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Impressive Alonso throws down the gauntlet

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Andrew Benson | 17:09 UK time, Sunday, 14 March 2010

In the wake of Jenson Button's world championship victory last season, I asked an engineer at his Brawn team, which morphed into Mercedes over the winter, what he thought about the prospect of Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari.

"Worrying," was his reply.

It was a view shared by many in Formula 1, whose participants are well aware of what a formidable competitor the Spaniard is, and of the power and potential of Ferrari.

After the Spaniard's impressive victory in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, it is easy to see why everyone was so concerned.

The Ferrari might not have been the out-and-out fastest car in Bahrain and Alonso might not have won the race had Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel not suffered a loss of power that left him defenceless against Alonso and team-mate Felipe Massa, but there is no mistaking the message written in that Ferrari one-two.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insisted after the race that Vettel had been "managing his tyres" in the period after the pit stops when Alonso and Massa inexorably closed what at one stage was a gap of more than five seconds to the German.

But the fact is that so were the Ferrari drivers, and the ease with which they hunted down the Red Bull, before his problem occurred, was ominous.

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That is not to say that Alonso would have won the race easily, though. Such was the way the Bahrain Grand Prix played out that it is impossible to be sure who had the quickest car.

In fact, the top four teams, as predicted, do indeed seem to be very closely matched.
But while Vettel's pole lap certainly impressed all Red Bull's rivals - to the point that one leading figure from another team told me he was sure the team had been disguising their true pace in testing - so it is difficult to argue with Lewis Hamilton's post-race observation that the "Ferrari is definitely the car to beat".

In fact, despite all the teams' usual insistence that winter testing is hard to read, it is remarkable how closely the race matched the pre-season predictions.

Just as predicted, the Red Bull was quick over one lap. And, just as predicted, while Vettel eased out a gap in the first stint, the Ferrari appeared marginally the strongest car in the race - at least once everyone switched to the harder of the two tyre options at their pit stops.

The other important factor that appears to have been confirmed is that the Red Bull, while fast, is also fragile. The team were afflicted by reliability problems in practice, and they cost Vettel what would have been a race victory, assuming he had been able to fend off Alonso and Massa for the remaining 17 laps of the race.

Ferrari, by contrast, despite having to change the engines of both cars before the race, got both to the finish, and they were at the head of the field when they got there. And, as many had predicted, the man who crossed the line first was Alonso.

The Spaniard did not have a perfect weekend - he was out-qualified by Massa, an eventuality that may or may not have happened had Alonso not made a mistake on his final qualifying lap. But, like all true champions, he pounced mercilessly on the Brazilian's sluggish start, and was in a position to benefit, right behind Vettel, when the leader hit trouble.

This is what worries Ferrari's rivals about Alonso. He is remorseless, and when an opportunity presents itself, he usually takes it. Many think Massa will beat him from time to time - particularly at his favoured circuits, of which Bahrain is one - but it is Alonso's ability to be on the limit every lap of every race that makes him so formidable.

Not for nothing did Hamilton describe him in a BBC interview before the race as the toughest team-mate he has ever had.

Although the race itself was pretty turgid - and the lack of overtaking was worrying on a track where normally drivers can pass each other - Bahrain did suggest that F1 is set for a very close fight this season.

The Red Bull and Ferrari are closely matched, McLaren are not far behind, and Mercedes are nearly there, too. And the best drivers really are in the best teams, with the exception of Robert Kubica in the Renault.

There are, too, so many fascinating questions still to answer. Hamilton beat Button here, but the reigning champion spent nearly all his race stuck behind slower cars, so it is still far too early to call that one.

One of those slower cars was driven by Michael Schumacher, who was unable to keep up with team-mate Nico Rosberg in the first stint of the race. He held the gap to the younger man in the second stint, but was still a long way from the Schumacher of old.

schumacher.jpgMichael Schumacher finished sixth in the season's first grand prix in Bahrain: Photo: Getty

As Martin Brundle put it on Sunday, Schumacher was driving as if he was still a 10th of a second or two behind his car, and it is strange, to say the least, to see this man who in the past could drive any car on the limit straight away struggling.

Schumacher says he just needs to find his rhythm again, but the uncomfortable question hanging over him after Bahrain is how long it will take before he does - and will he ever?

With the pace of the Force Indias somewhat wasted by choosing an unconventional strategy and a first-lap incident for Adrian Sutil and the fascinating spectacle provided by the three new teams as they struggle to close the chasm between them and the rest of the field, it promises to be an intriguing season.

After all, not all the races can be as bad as Bahrain.

For now, though, it is worth pondering these two facts.

The winner of the first race of the season has gone on to win the championship every year since 2006.

And the victor in Bahrain has become the world champion four times in the last six years.

A long, hard, fascinating battle lies ahead over the remaining 18 races of the season, but Alonso and Ferrari will certainly take some beating.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    The first race of the season did not have any overtaking & it seems the rules changes have not helped. It would have been better if the points system was not changed. Atleast then the championship will be decided at the end of the season. Now it appears that Ferrari may run away with the championship.

  • Comment number 2.

    With all due respect Andrew you are wrong on the Hamilton Button point. Hamilton was consistently 4 tenths quicker than Button in each qualifying session and in the race was consistently faster. When Button had clear air he was still not lapping at Hamilton's pace. Hamilton was stuck behind Rosberg for the 1st stint but was still pulling away from Button even though Button was not closing in on schumacher at any point at that stage. Hamilton tied Alonso in his debut season and does not need to be compared with Button.

    It is irritating that British journalists always try to protect Button and find him excuses. You make the point that Schumacher could not keep up with Rosberg and say that Button was stuck behind slower cars. Well so was Webber and we don't know where he is to Vettel as well.

  • Comment number 3.

    Not a classic race today. Fernando had a comfortable win. I just wonder how Michael felt today When he seen his former team win today with the man who denied him the 2006 title driving his former race car. I think the point system should go back to the old format of pre 2003 season 10 points for a win then 6 4 3 2 1.

  • Comment number 4.

    Alonso is back...2 years in the wilderness and an annus horribilis at McLaren has not in any way disrupted his supreme talent and desire with Destiny.
    Remorseless and relentless, it's back to the script that was written for him before his somewhat forced exile into mediocrity...maybe that's why Schumacher came out of retirement - to have a real close view on the track of the back of the man who will certainly step onto the plate and take the sport to a new era.

  • Comment number 5.

    the race today was rather boring. hope it get better.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ferrari were good - but there's no way in hell Alonso would have won had Vettel not had an exhuast problem. Alonso got lucky - simple. Vettel was the most impressive - and Alonso's supremecy is threatened by the young man from Germany. But what about Hamilton? He's shown the great consistency he showed in the second half of last season by finishing on the podium and its consistency which wins the World Championship.

  • Comment number 7.

    The new formula is a step backwards for spectator spectacle. There is no doubt; we need not wait for subsequent races. The formula change is a disaster.
    While I was pleased to see Seb Vettel so strong, it looks as if Alonso-Ferrari will be extremely difficult to beat with these rules.
    I was also please to see Nico beat Schumy; but expect Schumy to bounce back, i can't believe that he won't win a race this year.
    Hamilton did a good job. By Button's own admission, he did not.
    It looks like McLaren could be competitive.
    Red Bull will be competitive, if the well commented upon fragility of the car is resolved.

    Back to Ferrari: what of the engine change before the race? Does anyone else have red lights flashing about this move and any ulterior motives (like gaining an unfair advantage), as I? What are the season-long implications for Ferrari related to these engine changes, Andrew?

    Many of us have enjoyed the lead up to this race; the development race, the new designs, the new team configurations, and of course, the return of the (formerly) Red Baron. It would have taken a lot to meet these expectations in a race spectacle, but does anyone believe that there will be even a few exciting races, please comment? I think the likelihood of a dry exciting race is very poor.

  • Comment number 8.

    the rule changes have made F1 less exciting, completely the opposite to what they were intended to do. lewis to be champion.

  • Comment number 9.

    extremely boring, a little bit like lorry racing. How can cars with full fuel loads race properly. All planning and strategies are now similar. No deciding if to 2 or 3 stop or giving lighter/heavier fuel loads to allow front running or no stopping.Points system not at all interesting.Is this what a politically correct GP is like. I have been an avid fan for years but think I will end up not watching

  • Comment number 10.

    Carlonso - enough already with the eulogising. Let's see how the season unfolds before we start talking about destiny. The Red Bulls will sort out their exhaust issues, and Maclaren are a lot closer to the pace than they were last season. Ferrari have done the best job over the winter, but if the other two teams get their act together quickly enough, we'll have one mother of a contest over the season. Come November, we'll know if it's Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton who has Destiny on his side. Remember that Hamilton beat Alonso fair and square when they had the same car - maybe I shouldn't mnetion that as doubtless you'll be regurgitating the garbage about Maclaren deliberately favouring a rookie over the double world champion who they paid top dollar to join their team!
    It's too soon to start handing out the Nobel prize!

  • Comment number 11.

