F1: Bahrain Grand Prix live blog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, April 26th, 2009

 
 

While we can probably expect good weather for today’s Bahrain Grand Prix, no-one is entirely discounting sandstorms, of the kind that wrecked testing at the circuit earlier in the year.

And, given that a tornado is threatening the IRL race in Kansas – yes, Kansas – you begin to wonder if motorsport has invoked some kind of divine displeasure. Will the rain in Spain be mainly composed of frogs?

We’ve just had a British woman, Mara Yamauchi, finish second in the London Marathon – but it’s questionable whether Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton can be podium finishers today.

With the Toyotas delivering the front-row lockout their management has been praying for, and looking to be the third team in five races to deliver a dream one-two finish, Jenson Button is banished to fourth place, on the dirty side of the track and with Sebastian Vettel on his left.

Lewis Hamilton, in what could be his last race for a while if things go wrong in Paris on Wednesday, will be battling Rubens Barrichello on the third row. Oh the irony, just when his car’s got a bit better.

And, following the hero to zero scenario, Mark Webber declared his race “screwed” after qualifying 19th thanks to a dust-up with Adrian Sutil that saw him fail to leave Q1.

Plenty of potential for incident and drama – as long as sand doesn’t stop play. We’ll be liveblogging the entire event, with the latest entries at the top of the post. Press refresh to make sure you’re up to date.

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Interviews: Hamilton says he’s delighted with fourth – a great start but it was so difficult to keep up with the Toyotas, Brawns and Red Bulls in the fast corners.

Jenson, in the press conference, says “This was a tough race for us, this weekend we haven’t had the pace we had – I don’t know where it’s gone. A tough race but very enjoyable.”

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Podium: If Danica Patrick ever crosses to F1 and wins this race, she’ll be able to hide inside that trophy – it’s huge. Jarno Trulli looks pretty sick – not his fault, better tyre strategy and it could have been his day.

Non-alcoholic fizzy stuff, we presume. The Brawn mechanics have dropped the bottles on Button’s previous two victories, smashing them – no chance this time as everyone files quietly off. We are reminded that the trophy Danica won for her victory at Motegi last year actually was taller than she is.

Post-race: Trimmer, slimmer and more confident, is Legard’s summary of how Ross Brawn has transformed the former Honda team. Seems to have worked, anyway, for all that he comes across as a mix of Alan Sugar and Paul McKenna. Perhaps that’s the secret?

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Lap 57: Button starts his last lap and the points after him should be as follows: Vettel, Trulli, Hamilton, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Glock, Alonso. And he’s round the final turn, and he takes the chequered flag. Three wins out of four, hurrah! Raikkonen takes Ferrari’s first points of the season, lifting them above Force India (snerk). Piquet manages a respectable tenth, behind his team-mate in eighth, so he probably gets to go to Spain.

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Lap 56: A surprisingly effortless race for Brawn GP, as it worked out. Webber must be even sicker than he was on Saturday, seeing how neatly Vettel has slotted himself onto the podium. Hamilton doing the best he can with the car but it isn’t challenging the diffuser cars or Adrian Newey’s masterful Red Bull. Still, we would say he can be pleased with his day.

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Lap 55: Looks like as you were until the end of the race, unless Glock can do something about sixth place.

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Lap 54: Rob Smedley climbs the pit wall to get a visual on the front of Massa’s car after that little waltz with Fisichella.

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Lap 53: Biggest potential for drama until the race end is the Vettel-Trulli battle. Glock is also hassling Raikkonen for sixth.

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Lap 52: Button’s lead is very slowly decreasing – currently just under 12 seconds with roughly five laps to go. Trulli is less than a second behind Vettel and Hamilton is not threatening him. Barrichello fifth, Raikkonen sixth.

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Lap 51: Button is on for his first win not behind a safety car. Nakajima has retired, having only managed to finish one race so far this year. Button 12.5 secs clear of Vettel, Vettel a second clear of Trulli. Back down the field Massa makes a move on Fisi. The Italian seems to defend but then it’s like the old days of Massa and the Force India driver is shunted sideways off the track in a great shower of sand. Fisi still running. And all this as the leaders came up to lap them.

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Lap 50: Glock nearly shunts Raikkonen and suddenly is rather further back down the road. He nearly put paid to Ferrari’s first points of the season there. Button is holding his lead over Vettel.

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Lap 49: Barrichello starts to pull away from Raikkonen a bit as his tyres warm up. Behind them are Glock and Alonso filling out the remaining points places. In fact the Toyota driver might mount a bit of a challenge on the Ferrari.

