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Vettel surprises everyone at Bahrain
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Mar 2010   |  3:28 pm GMT  |  200 comments

We hoped that we were in for a season of surprises and it has certainly started well with Sebastian Vettel snatching pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix by a healthy margin over the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.


Vettel’s team mate Mark Webber could easily have made it an all Red Bull front row, but he lost a second in the middle sector, which features the fiddly new section of track. He set the fastest third sector time of all.

Pre-season testing made it look like Ferrari and McLaren were in front, although there were signs in Jerez and Barcelona that the Red Bull was quick over a single lap. But what happened today was that the margins between the cars were quite small in the early part of qualifying, but then in Q3 when the track got hot, it also became slippery and the Red Bull handled it better than the rest. McLaren didn’t handle it well at all.

They never looked on the pace today, particularly Jenson Button, who struggled to get into the top ten shootout and ended up 8th. Of course both cars were comfortably fastest through the speed trap, Button was 9kh/h faster than Vettel through there, indicating that the McLaren rear wing is really helping there and also how down on power the Renault is in the back of the Red Bull. If they had got a Mercedes deal I think we might be looking at a rather more one sided championship.

Hamilton’s time is about where the car is at the moment, according to team insiders. And yet the margin was a second, which again was far greater than at the start of qualifying and shows how well Vettel in particular and the Red Bull handled the loss of grip as the temperature went up at the vital moment near the end of the hour.

Mercedes were not quite there either. Rosberg qualified 5th with Schumacher in 7th, illustrating how a lay off of three years has made him “rusty”. I don’t think he expected to be behind Rosberg by as much as he was for most of the session. He was around half a second down most of the time, as he learned the best way to use these new generation tyres. In the end he got the deficit back to three tenths of a second.

Massa, who has led the most laps of any driver on this track, outpaced Alonso by quite a large margin – 4/10ths. Alonso had been the faster of the two in Q1 and Q2, but the Brazilian had a cleaner lap when the temperatures went up in the final part of the session.

Adrian Sutil and Force India look in good shape. Sutil was third in Q1 and was the only one of the top ten to set his time on the medium tyre, which is a good 6/10ths slower than the super soft. He starts tenth and has the luxury of the more durable race tyre to start with when the car is heavy and then the faster tyre at the end when the car is light and the track rubbered in. Watch out for him tomorrow.

Also Robert Kubica and Renault showed that they are there or thereabouts, getting the other available space in the top ten behind the four leading teams.

Red Bull were not perhaps expecting this performance advantage at this track. It only has one fast corner and they thought it would not play to their strengths. But it bodes well for them for the season. So we now know that the Red Bull goes well on hot tracks. If it is also quick in Melbourne, where the track will be quite cool, then they are in good shape. But Ferrari are stronger in race trim than they appeared in qualifying today and with their adjustable front wing working very well to manage the tyre wear, they are still a major threat to Vettel tomorrow.

It looks like the cars will stop before one third distance in the race to change to the medium tyre, which will see them through to the end. Pitting first gains you around half a second on any car you are racing against.

BAHRAIN GP – QUALIFYING
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:55.029 1:53.883 1:54.101
2. Massa Ferrari 1:55.313 1:54.331 1:54.242
3. Alonso Ferrari 1:54.612 1:54.172 1:54.608
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:55.341 1:54.707 1:55.217
5. Rosberg Mercedes 1:55.463 1:54.682 1:55.241
6. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:55.298 1:54.318 1:55.284
7. Schumacher Mercedes 1:55.593 1:55.105 1:55.524
8. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:55.715 1:55.168 1:55.672
9. Kubica Renault 1:55.511 1:54.963 1:55.885
10. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:55.213 1:54.996 1:56.309
11. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:55.969 1:55.330
12. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:55.628 1:55.653
13. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:56.375 1:55.857
14. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:56.428 1:56.237
15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:56.189 1:56.265
16. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:56.541 1:56.270
17. Petrov Renault 1:56.167 1:56.619
18. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:57.071
19. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:59.728
20. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:59.852
21. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2:00.313
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 2:00.587
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 2:03.240
24. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 2:04.904

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200 Comments
  1. Nubly says:

    Looks like Heidfeld was right!

    1. Red5 says:

      Ahh, you can smell it in the Bahrain air. This season is going to be a classic.

      1st blood to Vettel. But the pack is chasing close behind.

      I think Sutil will certainly sleep well tonight.

  2. CPR says:

    One thing I was surprised to note was was close the Q1 and Q3 times were for most of the drivers. Vettel was a second faster in Q3, as was Massa, but Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Webber, Schumacher and Button were within 0.2s (and within 0.1s in many cases).

    And everyone except Massa was slower in Q3 compared to Q2.

    Maybe some were leaning harder on their tires during qualifying, which could hurt them during the race…? I can’t think of anything else that would cause the Q2/Q3 difference – a dry track shouldn’t change by 0.5-1s in 15 minutes.

    1. Stu says:

      Some of the drivers will have run the harder compound tyres in Q1 as there is no way the new teams would out pace them and they don’t want to waste the option tyre.

      In Q2 they will have been running the option tyres in order to get to Q3 as there were no guarantees (just ask Button).

      In Q3 all of them (except Sutil) ran option tyres but will have made some set up changes to the car to enable it to run better when the car is fuelled up before the race.

      1. Mouse_Nightshirt says:

        Cars are officially in parc ferme from the start of qualy as far as I remember, so no setup changes other than front wing and tyre pressures would have been allowed.

    2. nobleato says:

      track temperature of the circuit was increasing throughout quali and F1 tyres do not perform well outside their operation temperature window. that could explain why everyone’s lap time dropped between Q2 and Q3 (due to increased track temperature).

      1. piotr says:

        The high track temperature inpact on Q3 times was confirmed by Kubica who also mentioned that at least Renault were running with race set-up car in Q3 which also slowed them down a bit.

    3. kovalski says:

      may be they were setting up the car for tomorrow’s race, and massa didn’t. May be tomorrow he will lose the race to alonso. Even though alonso expected to be in front of the brazilian, you could see it on his face. He is such a bad actor, he can hide his feelings.

      1. John Z says:

        Alonso was steadily in front of Massa all day, but he just couldn’t get that last lap together. I’d be disappointed as well. Still, the race and the start has lots of intrigue. Will Vettel’s race pace be enough to stay ahead of the Ferrari’s? Will Lewis be able to get by Alonso at the start? Will Ferrari be heavier than Red Bull & McLaren due to their allegedly thirsty engine? Will McLaren destroy their soft tyres within the first 5 laps of the race? Will Mercedes even be a factor in this race? Lot’s to watch.

      2. Curro says:

        Agree. Can’t wait. Funny to see how SV was trying to wind FA up in the press conference. Is it me, or does it look like it’s going to be Sebastian against Fernando all year? A lot can change and will, this is just 1st qualif, it’s easy to make wrong judgement but still can’t help it…

        For me the clearest sign of the Alonso era we live in is that: 1st SV tries to wind him up in the press conf, 2nd the one person MS wants to measure up against is Alonso, 3rd arguably the best one out there right now is Lewis and we’re all waiting to see him up against Alonso… like it or not, Fernando is the man, and he’s just moved to Ferrari, this is going to be a great season.

        I’m not an Alonsist, just in case. He’s just very good.

