Alonso heads Ferrari one-two

Fernando Alonso takes the first win of the new 2010 season leading a Ferrari one-two at the Bahrain International Circuit. Felipe Massa finishes in second with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in third.

This race victory is a dream scenario for Alonso. After a frustrating season with Renault, it’s fantastic to see the Spaniard winning on his debut at the Scuderia. That first corner move on his Ferrari team-mate was crucial. For Massa, to finish in second position following his horrifying accident last year is a great achievement.

As for Sebastian Vettel, who led from the opening lap in the Red Bull, his Luscious Liz suffered a technical failure (not the exhaust as reported earlier but in fact the engine) meaning a loss of power. A real shame as the German was driving faultlessly. To finish fourth was a small reward but at least the pace of the RB6 is good despite the reliability problem. Without that issue, it would have been a straightforward lights-to-flag win for Vettel and Red Bull Racing.

The Silver Arrows finished in fifth and sixth, with Nico Rosberg out-performing his more experience team-mate Michael Schumacher all weekend. The young German has certainly put his world champion colleague in the shade with consistent and impressive performances. In Michael’s case, he really needs to step up his game in order to stay competitive after three years out of the sport.

It was a difficult race for the current world champion Jenson Button. The McLaren driver spent most of the Grand Prix stuck behind slower cars including his old former team now rebranded as Mercedes. To finish seventh is not the ideal result to defend his title but better performance from McLaren will come.

Mark Webber had a trouble-free run to eighth despite his Red Bull emitting huge plumes of white smoke on the opening lap. Unsighted in the smoke, Renault’s Robert Kubica and Force India’s Adrian Sutil made contact and spun, although they recovered to finish the 49-lap race in eleventh and twelfth respectively.

Finishing in between the Renault-powered cars is Vitantonio Liuzzi in the Force India with Rubens Barrichello taking the final point-scoring position for Williams.

As for the Formula One rookies, this was a tough race for Nico Hulkenberg and Vitaly Petrov. For Hulkenberg, he lost control of his Williams around the tricky and twisting section of the Bahrain track. As for Petrov, he was forced to retire in the pits with a suspension problem. The Renault driver felt he may have caused this by hitting a kerb too hard but prior to this, he was making a steady progress.

Lotus F1 Racing should be extremely satisfied to get both cars to the chequered flag, with Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli within three seconds of the pace at times on their way to P15 and P16, although the Italian had to nurse a mechanical problem in the final laps.

The same cannot be said to Hispania and Virgin Racing sadly. With limited running in the build-up to the Bahrain Grand Prix, Karun Chandhok lost control of his car as early as lap two. While his team-mate Bruno Senna had a suspected hydraulic problem 16 laps later. Virgin Racing was also forced to retire both cars. Hydraulic issues stopping Lucas di Grassi after two laps with team-mate Timo Glock hitting gearbox trouble.

After setting some impressive lap times during testing, Sauber’s pace was very disappointing. Both Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi was forced to quit with hydraulic issues mid-race.

So a great result for Fernando Alonso, his first victory since the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix. It wasn’t the most exciting race after all the hype leading up to the Bahrain Grand Prix but in terms of competition between the top four teams, it is really close. Hopefully a better show in the following Australian Grand Prix will provide more entertainment and overtaking.

Race results, Bahrain Grand Prix. 49 laps:

1.  Alonso        Ferrari                    1h39:20.396
2.  Massa         Ferrari                    +16.099
3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +23.182
4.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +38.713
5.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +40.263
6.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +44.180
7.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +45.260
8.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +46.308
9.  Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes       +53.089
10.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth         +1:02.400
11.  Kubica        Renault                   +1:09.093
12.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes      +1:22.958
13.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari        +1:32.656
14.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth         +1 lap
15.  Kovalainen    Lotus-Cosworth            +1 lap
16.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari        +3 laps
17.  Trulli        Lotus-Cosworth            +3 laps

Fastest lap: Alonso, 1:58.287

Not classified/retirements:

De la Rosa    Sauber-Ferrari               30 laps
Senna         HRT-Cosworth                 18 laps
Glock         Virgin-Cosworth              17 laps
Petrov        Renault                      14 laps
Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari               12 laps
Di Grassi     Virgin-Cosworth              3 laps
Chandhok      HRT-Cosworth                 2 laps

World Championship standings, round 1:

1.  Alonso        25
2.  Massa         18
3.  Hamilton      15
4.  Vettel        12
5.  Rosberg       10
6.  Schumacher     8
7.  Button         6
8.  Webber         4
9.  Liuzzi         2
10.  Barrichello    1

1.  Ferrari                    43
2.  McLaren-Mercedes           21
3.  Mercedes                   18
4.  Red Bull-Renault           16
5.  Force India-Mercedes        2
6.  Williams-Cosworth           1

Next race: Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne. March 26-28.