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Lap 48: Barrichello pits from fourth. Now we have Button, Vettel, Trulli and Hamilton at the front. We love this – they are all our Fantasy F1 drivers. Barrichello comes out ahead of Raikkonen and Glock for fifth place and some lovely points for Brawn. Raikkonen is lining him up, finger hovering over the KERS button but isn’t close enough yet.

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Lap 47: Kubica, whose tyres are down to the canvas (or whatever they use these days) thanks to his involuntary swap onto a one-stopper, tries to take Nakajima and spins but keeps running. Massa pits.

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Lap 46: Barrichello is challenging Trulli for fourth but Trulli is right up behind Vettel. Button’s lead is down to something like 13 seconds.

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Lap 45: Raikkonen pits. Nice smooth stop, medium tyres. Will Raikkonen play a further role in events? He comes out side by side with Glock who takes the place but Kimi gets him back on the next straight bit of track thanks to KERS.

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Lap 44: Trulli is catching Vettel. Brundle reckons this is due to tyre strategy and that if he could get past Vettel he might challenge Button for the win. We say: good luck with getting past Vettel, although we could be off the mark.

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Lap 43: Trulli has just put in a personal best lap. Piquet pits. BMW Saubers are currently running dead last – expect Kubica, who believes he’s a potential world champion, to be agitating for a new drive quite soon. We expect he’ll be wanting a chat with Ross Brawn.

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Lap 41: Hamilton has about a net fourth place there. Can he challenge Trulli – who doesn’t have KERS – for a podium?

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Lap 40: Vettel pits from the lead. Button back through to the front with 17 laps to go and a less than ideal set of tyres. Vettel comes out behind Raikkonen and ahead of Trulli. Raikkonen still has to pit. Can Vettel challenge Button? He’s on the same tyres.

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Lap 38: Order is now Vettel, Button, Raikkonen, Trulli, Barrichello, Hamilton, Rosberg and Piquet. Vettel and Raikkonen have only pitted once. Button is now on slow tyres that will need careful management. Barrichello makes a move on Trulli, gets the place and goes too deep into the corner, Trulli gets it back. They are fourth and fifth but we hear on the radio that Barrichello will have to stop again in 10 laps.

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Lap 37: Kovalainen on the back of Webber fighting for 12th and 13th. Bourdais pits. Toyota mechanics out. Button pits, medium tyres. Now expected to go to the end. Hamilton and Trulli both pit. Hamilton on medium tyres, Trulli on soft – this could be significant. They all emerge behind Raikkonen but Barrichello has got in among them.

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Lap 35: Kubica pits from 18th. Leader is coming up to lap Massa, struggling with his KERS problem. Button now 16.1 secs ahead of Trulli, Vettel third, Hamilton fourth, then Raikkonen, Alonso, Barrichello and Rosberg. Trulli slated to go backwards thanks to tyre choice and pit strategy.

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Lap 34: Glock pits and rejoins behind Piquet. Lovely shot of John Button laughing and smiling on the pitwall.

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Lap 33: Button has a lead of 14.5 seconds and at this rate will soon have a pitstop in hand. Brawn is definitely going to be the most desirable drive on the grid next year – Rubens will be under incredible pressure. Intelligence is that Button is going to stay on a two-stopper but that might raise tyre issues. Predicted finishing order is Button, Vettel, then Trulli or Hamilton is third, unless the Raikkonen Remote is suddenly discovered in someone’s back pocket.

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Lap 32: Piquet has gained a place to a Force India and then hands it straight back. Then Fisi mucks up his braking and the Renault is properly in front. Raikkonen is catching Glock and is on for Ferrari’s first points of the season – we can hardly believe we are typing this.

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Lap 31: It’s all gone quiet. Famous last words. Nakajima pits.

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Lap 30. Ross Brawn pictured looking Machiavellian on the pit wall. In the old days of Ferrari this used to make us hiss, now we cheer. Hamilton told he is fuelled two laps longer and racing Trulli for a podium.

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Lap 29: The halfway point of the race and it’s looking superb for Jense. We would love Hamilton, Vettel and Trulli to finish after him, since our Fantasy F1 position will then look very good. Apparently John Button now has a ‘lucky outfit’ that he wears to every race since Australia.

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Lap 28: As you were. Trulli continues to add carriages to the train, thus helping Button no end. Jense is increasing his lead by at least half a second a lap.

