April 26, 2009

F1 Update!: Bahrain 2009!

For the diehard F1 fan, this was an interesting race.  For the casual fan, it would have been dull as dishwater.  For the F1 writer, it was a practically-impossible-to-write-about race.  THIS is your F1 Update! for the Grand Prix of Bahrain!

*RIGHT ON THE BUTTON:  On a day where his pit wall was imploring him to baby the engine due to the intense heat, dialing back the revs and finding clean air whenever possible, Jenson Button still managed to blow the rest of the field off the track, winning by 7.1 seconds over the RB5 of Sebastian Vettel.  That gap halved from nearly 15 seconds over the last few laps, not because Vettel was driving so much better than the BrawnGP car, but because Button knew he had the race locked up unless he had a breakdown, so he dialed it back even farther.  After the first handful of laps, however, there was very little drama to be found in Button's win.  At a race where everybody expected the KERS-enhanced cars to be dominant, Jenson made it three wins out of four.

*LEFT AT THE STATION:  Toyota had at least a passing chance for their maiden victory today, both cars starting on the front row and the TF109 looking quick all weekend.  Things would have to break their way, yes, particularly when it was announced that they were running light on fuel, but the capability was there.  To give the team credit, they tried an interesting strategy, using the less-capable medium compound tire in the middle stint while everybody else was using the supersofts.  While the harder tire was about a second per lap slower, they'd be able to use the softer tire at the end when everybody else was on the worse rubber and make up the time.  Except it didn't work out that way.  Timo Glock couldn't pass anybody, finishing seventh, and Jarno Trulli couldn't catch up to the Big Two on his way to a third-place podium finish.  Certainly not a horrible end result, but it could have been so much better...

*UP, UP, AND AWAY:  Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth, 42 seconds behind the winner.  Why this is being mentioned is because the three points earned were Ferrari's first of the season.  The tifosi must be partying in the streets of Maranello tonight.

*DOWN ON THE CORNER:  Kazoo Nakajima retired from the race on lap 48 with problems with his oil pressure.  That was the only car the BMW-Sauber tandem of Robert Kubica (18th) and Grizzly Nick Heidfeld (19th) beat today.  What has happened with this team?  From legitimate contenders to red-headed stepchildren in one off-season... simply unbelievable.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Other than having to worry about his car failing him, Jenson Button drove a completely worry-free race.  It was worry-free because he also drove what could be called a perfect race, never a wheel wrong.  It made for dull viewing, but it was quite deserving of the DotR award.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  While we're giving this one to BrawnGP for their 1st/5th outcome, it's with the caveat that switching Rubens Barrichello from a two-stop to a three-stop strategy in the middle of the race may have cost him a couple of places at the end.  While doing so got him out of traffic and got him into an empty section of track where he could rip off some blistering laps, one gets the feeling that it was the first time they've shown a lack of confidence all season, either in the car or the driver.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  At the start of the race, Lewis Hamilton served notice that in his hands, the McLaren was going to be a force to be reckoned with the rest of the season by moving from fifth on the grid to third and challenging Jarno Trulli for second.  While that gamble didn't succeed, it left him in a position to decide exactly what he wanted to do and when he wanted to do it.  It also left Jenson Button behind a decidedly slower car that was equipped with the ultimate pass defense mechanism (KERS) and driven by a world champion that really hates being passed for any reason.  Button didn't have a whole bunch of time before the two Toyotas would rocket off into the desert, leaving him stuck behind the Glare With Wheels.  Just as lap 1 ended, Button was tucked behind Hamilton and stayed there until the two reached the braking zone for Turn 1, when he zipped inside, held off on braking as late as he could, then seemingly threw an anchor out of the cockpit.  He practically slammed to a halt, made the turn cleanly, then accelerated off after the Toyotas, leaving a stunned Hamilton behind like he was driving a Minardi, not a McLaren.  Button may very well have won the race right there, making this the clear MotR.

*MOOOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  Instead of going to a driver this week, the Moooooooo-ooove will be going to a team.  Toyota decided to go all-in on their gamble with tire strategy, sending both cars out on their second stints on the harder, slower, rubber.  Both cars immediately tumbled down the running order as teams on the softer tires ran away and hid from them, an outcome that was as unfortunate as it was predictable.  Would it have been SO hard, Toyota, to put one car on Hards and the other on Softs, thereby keeping one of them in touch with the frontrunners?  You might have thrown a win away with that move... but, in consolation, you did earn a Moooooooooo-ooove!