      3. Henry says:

        I really hope vettel does manage to win, I rate him as highly as any driver on the grid in terms of talent, obviously he still needs to translate that into achievements! Some of his driving last year was sublime. he will win the championship one year, I would be very happy to see him do it this year.

    4. Racehound says:

      Vettells doing only 14 laps before he comes in for tyres, with Aloso probably doing 18 before his first stop! Massa on lap 20…..Hamilton will be in for his first tyres by lap 6 !!! After that…who knows!!! ?? #:)

      1. Ross Dixon says:

        Yes but moving to new tyre will increase their speed so keep them out in front of people who pit after. The key will be how often do people have to pit and can they maintain their pace. I think Mclaren will be better in the race with fuel. Although I expect Ferrari to win (Massa) with Mclaren on the 3rd step

  3. Kakashi says:

    Hi James,
    do u think the huge difference in Q3 times between the top 4 could be due to different compromise for the race pace??
    Also do u have any info abt redbull ride hight adjusters? if so that can play a big role for the car setup in Quali and race trim between the pitstops…

  4. Adrian Warnock says:

    Isn’t it true that both Mac and Ferrari were running with the hard tyres? If so does that not make Vettels lap not as impressive. If this is right why is none of the commentary mentioning it much?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not true. Only car on hard tyres in top ten is Sutil

      1. Adrian Warnock says:

        thats odd, as I got this from your twitter stream. What happened? Did they take the harder ones back off again? At least you spoke about tyres. BBC was annoying today with that and also the lack of graphics

    2. Henry says:

      The BBC commentary was definitely talking about the tyres, they made it very clear that the top ten (minus Sutil) were running the softs. James does that mean we can hope for a points finish for Force India, it must put them in a relatively strong position?

  5. gabriel says:

    Mclaren’s are stiffly sprung and may be compromised on quali pace to give race pace, where Jenson looks better. I see cars sliding up and down the order as the different car charchteristics reach their optimum!

  6. Peter says:

    Vettel is very impressive when he needs to delivery under pressure.

    1. David says:

      In qualifying. If last year is anything to go by, there’s a strong chance he’ll be overtaken by Massa, Alonso and even Hamilton in the first lap.

      1. Andy Thomlinson says:

        I think you will find Vettel has a 100% record from pole position so I dont know were you get ‘if last year is anything to go by’ from!

      2. David says:

        True, but also true that under pressure last season he dropped down the grid at the start. We’ll see tomorrow which will apply.

      3. Andrew says:

        100% record – except for the Turkey GP last year? ;)

      4. Sam says:

        Really? What about Turkey last year then?

      5. Andy Thomlinson says:

        yea I remembered that after I posted, still means he took 3 victories from 4 poles last year and 1 pole 1 win in 2008. My point was from pole hes got a very good record.

      6. maclarista says:

        James do You think Maclaren have the same problem they had on the 2008 season when they had always struggle on hot conditions?

    2. kowalski says:

      one of the best qualifiers for sure.

  7. F1ART says:

    Didn’t suprise me at all!
    got my odds of 8=1 a month ago.

    1. Kenny says:

      Me either. RBR had the advantage going into the season, and it seemed clear to me that they were sandbagging a bit in practice…

    2. artowar says:

      Haha, a man after my own heart!

    3. Pat says:

      I got 11-2 3 days a ago :)

  8. Pawel says:

    Did all drivers use soft-tires in P3?
    And I was surprised with wide differences in lap-time in Q3 between drivers from the same team (especially Red-Bull, McLaren).

  9. Scuderia@China says:

    What do you think happened to Webber losing one second to Vettel when they clearly had the fastest cars on a single lap? Jenson Button certainly sounded defensive when he claimed something wrong with the McLaren car. First sight of defeat? Would be interesting to see whether he can make it back in the race. Would also be great to see the two Ferraris going head on in the first corner!

    1. Ahlapski says:

      I am not a great Ferrari fan, I have to admit they certainly looking good.

      I actually put a bet on Massa getting pole. But he was pipped at the last second by Vettel. Vettel’s looking very impressive at the moment.

    2. Ahlapski says:

      Oh BTW, Webber made a mess of his final lap. That is why he is on the 3rd row.

    3. Freespeech says:

      You’re so right about Button being defensive – it’s always the car’s fault never his!

      If I were McLaren I’d get Lewis to charge all out and bringing him in for 2 tyre stops instead of one which seems to be what most people are expecting all the top teams to do. If McLaren & Lewis did this probably at least one of those around him is likely to overcook their tyres in trying to keep pace, I also think the 3 cars in front of him won’t be expecting any real charges as if they are intending to do a 1 stop they may well be paying a little more attention to their tyres and not as much on racing.

      Mansell said his pre qually interview that he won several races doing two tyre changes when others did one.

      As for Button, the only one of the drivers in the top 4 teams to beaten by Schumacher, what’s that telling us? (me thinks he was a very very lucky man last year driving a brawn with such a huge advantage :)

    4. A.K. says:

      He lost it on turn 16 and then did poorly for the rest of the second sector.

      Kubica too says he oversteered at turn 16 and lost so much time that he could have been up to 7th ahead of Schumi.

    5. kowalski says:

      typical from some type of drivers, always looking for an excuse when they don’t perform.

      1. hibikir says:

        Since when is saying that they screwed up at a certain turn an excuse?

        There’s a big difference between an excuse and an explanation that puts the blame on their own shoulders.

  10. smellyden says:

    After all the talk specualtion the first quali of the season over and it brought out some intresting features, red bull managing to get some great performance. But more intrestingly Massa setting down a marker against Alonso, and Rosberg too beating the old master! Role on the race!

    1. Silverstoned says:

      4 10ths difference !!!
      Alonso wasn”t too keen to take off his helmet for the weigh-in. Definitley an important psychological victory for Massa…

  11. Freespeech says:

    How disappointing it was to watch & listen to Button’s interview after Q3 – some thing’s wrong with my car etc etc etc (just like we heard soooo many times last year when Rubin’s got the better of him is qualifying – boring.

    Vettel clear No 1 at Redbull, Lewis clear No 1 at McLaren. Massa a surprise first blood for him at Ferrari (did you see Alonso’s face during the press interview – not a happy bunny was he)? & 1st blood to Rosberg over Schumacher, is this a sigh of things to come?

    1. A.K. says:

      You are making too much of this Alonso thing. He looked quite relaxed to me.

      People have blown the whole McLaren saga out of perspective. That was a different situation. He was a double world champ going into a team to be paired with a rookie and had every right to think he’d be team leader.

      He’d be a fool to not know that the situation at Ferrari is totally different. Massa’s the established team guy and super quick and would have been world champ if Hamilton hadn’t promised to send Glock a huge x-mass gift to pull over for him.

      1. Neil White says:

        He would be world champ if Renault hadn’t fixed the race in Singapore.

        Neil.

      2. Femi says:

        Damn Right

      3. TM says:

        I don’t think he had every right to think he would be team leader when it was made absolutely clear that McLaren don’t have team leaders – everybody knows that. He just assumed he would beat Hamilton. That’s not the same thing as being promised it.

        The Glock comment is totally wrong because you only needed to look at Trulli’s times on the same tyres on the same car, i.e. Glock had no chance of holding off Hamilton. Why would Glock move over for Hamilton? No reason at all.