    Well they somehow managed to make F1 even more boring. It takes real skill to make a sport, which consists of people racing around tracks in cars up to speeds in excess of 200mph, not exciting at all. I used to love F1 but these latest changes make it so tedious. I watched the Bahrain GP until it was clear there would be no overtaking or racing of any kind, about lap 2.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hamilton is fast, no doubt, but he is also rough on his car, tyers in particular. Why then, did Mclaren call Button into the pits when he had done what a lot of other drivers did, ie, he preserved his tyres. It was a chance to choose a different strategy,a chance to bring Button out at at much more advantageous time where he could perhaps have not been stuck behind a slower car. Mclaren did not play fair with Alonso! Are they at it again with Button?
    thereok1 wrote. Hamilton is the better driver of the Brit pair?
    We shall see. There's a long way to go.
    I believe Schui should not be written off yet awhile. Ross and Schui are a fantastic pairing.
    But even though there are a lot of interest stories in F1. This 1 stop stategy is going to get boring if tyre degredation is overcome by tyre science. There should be more of a gamble attatched to treating your tyres badly. If not we are going to see a lot of processions to the chequered flag.

    I hope this will not happen or this will cease to be a competative drivers sport and depend on who has the best chemist??
    I for one want to see open human combat, necks on the line, fair and square.

  • Comment number 13.

    It's a little difficult to read the race because conditions were so abysmally different to pre-season training. Ferrari's pace was very impressive and they do look like they will be tough to beat, but McLaren also have a lot of straight line pace which will be important on other circuits. Red Bull may have a reliability issue, but Mark Webber's car kept going, albeit way back and Vettel still finished 4th and was too fast for the Mercedes, even with a crocked car.

    For Lewis Hamilton it was job done: keep running and the points will come. A podium finish was not a bad result for a team that some people were saying were hopelessly off the pace in practice and qualifying.

    There is still a long time to go in this season. Think how last season the last 12 races bore little relation to the first six.

  • Comment number 14.

    Re post 7 Dean Cassady, I too was wondering about the engine change. I had a scan through the sporting regs and see no allowance to change an engine under Parc Ferme as the Ferarris did. Changes outside the allowances of Parc Ferme usually mean a start from the pit lane, I guess Hispania wanted to make extra changes, but not for Ferrari it seems. If this is allowed then there is nothing to stop any team picking an engine from their 8 as a qualifier, I know they have the same power etc., but you keep the mileage low on it, and then change to a race engine after qualifying, isn't that something that these regs were meant to get rid of ?

    Apart from that, from all the evidence it does look like the Red Bull is the fastest car, but it only takes a little problem or small mistake to lose that advantage.

  • Comment number 15.

    "After all, not all the races can be as bad as Bahrain."

    With the no refuelling rule as it is, I can see several being far worse. I use the word "see" figuratively, because there will be no way I shall be watching.

  • Comment number 16.

    It really was an horrendous race. Didn't watch the whole thing and I've been really looking forward to the new F1 season. Don't understand the need to ban re-fuelling.

  • Comment number 17.

    OK as a race this wasn't a great one, but why all the moaning about the new refuelling/tyre rules? Look at it this way:
    1. The Bahrain race is not usually a thriller anyway. There was overtaking today, just not an awful lot of it at the front.

    2. We did seem to have cars running closer together at the end than we did in the refuelling days. If Vettel hadn't had the problems he did I think he and the 2 ferraris could have been within 3 or 4 seconds of each other at race's end, and then Webber/Button/Schumacher/Rosberg weren't miles apart either.

    I hope there isn't a snap reaction, and that a 2nd mandatory pitstop is not introduced. It wouldn't improve anything, you would just get everyone sticking the softer option on at their 2nd stop to make the most of the light fuel load.

    Instead Bridgestone should take slightly less durable tyre compounds to races. This would make two-stopping a more viable option. With 1-stopping so obviously the way to go at the minute it does give races a predictable pattern. Martin Whitmarsh also hinted that had there been a safety car on lap 5, they could have pitted and changed to the medium compound, and run to the end on it. I'm sorry, but any tyre that can last 90% of the race distance without teams been worried about its wear is too durable for these regulations. Of course for Bridgestone a less durable tyre would give them a worse image commercially, but I think they'd have more respect from fans if they did their bit to spice up the show.

    Jacques Villeneuve was spot on when he said you won't get more overtaking unless something is done with the aerodynamic regs, but because that isn't happening until next season, I think a change of tyre compounds is the way to go for the rest of 2010.

    In the meantime, I expect Melbourne to be much better than Bahrain. The random element of a safety car is more likely and a shorter, narrower circuit makes back-markers an issue too. I believe Alonso and Ferrari's advantage is smaller than a lot of people seem to think too. Looks like both they and Red Bull may need extra engines and incur penalties towards the last few races as well.

  • Comment number 18.

    Ok carlonso, let's calm down a bit since we've only had the one procession - er, sorry I mean "race". We'll see how it pans out over a season and how the other teams react to Ferrari.
    It's time the FIA realised that the rule changes have been pounced upon by the engineers and neutralised as per usual.
    They were right to ban refuelling - the best racing in F1 took place in the years before strategy became paramount to driver skill. Oh yes, I have been watching F1 for a very, very long time.
    They need to get tough on the downforce issues by demanding changes to the wings and get rid of that stupid 'shark fin' on the back of the cars.
    If they demand a change to 'clean wings' (i.e. no extra little add ons and fences, just a nice simple wing front and back a-la pre '90s), ban diffusers of any kind and then give teams a free choice on tyre compound and the ability to use more sets during the weekend, we may just see drivers actually race rather than focus on preserving rubber. Cleaning up the air behind the cars will enable more overtaking and a return to good old slipstreaming skills.
    I'm sure some of the Champs showing off their old machinery this weekend would be able to teach the current crop of robots how to actually race a car. Nice to see old Jody 'Sideways' Schekter out there - more personality in his left glove than the entire 2010 grid!

  • Comment number 19.

    After only one race of the 2010 season it's definitely not looking good that so many people are commenting negatively.
    I would have to agree though, I was so excited about Bahrain, but it ended up being a bit of an anti climax. No exciting overtaking, the new rule in the pit lane, something about 55 feet, was a bit too cautious in my opinion.
    There was no excitement, and as a Vettel fan I was so disappointed that the car had problems, just reminded me of last year.
    Hopefully it will rain in Melbourne and add a little excitement..

  • Comment number 20.

    9. At 6:34pm on 14 Mar 2010, grandad1313 wrote:

    extremely boring, a little bit like lorry racing. How can cars with full fuel loads race properly. All planning and strategies are now similar. No deciding if to 2 or 3 stop or giving lighter/heavier fuel loads to allow front running or no stopping.Points system not at all interesting.Is this what a politically correct GP is like. I have been an avid fan for years but think I will end up not watching

    Could not have said it better my self grandad1313! Had high expectations for the season and am gutted by the sheer boredom i was subjected to for 2 hours!
    No-wonder Schumacher didnt do great, he was as confused as the rest of us by the new changes!

  • Comment number 21.

    I love the F1 and although the race itself was not a classic, or indeed the result I would have wanted (Ferrari 1&2), I found it fascinating to see the pre-season expectations finally playing out. Hopefully Hamilton continues to show his supreme ability to get the best out of his car and can stick with the leading pack until McLaren find a bit more pace.

    Also, it was great to see the Lotus making it through, pity about the other newbies though. What a long way they've got to come.

  • Comment number 22.

    I cannot believe how many people think that the ban on refuelling was a bad thing. Did you guys enjoy last year's Bahrain Grand Prix, where one man drove from 1st place to the finish unhindered and with as little overtaking further down the field as we saw today?

    A position gained in the pit lane is NOT overtaking. The reason the cars cannot overtake on track is because they are too laden with aerodynamic devices which prevent those behind them from getting close.

    There's a simple solution, and it is to remove the need for drivers to use both compounds of tyre, thereby making it possible for a driver to make no stops during a race. This would then create a situation where a driver could be out in front but on extremely worn tyres, being chased (and possibly overtaken!) by those with fresher tyres.

    I don't know why people think pit stops are interesting. I watch F1 to see cars racing and when they're stopped they are not racing.

  • Comment number 23.

    Whoops, was thinking of the wrong race there. Button didn't have pole in Bahrain 2009.

    My point still stands though as Button didn't overtake them on track.

  • Comment number 24.

    Bahrain GP is just like the Monaco GP, loads of money around and a lovely procession

  • Comment number 25.

    OK, the race was not a classic, but it was by no means unenjoyable.

    CNW0429, who commented above, hit the nail right on the head there.

    There WAS overtaking, mostly in the midfield / back though. Ferrari seemed to overheat their cars too much, so getting close to other cars hurt them - that's a downer on Ferrari's part, not F1.

    Over the past year of blogging on this website, I've stated again and again, that the sheer pessimism of F1 fans, when they see a dull race, is far more abysmal than the race they choose to condemn.

    And as for those who say they aren't watching any more; firstly, get a grip, and secondly...you won't be able to resist tuning into the Australian GP anyway!