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Lap 27: Rubens pits just as traffic was about to ensnare him. Brawn are, like McLaren the year before, rather a long way down the pitlane. Force India mechanics, their neighbours, also out. Rubens comes outside by side with Rosberg and there’s nearly a touring car-style paintswap. They throw up some debris but it could have been on the track from the first corner incident. Barrichello hangs onto the place and is running eighth. Fisi running tenth.

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Lap 26: Whoa! Barrichello running six tenths of a second faster than Button! Vettel looks at Trulli but gets nowhere.

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Lap 25: Button comfortably at the front with a strategy that is working well. Trulli’s a little way back with Vettel and Hamilton close behind. Barrichello three seconds back but closing. Glock about 10 seconds back from him, then Raikkonen and Alonso. Toyota won’t get the one-two.

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Lap 24: More problems with Massa’s KERS system. He’s currently battling with Webber for a place quite near the back – 12th and 13th, it appears.

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Lap 23: Pit stop window is over and now everyone’s mainly concerned with finding their feet again.

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Lap 22: Front is Button, Trulli, Vettel, Hamilton. Barrichello has taken Glock. Toyota’s strategy really not working out – sheer inexperience at being right in the thick of things?

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Lap 21: Order is Raikkonen, Button, Trulli, Vettel, Rosberg, Hamilton, Glock, Barrichello, Piquet, Alonso, Sutil, Buemi, Fisichella, Webber, Massa, Kovalainen, Bourdais, Kubica, Nakajima and Heidfeld. All 20 running. Raikkonen pits and Jense now leads. Rosberg pits.

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Lap 20: Vettel pits which puts the unpitted Raikkonen in the lead and Button, who has stopped, in second. Vettel gets an 8.6 sec stop and comes out in traffic. He’s behind Jarno Trulli and in front of Nico Rosberg, so he’s in fourth.

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Lap 19: Barrichello is finally past Piquet, nasty accident averted. Seabass pits (for anyone who cares about the Toro Rossos).

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Lap 18: Barrichello is getting in a temper with Piquet who he seems to think is holding him up. This has the potential to get very messy.

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Lap 17: Vettel and Raikkonen lead. Outside the points, Barrichello is hassling Piquet and that could definitely end in tears if the younger Brazilian comes under too much pressure. Massa has tried to nab a place off Webber but can’t get it. Alonso pits. Button has got ahead of the Toyotas in the pitstops.

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Lap 16: 9.4 sec stop for Button, 7.6 sec stop for Hamilton. Button rejoins in fourth, Hamilton in seventh. We have the Trulli Train of all time at the front of this race at the moment.

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Lap 15: Barrichello comes out in 10th. Glock is now apparently behind Trulli. Both Hamilton and Button pit.

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Lap 14: Alonso has used KERS to try to go up the inside of Trulli. But Trulli tries to hold the place and as a result there’s contact. They stay on the track, just about, but Alonso now has sixth place. Where are the days when you could depend on Kimi Raikkonen for this sort of thing? Barrichello pits.

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Lap 13: British one-two at the moment thanks to the pitstops with Jense in the lead. Trulli comes out sixth behind Raikkonen and Alonso. Told to give it “everything you’ve got.”

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Lap 12: Glock comes out side by side with Rosberg and there may have been contact. Rosberg holds the place and Glock is ninth. McLaren and Hamilton discussing tyre strategy – the supersofts not working well, on to the medium-soft option they go. Trulli pits at the end of the lap.

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Lap 11: Vettel is suffering from the present situation, losing time like mad behind Hamilton. Glock pits at the end of the lap from the lead.

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Lap 10: We are approaching the first pitstop window for the lighter-fuelled cars like Timo Glock. Jarno Trulli is putting his foot down to try to make sure he’s at the front when it’s all over. Ferrari appear to have ruined Felipe Massa’s race for him – he is now behind Bourdais. Trulli sets a new fastest lap.

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Lap 9: Everyone is said to be rethinking their strategy to take account of what is happening. A voice on Button’s radio says: “You have the overtake button. You will have to overtake him to beat him.” For this Ross Brawn has a reputation as F1’s top strategist?

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Lap 8: Vettel has dropped another second on the Toyotas – although we are struggling to understand exactly why it is that Hamilton is obliged to help Vettel win? Massa’s KERS has the all-clear and is back on track. Button has already been told to turn his engine down.

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Lap 7: Hamilton is backing vettel up and costing him a bunch of time as the Toyotas scamper off – possibly the difference between winning and losing the Grand Prix, according to Martin Brundle.

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Lap 6: Webber taking a look at Piquet for 11th place but not making it stick yet.

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Lap 5: Trulli has just done a fastest lap. Toyotas thought to be three-stopping. Button is pulling clear of Hamilton who in turn is a second ahead of Vettel.

