Three wins out of four as Button triumphs in Bahrain

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

Not classified/retirements:
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.

Trulli leads Toyota one-two in Bahrain

Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock claimed Toyota’s first-ever front row in Formula One, after dominating the final qualifying session in Bahrain.

Initially it was championship leader Jenson Button who topped the time sheets in Q3 with a lap time of one minute, 34. 044 seconds in the Brawn GP. World champion Lewis Hamilton pushed his McLaren up into second position with one minute, 34. 196 seconds thereby making it an all-British front row.

But moments later, Glock responding with a quicker lap that pushed them both back with a time of one minute, 33.712 seconds. Only to be beaten by the sister Toyota of Trulli was one minute, 33.431 seconds. It was the Italian’s first pole since Indianapolis 2005 (his fourth in his career) and the team’s since Suzuka in the same year.

To qualify in first and second position is a fantastic achievement and it showcase the improve performance by the Japanese manufacturer following the first three races this season. That maiden victory could be on the cards providing it has the right strategy and pace in the race. Judging by winter testing, the TF109 has the speed necessary to win this Bahrain Grand Prix.

Two-time Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel will start in third position, continuing his excellent qualifying form with Red Bull Racing. As for his team-mate Mark Webber, the Australian was furious to be knocked out in Q1, after being held-up by Adrian Sutil in the Force India.

Series leader Button will start in fourth, ahead of Hamilton and Rubens Barrichello in the second Brawn GP. I believe the Brawn cars are running a heavier fuel load compare to its rivals.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso will start in seventh place for Renault, with the Ferraris in eighth and tenth – Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen split by Nico Rosberg in the Williams.

The red cars are still struggling and with the lack of pace, this is a serious concern. Both Massa and Raikkonen have yet to record a points finish and with the Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo attending Sunday’s race, the drivers and team really need to step up their game in order to have any chance in winning the title.

Another team seeking for improvement is BMW Sauber.  Robert Kubica and team-mate Nick Heidfeld will start the race down in a disappointing row seven. The F1.09 is simply now fast enough and even the brief flash fire for Kubica during qualifying fail to ignite any speed in the car.

So can Jarno Trulli lead Toyota to its maiden victory on Sunday? What about Vettel? Can the young German chalk up another race win for Red Bull? Or will Button lead the way in his dominant Brawn GP? We find out on Sunday afternoon.

Qualifying times from Bahrain:

1. Trulli       Toyota                1:33.431
2. Glock        Toyota                1:33.712
3. Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      1:34.015
4. Button       Brawn-Mercedes        1:34.044
5. Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      1:34.196
6. Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        1:34.239
7. Alonso       Renault               1:34.578
8. Massa        Ferrari               1:34.818
9. Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       1:35.134
10. Raikkonen    Ferrari               1:35.380
11. Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      1:33.242
12. Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       1:33.348
13. Kubica       BMW-Sauber            1:33.487
14. Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber            1:33.562
15. Piquet       Renault               1:33.941
16. Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:33.753
17. Fisichella   Force India-Mercedes   1:33.910
18. Webber       Red Bull-Renault       1:34.038
19. Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  1:33.722*
20. Bourdais     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:34.159

* Three-place grid penalty for impending Mark Webber in Q1

Vettel leads Red Bull Racing to maiden one-two victory in China

Sebastian Vettel started from pole position at Monza last year, and won. The young German again started from the top spot and after nearly two hours of error-free perfection in the tricky wet conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit, Vettel led home team-mate Mark Webber to a fantastic one-two result for Red Bull Racing.

This was a superb result by the drivers and the Milton Keynes-based team. After competing in five seasons in Formula One, to finish in the top two podium positions and not forgetting securing its first pole, is a remarkable achievement. Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz and team principal Christian Horner, plus chief designer Adrian Newey should be proud of this performance.

Championship leader Jenson Button was unable to challenge the ‘charging’ Red Bulls in China and could only manage third, ahead of his Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello – who incidentally set the quickest lap of the race.

And continuing the team formation finish, McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen was relieved to have completed a racing lap after two early exits in Australia and Malaysia. The Finn finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who had an eventful race in the sister car, running off the track and spinning several times.

The race began after eight laps under the safety car period due to the wet and windy conditions. When DTM ace Bernd Maylander pulled his Mercedes-Benz safety car back to the pits, the Red Bulls led until their first refuelling stops, with Webber in on lap 14 followed by Vettel a lap later.

That put series leader Jenson Button into the lead after the Briton passed his Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello on the eleventh lap. Behind them, there was an exciting battle in the mid-field with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on the move.

