This would be the last time Herr Vettel would smile at the 2010 Australian GP. Just as two weeks ago in Bahrain, his Red Bull car would give up the ghost and cost the talented Teuton another race win. This time though, his RB6 car also robbed him of any points, as a brake failure would send him into the gravel, rendering him unable to finish. Red Bull looked set to dominate this weekend’s Grand Prix with Vettel and Webber qualifying 1-2. The usual suspects of Ferrari’s Alonso (Q3) and Massa (Q5) and McLaren’s Button (Q4) and Hamilton (Q11) were also near the front of the grid. Another strong contender was Renault’s Robert Kubica, who found himself on the top of time sheets in practise Friday, but stumbled in qualifying into 9th on the grid. After a tumultuous start to the race that saw Schumacher’s front wing damaged, Kubica jumped up to 4th and Alonso and Hamilton were sent further back. Kubica would finish the race is a solid 2nd.
The race started with a wet track, but warm weather was on the way. Button used his gut feeling to pit early on lap 7 for dry tires and used this strategic manoeuvre to vault past other cars still on wet tires. Using his characteristically smooth driving style, he didn’t need to pit again and would go on to win the Australian GP for the second consecutive year – also marking his first win with McLaren. Hamilton used a two-pit strategy and made for a very interesting second half of the race as he closed in on the two Ferraris ahead of him who were on older tires. Hamilton closed a 20+ second gap in no time but couldn’t get past the cunning Fezzas. Massa and Alonso would stay ahead of Hamilton for the duration of the race and finish in 3rd and 4th, respectively. Naturally, Hamilton started whining over the radio to his pit crew about how Button had only pitted once and he had pitted twice. Boo hoo. Hamilton ended up in 6th despite a late race spill with Mark Webber’s Red Bull. Webber would finish in 9th.
Away from the drama at the front of the pack, both Virgin cars, Sutil’s Force India, Petrov’s Renault, Senna’s HRT, Buemi’s Toro Rosso, Hulkenberg’s Williams, and Kobayashi’s Sauber all failed to finish the race.
Schumacher snagged a 10th place finish after spending about 30 very frustrating laps stuck behind Toro Rosso’s Alguersuari. Mercedes GP teammate Nico Rosberg finished in 5th, once again ahead of his 7-time World Champion teammate, proving that he isn’t afraid of a challenge.
It was also a big day for Force India, who secured crucial Constructor’s Championship points after a 7th place finish by Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Those who were concerned that the 2010 season would lack drama and excitement quieted down after this morning’s race. It turns out that it was the Bahrain event itself that was lacking. All the season needed was a little rain.
The full gallery of haps, mishaps, and candid driver moments is below.
I’ll be honest. I’ve been a bit skeptical about the 2010 Formula One season. While the driver points changes seemed as though they had the potential to make things more interesting, I don’t think the refuelling ban betters anything for anyone. I’m also in the camp of “Michael Schumacher has everything to lose and nothing to gain by coming back, so…why is he doing it, exactly?” Obviously the man loves the sport, money and fame aside. That much is wonderful. But still. Have I been convinced this will be an incredibly exciting season? Not really. I do, however, hope to be proved wrong.
There were dozens of stories inexorably interwoven into today’s Bahrain GP, the start of the 2010 Formula 1 season. To try to list them all would be an injustice to all the ones we would undoubtedly skim over. So instead, let’s take a recap of the race weekend through a photographer’s lens.
For those of you who are more casual observers of the sport and who aren’t up on all the intricacies of the politics and happenings, all you need to know is that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso won the Bahrain GP because the Red Bull car of Sebastian Vettel had an electrical issue with the engine.
Enjoy the photographic retrospective below, it is the first of many.
Putting an end to the rampant rumours currently circulating the F1 world, the FIA has clarified today that the new Concorde Agreement does not allow teams under F1 contract the luxury of not showing up for three races. Instead, it insists that all teams must be present for every race, or else they will have infringed upon both FIA regulations and the Concorde Agreement.
This was taken at day 1 of testing in Valencia. Surely, this is a sign of things to come. With all the chatter about the return of Mercedes GP, Schumacher, Hamilton/Jenson, the holier-than-thou Vettel, and Alonso’s return to Ferrari, I think people are forgetting about Massa. He seems to have taken his time coming back from last year’s injury, and to full effect. He’s my dark horse for 2010.
It would be too easy to assume that Ross Brawn, despite the driver in the seat, is a sufficiently brilliant strategist to conjure up Formula 1 victories from nothing more than willpower. Mr. Brawn is that special. To say nothing of his newest driver, one fourty-one year old Michael Schumacher, the umpteen-time World Champion. Reuniting those previously-Maranellan forces alone should be enough to convince you that Mercedes GP should be taken very seriously. But to assume that those two alone will win the Championship would be to miss something much bigger.