Could Mclaren still win this championship?
It’s not impossible that Mclaren could fight back and win a championship this season. The amount of progress that they have made since pre-season testing has been staggering. In the test in Spain they were over two seconds of the pace of Brawn GP. However Mclaren have immense resources and personnel. If anyone can quickly cure their problems and close the gap then it’s Mclaren. Remember 2004 when Mclaren came back to win at Spa after a dreadfully slow and unreliable start to the season.
Each weekend so far this season they have made strides forward. Hamilton did a great qualifying lap and was 5thon the grid on merit rather the result of a lighter fuel load. He qualified ahead of Barrichello with more fuel on board.
In the race he was able to keep up with the front runners, but fell back a bit in the last stint. 4th was still a stunning result for the team. This a result which many would have regarded as impossible before the season began.
Perhaps the most impressive fact was Lewis’s position in the fastest laps of the race chart. His lap was less than 0.4 seconds slower than Trulli’s quickest lap. Both their fastest laps were set towards the end of the first stint. That is now the gap Mclaren have between themselves and the front three of Red Bull, Toyota and Brawn (who incidentally are now much more closely matched than at the start of 2009).
In Spain Mclaren will be bringing a substantial upgrade. A few weeks ago there were predictions from people inside the team, saying that the car would fly in Spain. That suggestion sounded crazy back then, but after seeing the progress the car is making, then maybe it’s not impossible.
Mclaren will have keep control of their expectations as other teams including Ferrari and BMW Sauber are planning massive upgrades are. Brawn GP are also introducing their first major season upgrade in Spain. Therefore they can’t be too cocky.
Nobody is going to be standing still between now and Spain. Lewis admitted that there is even a chance of Mclaren falling backwards in Spain. It all depends on how good everyone else’s major upgrades. The order could look completely different in Spain as the field is so tight. A few tenth’s worth of development will shuffle teams around.
Catalunya is a circuit where it’s important to have really good aerodynamic efficiency, and good tyre management. This is a very demanding circuit where cars with shortcomings are found out. If Mclaren can show a good performance there, then signs could be very promising for the rest of the season.
I think McLaren will end up winning races this season but I feel they will have to wait a bit longer. I can see them returning as regular front runners in the second half of the season.
In terms of the championship it could be too late by then. The gap could be too big to close down. Of course the other factor is what punishment Mclaren receive from the WMSC on Wednesday.
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:33.647 + 19
2. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:33.907 + 0.260 17
3. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:33.938 + 0.291 17
4. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:34.227 + 0.580 24
5. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:34.434 + 0.787 15
6. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:34.502 + 0.855 24
7. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:34.531 + 0.884 18
8. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:34.589 + 0.942 17
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:34.827 + 1.180 21
10. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:34.827 + 1.180 19
11. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:34.880 + 1.233 24
12. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:34.938 + 1.291 21
13. Piquet Renault (B) 1:34.974 + 1.327 21
14. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:35.021 + 1.374 18
15. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:35.036 + 1.389 22
16. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:35.042 + 1.395 16
17. Glock Toyota (B) 1:35.333 + 1.686 20
18. Alonso Renault (B) 1:35.348 + 1.701 24
19. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:35.353 + 1.706 22
20. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:35.369 + 1.722 15
For the second time already this season there are two races back to back. It’s been a fantastic season so far with three thrilling races. F1 2009 is providing us with plenty of surprises, and a completely different grid order.
This weekend Formula 1 goes to Bahrain, which is a track with different challenges and conditions, which should be the opposite of the cool and wet weather we saw in Shanghai.
Track History and Guide
Bahrain is another of F1’s modern facilities built by Hermann Tilke. The facilities here are state of the art and no expense has been spared. Bahrain signed the deal with Bernie to host the GP back in 2002. The organisers then did a great job to build it in 2 years ready for the first race in 2004. All the organisers are extremely welcoming and provide exceptional hospitality for the F1 circus and all of the media.
Bahrain was the first F1 race to be held in the Middle East region. There were other countries from the same region hoping to brag that right, such as Egypt and Lebanon but Bahrain won the battle. They have reaped the benefits since as they are now the centre of motorsport in the gulf and attract a host of other racing series including: Drag racing, GP2, Formula 3, GT Races and more recently the Australian V8 supercars. Bahrain has been a relatively successful F1 event always providing interesting races, and in 2004 the track won the award for best-organized race of the year.
The track’s desert setting makes this track very unique. The sight of the track surrounded by sand makes it very nice to look it. The sand can be a problem but it is compacted down to minimize the amount of sand that comes onto the track. This process costs the organisers thousands of pounds. However there is still always sand offline, so drivers will lose time if they lose their line in any of the corners.
The teams will be hoping that there won’t be a repeat of the sandstorms which struck in winter testing.
It is very hot in Bahrain but the humidity is nowhere near as bad as in Sepang. Therefore it is more bearable for the drivers.
The track itself is made out of 3 long straights, with a tight and twisty infield section in the middle. The track is also extremely wide.