9 thoughts to “Alonso heads Ferrari one-two”

  1. The top three drivers views on the Bahrain Grand Prix. As taken from

    Fernando Alonso celebrated what he labelled as a very special day after scoring victory on his debut with the Ferrari team in Bahrain.

    The two-time champion took the lead of the race after Red Bull rival Sebastian Vettel had problems with his car, and the Spaniard went on to take a comfortable victory, leading team-mate Felipe Massa to Ferrari’s first one-two since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

    The win was Alonso’s first since 2008 and the first one-two in the first race for Ferrari since 2004.

    Alonso was a delighted man after a perfect start to the campaign, and dedicated the victory to all the Ferrari team.

    “A very special day for me,” said Alonso. “Coming back the top of the podium is always special but even more special with Ferrari. We have history behind the team and all the expectations a driver has when he drives for Ferrari.

    “There is no better way to start the relationship. This is the best team in the world, we worked hard all winter, the guys did a very good job in winter testing.

    “We have done nothing so far – we only won the first race but to be first and second is the result that the guys in Maranello deserve because they have been working day and night to give us this fantastic car.

    “This first victory is dedicated to all the people in Italy, the mechanics here and president di Montezemolo. This result is very, very positive.”

    The Spaniard insisted, however, that there is still a long way to go and he refused to get carried away despite the ideal start to 2010.

    “I think it is not important, I always say the same thing, the first three or four races of the championship are not crucial for anything, you just need some solid points for the team, to get used to the regulations, the tyres, the races themselves.

    “There are now more points but this first part is not the crucial part of the championship. It is nice to be here, but this is down to the fantastic car we have. I think the key to be world champion will be the battle during the season, we had a good base but we need to keep working. Now it is time to push.”

    Felipe Massa said he was thrilled to mark his return to Formula 1 with a second place finish, even though he lost out to his ultimately victorious Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso at the start.

    The Brazilian had out-qualified his new stablemate yesterday as they took second and third on the grid, but Alonso slipped ahead on the opening lap. He was then ideally placed to grab the lead when Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull faltered.

    But although he missed out on the win, Massa was still delighted to be second after the long lay-off enforced by the head injuries he sustained at the Hungaroring last year.

    “First of all I think it is fantastic to be here, so thanks a lot that everything is great,” Massa said. “Being here with a competitive car and going through the whole race with good pace, so thanks to God I am fine and thanks to everybody who was supporting me in a difficult time.

    “The race was really good and fantastic for us. For sure I didn’t have a good start, I lost an important position to Fernando at the first corner. After that the race was perfect for me on the soft and with the hard.”

    Massa fell away from Alonso in the closing laps, eventually finishing 16 seconds adrift, but said he had been trying to conserve fuel.

    “I caught Fernando in a good way, then I started to have a problem in terms of temperature in the car and it made a lot of fuel consumption so I started to save fuel in the last 25-30 laps,” he explained.

    “There was nothing to do any more. We were lucky with the problems for Vettel to get past him and get some points – and lucky that [Lewis] Hamilton was not so fast at the end.”

    Lewis Hamilton reckoned he might have had a chance to keep up with the leaders in the Bahrain Grand Prix had he not lost out to Nico Rosberg on the opening lap.

    The McLaren fell behind the Mercedes as they jostled in the opening corners, and then followed it until the first pitstops. Hamilton pulled away from Rosberg having vaulted him in the pits, and eventually picked up third behind the Ferraris as Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull slowed.

    “I had quite a good race, unfortunately I lost a bit of ground, locked up into Turn 4 and went wide, got in a bad position and Rosberg got past me,” Hamilton said.

    “I was then much faster but it’s difficult to follow here and look after the tyres. If I was ahead of him maybe I would have been able to follow the train these guys [the Ferraris] were creating.”

    Hamilton felt third was a good result given that McLaren had not been on Red Bull and Ferrari’s pace in qualifying.

    “It is a strong result for me and the team,” he said. “It was more than we expected. We need to continue to push to keep up with these guys.”

