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Talking Points from Bahrain PART 1

The Bahrain GP weekend was another intriguing F1 race weekend with plenty more thinking points. Let’s look at the main talking points of this weekend’s action.

Button’s pass on Hamilton sets him up to win against the odds. Was it his best performance of the season so far?

Going into the race it wasn’t looking brilliant for Jenson. He had qualified 4th and was surrounded by KERs cars. To make matters worse the Brawn GP was struggling badly with overheating. The temperature was three or four degrees higher than they could realistically cope with. The Brawn GP car wouldn’t be able to cope with staying in another car’s turbulent air.

The first couple of laps were going to be crucial if Jenson was going to have any chance to challenge for this victory. Button got a decent start and was able to get ahead of Sebastien Vettel. Unfortunately Hamilton pressed his KERs button halfway down the straight and was able to get ahead. Button was also heavily challenged by the Ferraris but he managed to hold them off. That was critical.

Button was currently 4th behind Hamilton, and the two Toyotas running away ahead. Button had to pass Hamilton. At the end of the first lap Hamilton made an error at turn 14. This allowed Button to get up right close. Button then nailed Hamilton in a very brave out-braking move into turn 1. Had Button not made this move, he would have been stuck behind Hamilton for a long time. He would have then had to hang back so his car didn’t overheat.

However now he had some clear track, and importantly clean air. He managed to keep the gap to the Toyotas stable. He was running longer and was able to leapfrog the pair of them at the pit stops.

As the Trulli train formed Button was able to get away and build a gap of around thirteen seconds, which he then maintained for the rest of the race.

It was a fantastic performance by Jenson Button. This was his best drive of the season. The car didn’t have the advantage it had at previous events. There was the overheating issue too, which Ross Brawn described before the race as “trouble”. He had a lot of work to do at the start to make a victory challenge even possible. He pulled it off brilliantly.

He has now extended his championship lead to 12 points, and is looking in brilliant shape.

Should Toyota have won their first race?

I think they should have done, and they may well look back on this race with some regret. Toyota was very fast this weekend. They were comfortably the quickest in qualifying (and that’s even taking into account the fuel loads). They were also 1-2 in the fastest lap of the race charts. In terms of pace they had the edge on their closest rivals.

In the first stint they were dominating and looking in great shape. However from the 1st stop onwards it started to go wrong and they fell backwards.

They decided to switch onto the harder tyre for their long middle stint, which proved to be the wrong move. Both Trulli and Glock struggled for performance on this tyre. Trulli held up Vettel and Hamilton losing ground on Button with each passing lap. Glock struggled even more with the tyres and fell even further back. They should have put on the super-softs for this stint of the race.

Trulli was then on the right tyre for the last stint. However he then ended up being leapfrogged by Vettel, who was running longer than him in the second stint. If Trulli could have passed Vettel early on in the stint, he could have put pressure on Button (who was now doing his stint with the harder and slower tyre), and make him have to push and put his revs up higher. Jarno however never got close to attempting a move on the young German.

Trulli ended up with a podium at the end of the race, but it could have been a completely different story. Toyota lost out by being too conservative on their strategy. This is something that they have now conceded.

A key factor could have been Toyota’s lack experience at racing at the front of the pack. Ross Brawn on the other hand has years of experience at calling the shots at the front. He hardly ever makes a strategic error. I think this is an important difference between the two teams. I am sure Toyota will have learnt a lot from this race and their race tactics will improve in future.

The team are looking in very good shape at the moment and they will get another opportunity to win soon.

Vettel was the pre-race favourite after the car weights were revealed. Why didn’t he win?

Vettel could have challenged for the win but didn’t end in clean air when he needed to be. At the start he was overtaken by Hamilton, but wasn’t able to re-pass him quickly like Button was able to. Vettel couldn’t find a way past. Every time Vettel was getting close Hamilton could defend with his KERs button. He ended spending the whole stint behind Lewis. This lost him over ten seconds.

In the second stint he then got stuck behind Jarno Trulli’s Toyota. At this point of the race Vettel was around one second faster than Jarno but couldn’t find a way through. This allowed Button to drive into the distance.

Vettel managed to leap into 2nd place after the second round of pit stops but it was too late. He also had Jarno Trulli on the super-soft tyre right behind him, and therefore was now defending against him.

Being behind slower cars cost him the potential of challenging for a second successive victory, but 2nd is still an extremely strong result. Maybe he should have tried a lunge into turn 1, as Button did to Lewis with success early on in the race.


April 27, 2009 - Posted by | Race reviews | , , , , , , ,

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