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Bahrain GP – Fastest race laps
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Bahrain GP – Fastest race laps
Posted By:   |  26 Apr 2009   |  5:39 pm GMT  |  33 comments

I always like to look at the fastest race laps, it tells you a lot about the relative pace of the cars and as this is the first ‘normal’ race on a ‘normal’ track it is quite instructive.

The fastest car in qualifying and race was the Toyota. They should have won their first victory today, but they made the wrong tyre choice at the first stop and it left both drivers vulnerable.

McLaren will be hugely encouraged by their performance here. From being over 2 seconds off the pace of Brawn when I first saw this car on the same track at the Barcelona test, they have closed the gap to a few tenths and must fancy their chances of competing for the world championship. If I were a betting man I’d slide down the bookies and put a few quid on Hamilton to win the title.

1. Trulli (Toyota) 1m 34.556
2. Button (Brawn) 1m 34.588
3. Vettel (Red Bull) 1m 34.756
4. Hamilton (McLaren) 1m 34.915

5. Massa (Ferrari) 1m 35.065
6. Bourdais (Toro Rosso)1m 35.410
7. Piquet (Renault) 1m 35.410
8. Kubica (BMW) 1m 35.706
9. Rosberg (Williams) 1m 35.816

10. Sutil (Force India) 1m36.219

So the whole field is covered by 1.7 seconds, which is about the same amount of time it takes to say “Giancarlo Fisichella” – imagine that; after a lap of 95 seconds, 10 cars flashing across the line in that brief window of time, that is how close it is in F1 at the moment.

And the exciting thing is that the updates coming to the car in Barcelona will move the order around. I fear a bit for Williams, who have not capitalised on their advantage with the double diffuser. They will be swallowed up if they are not careful.

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33 Comments
  1. Darren M says:

    I agree on Williams, they’re in big trouble. I’ve got a bad feeling they will end up right at the back of the grid later in the season. Hopefully I’m wrong and they’ll have some big updates for Barcelona, but presumably so will every other team. And I don’t rate Nakajima at all, You’ve got to wonder what Toyota see in him, he hardly seems to inspire the Japanese fans like Sato did.

    James, it’s all gone a bit quite on KERS for the 6 teams not currently using it, do you expect any of them to have KERS by Spain or at all in 2009?

  2. Calum Stevens says:

    James,

    First of all, great blog, keep it going.

    But, how can you say you would put money on Hamilton to win the title when you say that you excpect him to have a 2 race absence penelty?

    I’m not having a go but it seems strange and that one of these comments must be untrue, surley?

  3. patrick says:

    Not sure I’d risk any money on Hamilton until the outcome of the FIA case next week. But yes, the fastest race laps are intriguing, albeit they will be a bit skewed by any team which ran one of their cars light on the option tyre in clear air for a bit. Afraid I wasn’t watching closely enough to see if anyone had been doing.

  4. Peter says:

    Well, fastest laps tell a lot, but don’t have much meaning in terms of the championship if we look last year’s result with Kimi having 11 fastest laps troughout the season.

  5. falmouth says:

    On the Hamilton / McLaren situation: I don’t see how the FIA can give a 30 pt penalty to McLaren (in the constructors’ championship) *and* Hamilton (in the drivers’ championship) without having brought charges against Hamilton and given him the chance to represent himself in his own right. I also don’t see how they can justifiably give McLaren a 30pt penalty and not Hamilton given that Hamilton is one of the main protagonists, if not the main protagonist, in his own right.

    Indeed, the fact that charges were brought against McLaren but not Hamilton seems to indicate to me that this aspect, is mainly motivated by anti-McLaren feeling. Have a pop at Ron Dennis et al. but don’t kill the golden goose (Hamilton).

    A two-race ban for McLaren would, on the other hand, be OK since it would affect both Hamilton and McLaren but technically speaking Hamilton could go drive for another team for those two races?

  6. Steve says:

    Too tempting to not have a flutter after your subliminal advice!! – so… £71.08 (max bet) on Lewis with PaddyPower (13/2) …worth a small punt to make it even more interesting ;)

  7. Mark R says:

    Hi James,
    I still think this track probably flattters Mclaren a little as it’s not really known as an aero track but more of a stop & go track. I don’t think Mclaren have closed up most of the 2.5 second gap but probably about a second off that. Barcelona will show the weak points of any aero shortfalls. As they’ve made some of the biggest updates of the season so far I don’t think they’ll find many more gains than some teams at least for a few more races yet.
    James what have you heard about the Ferrari updates? There seems to be some good noises coming from Ferrari especially from Kimi (probably the most enthusiastic I’ve ever heard him!) I’ve heard that it’s expected to be around 8 tenths which should certainly give them a boost but also more downforce equals better tyre management over a long stint.
    I’m going to Barcelona so hopefully I’ll be able to witness the Ferrari resurgence or feel!