The world champion climbed up to fifth spot but then spun down to tenth on lap 11. If Lewis wanted to score some decent amount of points, he needed to work his way up again. By the time the safety car made its second appearance (on lap 18), the McLaren driver was back up to eighth.

The safety car was called out due to an accident involving the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica slamming hard into the back of Jarno Trulli’s Toyota. It seems Trulli was being extra caution in the final corner and the unsighted Kubica had no room to avoid the slow moving car. Amazingly, the BMW was able to continue despite the heavy damage and with two changes to the front wing, the Polish driver went on to finish P13. Not so for Trulli, who was forced to retire.

But while the slow and broken Toyota was making its slow trip back to the pit lane, Formula One rookie Sebastien Buemi ran into the back of Vettel, damaging his Toro Rosso’s front wing. The Swiss was unable to see due to the spray, but somehow his crash didn’t cause a double retirement for the energy-drink sponsored teams.

While running under the safety car, the Ferrari of Felipe Massa was forced to stop after the F60 encounter a mechanical problem, resulting in no drive. It was another disappointing end for the Brazilian with zero points after three races.

Vettel now headed the field as the racing resumed and the speed in that leading Red Bull was astonishing. The German pulled out 4.3 seconds on the first green lap alone, then proceeded to stroll away around one to two seconds per lap throughout the middle stint of the 56-lap race. Button was unable to respond and came under heavy pressure from Mark Webber.

The Australian grabbed second when Button missed his braking point and ran wide at the hairpin on lap 28. Now it was a Red Bull one-two, but Button snatched second back two laps later when Webber ran wide in the final corner on a track slippier than a skating rink!

Not to be outdone, Webber snatched the place back within a lap with a terrific around-the-outside manoeuvre at turns 7 and 8. Even Button was shocked to see the Red Bull being able to pass him in this sequence of corners.

Vettel made his final pit stop five laps earlier than Button, and rejoined right behind the Brawn GP. With Jenson still needing to pit again, Vettel was virtually assured of the victory from that moment, but still made certain of it by out-braking Button into the hairpin on lap 40.

It was a perfect overtaking manoeuvre, reminiscent of fellow countryman Michael Schumacher in his heyday.

Button pitted on lap 42 and dropped down to third, and for the first time this season Brawn GP did not look like the pacesetter.

That was Adrian Newey’s RB5 design, powered by the Renault engine. Vettel and Webber had no trouble reeling off the remaining laps to a great triumph as Button finished in a distant third.

Both McLarens finished, Heikki Kovalainen heading Hamilton. The Finn made no mistakes, but Lewis had several off track moments on his way to sixth. Behind the world champion, Toyota’s Timo Glock fought his way back up to seventh for Toyota (after starting from the pit lane after a gearbox penalty) ahead of the again impressive Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi, who withstood a lot of pressure in difficult conditions to take the final championship point.

As for Fernando Alonso, who started the Chinese Grand Prix second on the grid, the Renault driver was disappointed to finish in ninth. The opening eight laps behind the safety car ruined his race strategy and it was an uphill struggle for the Spaniard.

At least he was more competitive than the other world champion, as Kimi Raikkonen had a miserable afternoon in the Ferrari. The Iceman struggled in the wet conditions and came home in tenth.

With two non-finishes in China, Ferrari are having their worst start in Formula One season since 1981 as Raikkonen and Massa failed to score for the third race in a row.

The defending constructors’ champions reacted to their non-scores in Australia and Malaysia by shifting Luca Baldisserri off the pit wall and promoting Chris Dyer in his place. They also decided not the use their KERS this weekend.

But it didn’t stop the rot. Felipe Massa had a strong start to the race, making up places in the early stages, but came to a halt on lap 20 with a car problem.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, never really figured – losing a lot of places in the opening laps and finishing in tenth, ahead of the double spinner Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso).

The unlucky Adrian Sutil was again denied a points finish, after aquaplaning into the barriers with only five laps to go… It ended another exemplary wet weather drive from the German, and denying Force India its first ever points.

Kazuki Nakajima made several errors in the Grand Prix and was forced to retire in the pits, while his Williams team-mate Nico Rosberg fared less well after a late gamble on intermediate tyres failed to pay off. Rosberg went on to finish in a poor 15th position.

As for Nelson Piquet Jr, this was another disastrous day. His Renault required a total of three nose sections after spinning first into a marker board and later into a barrier. Surely, Flavio Briatore is losing patience with this young Brazilian?

