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Bahrain race analysis - Ferrari's win, BMW Sauber's gain 07 Apr 2008

The podium (L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari, second; Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, race winner; Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008 Hamilton takes to the air off the back of the  Renault Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA108 and David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB4 crash.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF108 overtakes Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008 Anthony Davidson (GBR) Super Aguri F1 SA08A on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008

Bahrain had one colour on Sunday afternoon, and that was red. BMW Sauber were strong enough to keep the pressure on and to take the lead in the world championship for constructors, thanks to Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld finishing third and fourth, but the one-two result for Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen confirmed the form the world champions had shown in Malaysia. As for McLaren, and in particular Lewis Hamilton, this was a race best forgotten.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, p1/1m 33.600s
Kimi Raikkonen, P2/1m 33.709s

Massa really needed this victory, and he barely put a wheel wrong in achieving it. His Ferrari had all the pace it needed, and he could control the race. His only problem was ensuring that there was no repeat of Malaysia. Raikkonen was quick, but not quick enough to challenge his team mate. Taking the lead in the world championship for drivers’ points table was adequate compensation as Ferrari dominated, however.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, P3/1m 33.775s
Nick Heidfeld, P4/1m 33.565s

Kubica lost the start due to excessive wheelspin, and then thought he had a puncture in the early stages. It transpired that it was oil in Turns Four through 11, without which he felt he might have been able to keep Raikkonen at bay. He was quick throughout, but though the fastest laps suggest otherwise he did not quite have enough speed to challenge the Ferraris. Heidfeld was also quick, pushing his team mate all the way on his longer-runs strategy. Their points haul put BMW Sauber at the top of the world championship for constructors for the first time, by a point from Ferrari and two from McLaren.

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, P5/1m 33.193s
Lewis Hamilton, P13/1m 35.520s

McLaren had to put a brave face on a race that saw them lose the lead in both championships. Hamilton’s start problem came when he selected the wrong procedure and activated the anti-stall mechanism at the wrong moment. Then he compounded that by hitting Alonso on the second lap. Thereafter he was condemned to run in traffic with a heavy fuel load, and his problems were further compounded by deflector damage at the front of the MP4-23 which induced understeer. Kovalainen ran strongly on the prime tyres in the closing stages, when he set fastest lap, but otherwise lacked the pace of Ferrari or BMW Sauber.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, P6/1m 34.204s
Timo Glock, P9/1m 34.807s

Once again Trulli brought Toyota points with a smooth and trouble-free run in a car that he said handled really well, while Glock made it to the finish in ninth after fending off an aggressive Alonso. He loved his TF108 in the opening stages, but was less enamoured of its behaviour in the second stint.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P7/1m 34.305s
David Coulthard, P18/1m 35.351s

Webber spent all afternoon chasing Trulli, but ultimately didn’t have the pace to challenge the Toyota. Coulthard had a dismal day and got caught up in the early melee that claimed Vettel. After a pit stop at the end of the first lap he was down the back of the field for the rest of the race, and lost further time when he was attacked by Button on the 19th lap and needed to change the front wing.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, P8/1m 34.072s
Kazuki Nakajima, P14/1m 35.433s

Rosberg went home unhappy with eighth place, after the speed the Williams FW30 had shown at times during the weekend. He felt that high wind in the race had a marked effect on tyre performance, and was unhappy with the ultimate choice of gear ratios. Nakajima looked unimpressive again after making a bad start and spinning on the oil in the esses on the second lap.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, P10/1m 35.194s
Nelson Piquet, retired, gearbox, lap 41/1m 35.129s

The race was as difficult as Alonso had expected, and after being attacked by Hamilton on the second lap the Spaniard pushed as hard as he could. Tenth place was the ultimate result. Piquet spun in the esses on the second lap but lapped faster than his team mate before a gearbox problem obliged him to quit.

Honda
Rubens Barrichello, P11/1m 34.855s
Jenson Button, retired, accident damage, lap 20/1m 36.125s

Button was happy with his start and was up to ninth when he got walloped from behind in Turn Five. That gave him a puncture and he thus stopped at the end of the first lap for a replacement tyre. After that he got his head down, but a kerfuffle with Coulthard on lap 18 in Turn Eight brought them both into contact. The Honda rode over the Red Bull’s right sidepod, sustaining sufficient damage to force retirement after one more pit stop and an exploratory lap. Barrichello, meanwhile, chased hard after Fisichella and passed the Force India in their pit stops on lap 22. He went on to finish 11th, encouraged by the lap times and the reliability. They are making progress here.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, P12/1m 35.057s
Adrian Sutil, P19/1m 35.442s

Fisichella got a great start and contained Barrichello’s Honda for the first 22 laps, but lost out when both stopped to refuel at the same time. Thereafter he pushed hard after the Brazilian, and left the team encouraged by a solid 12th place. Sutil lost his front wing and punctured the left-front tyre in the first corner, and thus lost far too much time with an early pit stop.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, P15/1m 35.333s
Sebastian Vettel, retired, accident damage, lap 1/no time

Vettel was clobbered by Sutil in Turn One and then bundled off the track in Turn Four by an unknown assailant. End of race. Bourdais had a better run, but could not contain a recovering Piquet, and later encountered a brake problem which compromised his performance.

Super Aguri
Anthony Davidson, P16/1m 35.324s
Takuma Sato, P17/1m 35.891s

The two Super Aguri drivers battled hard with one another almost throughout before Davidson passed his team mate, who said he might have damaged his aero package a little during the first-corner infighting.