  • Comment number 26.

    Things I learnt today:

    > The refuelling ban doesn't make for more interesting races.
    > The turbulent air behind the cars still prohibits overtaking -- now even more so because it can ruin the tyres which need to be so carefully preserved.
    > The new points system didn't seem to affect what happened on the track at all.
    > Ferrari are very strong in clean air but will struggle to overtake (Alonso's car was overheating in Vettel's slipstream today).
    > McLaren need to get their act together.
    > Virgin are the quickest of the new teams, Lotus the most reliable, Hispania the most hopeless.
    > Alonso is a lot better than Massa (the gap between them opened up very quickly once they had both passed Vettel, and you could argue that Massa shouldn't have let his team-mate get past him at the first corner)
    > Hamilton is a lot better than Button.
    > Rosberg and Schumacher seem pretty evenly matched for now.
    > Bahrain is not a good place to hold the season opener.
    > I still don't like Jonathan Legard's commentary.
    > And finally, this season probably won't live up to all the hype.

  • Comment number 27.

    Alonso was phenomenal looking quicker in race trim than Felipe at a Massa track. Vettel was obviously impressive but as Brundle pointed out in commentary it took too long for him to adjust to racing with a problem, but that could be put down to inexperience. I disagree with Andrew on the Brits, Hamilton had Button's number all weekend and I was very impressed with his driving once he was past Rosberg keeping a consistent gap to the Ferraris and pulled away from everyone. I don't think Button was held up it was just his pace. The driver battle at Mercedes GP looks far more interesting, can't wait to see how that one works out.

    I'm disappointed with the re-fuelling ban because I really enjoy the strategy and the not-knowing of who's in the best position after qualifying. The tyres are too durable but I think a contributing factor to the lack of real racing was the paranoia of tyres going off. As Button mentioned he drove too conservetively in the fisrt stint and as drivers get a better understanding of the limits of the tyres we''ll see more aggressive driving.

    Mercedes GP seem a little slow but I expect the speed of the McLaren to pay dividends at other circuits and could well of been the fastest car if they hadn't changed the circuit layout, the car just looked unsettled through sector 2.

    Still can't wait for Melbourne, an always entertaining GP and probably a slightly better barometer of each car's true speed.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ragerod, we did know who was in the best position because the fuel weights were published before the race.

  • Comment number 29.

    REF 10
    Wengerpore - I do not throw eulogies like confetti at a B-list celebrity's wedding...

    And in terms of regurgitation, why would I stoop to the level of going up to, say,Schumacher and Vettel to mention to them 2 world wars and 1966?...I'll leave that level of regurgitating and claptrap to the "sophisticated" Hamilton fans on this blog who would undoubtedly tell me otherwise...
    Let's be honest - Alonso didn't do a bad day's work at the office now, did he?

  • Comment number 30.

    Disappointing race today, although nice to see Felipe drive well, and also great drive from Lewis in a car that's not quite up to spped yet.
    I do think EJ was a bit harsh in what he said about Schumi not being back to his best. Come on, the guy hasn't drove for 3 years and still managed to finish in the points ahead of last years world champ and Webber!
    Also think Bernie needs to let the physios on the grid poor old Martin could only interview Alonso out of all the current drivers.
    Any idea when the red button forum will be on the website by any chance Andrew? Looking forward to Australia's classic races! Would really like to see 1992 and 2003 included in your choices please.

  • Comment number 31.

    To ban refuelling is a good idea but how its been played out is ridiculous. Overcomplicating things is pointless - see lawrenz' post for a far better solution with the rear of the car. And get rid of these silly tyre rules too. It will be more enjoyable for fans and drivers alike.

  • Comment number 32.

    Unless Bridgestone come up with a more aggressive compound or the FIA introduce compulsory stops, this is going to be the most frustrating racing to date. In the past, cars with full tanks were less aerodinamically sensitive and different tyre manufacturers added to the list of variables on a race-by-race basis. In today's scenario, it's going to be a slow procession from lap 2 to the end , bar incidents or mechanical failures.

    As for Schumacher, Andrew, no disrespect but you are a bit too quick in your criticism, almost jumping from one bandwagon to another. I believe that 6 place keeping Nico and the reigning WC honest following a 3-year sabbatical is quite a feat. After the race he also looked reasonably fresh. I am sure there is much more to come from him once he hits form. Let's wait and see.

  • Comment number 33.

    "Vettel was obviously impressive but as Brundle pointed out in commentary it took too long for him to adjust to racing with a problem, but that could be put down to inexperience"

    What? This was not just a small problem. He had about 60bhp less then normal. I found it astonishing to drive the best Sector2 times with a broken exhaust in the last two laps just after Rosberg closed up. He completely had to change his style by taking more speed through the corners and not reving up high on the exit.

    To me he still was the best driver on that day.

  • Comment number 34.

    The FIA ARE A DISGRACE- I agree with DC and EJ that there should be 2 mandatory pit stops: this would mean that the drivers would drive at 100% instead of being worried about tyre degredation.

    Lets hope Melbourne isn't as boring as Bahrain was.

  • Comment number 35.


    At 17:09 on 14 Mar 2010, Andrew Benson wrote:

    "it is remarkable how closely the race matched the pre-season predictions."


    No it didn't.

    Yes Ferrari and Red Bull were up there as expected, but as far as I remember none of you so-called "experts" and "insiders" predicted that McLaren would be between 1 and 1.5 seconds slower than them in qualy trim and even more so in ultimate race pace albeit on the longest lap of the season. You can dress it up all you like, but this was extremely disapponting if not downright embarrasing.

    What was not remarkable at all though is how Rosberg had Schumacher in his pocket all weekend long. Schumacher who according to you Mr Benson "WILL SURELY HAVE THE UPPER HAND OVER HIS TEAM-MATE" (who, again in your own words, "is not considered to be of the same calibre as Hamilton Alonso Vettel and [god forbid] Button" and apparently "he has done nothing so far to prove he is one of the true elite" [in his elitist Williams]). Clueless or what.




  • Comment number 36.

    Re Dominic Taylor #34

    No! No! No!

    Don't make 2 stops compulsory, keep 1 stop as a minimum and make 2 stops a more attractive option with tyres that lose their performance more severly. Variety is what makes for good dramatic races. Making everyone do the same thing leads to processions.

    1987 Silverstone: Piquet doesn't pit, and leads most of the race. Mansell does pit, drops back to 30 seconds, but on fresher tyres he closes the gap and takes the lead on the penultimate lap. Result: a race that has gone down as an all time great.

  • Comment number 37.

    "But the fact is that so were the Ferrari drivers, and the ease with which they hunted down the Red Bull, before his problem occurred, was ominous."

    Brenson is dramatising. The Alonso gained 2s from the early pit stop and as soon as he closed up vettel drove a whole second quicker and pulled away. He had total control until the failure.

  • Comment number 38.

    "After all, not all the races can be as bad as Bahrain."

    Sorry Andrew, but I think you may end up regretting these words. The one thing that really stuck in my mind after the first race of the most anticipated season for many years was not all the intriguing battles that were to be had, but how the lack of refueling had impacted the spectacle. All the teams had similar strategies, all the drivers were nursing their tyres and lacking in aggression that a short stint last season would have provided.

    I fear that despite the great personal duels, the close performance of the top teams, and so many talented drivers on the grid, this season will be ruined by the lack of pit stops.

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't understand why people are so shocked at the drabness of the no refuelling races, many of them were like that pre-1994. This was bound to happen with the aerodynamics the way they are at present - quite why the FIA allowed double-diffusers last season is beyond me. Why they couldn't have just said it was very innovative but against the spirit of the new rules is highly questionable, especially in the modern era of cost cuts. Jacques Villeneuve was right on the money when he said mechanical grip over aero is the only way to create more overtaking.

    It's important to remember how dull all of the Bahrain races have been though. It's a characterless circuit made all the worse by a sparse crowd and all that sand. Melbourne is certain to be more exciting so let's not all despair yet. Andrew is quite right in his assessment though, Ferrari do look formidable.

  • Comment number 40.

    Benson is biased.

  • Comment number 41.

    @Wengerpore!

    A hamilton fan by any chance??

    in 2007, you will find that alonso and hamilton ended as a dead heat...

    ANYWAY, both were tremendous today and we still have 18 races yet so please don't moan on every blog that is written after alonso wins a race this season... BOOORING!!!

  • Comment number 42.

    While the race wasn't exactly a classic the teams didn't exactly help matters by being very conservative with their strategies.

    For example, Alonso's fastest race lap was 3 seconds off pole time (a large part of this must have been down to the state of the tyres, along with the fact that he must have been nursing the car towards the end).

    Why didn't someone like kubica who was just outside the points with 10 laps left take a stop for brand new soft tyres in the knowledge that although he would lose around 20 seconds through stoppping, he would have 10 laps on brand new rubber where he would probably lap over 2 seconds a lap faster than he would on ageing tyres.

    He would have been no worse off and would have at least had a chance of catching the cars in front, instead of making no progress at all (as it panned out) along with all the cars ahead of him.

  • Comment number 43.

    sorry guys but i taught it was a boring race, bring back kers, fuel stops,
    if Michael Schumacher is complaining ,its got to be a worry!!

  • Comment number 44.

    If Hamilton or Button would have won i am sure there would not be so many complaints in all those english blogs. As soon as they will win a race it will be a fantastic season again. But i guess that is completely normal. I was quite excited through the whole race as vettel (also massa and kubica) fan but i did miss some overtaking in the top group. I think they were all just too cautios with the tyres as in the back there were plenty of overtaking.

  • Comment number 45.

    It is not about fuel stops or strategies it is all about aerodynamics. Thats what the fia should take care of to encourage overtaking. Get rid of the diffusors so there can be a slip-stream advantage again.

  • Comment number 46.

    terrible anti-climax to what was built up as the most exciting season for decades.
    no need to ban re-fuelling when it added tactics to a race and enabled overtaking to take place in the pit lane if not on the track, now you wont even get that as all pit stops will be the same time.

  • Comment number 47.


    For all those moaning about boring racing and no overtaking, there were technical regulations designed especially for close racing last season, but the tasty prospect of the FAIRY TALE about the prince on the WHITE horse that would revive the dead interest figures and revenue in a flash meant the idea was swiftly thrown to the waste bin.

    And you lot weren't complaining too much then were you?



  • Comment number 48.

    Disappointing start to 2010 is all I'll say.

    For Australia I'm not going to watch the race as I have done for years - just the build-up & F1 Forum (incl. preceding highlights) should do. Not like there's going to be a lot of action on-track.

    Any chance the BBC could show GP2 races which they have the rights for? Much more interesting than F1.

  • Comment number 49.

    Eurosport have GP2 rights don't they? But you are correct, wannabemedic, GP2 should be shown on the red button at least. It's no different to showing the 125cc/Moto2 races on the morning of a motoGP day, which doesn't seem to be a problem.

    Talking of MotoGP, just found out that there will be No Suzi Perry on the Beeb this year, disaster!

  • Comment number 50.

    Andrew, great post.

    Re Alonso, triumphalism isn't a good thing, and, certainly, a little bit of humility never harms. Having said that, I reckon this season is for Alonso to lose. He's finally in a competitive car and in a team that values him. This is not to say that others won't give him an absolute run for his money, but the Ferraris looked today as if they were in a class of their own. Granted Vettel had a mechanical problem, but that does not mean that Alonso wasn't in a position to launch a lethal attack in the closing stages of the grand prix, as he admitted during interview.

    Lewis on the other hand, said during his chat with Jenson about other team mates, that he would pull what he would've thought to be a phenomenal lap, only to realise moments later that Fernando was two tenths quicker in similar equipment. So please, a little bit of objectivity. Fernando is still the only one out there who has beaten Michael, fair and square, twice, in a sub standard car. Lewis is fast all right, but smooth he ain't. If future results are to be decided on who optimises fuel consumption, tyres, engines, etc., then I think Jenson will edge Lewis.

    Vettel and Webber have the pace, they just need to deal with engine issues. Nico outdid Schumacher today, in similar equipment, but I reckon the Kaiser isn't just there yet. All in all a great start of the season.

  • Comment number 51.

    With all the pre-season hype I am not surprised Bahrain was a bit disappointing. However, it was far from the worst grand prix I have ever seen.

    Vettel to me was brilliant all weekend and he must be feeling very sorry for himself after the exhaust broke - is this a design fault by Adrian Newey or just a one off incident?

    Alonso and Hamilton were both on the money and I can see these three fighting it out for the championship - cars permitting. Massa should also be in the mix, but I just feel the other three are too consistant.

    Schumacher and Button underperformed. Both of them must be worried. I think Webber just had a bad day at the office and should be back on song at Melbourne.

    I agree that the Aussie grand prix will be a much tastier affair and I can't wait to see who comes out on top there. I have a feeling it will not be Ferrari.

  • Comment number 52.

    So the top four teams were all there as expected - probably followed by Williams [but Force India and Renault have at least one car that will compete with them] Sauber disappointed and then the rest.
    The race was terrible as a spectacle - the first seven corners were exciting ,Red Bull had a technical issue to add some vague late interest and that was it.
    Tyres played little relevance and the season opener failed to live up to its hype.
    I am sure the circuit didn't help by causing everyone to string out so maybe Albert Park will provide more of a show?
    If it throws up more of the same then people will stop viewing in their droves.
    A very disappointing start.

  • Comment number 53.

    I agree with some above, particularly:
    26. At 7:34pm on 14 Mar 2010, Estesark
    27. At 7:41pm on 14 Mar 2010, Ragerod
    and most of:
    50. At 10:37pm on 14 Mar 2010, Alek Boyd wrote:
    51. At 10:51pm on 14 Mar 2010, Wokingboy92 wrote:

    I must admit that I'd been hood-winked by the concept of the refueling ban, I think I remember Jacques Villeneuve saying it would be good, or something like that. But, you can see my comment 7. above, I don't think it's going to get better, end of the first lap will be 90%+ the order at the end, by procession and expiration, mostly.

    What can be done?

    Some are suggestion:
    a. mandatory two stops
    b. make the tires less good. (that's the Canadian spelling, we're like Americans, sometimes).

    Suggestion b., for me is a non-starter. Things shouldn't be made less good, in Formula One; it's just too much of an artificial contrivance, and opens the door for discriminatory factors. Use the best tires.

    Suggestion a., for me has potential; the question, would it be enough? It's really just going to make pit-stop strategy, more of the principal differentiator, i.e. what determines success during the race.
    However, the problem really is, that the racing, during the race, needs to be more the determinant factor between who wins and who loses. This suggestion doesn't address that, very much. It will certainly affect race changes on the track, but by a circumspect means; and again, will it be enough?

    Is it possible, though, as strange as allowing the double diffuser last year, c. re-allow in-race refueling?
    Yes, the cars have 'been designed' around the new requirement for no refueling. Yes, the FIA will again look like clowns, by flip-flopping, even more so than allowing the interpretation of the double diffuser to be legal; after all, there was a motion to redefine the rules around the double-diffuser, but Flavio (remember him), he, alone amongst the team principles, where changes require unanimity, voted against a re-definition, that would have either opened the doors to all teams, or definitively closed the door for that interpretation; so the FIA had a limb to stand on for that one.

    But this lack of spectacle!?
    Face it, it was painful to watch; it was so tedious!
    Monaco will be a safety-car race, for the whole race, except for the boring processions that will cause drivers, eventually (after another three laps) to go crazy and somewhat suicidal. It won't be good. Not even Spa.

    THE QUESTIONs:
    1. Is it feasible for the FIA to go back on this change, and allow in-race refueling, now (asap!)?
    and,
    2. Could it work, or, what affect would think it would have?

  • Comment number 54.

    All these complaints about no refuelling - kindly remember the late 80's with Prost, Senna, Mansell, Berger, etc, when strategy of tyre changes was of the essence and the faster tyre change could result in a pass [in the pit lane, as it were]. Sometimes processional, but often fascinating. For example, Senna's & McLaren's tyre mis-management in Mexico 1990 and Prost's climbing from 13 to 1st - eh? - including Mansell's pass on the outside of Berger... It seems F1 has become processional in any configuration, barring exceptional drivers or cars [as the all-computerised Williams F1 1992].

  • Comment number 55.

    Please,stop using the word 'quali' or 'qualiy' is it that difficult to say qualifying?

  • Comment number 56.

    After watching the race today there should be major alarm bells on the entertainment value of F1. What is already extremely clear is we have destroyed F1 racing because of the consequences and risks of destroying your tyres. Martin Whitmarsh also worryingly raised the point if there was an early safety car then all the teams would have simply pitted early and driven on the harder tyre till the end of the race. It could have been much worse and the evidence of today was more than enough to demonstrate that to worry is not just a knee jerk reaction.

    Hearing drivers after the race explaining they were not pushing 100% concerned me. People were not being encouraged to take risks and push to the limit. I was also worried watching the race because it seemed many drivers were happy to ‘plod’ round in position because they were afraid of getting too close to the care in front which would wear the tyres.

    People complained about drivers waiting till the pit stops to do their overtaking but whereas that may be true, at least pit stops and strategies were exciting. Others may also compare today’s race to other races where there was little overtaking but in boring races such as the 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix at least we had two pit stops to look forward to and drivers were not encouraged to almost literally ‘plod’ round and not push their car to save their tyres. It was easily one of the worst grand prix’s ever if not the worst.

    What frustrates me is the argument about the need to increase overtaking in F1. Whereas there is some truth in it, the fact is there has been nearly just as much overtaking in F1 in 2009 and 2008 as there was in the 1980’s. If we also make overtaking too easy all it would do is get the fastest car to the front quicker and then it would stay there. Overtaking is not the only entertainment in F1. The problem lies with the incentives to overtake and the emphasis in F1 at the moment to come down hard on any driver who dares to attempt a risky overtake. Montoya mentioned this when he left F1 in 2006 and he was right, we should not slam drivers who are willing to take risks, within reason of course. We should be encouraging this as well as gambling on alternative race strategy.

    Because I am sad enough to have watched many races over the years as well I know 1997 was the year in which we had the best racing and a good balance between the tyre management and refuelling. This was because the tyres that year wore extremely quickly, which meant tyre management was involved, increasing the element of driver skill as well as the extremely exciting element of refuelling and pit stops. This was best shown in the 1997 Argentinean, Spanish and Hungarian grand prix’s. These were all potentially boring races which were turned into some of the best races for years because of the reasons explained above. Please watch these races if you can and I am certain you will not disagree with me.

    What we need is to combine the best of both tyre management and refuelling. Why can we not have a race in which we have the potential of driver’s tyre management also combined with the excitement of the sprints of two or three stop refuelling? Do we want drivers only ‘nursing’ their cars to the end because of the risks following another driver too closely? We also need to create more incentives for aggressive racing and taking risks, which would also cause a variation in race strategy. By this I do not mean anything stupid likes points for overtaking, fastest laps or pole but by producing short term tyres which encourage short sharp aggressive driving till the pit stops. If the tyres wear too quickly this will only encourage varied speeds for drivers during the race and overtaking! We need to also re-introduce refuelling and the rule to carry race fuel in Q3. It worked to disadvantage the pole sitter because it closed up the race and created an interesting dilemma for strategy. We must have short term softer tyres to, which Martin Whitmarsh eluded to meaning the cars can follow each other more closely as a result in the increase on the emphasis on mechanical grip. The drivers would also not be frightened in wearing out their tyres because even is something goes wrong they could always make a pit stop. This would put tyre management back in the hands of the drivers which is the argument for banning refuelling in the first place. We could then combine this with having the excitement of drivers pushing and the excitement of pit stops and strategy ideas.

    Why can we not have the best of both worlds?

  • Comment number 57.

    A lot of negativity here!

    I think it's still way too early in the season to be writing it off as boring, or to say that the rule changes haven't made any difference. The drivers were always going to be wary in the first race until they got a better feel for how strategy was going to pan out in the face of the new regulations. I think there was a lot of waiting to see what the other teams would do and how the tyres would perform under race conditions, plus the added disadvantage of having to deal with changing conditions as the fuel tank goes from full to empty. As the season goes on the drivers will get a better feel for all these things, and then we'll start to see driver talent and "cojones" starting to make an impact on race outcomes.

    I'm going to stay glued to the edge of my seat for the next few races to see whether things do start to mix-up a little. Fair enough, if we get to halfway through the season and things are still as processional as they are right now, then it might be time to think about some changes to make F1 more exciting (e.g - new aerodynamic rules, or bringing back 2 tyre manufacturers to introduce an element of uncertainty there). But for goodness' sake, don't start meking yet more changes too early until everyone's a bit more at-ease with the new regulations and we can really see what's what!

    Also looking forward to Schuey getting back into the swing of racing again - hoping that'll help to provide some excitement, especially as he's back with ross "The Master Planner" Brawn!

  • Comment number 58.

    Disappointed with todays race. I was horrified to see Vettel a good 2 second clear after one lap with no fuel advantage. I was somewhat relieved to see Alonso reel him in for the sake of entertainment but it was a shame the Red Bull let the German down....again.

    Im not too keen on the ban on refuelling and the designers are simply too clever to allow their cars to be neutered by regulation changes. In my opinion, the 2005 ban of changing tyres at the pit stops was a great idea, everytime a driver locked a break you thought "Yikes, You'll pay for that later..." Just remember the Nurgergring that year, as a Raikkonen fan I still have to admit-what a climax!

    The aero regs introduced last year simply didn't work, and adding the bulletproof resistant of the Bridgestones to the mundane predictability of a lights to flag fuel loads, and you have a recipe that is just as likely to make one drift off to sleep as a couple of high dosage sedatives. Perhaps Bahrain as a track is a little boring and this years lengthier configuration served only to exaggerate the negatives. I hope, wish and pray that Melbourne will be a more entertaining affair.


  • Comment number 59.

    At 02:01am on 15 Mar 2010, Keren wrote:

    A lot of negativity here!

    I think it's still way too early in the season to be writing it off as boring, or to say that the rule changes haven't made any difference. The drivers were always going to be wary in the first race until they got a better feel for how strategy was going to pan out in the face of the new regulations. I think there was a lot of waiting to see what the other teams would do.

    Agreed.

    Of the 24 drivers who started today, only 2 have ever driven an f1 car for a whole race on 1 tank of fuel. (and one of them hadn't even been in a race for 3 years until today) Today was always going to end up being a test session with points handed out at the end.

    Hopefully the drivers and teams will get to grips with the new rules sooner rather than later. The last thing needed is a knee jerk reaction from the FIA.

    Also, some people have said that Felipe Massa shouldn't have given up his position at the start so easily................
    You take a spring to the forehead at over 150MPH, stare death in the face, have a titanium plate put in your head, then start your first competive race less than 8 months later, and tell me you wouldn't be a tad nervous.

    One last thing, i can watch curling in High Definition, but not Formula 1......

  • Comment number 60.

    I tried desperately hard to fight the boredom and stay awake during yesterday’s opening F1 Race and I almost failed had it not been for Vettel’s exhaust issues and the brief excitement it caused.
    For me the most exciting aspects of an F1 race have always been the start of the race and the pit stops / pit strategies as these are usually the moments when all the overtaking and jostling for position happens. The pit stops especially have always been a highlight of mine as they can have such an impact on the race with the uncertainty of what position a car will re-emerge on the track, the occasional technical problems the pit crew encounter and the resulting effects it has on the drivers race. Unfortunately these new rule changes seem to have robbed F1 of what I was most interested in with cars going in for a simple tire change once during a 49 lap race…
    The start of the race looked slow, it was odd seeing cars peel off the starting grid with full tanks of fuel without the sheer acceleration we have once seen, with the exception of the black smoke pouring out of Webber’s Red Bull the start was pretty non-eventful. Credit to Alonso he took Massa well but this was probably the only overtake during the whole race worth mentioning. The ban on refueling, resulting in these one stop strategies and the conservative use of the tires really ruined this race, one stop per driver hardly made for an exciting race as the strategic aspect of the pit-stops has almost been wiped out.
    The Red Bulls looked quick, Webber was clearly faster than Button yet could not do a thing about it without getting in the dirty air, ruining his tires, and thus ruining his race, so had to stay behind him the entire race. Also had it not been for Vettel’s exhaust he would have won the race with ease and the points would have been handed out to the drivers as per their track positions from the very early stages of the race. I'm glad to see the new teams on the track as at least they caused a bit of excitement and the odd bit of overtaking, it was just a shame they didn’t last a wee bit longer. Credit to Lotus for getting through to the checkered flag, I hope that gives them some confidence about the reliability of their car.
    Ultimately this new format of F1 has the potential to be disastrous for the sport. F1 need more pit stops, and re-fuelling should be brought back otherwise were in line for repeat races like Bahrain that resemble a procession and ultimately people will tune out after the first two or three laps once the positions are set!
    I'm heading over to Melbourne in 2 weeks time and although ill be sitting in an uncovered grandstand I'm hoping for spells of rain or something that may throw a spanner in the works for teams strategies and cause some pit stops. I was really hoping that yesterdays race would get me all excited about my trip to Melbourne however I'm now worried about how boring the race may be!

    2010 Champion - My Heart says Vettel but my head says Alonso!

  • Comment number 61.

    Agree with most... what a super boring start to a season. Big Yawn!!

    It seems that if there is not at least a 5 second gap between the two tyres we're pretty much set for the same all season. Also, having the back 3 teams at 10 seconds down on qualifying, is not good for the sport. Well done to Lotus for finishing though.

  • Comment number 62.

    Is Alonso the luckiest driver in f1 history ?

    He wins his first title because his Michelin tires were top noth and benefited from his Michelin rivals mechanical dnf's

    He wins his second title due to a blown up Ferrari engine , again another DNF from a rival

    He then goes to McLaren and by luck that team had the best car that season ...

    Now he's at Ferrari and they too prove to have the best car (fast and most reliable car on the grid ) ... at his first year with that team !
    and again winning the race becuase of a mechanical DNF from a rival ...

    One man's luck can't last forever ... no ?

    Rant aside - the Bahrain GP was so boring that the only interesting aspect of it was the return of Michael Schumacher at Mercedes GP.. Imagine if MS did not come back this season, 2010 and its new stupid rules would be a waste of time to watch..

    If Mercedes can improve their car expect Michael to be fighting up front and start winning again.. Schumacher has hit the nail on the head when he says overtaking is almost impossible now and the show is a boring one .... So Ross Brawn needs to work triple over time from here on end ... Also Schumacher did a great job today beating the holding off the 2009 world champion considering he has'nt raced a Formula one car in 3 years ..

    The season is long .. lots can happen and Schumacher might just win his 8th title in 2010 ....




  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    In an ideal world, in hindsight, this race could have been a non-championship exhibition - much like the old Race of Champions events at Brands Hatch used to be many years ago. With the restrictions on testing it would have given the teams a chance to really get to grips with the new set ups in a proper race format. It certinly seemed more like a test than a race. I bet many of them wish it was a non-championship event.

    It won't be long before the petulant toddler that is Bernie Ecc' comes out with some nonsense ideas on how to improve things like making drivers drive half the race with one hand on their head or do 10 laps blindfolded whilst playing a harmonica.

    The FIA has to try and work on getting the race management back into the hands of the drivers. Refuelling stops simply take all the decisions out of the cockpit and into the hands of the pit wall team. Likewise compulsory tyre stops. Those who've mentioned pre-refuelling days races as being dull surely can't mean that. Yes, we've had some real humdingers since '94 but many more prior to that. Driver skill was really to the fore because we had some real racers who wanted to race. These days the poor guys might as well call themselves F1 'Car Managers' because all they do is manage the tyres, fuel and mechanicals as per pit wall orders. The only orders should be " Stay on the black stuff, stay out of the gravel and tyre walls, make sure you beat that guy and win. Now go and race!"

    It would be great to get back to basics. As I've posted previously, ditch the aero nonsense, clean up the wings etc, get back to mechanical grip, ditch the driver aids on the steering wheel and leave them with the gear change and the basic buttons. Never mind brake bias and engine adjustments, if your brakes fade because you've been too hard on them, tough.

    It would be great to simply have a driver, an engine, four wheels, a decently performing chassis, a full tank of gas and some racing attitude. Remember Mansell wringing the life out of his normally aspirated Ferrari to outclass the turbo powered cars before they were finally banned? Shumacher hammering round nearly 3/4 of a race with his Benetton stuck in one gear? The Professor & Senna wrestling every last inch of life out the tyres and car to try and out drag each other in identical McLarens? And Senna himself demonstrating that even a Lotus that handled like an old taxi could still put on a show.

    If some of those guys out there today were given that chance, just think what real racing we could have between Alonso, Shumacher and Hamilton going three abreast down a wide straight and not worrying about whether or not they've got the brakes balanced as per instructions. Bruno Senna (he'll be faster than his Uncle according to the great man himself), Hulkenburg and Rosberg jockeying wheel to wheel to see who could brake latest for a corner. Ah yes, the old F1 rose-tinted specs can make you dream a little.

    I hope the season gets better as we get to the better circuits otherwise they'll just come up with a whole raft of silly new ideas, none of which will work, and Indy & Nascar oval racing will seem ridiculously exciting as a result.

  • Comment number 65.

    Oh, and it was also wonderful to see the Lotus name back in F1. The real racing this year is going to be at the back of the grid between the new teams. This might make it actually worth watching a race once the parade starts at the front. It's pretty much what our race analysis team here in the Gulf were talking about. Thankfully, out here we get the BBC feed but don't have to listen to Eddie 'I'm watching a different race to everyone else' Jordan and David 'I'm not biased towards Red Bull, much' Coultard.

    And Brundle's comments about Bruno Senna looking eerily like his Uncle through the helmet visor.....spooky! I hope someone in a decent team gives him a drive soon, I'd love to see what he could do in a proper car.

  • Comment number 66.

    Everyone says there was no over taking.... BUT I SAW LOADS! Did Timo Glock and the Lotus's not over take each other? Did Adrian Sutil not over take to try and get back up the field? Did the Reno of Kubica not attempt to make positions? I saw lots of over taking. And the only reason the race was boring because of that damn sector 2. It has made the race lap to long, and is the worst sector in formula one i have ever seen.

  • Comment number 67.

    That has to have been the most boring race I have ever seen. All I've heard from the drivers was that when they got near the car in front they couldn't overtake because of the air flow.

    Ok, nothing new there but more often than not they'd be able to string a few corners together, get up close to the car in front and blast them into the weeds down the next straight.

    Only time I saw this happen yesterday was against a car that had lost the pace through a mechanical problem, and I suspect these rules about refuelling and last year's rules that axed a lot of the downforce in the cars have caused this non spectacle.

  • Comment number 68.

    I am extremely disappointed in the first race of the season. I believe Martin Brundle made mention in the Hungarian GP last year that Formula 1 is about speed, attack, and the drivers pushing their cars to the limit to achieve results.

    What we are now seeing is drivers taking their time, keeping the car steady to make sure their tyres last the race. In line with that, they are obviously wanting to put just enough fuel in the car to complete race distance, so coupled with tyre wear the drivers have to be concerned about how much fuel they are using.

    This is not Formula 1, this is not the pinnacle of motor sport. The bottom line is in my opinion, is that Formula 1 is a team sport and a complete race strategy including re-fuelling is an important component in seeing these world class drivers being given a car that they can push to the limits every time they are on the track. Not sit in the car and manage tyre wear and fuel consumption.

    This is by far and away the most exciting season F1 has seen in a long time with 4 world champions on the track, and the likes of Michael Schumacher amongst them. The last thing we want is to see these guys driving around without the ability to fight each other on the limit because of regulations that limit that.

    Please bring back Formula 1 to the top tier motor sport that is it where we can see these world class drivers fighting wheel to wheel at the limit. I am so disappointed in the race last night and watching the lap times was boring.

  • Comment number 69.

    Guys, guys calm down theres better to come ......its called moto gp where men race against each other on 2 wheels and do that thing called ...um....whats it called again.........oh yes over taking. Do you know that they dont pit in as well incredible ayy ,but they are motorbikes so for obvious reasons they dont.Cars on the other hand especially raceing ones are not to happy to be bogged down with fuel they like to sprint as fast as they can but little bernie has this facination of destroying F1 and this year he will suceed .....hahahahahahahahhahahhahaha!

  • Comment number 70.

    How have they managed to make this sport so boring to watch? I had to change TV channels in the middle to stop myself from dozing off. How can those companies that have spent untold millions adapting their cars to new abstract and absurd regulations just stand back and accept this nonsense? It is a waste of time watching races like this and so many people won't bother to watch, so why spend so much money on a sport that people really do not want to see. I'm not a car expert but it's wildly obvious to me that if you add loads of weight to an otherwise light car then you will not be racing - you will be nursing. This was not a race, it was a procession, it was a pathetic waste of everyone's time and some people's money.
    Whoever made those "rule change" decisions is an idiot.

  • Comment number 71.

    Vettel would have won it without his mechanical problems so Ferrari does not look so strong to me. Next race any of the big 3 can win especially with Ferrari having their own reliability problems which might well derail their championship in the long run. Besides, track conditions favoured those starting on the left side so Massa and Hamilton might not have been overtaken in different circumstances and the race could have looked very different. Still very even in my eyes.

  • Comment number 72.

    So, so boring, they need to change something, the lack of overtaking was embarrassing after all the build up to what was supposed to be one of the best seasons ever. Good to see the Lada name on the grid though!

  • Comment number 73.

    What a let down after all the pre-season excitement!

    I don't like the engine limit rule - the teams are too worried about saving their engines and end up pussying about to settle for current position to preserve reliability. I'm sure if the engine limit rule was removed, there would be more motivation to go for it and actually race.

    Let's see what the next round brings; if that also turns out to be a lacklustre affair, I shall vote with my feet and make better use of my time, like cleaning the windows.

  • Comment number 74.

    I see the same predictable stereotypical comments from the majority of people on here...Ferrari 1-2 oh no we need to change the rules again, the points system is wrong, they cheated, it's boring.. blah, blah, blah...some people just can't face the prospect of a season where Hamilton & Button come nowhere - the BBC commentary team gave the impression somebody had just died ...well get used to the idea

    Forza Ferrari

  • Comment number 75.

    After all the pre-season hype about four world champions, the new teams etc I couldn't have been more disappointed. It was like watching a bunch of of old ladies on a sunday afternoon drive..... If all we are going to see is drivers nursing their tyres for the rest of the season - it is going to be mind-numbingly boring. Lets hope we get a lot of rain this year to spice things up a bit!

  • Comment number 76.

    I suppose it's no surprise that lots of people have their favourites: when I was little I was Jim Clark fan & can remember running upstairs & crying when his car broke & he failed to finish (& that was on radio only).

    These days, because I am a proper grown up, I am only really interested in one thing: a decent race. I don't care who wins as long as I see something worth watching. I am certainly not interested in slagging off drivers simply because they aren't my favourite.

    I suppose I shall only get flamed for this: but there are several immature little people we have blogging here.

    No, my issue is the lack of what used to make F1 a magnetic attraction for me: spectacle.

    And I am not seeing anything worth watching, I'm afraid. And I haven't for a very long time.

    When I lived in Wiltshire a fes years ago I went to Castle Combe every meeting I could manage: 9 hours of entertainment from the start of practice to the close of the final race, with huge amounts of overtaking & plenty of skill - & lack of it. I wish I still could go: that's proper motor racing for me.

