Posted on April 19, 2013


Kimi Raikkonen continued his strong start to the season and highlighted Lotus’ position as front runners for this weekend by topping the time sheets in Friday’s Free Practice, ahead of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. It looks like being an extremely competitive weekend between the Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull teams, while Mercedes look to be struggling with tyre management. With much of the afternoon being spent on longer runs and race simulations, the front-runners took their only medium tyre run in the opening half an hour of the afternoon. And it was Raikkonen who found the largest improvement switching More…

Posted on April 21, 2012


Sebastian Vettel claimed his first pole position of 2012 in Bahrain today as he made the most of two runs in the final part of qualifying to beat Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber in an eventful session. It was a day for not making any mistakes, particularly front wheel lock ups under braking and for getting the perfect lap as the soft tyres were only good for one lap. Vettel is the third different pole sitter in four races. It was his 31st career pole position. Red Bull has led just one racing lap in the first three Grands Prix More…

Posted on April 20, 2012


The first day’s running at the Sakhir circuit took place against in an edgy atmosphere as, for the first time in this Bahrain saga, events outside the circuit had a direct effect on the running of the Grand Prix. Force India decided not to run in second practice, to respect the wishes of their staff who have expressed concern about their safety travelling back from the circuit at night. They came under pressure to revise their decision over the lunch break, but clearly there is a lot of anxiety among team members, especially as there appears to have been a More…

Posted on April 19, 2012


The F1 paddock went about its everyday business today, media briefings, team managers’ meetings, all gearing up for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton says that he’s a better man in 2012 for his difficult years, Sebastian Vettel says that he’s going to use the new specification Red Bull exhausts, Michael Schumacher says that Mercedes’ challenge is to hit the sweet spot on the race tyres, like they did in China. The Grand Prix is moving up into gear. Everywhere there are banners proclaiming that Bahrain is “UniF1ied”, while the slogan “back on track” is also evident. It’s quite surprising More…

Posted on April 12, 2012


[Updated] In the paddock at Shanghai today the talk is all on one subject: the Bahrain Grand Prix and whether it will take place next week. Although an emerging protest into the Mercedes front wing looks like it will soon take some of the spotlight off the politics. The Bahrain situation is now acquiring an acute feel to it, with many team members and media due to fly from Shanghai to Bahrain in little over 72 hours time. The teams are clearly very concerned about the event and looking to the FIA for leadership. FIA president Jean Todt will arrive More…

Posted on April 10, 2012


The Lotus F1 Team has tonight issued a statement clarifying the intention of a report from which quotes attributed to representatives of the team appeared in an official Bahrain Grand Prix press release earlier today, the Enstone team saying it had been meant for confidential use only. On a further day of frenetic reporting over the situation in the Gulf kingdom ahead of F1’s scheduled return next week, Sakhir organisers took the opportunity to go on the offensive in wake of the increasing stream of negative reports with race chairman Zayed Al Zayani claiming “scaremongering tactics” had created “huge misconceptions” over the More…

Posted on April 10, 2012


There is a Grand Prix this weekend in China, but it’s the one the following Sunday in Bahrain which is dominating the headlines and looks set to dominate the agenda in Shanghai this weekend as well. One of the leading opponents of the Bahraini ruling regime yesterday predicted “violence” on the streets of the country if the Formula 1 Grand Prix goes ahead next week. Speaking in a discussion on BBC Radio 4′s PM programme, in which I also took part, Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said, “I’m afraid that it will turn to violence.. More…

Posted on April 6, 2012


[Updated 9 April] “No one will enjoy the F1 in Bahrain with cries for freedom from the inside and outside of the race,” a protester in Manama told Associated Press today, as activists turned up the pressure on the Grand Prix, due to take place on April 22nd, to be called off. Protests have started to focus on the race itself with anti-F1 slogans and imagery graffitied on walls. On April 8th, according to the Financial Times, a group of youth activists called ‘February 14th Youth Coalition’, said “it would not be able to “ensure the safety” of Formula 1 More…

Posted on April 1, 2012


Updated – After the messages of reassurance from Bahrain GP organisers this week and the show of the support from the F1 bosses and teams, events on the ground in the country this weekend have raised further questions about what might happen over the next three weeks as we count down to the scheduled race date of April 22nd. Protests this weekend saw a fatality as local militia shot dead a man who, according to a Reuters report quoting the man’s cousin, was “taking pictures of a demonstration when what he described as “militia members” in an unmarked car opened More…

