nd place finish. Where 1st, 2nd and 3rd used to earn the drivers 10, 8 and 6 points respectively – those positions now get a driver 25, 18 and 15 points. This means that someone who has fallen behind in the points after a few races could see some successful car upgrades catapult him back up to the top of the leader board with a couple of wins. The points also go back to 10th place, that’s 2 more points winning places than the 2009 season.

All these factors are going to change qualifying, race strategies and driver motivation – at least that’s the theory!

Dream Teams
What started off as a media fuelled fantasy, soon became reality when 2009 champion Jenson Button joined 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton to form the British Dream Team at McLaren. Over at Ferrari, Fernando Alonso made his much anticipated move and joins Felipe Massa, who hasn’t raced since Hungary where he had the horrific accident. At Mercedes there is the returning Michael Schumacher and the ever promising Nico Rosberg, all under the watchful eye of Ross Brawn. At Red Bull we have Sebastian Vettel and Mark Weber, who on paper may not have the allure of these other 3 teams but let us not forget that this is a team that gave Brawn a run for their money in the championships last year. Had Brawn not had that developmental head start last year we’d probably be starting 2010 with Red Bull driving the 1 and 2 cars. It’s a fascinating prospect, not only seeing how these teams compete against each other but to see how and even if the drivers can co-exist.

The Rise of Social Networking / Blogs
In the past 12 months Twitter has exploded and if you are ever tweeting during a F1 race you’ll see online social interactivity taken to new levels. There have also been a huge rise in the number of websites and blogs dedicated to the great sport of Formula 1. It could well be that it just appears that there is more anticipation for the upcoming season because more people are visibly talking about it, though I’m pretty sure the anticipation is real, it is bigger than ever before and it’s because of the points discussed previously. It is great that the F1 community is able to grow on a global scale and bring fans together thanks to the internet.

So, the question was: Is 2010 the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 season ever? The answer is yes, and this time next week the first practice session will be under way on Bahrain. I’m excited about the upcoming season like never before, are you?

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Filed under Bahrain, BMW Sauber Ferrari, Brawn GP, Bruno Senna, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Grand Prix, HRT, Jenson Button, Kamui Kobayashi, Lewis Hamilton, Lotus Racing, Lucas di Grassi, Mark Weber, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Michael Schumacher, Nico Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg, Pedro de la Rosa, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel, Virgin, Vitaly Petrov, Vitantonio Liuzzi

The world reports Jenson Button has signed for McLaren, good for Mclaren but bad for Mercedes GP?

The latest news sweeping the online world is that Jenson Button has signed a 3 year deal with McLaren worth £6 million a year. I must stress that at this time this is not confirmed, but heavily suspected to be true. After yesterday’s news of Mercedes buying into Brawn GP, Jenson Button moving to McLaren seems more likely than ever. The signing of Jenson Button will save McLaren a fair few millions of pounds a year than if they’d signed Kimi Raikkonen.

Jenson Button – soon to be driving the #1 car for McLaren?
[picapp src=”0/e/0/e/F1_Grand_Prix_e24a.jpg?adImageId=7555962&imageId=7018058″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]

I’ve had some feedback which suggests that I have been unfair when talking about Jenson Button and that he has far more fire in his belly than I have given him credit for. Admittedly my judgement of Jenson Button is only based on the past few seasons where before last season he was almost non-existent, and last year I was pretty unimpressed despite him winning the World Championship. I’m more than willing to be proven wrong and if I am, and this move to McLaren is actually happening, then that’ll mean more championship points for the team I love and more positive blogging to be done!

I can’t help thinking that Mercedes GP are making a mistake in letting Jenson Button go, because as much as I don’t see his apparent driving skills, he’s a better proposition than either Nick Heidlfeld or Nico Rosberg. The former is consistent but unspectacular and the latter is a wiz in qualifying but never seems to translate that to podium finishes. It’s all very well Mercedes wanting an all German line up of drivers but shouldn’t the potential to succeed be the bigger factor in signing a driver?

Mercedes have said they will announce their drivers for 2010 in the next week or so, but if Jesnon Button is announced as a McLaren driver before then I think Mercedes will be forced into bringing their announcement forward – it would be as obvious as the Ferrari signing of Fernando Alonso earlier in the year.

As for Kimi Raikkonen, well this leaves him taking that money spinning sabbatical that he has spoken about. He has maintained that he will only drive for the right team and with no competitive drive options left one can only assume that the 2007 world champion will not be on the grid in Bahrain next March.

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Filed under Bahrain, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Grand Prix, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg