Jenson Button carved out his third victory of the 2009 F1 Season from the fourth position on the grid, thanks to a clever strategy from the Brawn GP team. Safe with the knowledge that the front-row-starters were low on fuel, Button remained close to the Toyotas at the start and when they pitted early, put in some fast laps and after the first round of pit-stops were over, emerged into the lead and held onto that throughout the remaining of the race – only relinquishing it during the pit-stop windows. Sebastian Vettel finished second ahead of pole-sitter Jarno Trulli with Lewis Hamilton & Rubens Barrichello in 4th and 5th places. 6th place went to the beleaguered Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who drove a safe race to bring home the points. Timo Glock finished 7th ahead of the Renault of Fernando Alonso.
Button had a good start to the race and so did the Toyotas but at the end of turn one, it was Timo Glock who came out in front ahead of pole-sitter Jarno Trulli. Hamilton had meanwhile got the drop on Button into 3rd place at the start but he could not hold onto it as Button pulled out a deft overtaking move on the McLaren at the end of the initial corners. Toyota’s low-fuel-start strategy didn’t quite pay off and added to that, they had to run the middle stint on the less-responsive harder compound tyre, holding up the cars on the faster softer compound ones. They might have hoped that running the last stint on the softer tyre would be advantageous towards the closing stages and with the rest of the field on the harder compound, hoping for some deft passing manoeuvres. But that didn’t pan out as they wished and they had to settle for 3rd and 7th positions.
The biggest losers in the race were the two BMW’s of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld who took knocks at the start and could only manage 18th and 19th positions, this from the team which had held pole position as this very circuit a year ago! Heikki Kovalainen took a shunt at the start of the race and steadily dropped down the order, eventually finishing 12th. Ferrari had a mixed race as Kimi Raikkonen managed a points finish but Felipe Massa had a forgetful race and ended up finishing 14th – even enduring the ignominy of getting lapped by Jenson Button – twice! Mark Webber made his way up the field but as he said yesterday, his race was ‘screwed’ and he could only manage 11th place.
In the searing temperatures of the Sakhir desert, I thought there would be a few retirements but the reliability of almost all the cars came the forefront as we saw 19 cars finish the race – with the exception of the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima, who retired with brake problems at the end of lap 49. I also had to endure the frustration of my cable being off and had to resort to watching the race telecast on the web. Must say BBC Sport’s coverage and commentary is better than that of Star Sports.
The F1 caravan now moves into Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona in two weeks time. This will be a race where almost all the teams will be brining in aerodynamic and mechanical changes that would make the racing even more interesting. This could also see the traditional superpowers – and financial biggies – of McLaren and Ferrari (include Renault & BMW in there too) moving closer to the teams which have had a head-start this season (namely Brawn GP, Toyota & Red Bull). Bring.It.On!