Posted on February 9, 2012


A group of politicians from the British House of Parliament, especially the House of Lords, has written an open letter to the Times newspaper today calling for the FIA to cancel the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for April 22nd. Last year’s race had to be cancelled due to political uprisings in the country and attempts by the FIA and F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone to reinstate the race later in the season were thwarted by the teams refusing to go. The FIA’s rules state that if an event is called off within three months of taking place it cannot More…

Posted on June 3, 2011


The FIA World Motor Sport council today decided unanimously to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix, after postponing it earlier this year due to civil unrest. It is a very big decision and one that will cause a mixed reaction. It will surely resonate well beyond the boundaries of motor sport or of sport in general. Bernie Ecclestone has argued that money is not the reason the race is back on and has argued that F1 does not want to get involved in politics, but inevitably this is a case of “in not choosing we choose”. It was very important to More…

Posted on May 19, 2011


Another story to break today is the growing energy behind trying to run the postponed Bahrain Grand Prix on October 30, with India moving to the last race of the season on December 4. It’s fair to say that the teams feel uneasy about this for several reasons. First the moral question, with the obvious difficulties of walking into a highly political situation and endorsing an event which is a creation of the ruling regime. Some are more troubled by this than others. There is a security issue for the teams and drivers, but they would be likely to be More…

Posted on February 15, 2011


Like many people working in F1 I have a rather uneasy feeling about the opening Grand Prix at Bahrain, having witnessed the scenes in Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks and hearing what some are saying about making the race a target for protest. It’s not the event itself that we need to worry about, as that will be extremely well protected, it’s the comings and goings of the people who work in the sport, which is more tricky to protect. And of course, the drivers. Remember the coverage Jenson Button got when he and his entourage were held up More…

Posted on March 14, 2010


Today was a real vindication of the decision taken last summer by Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali to stop development of the 2009 car and throw everything at the 2010 model. The Ferrari was the best car overall this weekend in various conditions. It was quick on the single lap, quick on the soft tyre at the start of the race when the car was heavy and quick on the medium tyre in the second part of the race as the fuel load lightened. The Red Bull may have been quicker in the soft tyre parts of that, but when the More…

Posted on March 14, 2010


Fernando Alonso won the first Grand Prix of the season at Bahrain today, leading a Ferrari one two ahead of Felipe Massa with Lewis Hamilton third for McLaren. Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel led for most of the race, but ended up fourth after an exhaust problem on his Red Bull. After the race Alonso said that the races this year are likely to be dull because the result will always be decided by qualifying and the first lap. And as the front runners are always likely to choose the soft tyre for qualifying and then make an early stop to More…

Posted on March 11, 2010


It’s been a busy day at Bahrain, albeit totally lacking in tension. The drivers and teams all seem very calm ahead of the new season. The new teams are understandably a little more edgy, but generally I am amazed how calm everyone is. That doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been a lot going on. Alain Prost is to act as a steward this weekend, alongside three of the more traditional steward types, in order to add credibility to penalties handed out to drivers. Also the World Motor Sport Council has today been discussing the 107% rule and decided to look More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


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 More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


Jenson Button and the Brawn team took their third win in four races this afternoon at the Bahrain Grand Prix, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but the result could have gone either way. The two cars were very evenly matched. What made the difference was that Button was able to run in clear air and Vettel wasn’t. The key moment of the race was the end of the first lap, where Button was able to pass Lewis Hamilton under braking into turn one. This allowed him to run in clear air ahead of Hamilton, while Vettel was held up by the More…

Posted on April 25, 2009


The fuel weights the cars will carry at the start of the race are now public. Based on these the top performer in qualifying is Jarno Trulli, who decimated his team mate (half a second!) and was 2/10ths faster than Sebastian Vettel. The Brawn again shows that it is a better race car than a qualifying car, while Lewis Hamilton’s performance – on the same fuel as Button and only a tenth slower – shows that the McLaren is developing very quickly and will be racing the front runners when we get into the European season. I think they will More…

Posted on April 25, 2009


Today’s qualifying session again showed that the Brawn cars do not have it all their own way when it comes to single lap pace in qualifying, but their performance in practice, where they seem to have focussed on long runs, indicates that they certainly have the speed to go for the race win tomorrow. But they face a number of complications which may take the race away from them. Their lack of speed hurt them today and meant that they could not afford to carry much more fuel than their opposition for fear of falling down the grid behind Alonso’s More…

Posted on April 25, 2009


It should be a very close qualifying session this afternoon, with a few different names up the front compared to recent races. McLaren look more competitive here than at any stage this season and while this will not be enough of a step for them to challenge for the win on Sunday, I fancy that one of the cars could be in the top five or six. Judging from free practice, McLaren has a car capable of getting into the top ten shootout and from there we could see them and/or others doing what Fernando Alonso did in China and More…



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