Anyway, despite finishing on the bottom step of the podium Button extends his drivers’ championship lead to 21 points, ahead of Barrichello on 15, Vettel on 10, and Webber on 9.5.

Race results from Shanghai, 56 laps:

1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault       1h57:43.485
2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault        +10.970
3.  Button        Brawn GP-Mercedes      +44.975
4.  Barrichello   Brawn GP-Mercedes       +1:03.704
5.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes        +1:05.102
6.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes        +1:11.866
7.  Glock         Toyota                  +1:14.476
8.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari     +1:16.439
9.  Alonso        Renault                 +1:24.309
10.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber              +1:31.750
11.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     +1:34.156
12.  Raikkonen     Ferrari                +1:35.834
13.  Kubica        BMW Sauber              +1:46.853
14.  Fisichella    Force India-Mercedes    +1 lap
15.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota        +1 lap
16.  Piquet        Renault                +2 laps

Fastest lap: Barrichello, 1:52.592

Not classified/retirements:
Sutil         Force India-Mercedes     51 laps
Nakajima      Williams-Toyota         44 laps
Massa         Ferrari               23 laps
Trulli        Toyota                 19 laps

World Championship standings, round 3:

1.  Button        21
2.  Barrichello   15
3.  Vettel         10
4.  Glock        10
5.  Webber       9.5
6.  Trulli       8.5
7.  Alonso         4
8.  Heidfeld       4
9.  Hamilton       4
10.  Kovalainen     4
11.  Rosberg       3.5
12.  Buemi          3
13.  Bourdais       1

1.  Brawn GP-Mercedes      36
2.  Red Bull-Renault       19.5
3.  Toyota                 18.5
4.  McLaren-Mercedes        8
5.  Renault                 4
6.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari      4
7.  BMW Sauber              4
8.  Williams-Toyota         3.5

Next race: Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir. April 24-26.

Vettel scores Red Bull Racing’s maiden pole position in China

Sebastian Vettel took his second career pole position – and Red Bull Racing’s first – using just a single lap in Q2 and Q3 to deliver the perfect performance in Shanghai.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso qualified his light-fuelled and KERS-free Renault in an excellent second position, ahead of Mark Webber. It’s interesting that the top three cars are all powered by the same spec engine, each running without that fancy diffusers or KERS…

As for the dominant Brawns, they could only manage fourth and fifth positions, with Rubens Barrichello edging ahead of team-mate Jenson Button.

Vettel opted to make only one qualifying run in the second and third session to set the benchmark. His time of one minute, 36.184 seconds on a dry track at the Shanghai International Circuit was enough to take his second career pole, which follows his impressive result in Monza last year at the sister Red Bull team (Scuderia Toro Rosso).

In fact, it would have been a fantastic result for the energy drink-backed team with a front row lockout as Mark Webber set the initial pace with a time of one minute, 36.466 seconds. But in the final moments of Q3, Fernando Alonso split the Red Bulls with a lap time of one minute, 36.381 seconds.

The Australian was pushed back from first to third in the closing seconds, with Barrichello dropping to fourth having held provisional pole following his first Q3 runs.

Jarno Trulli completed the top six for Toyota, followed by Nico Rosberg’s Williams, who set the pace in final practice in the run-up to qualifying.

Kimi Raikkonen took eighth for Ferrari, while the current world champion Lewis Hamilton, producing his best qualifying performance of the season to take ninth for McLaren.

Toro Rosso’s rookie Sebastien Buemi also enjoyed a breakthrough session, reaching Q3 for the first time and taking tenth.

While Hamilton showed better form featuring a new front wing and diffuser on his MP4-24, his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen fared less well. The Finn could only manage P12, one place ahead of Felipe Massa. The Brazilian yet again made a driving mistake during his fast run and without the aid of KERS (the team decided not to use it this weekend), Massa will find the job of racing from the mid-pack more challenging.

So a Renault 1-2-3 on the grid in China, with the young German Vettel setting his sights on scoring the team’s dream victory. Can he do the job and take his second victory? What about Alonso? Will the Spaniard cause an upset to Red Bull in his light-fuelled R29? How about the super-soft option tyre from Bridgestone? Will this tyre compound be durable enough around the 3.44-mile track without falling to pieces? We will find out to this and more on race day.