  8. George says:

    “after a lap of 95 seconds, 10 cars flashing across the line in that brief window of time, that is how close it is in F1 at the moment.”
    This is a great image, I’d love to see an overlay of all the cars going around the track from the same starting point (like the ghost car images they’ve been showing this weekend).

  9. Dominic J says:

    Further proof that Briatore was wrong about Brawn’s dominance. Even if Brawn and Toyota swapped positions in that ranking, you’d be VERY hard pressed to argue that they are dominating in an unhealthy way, like Ferrari in 2002 and 2004.

    If everyone is talking about bringing an extra 0.3-0.6s to Barcelona, how will we tell? Whose upgrades do you expect to be the best?

    On the BBC forum, Norbert Haug was saying something about the chances of Brawn getting KERS – I din’t quite catch what he said. But if they had the McLaren system (or something similar, for the Merc engine) would that negate their qualifying difficulties?

    Also, take a look at my blog (I’ve put it as my website) if you get the time.

  10. Marilyn says:

    I’m not a betting person myself, but I did clean up last season. So it’s off to the bookies, for a flutter on Lewis again. ( I think it’s not over). Must find someone to put the bet on, because I could not possibly go in there myself!

  11. Calum Stevens says:

    Sorry guys, my fault.

    That also makes much more sence and seems fair-ish for everyone, including the fans.

    On the updates issue, I hope McLaren’s double deck diffuser allows Hamilton to challenge for the front of the grid on a consistent basis.

  12. Nick says:

    James, i’m a bit disappointed you seem to be dismissing Jensons chances of becoming World Champion he has delivered the goods in every race and today was in a class of his own.
    Brawn GP may not have the resources or track record of McLaren or Ferrari but the do have one of the best designers and strategist in Ross Brawn.

  13. James says:

    Hi everyone :-)

    I’ve not contributed to this excellent blog before – but I just thought I’d add this here – it concerns Alonso today – you’ll notice that Piquet set a faster laptime than he did today, which is impressive – but apparently Alonso’s water bottle didn’t work during the race, and he was quite badly dehydrated at the end – as well as having burns to his back (according to Spanish F1 presenter Antonio Lobato)

    Some pictures of Alonso after getting out of the car (he had to be helped out, according to some rumours):

    http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/u264/tanyap_2007/Grand%20Prix%20of%20Bahrain/86224102.jpg
    http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/u264/tanyap_2007/Grand%20Prix%20of%20Bahrain/86224115.jpg
    http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/u264/tanyap_2007/Grand%20Prix%20of%20Bahrain/86224076.jpg
    Unfortunately I can’t trace the copyright holder of the images, as they had been posted on a forum. Here’s a link to Lobato’s article (in Spanish)
    http://www.formulalobato.com/

    Just thought this would shed some light into Alonso’s performance, which wasn’t particularly spectacular today, save the move on Trulli (which was aided by KERS, but was nevertheless a very brave move). An incredibly gutsy drive, given the circumstances, surely?! :O

    James

  14. F1 fan says:

    Where was Kimi on fastest lap pace? I would think he is 11th or 12th. Kimi was consistant today and didn’t have any moments.

    Also, was Massa’s start purly down to he didn’t use KERS, or was it just a bad start?

    I’m not sure, but he was much slower than Kimi at the start.

  15. Moog says:

    There has been a lot said about Piquet’s performance this season, but on paper, it’s Nakajima who should be worrying.

    He’s had 3 retirements and a 12th place, he’s been out qualified four times by his team mate and he’s been in a DD team since day 1.

    Personally however, I quite like the guy.

  16. Ben G says:

    Great stat – I’m impressed at Bourdais’ time, and pleased for him that he trounced Buemi for once.
    But – where is Glock? I’m afraid I think he is over-rated, and Bahrain proved it.

  17. Steven Pritchard says:

    I’m sure I always agree with fastest lap analysis.

    For Brawn it is not very flattering as their long-run pace is far better than any other team on the grid.

    As for Brawn not being at the front… Well I’m not sure I agree with that. They had a car with no new parts added since Australia, with the engine turned down and holes cut into the bottom of the car.

    They are so kind to their rubber too! They don’t overheat the tyres which is why the Brawn is so king on long-runs, and maybe why they are not so good on single lap form.

    I think Ferrari and Mclaren will be towards the front of the grid at the end of the Season: Don’t forget we have some higher down force circuits coming next, RB, Brawn and Toyota will be the ones to beat yet again.

    What a refreshing change this season is!

    BBC’s coverage is just a little wooden, yet we don’t have commerical breaks ;-)

    Keep up the good work.

  18. dulait says:

    Hamilton is available at a best priced 7/1 for the title.

    He may not win it, but I cannot see him finishing outside the top 3 for the title, so if backed each way, you’ll still turn a profit.

