News and views on motorsports

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bahrain Grand Prix

I'm quite certain, as most people might be, that after watching the race in Sakhir that we're in for one heck of a season. Whilst Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso might have looked like they were running away in the lead, in truth the four teams that were expected to feature this year have indeed proven themselves.

At the front, I thought Fernando Alonso drove like a true world champion. In my opinion that Ferrari is still ultimately the quicker car but Fernando drove a faultless race, combined with brilliant pitwork and strategy to win. If this were 1996, Michael Schumacher would definitely have produced the mere tenths needed to take the race lead after Fernando's second pitstop. This is 2006, and I agree with Martin Brundle when he says that Fernando and Kimi both have that slightest of edge to beat Michael in a straight fight. A straight fight it certainly was today and Fernando won fair and square. The 7 time world champion in my view is showing his age. No doubt the basic speed is still there and there will be days this year where that'll be enough to take races. Though I will say that had Michael succeeded in passing Alonso in the pits, he'd have left Alonso.

And what of Kimi? He fought back from dead last to finish on the final step on the podium. You have to hand it to him, had he started from a decent grid slot, it might have been his race. McLaren ran a one stop strategy for Kimi which must have taken its toll on the tyres. Still, the speed is definitely there. After those testing troubles in the winter, the McLaren team must be encouraged. And ye gods, the Mercedes engine actually held. Both of them. Though, Montoya did complain that his engine was down on power.

Down on power also was Fisichella. The man retired with hydraulic failure in the end. His run of Renault bad luck continues on.

Nico Rosberg is definitely going to get a few calls this year after his stunning debut performance. I'll bet if he hadn't needed that front wing change, he would have definitely beaten teammate Mark Webber. Nevertheless, he exhibited an uncommon maturity given his young age and he's one of those drivers who simply adapts very quickly to Formula 1 life. Brilliant driving and brilliant at overtaking as well. You can tell he's fresh from GP2 where overtaking is a way of life. Both Christian Klein and veteran Coulthard got it good from the young Finn / German.

Surprising to me today was Button. The Honda is a quick car and yet Jenson wasn't able to translate that into race challenging form. Better luck next time I hope for Jense. Better luck for Barrichello as well. I still think that the Honda can and will take victories this year.

One team that needs to win but has absolutely no chance is Toyota. They were unlucky not to get a debut victory last season as Spa but looking at their challenger this year, its absolutely hopeless.

Looking forward to my home grand prix next weekend. A Renault team member told me last year that Sepang is an abrasive sort of circuit. Not the cheese grater like Barcelona of course but it does eat up rubber. We should see just how good the Michelin tyres are compared to the Bridgestones. And it should give us a better indication of this season.


patrick said...

I think we might actually have five teams who are there or thereabouts, rather than four - I wouldn't completely discount Williams.

After all, Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race, and Webber's best time was quicker than all bar Alonso and Schumacher as well. Like Honda they are able to run a third car on Friday and I think that might pay dividends on occasion when tyre choice is unclear.

I'm trying to remember the last time a driver set fastest lap on their race debut. Villeneuve in 1996? if not we might have to go back to Masahiro Hasemi, in the Kojima in 1976 - and that was because they put qualifying tyres on it towards the end of the race.

Qwerty said...

Agreed. He might have been a little bullish but Sam Michael stated after the race that Nico might have been able to fight for the last spot on the podium.

Anyhow, I can't remember myself who last set fastest lap on his debut. If it was Villeneuve then you muight say that the FW17 Williams he drove was the class of the field that year. Whereas Nico's car still needs some work. The guy's good no doubt.

Ankit Sud said...

I too Think nico can make it big, probably a bigger team will hire him next season.

Nice blog !!!