    2. kowalski says:

      yes on the ferrari camp. Massa is just a better qualifier than alonso. But alonso it’s a more complete pilot, so slowly but surely will get in front. On the mercedes camp, i put my money on schumi, sooner or later he will get his act toghether on a single lap, and then beware of the kaiser. He is a better driver than rosberg.

  12. Jonathan Chan says:

    Very surprised that the Mclaren still lacks downforce in the middle sector. But Lewis salvaged 4th which is a plus, I doubt he’ll be able to hold onto that position during the race.. Overall a disappointing start to the weekend for the Mclaren team, the seasons long and although this is a significant improvement from last years car it still appears to have one or two imperfections that need refining sooner rather than later, if both drivers are to fight for the title.

    Ferrari and Redbull are in reach, but a major upgrade that could catapult them into the mix won’t be seen untill the European races.

    1. Alan Dove says:

      Is it a significant improvement from last year though? Hamilton qualified 5th and finished 4th and was closer in qualifying times with the awful 24 (though the new track length is extending the different between each cars)

      McLaren lack downforce but have a straight line advantage! Sounds very similar to 2009.

      I think they should be better this year no doubt as I think race pace should be a but closer. I suspect Vettel has gone for a more aggresive set up…

      The Ferraris though… they look very good.

    2. kowalski says:

      and don’t forget ham is on the dirty side of the stright, so expect him to keep his position at most.

  13. Wojciech says:

    I am sorry James but ‘McLaren rear wing is really helping there and also how down on power the Renault is in the back of the Red Bull.’ is not exactly hitting the nail on the head here. Looking at speed trap results you can see both Kubica and Petrov near the top there (they were near the top or top all through the weekend) and afaik their engines are the same as the ones on Red Bull. So it’s not down to engine’s bhps

    1. krad says:

      ah but does the renault have the downforce and hence drag of the macca and redbull? I doubt it as if they did they would have better lap times

    2. kowalski says:

      i agree, may be you have to look into it a little more. A car that’s on pole, being down on power, doesn’t add-up, and remember last year, at some races there were three renault engines out in front. Don’t beleive horner, may be he is after an unfair advantage.

    3. Oli says:

      In days of yore it used to be the case that all the worst teams had the highest speed trap results because they had no downforce. Arrows particularly springs to mind- they were always very fast but couldn’t get through the slow bits. Could be that McLaren are down on power AND downforce (rather worryingly) but the rear wing is helping somewhat on the straight bits.

  14. alex petroc says:

    So McLaren were sandbagging as many suggested? :)

    1. kowalski says:

      they just forgot to take the sand out. Small mistake.

  15. Stu says:

    Buttons performance was poor. He scraped into the top 10 and only just managed to outqualify the rusty Schumacher and the medium tyre shod car of Sutil.

    Providing Hamilton doesn’t leap one of the cars in front they should be able to build a decent lead. I can’t see beyond a Ferrari 1-2 though. Vettel 3rd with a great scrap for 4th between Hamilton, Rosberg and Webber.

    James according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, whilst inspecting McLarens new exploit they found the hole for the engine starter is bigger than it needs to be to boost the diffuser. Any truth in that?

    1. krad says:

      you may be missing something here, and being to eager to button bash.

      Look at all the guys who have come into a new team with a pre-existing team mate; alonso-massa, sutil-luzzi, button-hamilton. Spot a trend in their postitions.

      Current experience is everything as the trend continues with rookies vs experienced drivers

      kubica-petrov, de la rosa-kobyashi, barrichelo-hulkenburg, beumi-alguersuari

      it even continues with rosberg-schumacher, both are new but schumachers current experiance is poor compared with rosberg.

      Things will change as the season goes on, but it it to easy to tell yet.

      James do you think Schumacher is going to suffer this year due to the lack of testing? He used to put in lots of testing, and this is partially why he was so good. The question is would he have been so dominant if he hadn’t had all this testing mileage?

      1. kowalski says:

        he won’t dominate that’s for sure. He doesn’t have that unfair advantage anymore. And lack of 1st class drivers.

      2. Stu says:

        Alonso has had the measure of Massa all weekend bar P2 and the mistake he made in Q3.

        Sutil and Liuzzi were team mates at Force India last year for 5 races. It’s now 5-1 to Sutil in qualifying. Sutil is a far better driver than Liuzzi is.

        I’m not going to discuss the rookies as that trend should be obvious.

    2. monktonnik says:

      I was disappointed with JB and MSC, particularly in comparison to their team mates. It is worth remembering though that in all of the top teams the margin between the drivers was be about 0.4s, so if JB did a bad job so did Alonso and Webber looks awful in comparison to Vettel.

      Judging from the practice times yesterday, on low fuel LH was a couple of tenths ahead, but it seemd to be the other way around once they put fuel in the car, and when you consider who the smoother drivers are I don’t think it is over for JB and MSC.

      1. Munzer says:

        “I don’t think it is over for JB and MSC.”

        No, not by a long way!

        Apparently there was a problem with Button’s car. Something to do with a suspension part, which can be changed in parc ferme conditions.

      2. monktonnik says:

        I did hear that there was a problem, but I didn’t take it that seriously. I say the same thing when I go karting!

        If he did have wonky suspension then you have to say that he did a good job.

  16. HUGO says:

    I THINK SCHUMY DID A VERY SOLID JOB EVEN IF ROSBERG CLEAN SWEEP HIM ALL WEEKEND. THE MAN IS JUST GETTING USED TO THE WHOLE NEW QUALI FORMAT WERE HE HAS NEVER TAKING PART OF, FOR HIM TO MAKE IT TROUGH Q3 AHEAD OF WORLD CHAMPION BUTTON I BELIEVE IS VERY IMPRESIVE AND HAMILTON IN FRONT JUST 3/10THS. I EXPECT MORE THRILL TOMORROW

    1. C says:

      Actually, he did take part in this format in 2006. Look it up.

      1. Dario says:

        I think he did a pretty good job for someone who just got into an F1 car 4 weeks ago after a three year break. And for being 41…

      2. Michael Wilcox says:

        The BBC were keen to make this mistake today. Jake, Kravitz and J.Legard all made this blunder at some point during quali.
        Had me shouting at the TV and I’m glad to ssee someeone else has picked up on the error.

  17. The biggest question mark about the Red Bulls for me is still their reliability. They had a number of niggles throughout last season and Vettel in particular was blighted by engine problems.

    We know there have already been gear box and brake issues this weekend.

    The car is quick, no doubt about it, but it’s probably going to have to be able to finish every race, in mechanical terms – Brawn managed it last year and McLaren have had astonishing reliability for years.

    1. Rich C says:

      Well its gonna be about 500 degrees there during the race, so we’ll know soon about engine reliability.

    2. I wonder if Red Bull’s new exhaust layout will cause them any problems in the heat of Bahrain… There were some concerns that it may overheat the suspension components I think.

    3. Oli says:

      Think they might have snapped a driveshaft as well- think I heard Brundle mention it.

  18. Henry Manney says:

    Hats off to Rosberg for letting his driving do the talking. Keke
    must be very proud, and justifiably so.

    Memo to Herr Schumacher :

    That was then, this is now.

    1. Curro says:

      Season is long. Anything can happen and you can never underestimate the man. As Frank Williams memorably put it once: “I’d fear Schumacher in a bicycle”.

      But yes, I’d like Keke to be proud at the end of the season too.

      1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        I think that Frank said “pram” not bicycle.

    2. Mike says:

      Uh, its just the first quali of the season. Lets see how Nico, whom I like very much, does over the season against Michael before declaring anything.

  19. Slowflow says:

    The race order may change radically from how it started, it all depends on the tyre degredation.

    The first 4-5 races will give the teams some useful data, to better adapt to the rest of the season.

    Regards,

    Slowflow

    1. Jason C says:

      Yes, I’d like to see the tyre performance really drop late on in the race for the drivers who take too much out of them earlier on. At least that would go towards justifying the inexplicable refuelling ban.

  20. Gug says:

    Forza Ferrari!
    McLaren keep sandbagging please XD.

  21. Jasper says:

    Great lap from Vettel, showing that he and the Red Bull have the best pace marginally over one lap. Massively surprised that McLaren’s one lap pace was so far off, and then Lewis admitted that they lacked downforce in his BBC post Qualy interview, there were no noises to that effect at all in winter testing! So quite surprised by that. With their long run pace, Ferrari look very strong for tomorrow, and in Bahrain practice they seemed to look after the tyres better than the Red Bull and McLaren. Remember if Vettel stays ahead in the first stint and the Ferraris are right behind him and pit first – the new rubber advantage over one lap will be enough for them to leapfrog Vettel! (so look out from the start of the race, obviously the lap times will start coming down with the fuel, but as soon as a cars lap times aren’t getting quicker they need to dive straight in the pits. It’s gonna be like switching from inters to slicks on a drying track) That’s even more the case with the new longer Bahrain lap. And as I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the Red Bull’s long run pace is better than Ferrari, I see it being the two Ferraris fighting for the win, based on what we know so far. In testing we saw McLaren with good long run pace, maybe just a touch off the Ferraris, to be fair I don’t think the McLaren is at it’s best on this track, I’d expect them to be stronger elsewhere. So I think Vettel will at some point get passed by the Ferraris and end up fighting it out with Hamilton, Rosberg, Webber and Schumacher (and hopefully Button) for 3rd place.

    That’s just my opinion based on what we’ve seen so far this year, let’s hope things aren’t as predictable as that, here’s to a great first race of the season! F1 is back everybody!

    1. Eric says:

      You say ‘predictable’ but that sounds quite exciting to me! Great insight about the tyres.

      1. Jasper says:

        Thanks Eric, I’m sure Martin Brundle and Ted Kravitz will go on about that on the BBC tomorrow. To win Vettel really has to build a gap to the Ferraris in the first stint, assuming the top three remain the same after the first lap of course.

        Well I say ‘predictable’ merely because I would be a bit disappointed if things pan out exactly as I predict, ruins the fun, I want to be surprised by some great overtaking or something. Here’s to what’s hopefully gonna be a great 1st race of F1 2010.

  22. James W says:

    Hi James, just an off topic question here.

    When the cars are sent out to form up on the grid before the parade lap, will they a full tank at this point? If so, will they be allowed to top up that little bit which they burn off on their way around? Probably an insignificant question, but could make the difference come the end of the race!

    1. Connor McKinley says:

      No, they can’t once they leave the pit lane

    2. Martin says:

      I suspect the answer in no, but there is no tank capacity limit, so the teams can plan for it. What it does do is allow the teams to run the cars through the pits a couple of times before forming up on the grid. This can be particularly relevant if the track is wet. With a wet race fuel consumption is lower so burning off the fuel is a good thing.

      I’ve heard references to drivers saving fuel, which suggests that the optimum performance in the dry does not come from running the engines at peak performance all the time but by reducing the mass of the car at the start. You’d want a pretty flash simulation program to test that claim.

  23. Vic says:

    Hi James, ive got a couple questions if you could be kind enough to answer, but i want to start off with saying well done to Massa!

    1) You can see from nearly all the top ten that the Q3 times are slower than Q2, is that them qualifying with tyres in mind or did the track slow down (maybe temperature or something).

    2) Schumacher saying he’s a bit rusty on the one lap, is it possible that he was focussing on running high fuel loads in all his testing/practice, i.e. he didnt practice hot laps and thats why he’s a bit more rusty than anticipated

    3) is it just me or did it seem like it was a bit difficult to put a quick lap together on that circuit?

    thanks James, enjoying your site very much

    Vic

  24. yos says:

    Hello james, its hard to predict what will happen tomorrow, ferrari seemed to have good race pace in Barcelona so do maclaren but we don’t know for sure if redbull were hiding their pace as well on long stints. I expect a surpris winner as the new boys will bring some frusrating yellow flags and a safety car.

  25. Wingers says:

    Great start to the new season, really looking forward to tomorrows race!

    Have to say, unfortunately, I am extremely disappointed in the TV presentation! I was actually angry during quali!

    The graphics are a step backwards… it seems as though the F1 Fan survey was a big waste of time…

    The black backgrounds are cool and all, no worries. But what happened to the top left hand abbreviated list of the top 24, 17, 10 etc… How are we supposed to keep track of who is where? I at least had the benefit of commentary. But what if you were at a pub with no commentary?

    I had to grab my notebook to see what was going on, and that spoils the live feed which is a couple of seconds behind…

    How can F1 be so bad at something so simple? How can Nascar, Indy, MotoGp and others get it right, and F1 turns its nose up at all of the mentioned, and yet they are the worst at informing the fan, and the seemingly last to embrace technology for the fans benefit… HD, moving cameras etc ect…

    I simply cannot believe that we have gone a step backwards in this regard especially after the drives for the fans to give their opinion??!

    Anyone else as annoyed??

    1. James W says:

      The thing that annoys me about the new graphics is that they’re slanted. Does not look good at all.

    2. Banjo says:

      i couldn’t agree with you more. I constantly found myself lost at what was happening. How can you feel the excitement and nervous of qualifying when you have NO idea where the drivers you support are? I had no idea if they were in the knock out zone or not. I hope this is a one off as Qualifying for a lot of fans is more exciting than the race – but this was completely lost today. I appreciate it’s the FOM who control it but could the BBC not put graphics up ontop of the FOM feed?

      1. Andrew says:

        I use f1.com and have the ‘live timing’ on my laptop while watching the race on TV. That way I know what position everyone is in, and the lap times for each driver etc.

      2. Julian says:

        Yes, but it’s not convenient for everyone to have one eye at a computer and the other on TV…

      3. James Allen says:

        I think plenty of people do that now. The action on TV isn’t always so compelling that you can’t take your eyes off it for a few seconds

      4. Swampy says:

        It was just as bad here in the States. I thought the coverage sucked. No way to tell what was happening until it had happened. Hope it gets better!

    3. Racergil says:

      I could not agree with you more. It took quite a few posts down this column before someone mentioned it. I thought I was alone. The coverage was putrid, and a snorefest. I don’t think we even got to see any of MS’s final lap in qually 3. Of course there is one issue to consider. The session is very short, and any one driver’s lap is very long at nearly two minutes, so that it is impossible to see all of them. Lack of standings on the screen really compromised the enjoyment of any battles out there. I will have to watch the replay again to try to understand it all, but you are right. The coverage was dreadful and bush league.

  26. Omar Kamal says:

    May be Renault engines are defective in term o f power but they are superior when it comes to fuel efficiancy, which can also lead to a one sided chamionship if it helped them to start the race on a lower fuel!

    1. James W says:

      They lack reliability, as proven by this year as well as this year (already)

      1. James W says:

        *as proven by last year as well as this year

      2. kowalski says:

        but they don’t lack performance as proven this year and last year as well.

      3. ahmed says:

        the renault engine is only unreliable in the hands of red bull, the renault team hasnt had many problems with the engine, its probably an installation issue with the red bull that makes it unreliable. historically renault have had the most reliable engines since they’ve come back into f1. I remember the wide angled v10 they had, it was slighly under powered compared to their rivals but was supremely reliable.

    2. Brace says:

      They were weak and unreliable only in RedBulls.
      Worked much better in Renaults.
      Also, Newey’s cars always break down. All those McLarens he made…
      His RedBulls had much more other problems beside engine reliability.

  27. Ahlapski says:

    James,

    do you think it is better to be in the top with old tyre or 11th with new tyre.

    As you pointed out Sutil is in a good position with the harder tyre. I think Barricello is in a position just as good; because he will be on new tyres. Look out for him too.

    What do you think ??

    1. Ahlapski says:

      *top 10

  28. broxi says:

    Wasn’t it interesting to see Schumacher taking a close-up look at his rivals’ cars as they sat outside parc ferme, while the other drivers stood to be weighed…good to see him back.

    1. Bayan says:

      Yes, it’s great to see him back. I never understood why other drivers don’t do the same. I guess that’s what makes him a great competitor. Senna used to do the same i believe.

  29. Charlie B says:

    James,

    How can the McLaren rear wing be considered legal?

    From my understanding it has a vent that opens and closes, so it must move, which is illegal. Red Bull had a flexi rear wing in 2007 which was declared illegal, so I expect to see a protest, or everyone copies it quickly.

    1. Ross Dixon says:

      The vent is always open. It just gets covered with the drivers leg. Given that the driver is not seen as a part of the car he cant be seen as a movable device. If he was his head would have to remain still through out the whole race as air hitting it could be seem to alter the air flow

    2. James W says:

      Toyota’s flexi-wing was also ruled out last year as well.

    3. adam says:

      There are no moving parts in the wing.
      The driver blocks the airflow tube on the nose intake with his knee as it passes through the cockpit.The driver is not considered part of the bodywork.

    4. Pat says:

      It doesn’t have any moving parts – that’s why it’s legal – the thing that moves to allow air through or to stop it is the drivers’ left leg – covering or uncovering a hole – simple – legal and in a straight line very effective ! Innovation of the highest order – just how F1 should be :) The others are just miffed that they didn’t think of it.

      1. kowalski says:

        i agree. It was a smart idea, and should be encouraged, not punished. Imagine how far back would mclaren have been without it. scary.

      2. Charlie B says:

        This is a reply to everyone, thanks. I thought the driver hit a switch with his knee which open/closed the vent.

        It is innovative but I would say not in the spirit of the regulations. But it can’t be stopped because everyone has different interpretations of the rules.

      3. TM says:

        The other teams only don’t like it because they didn’t think of it!!

  30. rpaco says:

    Excellent quali with several major noises out of joint! Race will be something special, whose suspension will break first in the new switchback section? Whose tyres will melt first?

    Well having watched quali on BBC red button there was no alternative commentary, so I ended up with the R5live commentary online and the TV picture with subtitles on since the online pics were different during the paddock chats.
    (The live online pics are 6 seconds behind the live TV.)

    I was very disappointed that the BBC timing graphics were even less than last season. No live list of standings, no live list of times, all we saw were the 7 excluded in Q3 and Q2. Pathetic! Useless. They were far better at ITV.
    Is Bernie, in his efforts to popularise F1, dumbing it down deliberately, so as to get to the USA level were all we will just see once per lap instantaneous speeds through a trap??
    Has Bernie withheld the data or is the BBC not capable of using it?

    1. rpaco says:

      You cant even email the studio to complain any more, so James please nip over and tell them to sort their graphics out.

      1. James W says:

        They’re all FOM timings, provided by LG, nothing to do with the Beeb.

      2. Stu says:

        I watched quali with the 5live extra commentary via the red button. It worked with Sky, maybe you were watching via Virgin or Freeview?

      3. rpaco says:

        I was using freeview, there was no sideways option on the blue button menu yesterday for the other commentary. I think that they also had live hockey on a the same time on red button.

      4. **Paul** says:

        Aren’t all the pics direct from FOM? Hence the graphics are from Bernie not the BBC..

        Why slate the BBC so much? The commentary is less biased and there’s no adverts in critical points in the race. Things are far better than they used to be.

      5. Curro says:

        It’ pretty clear that ITV with adds was better than BBC without. I think JA’s silence over so many broadcast questions is as telling as it’s elegant. He just won’t tell us what we already know.

    2. Pictures and timing graphics supplied by FOM, so all broadcasters get the same. Nothing to do with the BBC. I agree it was lacking information.

    3. Banjo says:

      FOM are responsible for the graphics, not the BBC. I found it incredibly frustrating trying to follow what was happening. It’s ruined one of my favourite parts of F1.

    4. Robert McKay says:

      It’s not BBC’s fault, email FOM about it.

    5. Pat says:

      The graphics aren’t done by the BBC they receive pictures from the World Feed provided by Formula 1 Management (FOM)who do the graphics as well.

      I agree it was poop and they need to increase the Text/Font size of the on screen lap live times e.t.c.

      1. chris says:

        I Agree! They need to go back to last years graphics which were clear legible and informative. The new design (if you can call it that) is over stylised crap.

    6. TM says:

      The graphics are nothing to do with the BBC. You need to tell FOM.

      1. James Allen says:

        That is correct. I actually quite like them. As with any change, there is always an immediate push against, but give it a little time and if it still irks you, let them know

  31. gil dogon says:

    I think the Massa/Alonso battle is going to be very close and interesting in this race. Both seem to be on very close terms with no clear advantage. Massa did a better job at quali but that is almost irrelevant as Alonso is right behind. I think baring any mistakes/incidents it will be decided by who pits first, and in that case I wonder how do the team decide/manage this …

  32. Jamie Kirkland says:

    impressed with Chandhok, just a second down on his team mate after no practice time

    Also impressed with how calm and collected he was before his session when talking to the bbc

    1. Ross Dixon says:

      Agreed, he changed my mind about the new teams. He said something along the lines of I jut was a few miles then ill get out of the way.

    2. HowardHughes says:

      I agree. He could yet win the award for ‘Dude of the Pitlane’. A cool character.

    3. Joe says:

      even more impressive, for me, is that Chandhock was only 3 seconds slower than Grand Prix winner Kovalainen!!! and he had absolutely no running EVER in that car before the qualifying session! Yes, i know Kovalainen is in the Lotus, but even still, that is impressive. Of course, if Chandhock had had a full winter of testing like Button etc and competed fully in practice then being 3 secs slower than Heikki wouldnt be quite so impressive!

    4. Drezman says:

      He was certainly HYPER when interviewed after his run LOL.

      Still good job with zero running in a F1 car.