    He said the first race of the no-refuelling era had been slightly frustrating for him, but wanted to reserve judgement until later in the season.

    “It is a different challenge,” Hamilton said. “It definitely didn’t make the racing more exciting in terms of overtaking. I wasn’t able to follow in the first third of the circuit. There wasn’t enough grip from the tyres to hold with him.

    “But it is an interesting season ahead of us. Everyone is learning how to use tyres more – try to understand the tyres, conserve the fuel load, when to attack and not to attack.

    “I hope we can do a good job in showing the fans what we are doing.”

  2. I feel really sorry for Sebastian Vettel as he was driving perfectly at the front of the field. To suffer an exhaust problem mid-race was a bitter pill to swallow and with fourth place, this wasn’t the ideal result. Although the pace of the RB6 was pretty impressive. Read on for Vettel and team boss Horner’s view on the race, as taken from

    Sebastian Vettel believes he would have won the Bahrain Grand Prix had he not suffered an apparent probem with his car’s exhaust with 20 laps to go.

    The German Red Bull driver appeared to be in control of the opening race of the season, having led from the start and maintained his position through the pitstops, until he lost performance due to the problem.

    Vettel admitted afterwards that he was disappointed not to have been able to win having been the pace-setter through the weekend: “It’s a pity but what can you do?

    “All in all it was a positive except the failure this weekend,” he added. “Under any conditions from Saturday morning onwards we were the quickest. I think we had very good control of the race, we had a very good strategy, I knew how my tyres were.

    “We had quite good control of the tyres and the brakes, everything running smoothly.

    “I think it was 15-20 laps to the end I just lost power. I don’t know what it was but I think something mechanical broke. Luckily we could continue but we should have won really.”

    Vettel added that it had been a bitter pill to swallow when he realised that his car was not going to be in a position to win.

    “It’s not easy,” he said. “You are leading, everything is fine and you just have to bring the car home. And then we had the failure and initially you don’t know what it is or whether it is going to get worse or better.

    “At the end it seemed to kind of recover but it wasn’t it great but it cost us a lot. At least we scored 12 important points.”

    Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner described himself as ‘desperately frustrated’ that a technical failure cost Sebastian Vettel victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    The German led the opening race of the season from pole position and maintained control of the race through the pit stop phase, only to fade away to fourth with a power loss that appeared to be related to an exhaust problem.

    “Very annoying,” Horner told the BBC. “We really had the race comfortably under control. It was frustrating to either have an exhaust failure or electrical issue that caused the power loss.

    “Sebastian drove fantastically well to maintain fourth place which is still valuable points, but still desperately frustrating when the race had gone well, the strategy had gone well, we had covered the Ferraris and he was nursing his tyres.”

    Horner added that the exhaust system on the RB6 was not significantly different from that which the team used in 2009 and remained speculative about the cause of Vettel’s problem until the car was released from parc ferme.

    “We don’t at the moment know whether it’s exhaust or something else because it was intermittent,” he said. “We need to get the car back and understand it.”

  3. This was Michael Schumacher’s comeback race after retiring from the sport back in 2006. Even though he finish in a lowly sixth, the seven-time world champion is quite please with Sunday’s result. Read the story below on Michael’s view on the race.

    Michael Schumacher said he enjoyed his return to racing at the Bahrain Grand Prix, although the German suggested the strategies this year will not make for great racing.

    Schumacher finished the race in sixth position, over 40 seconds behind winner Fernando Alonso, after a quiet event in which he was unable to make progress after the start.

    With no refuelling allowed, Schumacher believes the race strategies don’t allow for much variation, although he said his race had been ‘good fun’.

    “It’s the start and then after it is just sort of go your pace and not do mistakes,” Schumacher told the BBC.

    “Overtaking is basically impossible, other than if somebody makes a mistake – Lewis had a little one so Nico was able to pass him, but got back past at the pitstop. That’s about it.

    “That’s the action we are going to have with unfortunately this kind of environment of race strategy.

    “But, anyway, it was good fun. Especially the beginning and now we are going to work forward in order to catch up what is in front of us.”

    The seven-time champion admitted he struggled with his tyres after so many laps, but said that was just part of getting back into the groove after three years without racing.

    “Well, there is the new rules with the tyres that everybody has to cope with,” Schumacher added.

    “I struggled a little bit with those, I have to say, but after three years of not being there I guess it is natural that you have to find your way in to new bits and pieces and the team and myself are going to work on that.”