Qualifying times from Shanghai:

1.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      1:36.184
2.  Alonso       Renault               1:36.381
3.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault      1:36.466
4.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        1:36.493
5.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes        1:36.532
6.  Trulli       Toyota                1:36.835
7.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       1:37.397
8.  Raikkonen    Ferrari               1:38.089
9.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      1:38.595
10.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:39.321
11.  Heidfeld     BMW Sauber          1:35.975
12.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      1:36.032
13.  Massa        Ferrari               1:36.033
14.  Glock        Toyota                1:36.066
15.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota        1:36.193
16.  Bourdais     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:36.906
17.  Piquet       Renault               1:36.908
18.  Kubica       BMW Sauber             1:36.966
19.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes   1:37.669
20.  Fisichella   Force India-Mercedes   1:37.672

Button wins in rain-interrupted Malaysian Grand Prix

Jenson Button was awarded his second successive victory for Brawn GP after heavy rain interrupted the Malaysian Grand Prix just after half-distance.

Toyota’s Timo Glock should have taken second position thanks to a wise strategy to run intermediates just as it started to rain, but the German fell back to third behind fellow countrymen Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) on count back when the race result was re-calculated following the stoppage on lap 32.

Jarno Trulli finished fourth for Toyota, with Rubens Barrichello and Mark Webber completing the top six for Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing respectively.

World champion Lewis Hamilton scored his first points of the new season with seventh, despite spinning just before the race was red flagged. Before he went off the track, the McLaren driver had a great wheel-to-wheel battle with Mark Webber, with the Australian edging ahead in the duel.

As for Nico Rosberg, who made a fantastic start off from row two to lead into the first corner, the Williams star was caught out in the confusion during the series of tyre changes when the heavens opened on the Sepang International Circuit. Half-a-championship point with eighth wasn’t the best result for Rosberg following his impressive opening laps.

Due to the late running of the event, to provide a better time slot for European television audience, it was always likely that rain would affect Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. But nobody expected the precipitation to play such a key role in a race that was full of excitement.

The changeable weather conditions made it extremely difficult for the race crews to pick out the right tyres. Kimi Raikkonen was the first to blink and along with Ferrari, gambled on running the extreme wets as early as lap 18. This proved highly premature, with the Finn losing up to 20 seconds per lap as the tyres struggled on the still fully dry track.

But the rain did commence just a few laps later, prompting the whole field to dive into the pits. Everyone opted for extreme tyres apart from Timo Glock, who picked intermediates.

This proved to be an inspired choice as the rain stayed relatively light at first. The Toyota was able to take ten seconds per lap out of the leaders and carve through to second position, which became the lead when Button stopped for intermediates, as most of the others already had done so.

Once on the intermediates, Button took less than a lap to catch and re-pass Glock, but just as soon as the Brawn GP car was back in front, the heavens opened and that prompted yet another round of pit stops as all the intermediate runners had no choice but to stop yet again to return to full wets.

The downpour was so intense that even extreme wets were insufficient, with many cars spinning due to a lack of grip. The safety car was called out on lap 31, with Button narrowly leading from Glock after both had returned to wet tyres. Finally the red flag came out on lap 32 and the race order up to this point read:

Button, Glock, Heidfeld (a long way behind after a spin), Trulli, Barrichello, Hamilton, Rosberg, Webber, Massa, Bourdais, Alonso, Nakajima, Piquet, Raikkonen, Sutil, Vettel, Buemi and Fisichella (who had spun twice).

Missing from this list was Kubica and Kovalainen. The BMW Sauber stuttered off the grid and retired after just one slow lap, while Kovalainen spun his McLaren into the gravel only a few corners into the grand prix, meaning the Finn has yet to complete a racing lap this season.

Now it became a waiting game and questions were being asked whether there was going to be a restart. The sky was getting darker due to the fading light and the rain has yet to ease off, but would the race continue? After nearly an hour of waiting on an increasingly sodden grid, the race directors finally called it off.

Button had won, but it was just a matter of deciding how far the race directors would go back to decide the order behind the winner. In the end, that was lap 31, giving a race finishing order of: Button, Heidfeld, Glock, Trulli, Barrichello, Webber, Hamilton and Rosberg as the points scorers. Then: Massa, Bourdais, Alonso, Nakajima, Piquet, Raikkonen, Vettel, Buemi, Sutil and Fisichella.

Since the Malaysian Grand Prix had gone past the halfway mark but not the 75 percent race distance, half points were awarded. But for Button, it was the chance to extend his drivers’ championship lead from 10 points to 15, with team-mate Barrichello next on 10 from Trulli on 8.5. In the constructors’ championship, Brawn have 25 to Toyota’s 16.5.