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Lap 4: Toyota have preserved their one-two. Button third, then Hamilton, Vettel, Barrichello, Raikkonen and Alonso, Rosberg, Piquet. Webber now 11th, Fisi, Kovy, Buemi, Sutil, Bourdais, Massa, Kubica, Heidfeld, Nakajima.

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Lap 3: Two cars have pitted – Kubica and Nakajima. No surprises there, then. Kovalainen has gone past Heidfeld for 14th. Massa appears to have pitted after getting squeezed at the start between Raikkonen and Barrichello. Replays show what a beautiful move Button pulled on Hamilton to get that place out.

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Lap 2: Order at the front is Glock, Trulli, Hamilton, Button, Vettel, Barrichello – until Button pulls a move on Hamilton and gets the place back. Webber up to 13th. A BMW and a Williams literally barge a Force India out of their way. It’s like the Indy Racing League out there.

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Lap 1: Massa tries to go right round the edge, Hamilton goes up the inside of Vettel and is up to third. Debris on the track. Hamilton is trying round the outside of Glock and is up to second. Loses the place again, side by side battle, but Glock holds it. Button has gone backwards and is now hassling Hamilton. Barrichello has taken Raikkonen up the inside and then has to defend. In the midst of all this, Glock is in the lead – but is said to be fuelled a lot lighter than Trulli.

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Parade lap: Track temperature 51 degrees, air temperature 36 degrees. Everyone is off safely. Rob Smedley on Massa’s radio saying that Brawn have got rid of rear bodywork for cooling purposes – compromising the aerodynamics to keep the engine going.

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Grid walk: Brundle points to a stiff tailwind on the grid straight in addition to the heat and the sand. He says KERS will help them clock up a hell of a speed down there. Having been on the end of some serious sulking from Bernie yesterday, he is blown out by Robert Plant but does speak to the fanatical Ferrari fan Eric Clapton.

Polesitter Trulli is unavailable like most of the drivers – the heat? – but the inevitable Bahraini royalty shows up – and complains of the heat, as well as greeting the fans. Engineers all over Jenson Button’s car. John Button says his son’s worried about the “staggering” heat. Asked about the pressure of leading the driver’s championship he has said: “He’s completely chilled – he’s loving it.” Also he says Jenson is more approachable now the pressure’s off about his drive.

Barrichello, as friendly as ever, is sitting on the grass chatting to Brundle. He complains of the heat and says the team will have to watch overheating cars and KERS-equipped rivals who can get away faster: “It will be fun, that’s for sure.” And on his music player: “Oh, it’s Brazilian music, you wouldn’t like it.”

Pat Symonds says the temperature is six degrees higher than predicted without the predicted headwind. “It’s going to be hot and it’s going to be hard on revs.” He said Renault wants at least the bottom of the points.

And Brundle tries to tackle Bernie who really didn’t want to talk to him yesterday. But he changes his mind after seeing what he is wearing: “I’m too embarrassed for him,” he says, noting his bright red Santander sponsor’s jacket which he calls “ridiculous”. No answers about Donington today, then.

Brundle finishes up with Massa, who says he’d be happy with a finish and, above that, a couple of points.

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Pre-race: David Coulthard has already had one fashion ‘moment’ after being revealed as wearing a pink shirt that clashes horribly with Jake Humphreys’ pink shirt. Now he’s wandering round the circuit with Brundle in what is admittedly an interesting pre-filmed item – but also in a truly regrettable pair of shorts. But no sunglasses balanced on his head yet.

Jake Humphreys interviews Lewis Hamilton. Top line: he’s here to race, not play politics. He remains entirely committed to McLaren. He had a wobble about fame and fortune in Formula One but the loyalty of his fans kept him in the game. Well done to Humphreys for asking some tough questions – our opinion of him has just gone up a notch or two.

We have a confession. This will actually be the first time we are sufficiently awake to watch the whole of the BBC’s new title sequence…

2 responses to “F1: Bahrain Grand Prix live blog”:

  1. Andy Says:

    April 26th, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    What does Curz mean???? can someone please explain..

    Many Thanx

    Andy

  2. ljh Says:

    April 26th, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Kinetic Energy Recovery System – or KERS – is a push to pass system that harnesses power from braking.

    Development didn’t go too well over the winter and only a few teams have it including McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and BMW. There’s a debate about whether the speed burst is worth the weight and aerodynamic compromises.

    http://www.itv-f1.com/Feature.aspx?Type=Mark_Hughes&id=43467

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regenerative_braking

 
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