Brawn GP’s Jenson Button won, and conversely Toyota’s Timo Glock lost, the Grand Pix of Bahrain today in a race that was ripe with strategy and ultimately determined by the FIA’s “managed Tire” scheme. The race was incumbent upon the “big decision” on when to use the quick Option tire versus the not-so-quick Prime tire choice. Timo, who lead at the first turn, struggled badly on the Prime tire finally finishing in 7th while his teammate Jarno Trulli finished 3rd behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who swapped tire strategy with Trulli keeping both drivers anchored to each other throughout the race.
Button’s teammate, Rubens Barrichello, opted for a three-stop strategy which rendered him in 5th place which, given the tire debacle, was about as good as one could expect. Rubens spent much of his time waving his hands around at Nelson Piquet Jr. who was clearly holding Rubens up but very difficult to pass. Red Bull’s Mark Webber never made a charge up the grid to the points but it must be said that his drive was spirited as he finished in 11th.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and his “special Button”, as coined by Sebastian Vettel, had a terrific start leaping past the Red Bull pilot. Lewis looked spot-on in his efforts to manage his car, tires and the use of his KERS. No surprise that Lewis finished 4th and earned well deserved points for the beleaguered team. His teammate Heikki Kovalainen did not fair as well finishing 12th.
The “must-have-result” of the weekend was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who briefly touched his teammate Felipe Massa at the start forcing Massa to pit for a new front wing/nose. This effectively ruined Massa’s race but Kimi claimed Ferrari’s first points of the year with a 6th place finish. Good points haul for Kimi but the collision with his teammate will not sit well with Luca Di Montezemolo who was in attendance this weekend to get a first-hand look at the struggling team.
Renault’s Fernando Alonso finished on par with what his car was capable of in 8th place while his teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. equally finished on par with what his talent warranted in 10th place.
The race was eventful and proved that the FIA regulations and Overtaking Working Group’s efforts to increase passing has really not achieved what they had hoped for as the cars were struggling behind other cars with increased tire degradation and lack of aero. The Diffuser-gate decision has certainly added to the disturbed air coming from the back of a car which is antithetical to the entire reason for the regulation changes in the first place. The compounds were interesting only in that the Option compound was thought to be too soft but actually worked out to the be the preferred tire of choice for most teams while the Prime compound was up to a second slower. Effectively we forced teams to run fast, slow and then fast again with two pit stops and traffic. All of that nonsense left us with a race that was good but somewhat contrived. Nonetheless, Jenson Button earned a well-deserved victory and drove a very tidy race for Brawn GP. Finally winning a race without aid of Safety Car periods, attrition or rain to do so.
1. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1h31:48.182
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) + 7.187
3. Trulli Toyota (B) + 9.170
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 22.096
5. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) + 37.779
6. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) + 42.057
7. Glock Toyota (B) + 42.880
8. Alonso Renault (B) + 52.775
9. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 58.198
10. Piquet Renault (B) + 1:05.149
11. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) + 1:07.641
12. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 1:17.824
13. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1:18.805
14. Massa Ferrari (B) + 1 lap
15. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) + 1 lap
16. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) + 1 lap
17. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1 lap
18. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) + 1 lap
19. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 1 lap