  33. luke dalton says:

    wow! what a start to the season, so much for the new teams being a danger! great effort from chandhok and HRT getting to within 1.5 seconds of senna with much less running

    1. kowalski says:

      you are right. let’s see if with todt, we start forgeting about this nonesense that everything it’s dangerous. F1 it’s too safe, and we like a little bit of danger in it, otherwise we’ll choose figure skating on the tv channel.

      1. Jason C says:

        Have you seen how sharp those blades are?

    2. Curro says:

      There was a time when being 1.5 secs off Senna was a great achievement…

      Just joking.

      Good season to you all!!

  34. David Hamilton says:

    Sorry James, didn’t get that last sentence:

    “Pitting first gains you around half a second on any car you are racing against.”

    The traditional wisdom with fuel stops was that running a couple of laps longer was the best way of getting past. So how is earlier now the quicker option, and what are the limits where the benefit runs out (e.g. stopping on the first lap is earlier, but I doubt it is quicker)?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, this year it’s the other way around. The tyres will go off, so switching to a new set gives you a performance boost a “golden lap” if you like

      1. Martin says:

        James, I think you could expand on this a bit more in an article. We’ve seen in the last four years that a driver puts on new tyres for Q3, with the race fuel load and sets pole. The same driver, slightly less fuel, new tyres and similar track conditions, starts the race and might be three to four seconds slower than the pole time. It seems to me that there is a peak performance with the tyres that in the race the driver did not use as it damaged the tyres too much. With qualifying, the tyres are put away and allowed to cool down. In Australia’s V8 supercars, tyres are often used across days and this process of heat cycling and ‘curing’ tyres is realised to be advantageous. Does this help in F1?

        Part of my point/query is that there would appear to be the potential to have a gain of much more than 0.5 seconds (again if V8 supercars are any guide the tyres only pitstops will vary by more than this), if a driver was desperate to get past, but it may result in overworked tyres.

        If this is the case, then it would be good if you could ask a few drivers, how do they feel how hard they can push the new tyres, as they wouldn’t be driving at the absolute limit.

        But I still have doubts. If we took Suzuka last year as an example, Hamilton made reference to Trulli and him doing a full stint of qualifying laps. Clearly the lap times weren’t close to Q3 levels and at the end, on light fuel should have been quicker than Q3. All the drivers seem to be managing the tyres in a similar way. On the first two laps at Suzuka, Vettel was much faster, but after that, the lap time difference was much smaller. Some of this can be how the car gets heat into the tyres, but in general there is a consistent approach to managing them. It could be that there is performance available that the drivers don’t use the performance unless the driver in front makes a mistake to create an opportunity. It could be that the cars are too aerodynamically sensitive to allow the peak performance to be exploited. And this all needs to be done early on. At some tracks the tyres seem to last less than a full lap, but we also get examples such as Spa where Rosberg did a three lap run.

        I’ve heard commentators talking about releasing agents that are put between the mould and the rubber compound as being part of the new tyre grip secret. For street tyres it tends to be the other way around, with this stuff needing to be worn away before the tyres have full grip.

        Thank you for your efforts with the site. My sense is that the human side of F1 particularly interests you, but the technical side of your journalism is still interesting. In Australia we have fewer options for watching the cars on track, so comments on the practice sessions are really valuable.

        Cheers,

        Martin

      2. James Allen says:

        Thanks. You are right, the human side, the psychological side really interests me, but the tech is so astonishing and so fundamentally important to the outcome in this sport, I feel that it needs to be brought out in an accessible way. I’m learning as I research these things. Heat cycles in tyres are one of the items on the list for the LG Tech Report soon

    2. Jason C says:

      Imagine 2 cars are running one 1 sec in front of the other, doing the same lap times. The car behind pits first. When he comes out of the pits, he is further behind but he is on new tyres, and the guy in front is on old ones. They are still on equal fuel loads.

      So the guy behind runs a few laps on these new tyres, and of course his lap times are quicker. So when the time comes for the guy in front to pit, then he exits the pits behind the guy who pitted earlier. And so the pass is made by stopping earlier.

      Of course, if the tyres are run for too long, then their performance falls off a cliff I believe. This could lead to some drama late on in races, I hope.

      1. David Hamilton says:

        Thanks – that makes sense as a tactic to gain position.

        James’ initial comment made it sound like it was a faster strategy, which (ignoring traffic), it doesn’t seem to be.

  35. Mani says:

    James can you find out if Mclaren is very soft on its tyres? If it is, that would explain the poor qualifying and hopefully good race pace? Although Hammy did say Macca lose 1s in middle sector via low downforce on car! Which is worrying.

  36. Gaspar says:

    In Q3 the only driver who has a better time than in Q2 is Massa . Everybody else managed the tyre to the race , not being on the limit ?

  37. Femi says:

    Great job Felipe, keep it up m8.

    Forza Massa

  38. JR says:

    I think Barrichello has put himself in a very good position. Was it a deliberate ploy, I wonder?

    I suspect we will see some of the front runners’ soft tyres going off quite early on as a result of those very heavy fuel loads. If Barrichello on the harder tyres can avoid dropping too far back, I suspect he might be in with a chance (as is Sutil). There are so many unknowns though that anything can happen.

    Of course, we can be sure that Schumacher’s mastery of tactics will not have gone rusty and I suspect he’ll be back in the groove very rapidly once he’s wheel to wheel with the young talent. You can test all you like, but it’s racing that hones the reflexes.

  39. jack_faith says:

    Surprised with Mclaren. Interesting about them not coping so well with the warmer track. After last year you would have thought they would have addressed the downforce problem. Nevermind Vettel, Alonso, or Hamilton, I think Adrian Newey is the most valuable player in F1. How long have Red Bull been around? Dennis should have given him whatever he wanted.
    I expect Schumacher to improve but then over a race distance there could be fatigue issues. And it’s too early to read much into Alonso and Button’s quali issues. Let’s see how they go in the race. Have to say though, it was classic cheesed off Alonso in the press conference. Shot of the day… between Massa’s father celebrating and Schumi being curious in perc firme.

    1. Martin says:

      If the downforce problem was easy to solve then McLaren wouldn’t have had it in the first place. In one sense the team is a year behind the other teams in development of the basic concept as the car was changed mid season. The front wing originally sent the air inside the wheels, but from the Nurburgring onwards much more air was sent to the outside. This improvement, constant small refinements and KERS hid an overall high speed downforce problem. The other teams have kept improving, so although McLaren has more opportunity for improvement it could only copy – if it chose to – last years concepts not the current state of the art.

  40. CharleyW says:

    James, of course we are all analysing the pace of the cars from today’s qualifying, but tomorrow we might see a significant other factor come into play:

    Tomorrow could well be about red flags and safety cars, given that a) some of the new cars have only strung a handful of problem-free laps together, b) there are many new or out-of-practice drivers on the track, c) the track layout has changed, d) the track is savagely bumpy in places, and e) the speed differential of leaders to backmarkers is now so great (although I do accept that Bahrain is built with big run off sections).

    >> Safety car tactics must surely have changed radically this year due to the ban on refuelling, and yet I don’t read much analysis of the safety car scenario online. Tomorrow we could see the form book turned upside down by unfortunate incidents.

    Questions for your analytical mind:

    > How likely do you think it is that we see a safety car tomorrow?

    > How could a team exploit a safety car scenario, using tyre choice or driving tactics? And are we likely to see this? e.g. could a driver go flat-out never-mind-the-tyres in the hope that a safety car would give him an extra tyre change?