  4. As for the current world champion Jenson Button. The McLaren driver admitted he was ‘too conservative’ with his Bridgestone tyres during the race. Read the for the full story below:

    Jenson Button declared himself happy with a seventh-placed finish as he opened his world title defence, but admitted afterwards that he was too conservative in his protection of the tyres.

    Button felt that he could have pushed harder in his first stint, and then found himself frustrated and caught behind Michael Schumacher after the pitstops.

    “I was a bit sad we pitted when we did because I felt that I had looked after the tyres a little bit too much, because the last five laps of the stint I was able to push and catch Webber and Michael,” he told the BBC.

    “And then Michael obviously pitted the lap before me which helped him quite a lot and he was able to pull away.

    “But I jumped Webber in the stops which was great – really good pitstops by the guys. Lewis and I both jumped someone in the stops which was great.”

    Button added that he believed the McLaren looked after its tyres well, but that he still needed time to make the MP4-25 work the way he prefers.

    “Initially I was very cautious with the tyres, but they seemed to hold pretty well which was surprising actually they were better than I thought,” he said. “I think we are pretty good at looking after our tyres but there is always room for improvement. We all want more speed and we all want more downforce.

    “Set-up wise the car was okay, there are a few little things I need to look to make it a little bit more my style. But it’s a good first race, I’m very happy with it.”

    Button admitted that he was not able to pass Schumacher’s Mercedes in the second phase of the race because of his McLaren’s lack of downforce through Bahrain’s middle sector.

    “It was initially pacing myself with the tyres and then I started pushing with 20 laps to go,” he said. “I caught up with Michael and I couldn’t do anything then. I didn’t have enough pace in the middle section to stay with him to have a go in the last sector.

    “That was disappointing but it was still fun all the same.”

  5. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said he was extremely proud of the Italian squad after a perfect start to the season in Bahrain.

    Fernando Alonso scored victory on his debut with the Maranello team, the Spaniard leading team-mate Felipe Massa to the first one-two for Ferrari since 2008.

    Di Montezemolo praised his team on its return to the front following a difficult 2009 season.

    And the Italian reckons the result will be a boost for the team to continue pushing towards the titles.

    “I am happy but above all really proud of my men who have done an extraordinary job,” said di Montezemolo in a statement. “This victory has been pursued and wanted after months of hard work. I am extremely happy for them and for our fans.

    “Ferrari is always Ferrari. I am delighted for our drivers too. Alonso starts with a victory and Massa still so fast in a tough race after last year’s terrible accident

    “A first and second place which encourage us to look forward and keep up the hard work.”


  6. Sebastian Vettel’s technical problem was in fact the engine and not the exhaust system, as reported by Read the details below:

    Red Bull Racing has revealed that Sebastian Vettel’s chances of winning the Bahrain Grand Prix were hit by an engine problem, and not by an issue with the exhaust as the team initially reported.

    Vettel was leading the event from Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa when he reported a loss of power in his Renault engine.

    Although the team initially believed the problem was in the exhaust, further analysis has revealed that in fact it was an eletrical problem with the engine.

    The said, however, that there had been no damage to the unit.

    After the problem, Vettel dropped three places and finished the race in fourth position while Ferrari went on to score a one-two.

  7. As for the race, the new rules like no refuelling should have made the Bahrain Grand Prix more exciting especially when you consider the quality of the drivers racing this season. Unfortunately the pre-season hype didn’t translate to entertaining races and McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has stated that something must be done. Read the story in full below, as taken from

    McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes Formula 1 needs to consider immediate rules tweaks to spice up the spectacle after new rules failed to deliver an exciting race in Bahrain.

    Whitmarsh admitted that the opening race of the season at Sakhir had lacked excitement as the sport adapted to the new regulations, including a ban on refuelling.

    Most of the front-runners stopped just once and many drivers, including Michael Schumacher, reported that it was difficult to follow rivals closely and therefore overtake.

    Whitmarsh told the BBC that something needed to be done to change the dynamic of the racing – perhaps by revisiting a mandatory two pitstops rule or making tyre compounds more on edge.

    “We were one of three teams, that said we should have two mandatory pitstops because we were worried about [people] one-stopping.

    “I think we have to re-examine that. But I think if we can now push on Bridgestone to have ‘racier’ tyres, we need a super-soft tyre that is really going to hurt if you take it to 20 laps. You shouldn’t be able to do that with a super-soft tyre and I think even the prime, if it’s a struggle to get it to do half a race distance, then you force [the issue].