    And F1 used to be like that. When cars broke down regularly. When drivers drove their asses off. When aeordynamics didn't make the overwhelming difference that they do now. (& in case antbody asks: yes I'm so glad motor racing is so much safer now. Didn't I just say that I loved Jim Clark?)

    The lack of proper motor racing is why I am finally giving up on F1 after seeing this race. It'll be motoGP for me this year for my televised entertainment.

    What a relief it is to finally realise that I've been wasting so much of my time over these past few years when I could have been doing something more useful & less boring.

    From an F1 fan of 50 years standing.

  • Comment number 77.

    Wasn't a great race to watch. The people in charge need to realise they can change what they want in relation to the points system or race refuelling. But if cars can't follow other cars closely enough to be able to overtake them then it doesn't matter what other changes you bring in there still won't be overtaking. Cars have to be able to follow closely to be able to overtake, the way F1 cars are made now it's impossible. Until something is done that enables a driver to get closer to the car in front there's never going to be much overtaking.

    It's not that the drivers don't want to do it it's that it's impossible. As we saw this weekend as soon as the Ferrari's got close to Vettel they were told to back off to stay out of the hot air coming off the Red Bull. Surely it's these sorts of things that need to be looked at to encourage overtaking.

    In fact the more I think about it the sadder I become at the situation. Taking away race refuelling has actually taken away one of the more exciting aspects of F1 racing. How can that be right? OK maybe I'm jumping to conclusions too soon, after all this was only the first race and it was a hot one at that. But judging from a lot of the comments on here it seems one of the most eagerly anticipated seasons for a long time is already in danger of becoming one of the most boring. I have never hoped to be wrong more than I do right now.

  • Comment number 78.

    And as others have said, as good as the cost-cutting measures are for encouraging new teams to get involved they have totally ruined the racing spectacle. Everyone's so scared of racing anyone and trying to save fuel, tyres, engines, gearboxes and everything else so they aren't hit with grid penalties. It seems reliability has taken precedent over racing. What has F1 become where drivers more than 5 seconds behind the man in front are told to back off and conserve their cars for the next race? How is that entertaining particularly when you can actually hear the race engineers telling their drivers this?

  • Comment number 79.

    Lets face it, yesterday was a let down. It must improve and Albert Park is the place.

    Drivers will be bolder at the start, more agressive in qualy and less conservative in the race.

    The only way is up!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    Who's pot-brained idea was it to have the curtain raiser in Bahrain??
    Bernie - what are you playing at!
    This season was being touted as potentially the best ever with 4 world Champions all in competitive cars..and where do you stick them for the first race? In the desert with nothing to look at except a stray camel and a fake oasis in the background...

    and in terms of the racing...calm down dears! a lot of knee-jerk reaction to the new rules where most drivers are scratching their heads to understand the impact it might have during the race..we were robbed of a potentially fascinating duel between Alonso and Vettel before the Wunderkid's car packed up..we won't know if Alonso managed his tyres just right to go all out attack or if Vettel had the measure of him..it's too early to call judgement on the rules just yet, although Bridgestone will need to address tyre longevity and the rules on qualifying on the softs, otherwise the choice in tactics will certainly be curtailed for the race.
    Compulsory 2 stopping is a red herring and it'll just be a compromise for the "lack" of re-fuelling.
    It's the all in the aero package anyway - strip it to a minimum and then we should see true driver ability.

  • Comment number 81.

    Like the vast majority of F1 fans I would like to express my disappointment at how boring the race was.

    It seems that we still have the dirty air problem which I guess is mostly down to the diffusers now on the cars and the necessity to stop tyres overheating/degrading has only exasperated the situation.

    With modern F1 cars and technology so close to the cutting edge and so dependant on aerodynamics I'm not sure how they can ever resolve the dirty air question. I suppose a drastic measure would be to ban diffusers (which they are doing in 2011, correct?) and make the wings much much smaller. Perhaps after each race the FIA could test each car to measure the amount of drag/aero grip provided and penalise teams that have over a cerain limit in the wind tunnel (not sure how practical that is but just an idea).

    Also I think a mandatory 2 pit stop is something they should do now, at least that way drivers will be less worried about preserving tyres and maybe push harder earlier on.

    I like the new points system, can't see the point of 24-26 cars racing for points if only top 6-8 get the spoils. I am also not ready to dismiss the refuelling rule just because the first race was probably the most boring first race of any F1 season I can remember (lol).

    Congratulations to Alonso and Ferrari, Massa will definately struggle not to be marginalised and beaten down there over the course of the season. Alonso is the most complete F1 racer at the moment and now he is in the best car, I can honestly only see Hamilton or Vettel having the talent and balls to take it to him over the course of the season (I know there are many Lewis haters out there but the fact is he is the only driver I have seen who has been able to take to Alonso and rattle him in the same equipment!).

    Bahrain is an awful track to watch on TV, totally devoid of any atmosphere or character. Hardly any crowds although the facilities look great (makes Silverstone look ancient, but I am still going again this year ;)). What the hell they have done with the new infield baffles me, should have put some elevation changes in and a couple of semi fast chicanes instead!

    Heres hoping the show improves, that FOTA recognise that some rules will need amending in case after 3 races we are still moaning about the boredom. Still going to watch because I am sad (lol), and I can get my overtaking kicks from the master Rossi in Motogp!

  • Comment number 82.

    I'm not really up on the technicalities of many of the rules in F1 but it seems wrong to me that Red Bull or Webber weren't penalised for what happened at the start.
    If his car was overfilled with oil and that caused the lack of visibility for the following cars and therefore their crash surely this negligence should not go without some punishment? Kubica looked very much as though he'd have been in the points without that - no fault of his own and seemingly down to carelessness on the part of another team. Force India were clearly also affected by this.

  • Comment number 83.

    my two (probably five with how long this post is) cents..

    the race itself was quite dull but was it any worse than the previous processions in bahrain/hungary/barcelona/any race from 2002 or 2004 (huge generalisation i appreciate as there's always exceptions to trends)? i'd say probably not.. worrying though is the fairly scathing feedback from the drivers, which is unusual as it's normally just media and public deriding every dull race and hailing every exciting one with a pendulum of affection for the sport.. it's odd though that if it is the double diffusers that are responsible for so many of the aerodynamic difficulties in following a car that they'll wait until next year to change that aspect while allowing the mclaren device to improve airflow to the rear wing which will cost just as much to implement for the other teams..

    also, indicative of many aspects of society, f1 does seem to have become too conservative in general. i know risk isn't tolerated anywhere anymore but isn't that the obligation of those participating to decide whether or not they want to take risk? referring to the new pit lane rule about holding cars within 55m and the lack of spare cars which mean nobody will go for anything anymore as they won't be able to get back into the race following a red flag situation.. how many pit lane collisions have there been where two cars have hit each other? none in my memory. i'm not really sure i see the rationale behind diluting the sport to a corporate money chase and insisting on the 'global' nature of the sport if this translates to exploring markets where there's no passion for or heritage of motorsport..

    new points system is crazy in my view because it distorts all the history of the sport (endemic of the whole formula..) and ruins the fun of the history books for eggheads such as myself. there was nothing wrong with 10-6-4-3-2-1, and it's ironic that bernie 'new points system will close everything up as there's no rewards for 2nd' circa 2003 now insists 'there's no incentive to win anymore' - wonder why?! also rewarding to 10th because there are more cars is a load of crap - in 1989 there were up to 36 entrants at any given race, meaning 30 cars went home empty handed.. did anyone complain about unfairness? no, because they recognised there was a prestigious elite heirarchy to the sport which, over time perhaps, one could aspire to become a part of.

    r.e tyres etc - it's tough because everyone wants tyres to be less durable but obviously bridgestone will never deliberately develop a tyre that could explode as it would be devestating for their brand image. but if the tyres are durable enough to last almost 90% race distance, then there's no point insisting on 'option' and 'prime', because as far as the viewer can tell there's no discernibe difference. complex rules which don't affect the racing but influence the strategy at a level beyond the casual viewer are just as, if not more harmful, than a processional race.

    in terms of actual racing action - i don't think alonso would have passed vettel without a helping hand, and massa certainly wouldn't. in free air it seems that the heirarchy of pace runs ferrari - red bull - mclaren - mercedes - the rest, which makes vettel's pole position all the more impressive. still, there's no point having all these talented drivers out there if they're effectively taking part in rally racing.. reading around a few forums etc people seem to be genuinely disgruntled (a la austria 2002), and generally when the mood turns that sour there's a reaction. i just hope there's not a wholesale knee jerk raft of new rules etc.. it's like the national lottery - adding too much nonsense detracts from why people loved something in the first place.. you don't get new rules for football after a 0-0 between stoke and wigan, but the crucial difference is that the current aero regs are the equivalent to putting a footballer in concrete boots and expecting a dynamic performance.. there's always an inherent argument that f1 should have the best technology as it's the premier series - but this shouldn't be at the extent of the sport, as the public want races not exhibitions of aerodynamic prowess and clever interpretations of the rules.

    f1 has more of a duty to be the world's premier racing series than it does to being the world's cleverest engineers or the world's biggest pr stunts or the world's richest but most boring countries, and it needs to remember that core fact above all others.

    sorry to write so much, just had that welling up inside me and couldn't really rant at mrs rex as she's not realy down with the whole 'racing cars' thing..