    > What happens when there is a safety car now? Do drivers still dash into the pits at the earliest opportunity to refresh their tyres?

    1. Martin says:

      If you stop for tyres, you have to do it before the field is compressed, otherwise the hurt is large if you are at the front of the field. The teams would probably constantly monitor where the cars would feed back in and whether the performance gain is worth the risk. At the back of the field it is virtually free stop, or in some cases two free stops to get rid of tyres that offer poor performance. With the new teams being so far off the pace, passing them may be relatively easy early in the season, but as they improve, tactics may need to change.

  41. James, would some of the back markers under-fuel their cars? It’s likely that, say, Virgin, HRT and Lotus (and others) will have done 2, 3 or 4 laps less than the winner at the end of the race. Knowing that at the start, would they put less fuel in – so they have enough to finish ‘their’ race but gain a slight weight advantage?

    I may have missed something obvious, but it seems like a good idea to me!

    1. Martin says:

      Safety cars compressing the field and telling lapped cars to come through could result in the planned number of laps being exceeded. However, the safety car allows for some fuel to be saved.

      Going slower tends to save fuel too (although gearing compensates for some of this), so it is not just the number of laps the cars do.

  42. Simon says:

    James,

    Would it be possible to make a post/list of teams that have and are utilizing the adjustable front wing?

  43. piotr says:

    James, I just read that Renault asked the FIA for front right tire change in Kubica’s car, as he flat-spotted it quite badly in turn 16. According to Kubica this was a result of malfunctioning differential button on the steering wheel (not tested prior to today), which lead to changeable characteristic of the car balance in almost every corner (over steer/under steer) during whole qualifying session today. Any idea if replacing the used front tyre with the one used in Q2 could be granted by the FIA? Thanks

  44. Benni says:

    I’m a Ferrari and Schumacher fan but besides them Vettel is my favorite driver so I can’t say I can complain about the top 3 today. I can hardly wait for tomorrow!

  45. Rob Pullar says:

    Firstly, congratulations to Vettel for getting Pole, Massa for beating Alonso by 4.6 s, Hamilton for beating Button by 3.6 s, Rosberg for wiping the smile off Schue’s face and Kubiza for getting the Renualt into Q1.

    If the Redbull lasts 49 laps, Vettel will win, but that is a big “if” in my opinion. Also I would like to hear more about this adjustable ride height on the redbull, James – if true, with low fuel qualifying and full fuel start could it be a season-winning device?

    The McClarens are clearly set up with hard suspension for a full fuel car, so I expect them to be much better in the actual race, and with Hamilton’s nerve and Buttons style could be much closer to the front than it seems now.

    Ferrari look good, but if Massa continues to beat Alonso, expect fireworks by the time we get to Europe.

    How long before Schumacher insists on team orders for Rosberg? Will Braun go along with that? What chance of an “old war wound” cutting his season short if things don’t change?

    Suttil on hard tyres from the start – I can see him gaining a few places as well – maybe beating at least one McClaren and Mercedes?

    Only one qualifying session, but things looking very interesting already!

    1. rafa says:

      easy pal! Massa qualified in front, there´s still a race to go!

    2. jack_faith says:

      old war wound, yes. And, if only it could be shown on hd, too.

  46. Dario says:

    I have to be honest and say I was disappointed with the way qualifying looks now with no refueling. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t mind there is no refueling, but I found that it was kinda slow now, and that cars weren’t on track as much as they used to be in the past. Most of the front runners did one flyer, and that’s that. Wasn’t the whole point of this type of qualifying for cars to be on track more??

    But you know what really really ground my gears this morning when I was watching the start of this long awaited season?? The terribly poor job whoever was deciding what camera feed to put on tv. And the fact that there was no stats/graphics on who is in the lead, what the provisional grid is looking like and all that jazz we’re used to. It all looked very amateur! And I don’t get why they can’t get it right from the start. It’s not like this is the first F1 race ever. But it seems to be the case at the start of every season! It’s shame for the pinnacle of motor sport!

    1. Oli says:

      A lot of that was down to the enormous lap time that Bahrain has- basically a full two minutes. Add to that a 2:30 in and out lap and it’s 7 minutes just to do one quali lap (in a ten minute session). In Monaco that figure would be four minutes.

      Once we get to some of the shorter tracks I’d imagine they will do more quali laps.

  47. F1 Kitteh says:

    Massa was the only one faster in Q3, did he put on a compromised setup to go for pole?

    1. A.K. says:

      Cars were in parc ferme for the whole of qualifying so they could not make any drastic,significant changes to set-up from the moment they went out in Q1.

  48. sfaero says:

    massa will win the race.
    vettel will place on third place and gap between 1th and 3rd will be 10 sec.
    i bet on that.

  49. sfaero says:

    massa will win the race.
    vettel will place on third and gap between 1th and 3rd will be 10 sec.
    i bet on that.

    1. AlexD says:

      I would like to win the million you’re going to lose by betting:-)

  50. Martin P says:

    There seem to be lots of posts saying how disappointing the gap between Lewis/Jenson and Nico/Michael is… but unless I’m missing something, Michael is closer on pace to Nico than Alonso is to Massa and Button’s gap is just a tenth outside.

    Yes they’d all love to be quicker than their team-mate but from the comments plenty seem to be jumping on emotion and forgetting;

    a) the facts and
    b) it’s the first session of a long season!

  51. David Smith says:

    James

    Can you shed any light on this?

    http://en.espnf1.com/bahrain/motorsport/story/11176.html

    Is it a wind up?

    Good job asking the questions again by the way!!

    1. James Allen says:

      I know McLaren have to change something at the back of the car, but I was told it wasn’t diffuser related. Will check

  52. Brian Fairey says:

    Yes but how will the Vettel a car with full tanks?

  53. Pete says:

    Is it just me or are the LG timing screens on the BBC coverage really annoying?

    They’ve got some chevron thing going on which means the numbers don’t line up any more…makes it so awkward to read the times!

    James, can you bend the ear of LG next time you speak to them for your technical articles?

    1. Martin P says:

      Nope, not just you.

      It was like watching a re-run of a classic GP with old fashioned and slow screen timings – they were fuzzy, slow to update and confusing (even Martin Brundle was at pains to point out the split times were for P10 not P1 – that should have been crystal clear, especially as they’ve managed it before.

      Not sure if it’s FOM or LG or a bit of both, but it’s a big backwards step. It was so annoying I stopped watching Q2 and just waited until the end of that session.

      1. Pete says:

        I’m not going mad then, or losing my sight! I assumed it was LG that stylises it, but maybe you’re right, maybe its FOM.

        Also last year there was a good graphic on the LHS showing the grid slots, and in the last few minutes it showed the drivers in the drop zones. Where’s that gone?

    2. Nick Someone says:

      Yep. totally agree with this. The timing graphics are hard to read now they are not lined up, but rather on the diagonal. Also not enough timing info was shown in Q3 to know what was going on. The first set of laps by people weren’t really covered. I don’t think they showed the laps or the times. I can’t quite remember, but I think we were watching Buemi and some other minor player whilst it was happening.

    3. CharleyW says:

      But the new graphics are sharper which makes them much better for watching over the Internet or on iPhone. Last season because of the blocky font I could hardly read the numbers and I had to guess the three-letter driver acronyms. Big step forward, I say.