It was surreal ending to the Malaysian Grand Prix but despite the outcome, Brawn GP and Jenson Button have proved once again to be the class act. Winning its second race in a row, from pole position, is a fantastic achievement and we will find out in the next coming races whether that winning momentum can continue.

Race results from the Malaysian Grand Prix:

1.  Button        Brawn GP              1h10:59.092
2.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber              +22.722
3.  Glock         Toyota                +23.513
4.  Trulli        Toyota                 +46.173
5.  Barrichello   Brawn GP              +47.360
6.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault        +52.333
7.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      +60.733
8.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota       +71.576
9.  Massa         Ferrari               +76.932
10.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      +102.164
11.  Alonso        Renault                +1 lap
12.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota        +1 lap
13.  Piquet        Renault                 +1 lap
14.  Raikkonen     Ferrari                 +1 lap
15.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault        +1 lap
16.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari      +1 lap
17.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes    +1 lap
18.  Fisichella    Force India-Mercedes    +2 laps

Fastest lap: Button, 1:36.641

Not classified/retirements:
Kubica        BMW Sauber              1 lap
Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes      1 lap

World Championship standings, round 2:

1.  Button         15
2.  Barrichello    10
3.  Trulli         8.5
4.  Glock          8
5.  Alonso         4
6.  Heidfeld       4
7.  Rosberg        3.5
8.  Buemi          2
9.  Webber         1.5
10.  Bourdais       1
11.  Hamilton       1

Constructors:online casino
1.  Brawn GP               25
2.  Toyota                 16.5
3.  Renault                4
4.  BMW-Sauber             4
5.  Williams-Toyota        3.5
6.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari     3
7.  Red Bull-Renault       1.5
8.  McLaren-Mercedes       1

Next race: Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai. April 17-19.

Button takes second pole of the season

Jenson Button took his second successive pole position for Brawn GP beating the Toyota pair of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

It follows on from that dream start in Melbourne last weekend and it indicates just how well this Mercedes-powered BGP 001 is capable of on different types of race tracks.

Button’s lap around the 3.444-mile Sepang International Circuit was one minute, 35.181 seconds and at one point during the session, the differences between Trulli and Button was only a matter of four thousands of a second! This is incredible when you consider the new regulations for this season, meaning the competition between the drivers and teams is remarkably close.

Not forgetting the top four quickest cars in qualifying are running that clever ‘double’ diffusers, in which a court hearing on April 14th will determined the legality of this aerodynamic device.

Even though Sebastian Vettel qualified in third, the Red Bull Racing driver will lose ten places due to his penalty for tangling with Robert Kubica’s BMW Sauber in Melbourne. As for Rubens Barrichello, who set the fourth fastest time, the Brazilian will drop back five positions after changing his Brawn’s gearbox in practice.

This means Timo Glock will share the second row on the grid with Nico Rosberg in fourth spot for Williams.

Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber will start the Malaysian Grand Prix in fifth position, ahead of BMW’s Robert Kubica, with Kimi Raikkonen in the tricky handling Ferrari in seventh. His team-mate Felipe Massa – the pole-sitter at Sepang for the past two years – will start in a disappointing P16 after a misjudgement by the team in Q1.

In ninth place following his gearbox penalty will be Rubens Barrichello, ahead of the sick Fernando Alonso. The double world champion is struggling for fitness with an ear infection and it will be interesting if the Spaniard has the necessary energy to drive his Renault on race day.

As for McLaren, this has been a difficult week for the team following that controversy regarding Hamilton and Trulli. The defending world champion has a lot on his mind and with the MP4-24 still slow despite running a new floor to improve the car; Lewis Hamilton could only manage a frustrating P12. His team-mate Heikki Kovalainen also struggled and will start in P14.

But the surprise of the whole qualifying session was Massa’s shock early exit. The team believed its first runs for the championship runner-up would be sufficient enough to get him through to Q2, but as the Brazilian remained in the garage choosing not to run and save a set of Bridgestones for the race, Felipe and the team discovered that this wasn’t quick enough and he drop down the order rapidly as the other cars went faster thanks to improved track conditions. The decision not to go out for a second attempt was a big mistake meaning Massa and the team paid the heavy price of not competiting.

Even Raikkonen was on the cusp on being knocked out and he just made it with the 13th quickest time in that session. The Finn went on to qualify in seventh. So a bad tactical error was made in the Ferrari camp and it will be fascinating what strategy the team will adopt for Massa in Sunday’s Grand Prix.