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

"It was really hot.  All the boxes around my seat were burning.  It's tough being a Formula One racing driver!  I burnt the top of my left buttock on an electrical box.  It's a little bit burnt. Hopefully we can solve that issue." - Jenson Button (note: real quote.  Wait, it gets better... when Sebastian Vettel leaned over and patted Button on the shoulder in sympathy, Button said "I'll get you stroking it (the buttock) later Sebastian, don't worry.")

"You're not my type, Jense." - Sebastian Vettel

"Great weight loss technique... drive a F1 car for two hours in 50 degree weather.  Can I take a nap now?" - Jarno Trulli (who looked completely exhausted on the podium)

"Please, Mr FIA, please let us race in two weeks?  Please?  I'm making puppy-dog eyes." - Lewis Hamilton

"Sebastian?  My waist got burned, too.  Am I your type? *snicker*" - Rubens Barrichello

"mrmbl mrlobrenbbl qdldolbblml lmmbrrlbl pffffffffft." - Kimi Raikkonen (note: real quote)

" 'Let's put Timo on the hard tires!  Great idea!  Brilliant!'  Where's my agent?" - Timo Glockenspiel

"The next race is in Spain?  Great, that means I can suck in front of my home fans." - HWMNBN

"I had a great start, then all the KERS cars went whipping past me.  That's kinda discouraging." - Nico Rosberg

"Let me tell you about 'discouraging', Nico.  Discouraging is having your team's backup driver walking two paces behind you at all times.  Discouraging is overhearing your team boss placing a call to Zsolt Baumgartner, saying that he's got some 'business' for him.  THAT'S discouraging." - Nelson Piquet Jr

"Just think what would have happened if I hadn't've been blocked by that stupid Farce India." - Mark Webber

"I suck." - Heikki Kovaleinninninnie

"It was a really good day for me... except for the whole 'finishing 13th' part." - SeaBass

"I broke my front wing against Kimi's tire, the car's telemetry failed so the pit wall had no idea what was going on all race, and KERS broke.  Then I had to struggle to get past a Farce India.  Great race." - Felipe Massa

"Almost held him off, too." - Giancarlo Fisichella

"Last year, we were four seconds per lap off the pace.  Now, we're only a second off.  That's gotta count for something, right?" - Adrian Sutil

"I'm Swiss, yet I live in Bahrain for tax shelter reasons.  Yes, I hate cuckoo clocks and cheese." - Sebastien Buemi

"First Heidfeld ran into me on the first lap and completely destroyed my front wing, then finished 18th.  Wasn't I the 'next great driver' last year?" - Robert Kubica

"Well, that was a disaster.  First Kubica ran into me and destroyed my front wing, then I finished 19th.  Just remember what Germany did to Poland, Robert..." - Nick Heidfeld

"Um... Aiee?" - Kazoo Nakajima

And so, we mercifully draw a veil on the events of the Grand Prix of Bahrain, and hope for more excitement in Barcelona two weeks hence.  Remember, however, McLaren goes before the FIA World Court regarding 'Liargate' on the 29th, and we'll be here to cover the results.  See you then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 05:48 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 1467 words, total size 10 kb.

1 KERS is looking more and more like a turkey.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 27, 2009 03:56 AM (+rSRq)

2

Who'd have thought Jenson Button would be the driver to beat this year?  This is turning out to be an exciting year!

I felt bad for Piquet--they were practically sweeping him out the door.

 

Posted by: Mallory at April 27, 2009 06:53 AM (3sife)

3 Steven, I agree with you entirely... but this race was the first time we (the viewers) got to see the difference a KERS equipped car can make over a non-KERS one, because for the first time this season, we got to have helicopter coverage for a race (Australia has too many trees to give good aerial shots, and we've had rain the other two races).

If I remember correctly (and if I don't, someone correct me), Heikki Kovaleinninninnie was being tailed closely thru the turn 9-10 complex, by... I can't remember: a non-KERS car, maybe even a Farce India.  Whatever, it was right on the McLaren's gearbox when they hit the straightaway.

Suddenly, the McLaren acted like it had just fired off a booster rocket: it just streaked away from the FIndia.  From no gap, to maybe three car lengths just like *snaps fingers* that.  The McLaren is a better car than the FIndia, but not that much faster on acceleration.

It CAN be useful.  It just ISN'T right now, and it may never be.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 27, 2009 08:32 AM (/nYBT)

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