  54. Julian says:

    Nobody has yet mentioned one thing about the race… overtaking!

    Despite most of the modern tracks offering few overtaking opportunities coupled with the greater “turbulent air” effect last season, I can only hope that with the importance of tyre management that it’ll have the desired effect in improving overtaking.

    1. Julian says:

      If it doesn’t… then F1 really needs to take a good look at itself. The driver line-up this season is great, so no complaints there.

  55. Dale says:

    Very disappointed with McLaren’s showing, the gap to Vettel was just too much.
    No surprise to see Jenson 0.4 sec behind Lewis to my eyes he’s not in the same class as Hamilton.
    I hope Massa beats Alonso as it’ll make the season more interesting & I reckon Schumacher won’t get on the top pace as as he improves so will the others.
    We’ll see tomorrow which team(s) handle the race & I wouldn’t bet against McLaren coming away with something at least.
    Pity the first crew member who messes up a wheel change.

  56. M__E says:

    James,

    Is it too hot for saubers tyre advantage on long runs this weekend?, they looked very strong in winter testing, but with the track being so hot here it looks like they have lost some of that, or will they be doing a Ferrari tomorrow and killing the competition in the race (RB)

    Any ideas on the condition of the tyres on the RB and Ferrari after Quali (the ones they will actually start on that is) I think Vettel may have hurt his alot to get the pole and racing should be a different story. And for hearing Ted on BBC say during practice RB tyres were alot worse than the Ferrari’s its looking like Ferrari’s race

    1. James Allen says:

      Looks like the supersoft tyres will be good for about 12-15 laps in the race then need changing.

  57. Dez says:

    Hi James,

    Whilst the media funnels its attention on Michael, do you agree that it could be the younger German drivers such as Vettel, Sutil and Rosberg that are the surprise factor in the 2010 season?

    1. James Allen says:

      Well I don’t see Vettel surprising us in his driving as we learned last season that he is top class. Sutil I’m not sure about. Rosberg has this year to show exactly where he is in the scheme of things

  58. Owen Hayes says:

    Great start to the season. Good to see my man Alonso doing so well, he’s been the measure of Massa all weekend but didn’t beat him where it really mattered in Q3, but what this means is that Ferrari has a strong lineup and have a good chance of fighting for the championship this season.

  59. Smokey says:

    This will be a Ferrari romp tomorrow. Vettel will cook his tyres trying to fight the two red cars off in the early laps. By half distance it’l be a Ferrari 1-2 ( barring accidents )

    As for those people jumping on Jenson for saying the car felt wrong on the last lap….were you in the car too? Are you calling him a liar? Get a grip. He wouldn’t say it if he didn’t feel it.

  60. Stephen Kellett says:

    Pitting first gains you around half a second on any car you are racing against.

    Unless the other car starts on the harder compound, in which case they are pitting so far later in the race than you are, they have an advantage.

    (I Did not appreciate the sensorship of my posting relating to software complexity expressed as sheets of A3, I thought you were above sensorship. My posting was not rude or discourteous and did explain various valid, accepted, industry standard methods of expressing software complexity, none of which involve sheets of A3/4/etc).

    1. James Allen says:

      It wasn’t censored, please resend it.

  61. Jamie says:

    Has you seen the latest Bernie Ecclestone interview with Cole Moreton? Somewhat ill advised…..

  62. Murray says:

    James, with all the talk of ride height adjustment in the pits, do you think the McLaren wing bleed would contribute something useful in that area on track?

  63. Jock Abroad says:

    My first post ever, and must start with a big well done to James for this brilliant site – also the posters appear to be very balanced and informed individuals unlike on some other sites – your comments are generally a pleasure to read!!

    Here in Malaysia we get our TV fix through Star Sports , with the main commentary by a chap called Steve Slater. During last night’s quali, he stated live on air that he had just received a text message from a good mate with the word ‘wooohhooooo’ – his good mate is one Karun Chandhok, who was clearly delighted in having got his F1 career off the ground – well done to both HRT and KC for making it happen!! KC used to support the TV coverage down here and came across as a very cool guy.

    Sadly, the poor timing graphics were not limited to Aunty Beeb – I was as frustrated as most of you guys/gals that I had no idea who was where in quali until it was all over!!

  64. Schmidt says:

    James, whats the word about Micheal? Why is he so slow? Whats he struggling with?

    1. James Allen says:

      Getting the tyres to work at their peak on the single lap. He’s in much better shape on the long runs

      1. Schmidt says:

        Thanks for your reply James.

        What specific skill does it take to get the tyres to work at their peak over a single lap?

        Does his driving style have anything to do with it?

        Is this issue he’s having similar to the one Kimi, Alonso, Kubica had in 2007? I remember that all of them had to tweak their driving style to get the 2007 Bridgestones to work better.

        Also, are Nico’s and Michael’s driving styles similar or are they fundamentally different?

  65. Trevor Yates says:

    This could be fun…

    http://runoffarea.co.uk/bahrain-gp-drinking-game/

    Certainly made me laugh!

  66. Robert Powers says:

    I would rather not have them run the “endurance” circuit as this is one of the better layouts and did not need tinkering.I’m not into backing drivers or teams,and Michael Schumacher certainly isn’t my type of driver(the collisions,penalties,etc)but-he is Ross Brawn’s type.The most successful partnership ever in Formula One.Looking at the field,only one competitor has shown a “teutonic methodology”,a great quality to have over a race distance.As well as less mistakes,it has produced 91 victories and 92 cannot be far away.My apologies-I still believe these are the final hours before the new era of the Silver Arrows.

  67. micky says:

    iam not suprise jenson still complains if he don’t deliver and plames the car.

  68. andyb says:

    Massa is changing engines after quali. But he wont be penalised because you are allowed to use 8 engines per season.

    So…

    Could you build 4 engines for qualifying and 4 for racing that were somehow different/more fuel efficient, and then just change them over after every qualifying?

    I’m sure this mustve been covered off somewhere but a powerful one for qualifying and an efficient one for racing sure would be handy.

  69. Lee Knights says:

    This isn’t going to help Mclaren

    McLaren must change diffuser before Australia
    Saturday 13, 16:23 | Ryan Wood

    McLaren must change their diffuser before the Australian GP, according to Auto Motor und Sport.
    The FIA has informed the Woking based squad that the current diffuser has exploited the rules, by enlarging the hole used for the external engine starter, therefore gaining another diffuser level.
    The rules surrounding the diffuser will be tightened up before the Australian GP to avoid anymore controversy after last years uproar which plagued the opening few races.
    McLaren have intentionally kept quiet on the issue, immediately agreeing to scrap the diffuser before the next round of the championship.

    1. CHIUNDA says:

      Looks like FIA’s wars with McLaren were not Mosley-Dennis limited! It would be unfortunate to have a repeat of 2008 with an already slow McLaren in 2010 because racing will be very boring. I mean was it just me or was that a train out there in Bahrain today. The race was even more boring than 2009 races when Brawn was taking everything!

      Hopefully, McLaren may consider a revival of KERS if FIA starts systematically chipping away at its technical innovations. On a light note, with this kind of regulatory framework that jumps to shoot down every McLaren innovation, you can’t blame the Woking outfit opting for the 2007 spy gate to ensure everything is FIA/Ferrari legal :=))

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