Jenson Button claimed his third Grand Prix victory in four races with a commanding drive in the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Brawn GP driver started this race in fourth position and thanks to a great pit-stop strategy and that overtaking manoeuvre on Lewis Hamilton on lap two, the Briton has extended his title lead as the Formula One parade returns back to Europe.
Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel finished in second, delayed by slower cars that cost him an opportunity to win this race at Sakhir. As for Jarno Trulli, who started from pole position, the Toyota was unable to challenge the likes of Red Bull Racing and Brawn GP in this 57-lap race and the Italian had to settle for third.
His Toyota team-mate Timo Glock actually made a better start and led in the opening laps, but after switching to the prime (medium compound) Bridegstones, the Japanese cars didn’t have the pace and Glock in particular was struggling with tyre wear and was disappointed to come home in seventh.
World champion Lewis Hamilton drove a solid race for McLaren by finishing in fourth. He should be pleased by this result despite the lack of speed compare to its rivals. Nevertheless, the team are improving and it won’t be long until new car updates will translate to race wins in the near future.
Rubens Barrichello had a so-so weekend in the second Brawn GP and after making three pit stops, the Brazilian finished in fifth. For Kimi Raikkonen, finally the red car was able to score some points (with sixth for the Iceman) and it ends the disappointing Ferrari form after four eventful races. Though more performance is needed if the constructors’ champions want to challenge for title honours.
Renault’s Fernando Alonso collected the final point with eighth, fending off Nico Rosberg’s Williams while his team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr showed better form to finish in tenth.
Last year’s winner Felipe Massa had a terrible afternoon following contact at the first-corner in which his Ferrari front wing was damaged. The Brazilian was forced to make an extra pit stop and with his KERS system letting him down, the championship runner-up came home in a frustrating P14, a lap down on the race winner.
After being impending by Force India’s Adrian Sutil in qualifying, Mark Webber put in a spirited drive from the back of the grid to finish in P11 for Red Bull Racing. McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen was unable to recover from a poor start, in which he flat-spotted his tyre and came home in a depressing P12.
Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais finished in an unlucky P13 with Giancarlo Fisichella and team-mate Sutil finished in P15 and P16 respectively for Force India. Sebastien Buemi came home P17 in the second Toro Rosso ahead of the incredibly slow BMW Sauber pair of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld. This was a poor result from BMW and it didn’t help that the cars sustained some damage at the first corner on lap one.
Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima was the sole retirement, after a clash with Kubica. He parked his FW31 in the garage after 49 laps with high oil pressure.
Button now leads the drivers’ standings with 31 points from team-mate Barrichello on 19, with Chinese Grand Prix winner Vettel on 18. Trulli is on 14.5 with his colleague Glock on 12.
As for the constructors’ championship, Brawn GP have 50 points, to Red Bull Racing’s 27.5 with Toyota’s 26.5. Finally Ferrari has scored some championship points in this Grand Prix but it is only three.
So after four flyaway races, the Formula One circus return back to Europe and it will be fascinating whether the Brawn GP can keep up this winning momentum with its solid, reliable and fast BGP 001 car. Red Bull Racing and Toyota have turned the formbook upside down by becoming the main challengers for race wins, while McLaren and Ferrari will return to winning ways. Don’t discount the past champions, as these top two teams will recover, making this season that all more exciting.
Race results from Bahrain, 57 laps:
1. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes 1h31:48.182
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +7.187
3. Trulli Toyota +9.170
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +22.096
5. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes +37.779
6. Raikkonen Ferrari +42.057
7. Glock Toyota +42.880
8. Alonso Renault +52.775
9. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +58.198
10. Piquet Renault +1:05.149
11. Webber Red Bull-Renault +1:07.641
12. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +1:17.824
13. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1:18.805
14. Massa Ferrari +1 lap
15. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
16. Sutil Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
17. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
18. Kubica BMW Sauber + 1 lap
19. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +1 lap
Fastest lap: Trulli, 1:34.556
Nakajima Williams-Toyota 49 laps
World Championship standings, round 4:
1. Button 31
2. Barrichello 19
3. Vettel 18
4. Trulli 14.5
5. Glock 12
6. Webber 9.5
7. Hamilton 9
8. Alonso 5
9. Heidfeld 4
10. Kovalainen 4
11. Rosberg 3.5
12. Buemi 3
13. Raikkonen 3
14. Bourdais 1
1. Brawn GP-Mercedes 50
2. Red Bull-Renault 27.5
3. Toyota 26.5
4. McLaren-Mercedes 13
5. Renault 5
6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 4
7. BMW Sauber 4
8. Williams-Toyota 3.5
9. Ferrari 3
Next race: Spanish Grand Prix, Circuit de Catalunya. May 8-10.