As for Jenson Button, this is a fantastic result for the British driver and team. If he can keep up this winning performance in the Malaysian Grand Prix and repeat his lights-to-flag win in Melbourne just like last weekend, then Jenson will be consider as a main title contender this season. The others will need to work extremely hard in order to catch Button and Brawn GP from taking the main prize – the world championship.

Anyway, here is the revised grid order for the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix:

1.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes        1:35.181
2.  Trulli       Toyota                1:35.273
3.  Glock        Toyota                1:35.690
4.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       1:35.750
5.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault      1:35.797
6.  Kubica       BMW-Sauber            1:36.106
7.  Raikkonen    Ferrari               1:36.170
8.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        1:35.651*
9.  Alonso       Renault               1:37.659
10.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber            1:34.769
11.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       1:34.788
12.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      1:34.905
13.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      1:35.518**
14.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      1:34.924
15.  Bourdais     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:35.431
16.  Massa        Ferrari               1:35.642
17.  Piquet       Renault                 1:35.708
18.  Fisichella   Force India-Mercedes  1:35.908
19.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  1:35.951
20.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:36.107

* Five-place grid penalty for changing gearbox
** Ten-place grid penalty after colliding with Kubica in Melbourne

‘Liar’ Hamilton disqualified from Australian Grand Prix

World champion Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren Mercedes team have been accused of ‘lying’ to the FIA stewards following a new investigation in the aftermath of last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

The British driver had finished fourth on track, but was moved up to a podium position following a 25-second penalty added to Toyota’s Jarno Trulli. The Italian was deemed to having overtaken Hamilton behind the safety car.

However, following the discovery of new evidence from McLaren’s own radio communications, the race stewards have decided to issue a harsh punishment by stripping the team and the driver of all points scored in Melbourne.

This outcome has arrived at the worst possible time, as it follows on from that diffuser controversy… If the FIA International Court of Appeal come to a conclusion on April 14th that Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota’s rear aerodynamic kit is illegal, then the results of the opening Grand Prix and at Malaysia will become null and void. Meaning the whole integrity of the sport is a farce.

As for this latest development, it is difficult to understand the logic behind McLaren and world champion Lewis Hamilton to ‘twist’ the story in front of the race stewards. Is it a sign of desperation as this year’s car is not competitive? Why go all that way to lie for the sake of those extra six points?

From what I can understand, yes McLaren and Hamilton made a big mistake by initially saying that Trulli was at fault, but with the evidence now in the public domain, that error of judgement has proved costly.

To be honest, the lack of consistency from the race stewards is another issue to be looked at. The way it is right now, with different penalties handed out for drivers or/and teams that break the Formula One rule book, is testing the strain of hardcore Formula One fans to breaking point. Just look at the reaction from various motor sport forums on this issue.

It is a crying shame that following an exciting Grand Prix in Melbourne, the same old story of the stewards manipulating the results after the chequered flag, means the credibility of the sport is tarnished yet again with rows and controversy.

Right, you can read the full verdict by the race stewards below:

At the first hearing following the Australian Grand Prix the Stewards did not have the benefit of the radio exchanges between driver No 1 Lewis Hamilton and his Team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes nor did they have access to the comments to the Media given by Lewis Hamilton immediately after the end of the race.

From the video recordings available to the Stewards during the hearing it appeared that Jarno Trulli’s car left the track and car No 1 moved into third place. It then appeared that Trulli overtook Hamilton to regain third place, which at the time was prohibited as it was during the Safety Car period.

During the hearing, held approximately one hour after the end of the race, the Stewards and the Race Director questioned Lewis Hamilton and his Team Manager David Ryan specifically about whether there had been an instruction given to Hamilton to allow Trulli to overtake. Both the driver and the Team Manager stated that no such instruction had been given. The Race Director specifically asked Hamilton whether he had consciously allowed Trulli to overtake. Hamilton insisted that he had not done so.

The new elements presented to the Stewards several days after the 2009 Australian Grand Prix which led to the reconvened Stewards Meeting clearly show that:

a. Immediately after the race and before Lewis Hamilton attended the Stewards Meeting he gave an interview to the Media where he clearly stated that the Team had told him to let Trulli pass.

b. Furthermore, the radio exchanges between the driver and the Team contain two explicit orders from the Team to let the Toyota pass.

The Stewards, having learned about the radio exchanges and the Media interview, felt strongly that they had been misled by the driver and his Team Manager which led to Jarno Trulli being unfairly penalised and Lewis Hamilton gaining third place.

Formula One – the pinnacle of motor racing? More like Formula Farce…