    “The tyres were much closer in the race than we expected and they determined the spectacle,” he added. “There was no real serious degradation of the tyres, we started the roll of pitstops because we were trying to get ahead of [Nico] Rosberg and everyone started to come in at that point.

    “But otherwise, just based on tyre degradation, we could have run to lap 25 or more on the super-soft tyres. If you can do that on the softest tyre, then the primes are just going to romp through for as long as you like.”

    Whitmarsh said that the teams were committed to making the sport exciting.

    “I think we all are,” he said. “Formula 1 has to be entertaining, people have to be switched on to what is going to happen in the race, if it’s processional they are not going to be. Today was not the best show, we know that and we have all got to work together to improve it.

    Whitmarsh added that it was a combination of factors that had contributed to the lack of overtaking in the second half of the race and that while he believed that the 2011 ban on double-diffusers would help, he was focussed on the changes that could be made in the short term.

    “I personally believe that more challenging tyres will help the spectacle of the show,” he said. “I also personally believe that we should have two stops mandated because we want to stop this. Today, if we had had a safety car on lap five, we’d have all piled in [to the pits] and we’d have all gone on the prime tyre and run to lap 49 without a stop. That was a real danger.

    “I think that the tyres are allowing you to do that, I’m not trying to pass the blame [on to Bridgestone]. We are all in this together.

    “We do need to look at mandatings stops, we do need to look at the tyres and make them more fragile, and we do need to work on making the cars capable of racing close together and easier to overtake.

    “Unfortunately the double diffuser, and we have all got them, has really worked against that in the last two years, we have got rid of it for next year but that is arguably a year too late. What can we do this year? It’s go to be work with Bridgestone and potentially mandating more stops in the race.”

  8. Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has heaped praise on the efforts of Sebastian Vettel in the Bahrain Grand Prix – despite seeing the German miss out on victory.

    Vettel started from pole position and led most of the race before a spark plug problem hit his Renault engine – slowing him as he slipped down the order to finish fourth.

    But despite the disappointment of his efforts not having been transformed into the win, Marko said that Vettel’s driving was hugely impressive.

    “The performance of Sebastian was incredible,” said Marko in Bahrain. “He was faultless throughout this difficult race. He controlled everything from the start.

    “By lap three we advised him to conserve fuel because we realised he can keep the advantage over the Ferrari. After the problem occurred, Sebastian could hold off two fully operational Mercedes cars which was another sensation.

    “We had not believed he could do this. His cornering speeds were astonishing as well as setting fastest sector times at the end of the race.”

    Marko also expressed relief that Vettel had managed to take a decent haul of points despite hitting trouble.

    “We followed the strategy dictated by the new points system,” he said. “If you cannot win, score as many points as possible.”


  9. Well what a dull as pants race! Aside from seeing some extreme speed pit stops, there was ZERO moments to make you go “Boy I am glad to be an F1 fan!”.

    Jesus it was dull. Shuey summed it up really by saying how some of the rules are shit basically. We STILL have dirty air coming out of the back of the cars, and now we have front tyres that cope less well running behind a car than last year. No-one could overtake then either!!

    What the race did show was that Alonso stands a very good chance winning the Championship again this season. Those Ferrari’s have shown their hand and with only one race done, it’s already slapped the rest of the field in the face.

    Lewis had an OK day, though Button was screwed by that dirty air and crap front tyre combination. Though he wasn’t fast enough anyways.

    How did Micheal Shuey; who BTW if you noticed, now has initials on any timing screens instead of SHU like previous years do? Well, he did OK I guess, but with such a big change for him and a dire track, it was good enough for all around him. He, on the other hand would be gutted.

    Mentioning the track there, I have to say, has got to be one of the worst tracks ever made. The second longest lap time of the season, but unfortunately, that’s due to it being soooooooo slow. Some of the corners had the cars going round them at what looked like Robin Reliant race speeds! I think even World Touring Cars could keep up going around around them!

    This has got to be one of the worst starts to an F1 season, and anyone new joining us fans I don’t think would bother with the next race. Worst thing is that the main pull of no re-fueling was the faster and faster lap times and hopefully some challenging. Oh dear, we barely got under 2m lap times. How embarrassing.

    Still it all means it can only get better and hopefully the Aussies can put on a better show.

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