    For me Vettel, is the man, expecially with the double diffuser due in time for Monaco. That’s likely to deliver anywhere from 3 to 5 tenths in its first iteration, on top of the aero gains from the Barcelone update. But @ 5/2, he’s untouchable.

    Perhaps the best value is Alonso @ 20/1 each way, however he really needs to podium at the very minimum next time out in Barcelona to stop the rot, or the lead guns will have stolen too much of a march on him.

    Watch this space……….

  19. Steven Pritchard says:

    Above that should read “I’m not always sure I agree with fastest lap analysis”.

    Don’t offer me a job as a proof reader! :-D

  20. JohnSpencer says:

    James – I checked the odds on Lewis to win the championship after you posted this and the best was 7-1. I just checked again today and he’s moved out to 8-1, so the bookies don’t have as much faith as you.

    But then again, the Bookmakers in general have been slow to keep up with changes in F1. I looked at the Constructors’ odds before the season began (but after testing was finished) and while Brawn were already favourites, both Red Bull and Toyota were available at 15-1 even though Autosport had just ranked them as 3rd and 4th fastest. You can now get them at 2-1 and 5-1.

    Ferrari, btw, were joint favourites with Brawn before Melbourne, but are now at 12-1. Renault and BMW have also slipped, from about 5-1 pre-season to 50-1 now.

    Don’t think I’m a gambling expert, though: about 10 years ago I put money on David Coulthard to win the championship and have never bet on F1 since.

  21. Rob says:

    Fast laps or slow laps,the 2 drivers that have more than had their day,has got to be Trulli and Fisichella,even with Trulli on pole you just knew that he would not win.Fisichella is just a complete waste of time.

  22. Stevie E says:

    James, you missed Kimi.

    He did a 1.35.4

  23. James Allen says:

    I’m not sure that I have said I expect him to have a two race penalty, I’ve said all along I think that is unlikely. The word here this weekend has been that it will be a 30 point deduction from the team and/or a suspended two race ban.

  24. Phil says:

    Calum – a suspended sentence is one that is not carried out, however, the perpetrator is then watched like a hawk and any further shenanigans results in the ban kicking in.

  25. James Allen says:

    I think today will have made many teams push a little harder to bring it to the car. That said, this is one of the best KERS tracks. There are other places wher it will make little or no difference. Williams has the flywheel system which should give it a boost.

  26. Calum Stevens says:

    Ah, so what is the liklihood it will be both then?

    I pray to God they don’t give him a 2 race suspended race penalty, I know he did wrong but you got to let as many cars race as possibly for the excitement.

    Great blog James, I always check here first for Formula One news and insights.

    Thanks.

  27. krad says:

    Suspened means he will be racing unless they are naughty again I suspect

  28. Calum Stevens says:

    Ahh, soory guys my fault. It makes more sence reading it like that I suppose, and it’s a better punishment for everyone, including the fans.

  29. M__E says:

    Mark R,

    thats exactly what I was going to wade in and say

    1) this track is like canada/monaco/street tracks
    ‘flatters’ the cars which dont have the best aero

    2) that instead of McLaren being 0.4 sec off brawn, like you bet me to it again, I think its more like 1 sec on long run race pace.

    3 )Again as you say, MClaren already have the double diffuser and a small rake of parts already – v’s other teams.

    4) Button was ‘coasting’ when he didnt have to push
    I took some lap times, when cars were in clear air near the start about 5 laps in, and button was consistently knocking in 1:34:8′s where as Hamilton was on 1:35:5/7′s – 0.8 to 1 sec off button on long runs!, if button had of kept that up hamilton would have finished about 1 min behind him instead of 22 seconds!. Brawn are playing the media games, they STILL havent showed their true hand I believe, why would they afterall?
    If the other guys dont know what they are up against how can they chase a moving target ;-)

    What of Ferrari though? they are at McLarens pace now, and they dont even have half the updates McLaren has ‘used up’ so I think we WILL see a very resurgent Ferrari in Barcelona (a whole new B spec car with the fully integrated double diffuser et all) – and BMW – I think they are saving all their updates for a whole new car in Barcelona, and will be suddenly very close to the sharp end very quickly… and then Brawn might actually have to show their true hand to keep ahead of Ferrari ect for a full race distance.

    As for Ferrari if/when they do get their act together it looks like Massa is slipping back into inconsistent form ala 2007 where Kimi had the upperhand, now it seems Kimi is on the ball this season, and will turn out to be the more consistent of the two of them? – SEEEEESAWWW!

  30. Grabyrdy says:

    And who would Heikki go and drive for in those two races ? This has nothing to do with him at all.

  31. MARCA is reporting that he fainted briefly after the race http://www.marca.com/2009/04/26/motor/formula1/1240756233.html
    No wonder he was glad to have a point from the race. Imagine going through all that for nothing!

  32. M__E says:

    what odds did you get on Lewis when you placed the bet back then (and at what point in season or pre-season?)

  33. When will they actually use this KERS system they’re so proud of though?

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