  • Comment number 84.

    F1 serves up yet another incredibly dull procession, with the main overtaking in the pits if you ignore Vettel's mechanical problems.

    Why is it that the FIA and Mr Ecclestone are completely incapable of producing an exciting spectacle for the fans? This is going to be a very long and dull season if this is an indication of what's to come.

  • Comment number 85.

    I have a very blinkered view this year reagrding the F1 season... That it is all geared up to be in favour of Ferrari... It's the Cynic inside me that says it, but they are very quiet this year when normally they are always complaining about something... and Jon Todd now head of F1 just finishes off my view, there was never a more true RED than him.

    Cat amongst the pigeons time...

  • Comment number 86.

    Judging by Sunday's spectacle, it seems to me that the cars actually need KERS this season.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think it is much too easy to blame the processional racing on a ban on refuelling. It's all down to aerodynamics, which have become very sophisticated in the last 20 years. The 2009 rule changes didn't make any difference and allowing double diffusers didn't help either. Definitely agree with #18. Back to simpler front and back wings, and those shark fins are ugly! You should also seriously consider bringing back manual gearboxes and clutch pedals. Put all the emphasis back to driver skill!

  • Comment number 88.

    A poor race with so little incident. The rule changes do not seem to have added anything while taking away plenty.

    Remorseless Alonso? Let's wait and see shall we?

  • Comment number 89.

    Actually, I am not sure the other teasm should be so worried. Ferrari stopped developing their old car half way through last season to concentrate on this one. Presumably it is fully loaded. The other teams had far less time and resources so many goodies are likely to come on stream in early season.

    For pace, the Ferrari was beaten by Red Bull. Alonso only won due to a spark plug failure. He was making little inroad on Vettel's lead. McLaren weren't far behind and Merc will improve, especially with Schuey's feedback.

    Given the time they've had on this car, Ferrari should have been streets ahead not playing. I think they may struggle for 3rd or 4th soon.

  • Comment number 90.

    Well all i can say is that the big deal being made of ferrari being the team to beat is a little over the top in my opinion. The fact is they were the team out of the frontrunners last season to pull out of further development of their car for the rest of the season to develop this season car and i'm failing to see a substancial gain, also Alonso being that great of a driver is also over the top i have never rated Massa that highly so is hardly any sort of barometer and Hamilton has shown far better capabilities with the same equipment. If any team should emerge as having a clearly better package through the season it will be McClaren given their continuous development track record, Red bull close behind

  • Comment number 91.

    It seems to me that the problem isn't with the rules or the cars but with the teams. All the drivers were under orders to stay a safe distance behind the car in front lest it damage the tyres/use too much fuel/whatever, and if that continues all season then yes, every race will be a procession and the only overtaking will happen at the first corner, if at all. It would still have been possible to overtake, maybe, if a driver had been allowed to take a chance - perhaps in future races someone will be allowed to get their tyres a bit dirty in a wild overtaking move, and see if they can pull away, build up a gap, make another pit stop and stay ahead.

    It's unlikely to ever happen, though - teams nowadays can measure second-by-second every tiny detail of how well a car is working, and with that kind of data they're always going to prefer to play it safe.

  • Comment number 92.

    I personally think any perceived Red Bull superiority over Ferrari was down to Vettel himself who was stunning last weekend. But on the longer runs I think Ferrari have the best car, for what my opinion is worth.

    I am a Ferrari fan but I am under no illusions that any advantage they might have will dissipate in due course. When you have the Newey/Vettel axis at Red Bull, the Schumacher/Brawn axis at Mercedes, and a Hamilton inspired McLaren - things will even out.

    However, while the others are playing catch up Ferrari can build a lead and make themselves big favourites. So I am confident overall.

    The big issue Ferrari has is that Massa came back from injury pretty well and after a dodgy start was on Alonso's pace until his engine issues. With Alonso a star attraction and Massa a favourite Ferrari son and adopted Italian (almost) there is no chance of the Ferrari favouritism of old (which I am pleased about) unless one is out of the title race. I think these two will trade punches all season and if McLaren, Red Bull, and Mercedes put their all into one driver (probably Hamilton, Vettel, and Schumacher respectively) then Ferrari may be caught out as far as the drivers' title is concerned.

    People talk about a boring start to the season but I think 2010 will be spellbinding.

  • Comment number 93.

    Phew, that was a tough race to watch. I even started the ironing half way through. After 24hrs though i feel i've got things a little more in perspective.

    1. Bahrain, has always been a boring race regardless of regulation changes, just Like Malaysia, Barelona and China (all in dry conditions), so its best just to grit your teeth and get through them rather than blame the regulations.

    2. A ban on refuelling is still a good idea and i hope they don't get rid of it. There is more chance of driver error, and drivers reacting to the changing balance of the car (going quicker / slower). This leads to different Drivers going faster at different times. For me, this works better than refuelling where the teams know exacly how the car will behave as it drains its tanks before the next stop and the race is pretty much written out on paper before anything happens on track. A ban on refuelling is not the issue and should lead to more overtaking for the reasons i mentioned. The problem lies elsewhere (see below).

    3. The tyres basically held on too well meaning that everyone could lap consistantly at similar paces. We need a smaller window where the tyres are working at their best. This will encorage people to either thrash them and pit-stop more, or preserve them and go slower. The differences in these styles should lead to overtaking, but it won't on its own (see below)

    4. The main problem is the aerodynamics and the double diffuser. Apparently the DD has a very large impact on cars following each other and its a shame that Brawns idea was passed as legal last year, meaning that we have another 12 months of cars being unable to make different strategies work in terms of tyres and Driver style because they are unable to follow and pass each other. This is the MAJOR problem, not the refuelling issue.

    Its easy to look back on F1 seasons gone by with rose tinted spectacles and think they were all close running classics. They weren't, but that was because there was often a huge difference in car performance. Now the car Performance is very similar, but the cars cannot follow each other meaning the chances of all those potential close battles have been taken away.

    Its a bit too soon to say the rest of the season will be like this, but as a previous poster put, the Drivers universal reaction to the conditions they found themselves in was quite unusual. I hope this is addressed soon, otheriwise we're looking at March 2011 where hopefully.. and i can't believe i'm daring to dream this.. one F1 car will be able to follow another F1 car.

  • Comment number 94.

    Calm down .... calm down! One boring grand prix does not a tedious season make. Bahrain is not exactly a classic track and the winner has always been one of the top four qualifiers. I am surprised by so much public negativity from the drivers and the teams on the new rules after just one race. Were some of them just making excuses for a poor day - Schumacher perhaps? There was certainly quite a bit of overtaking happening further down the grid. To me the top teams were shadow boxing and ultimately with the lack of testing still trying to get to grips with their cars hence the overly conservative strategies to preserve tyres. Having now seen the Bridgestone's over a full grand prix distance competing against the others in their 'dirty air' we may start to see some aggression at the following races. I cannot believe the drivers will be happy just to sit back and finish line a stern each weekend!

  • Comment number 95.

    Its good to see people like Schumacher complaining about the boredom as well and calling for action. Seems only the Ferrari fans are happy with the race as if they think they might not get stuck behind the Red Bulls or MacLarens next race. I just hope that they all let down their hair and go for it instead of conserving the tyres.

  • Comment number 96.

    Looks like a dull season and the BBC mispending millions on over the top grand prix coverage.

    400 people nattering for hours in front of fancy graphics for what was ultimately a dull race. Is this really the best way to spend money BBC?

  • Comment number 97.

    Why making tyres last less? I get the feeling rubber is the only material that is just not up to modern standards. Everything improved radically except tyres. Even in road cars tyres are the most limiting factor. I think introducing two or more tyre companies to supply f1 might start a much needed developement in this area. When tyres last more, drivers don't need to nurse them around a track. But obviously the double diffusor is spoiling overtaking as well.

  • Comment number 98.

    Less interesting than a bank holiday traffic jam.

    Quick cheap solution mix a new batch of rubber with more mechanical grip AND sets have to last several grand prix, gives overtaking and strategy. Bridgestone could do it with a months notice. They have the technology there is nothing they dont know about rubber.I will go blind if I have to watch another race like that.

    PS as to MB's comments about test matches and nil nil draws thats why I dont waste my time with them.

  • Comment number 99.

    there a lot of deluded postings; new boys aside there is less than 3 seconds in the field one tyre stop to mix it up. Short of a spark plug, puncture, brain fade or a nutter on the track, its over by sat lunch, dont believe me then look at the bookies odds Sat pm for the race. The solution is aero vs mechanical grip. Refueling wasnt safe as it relied on one man to judge all clear and we had 2 incidents over 2500 refils. All We needed was a switch to a green light that only lit when the nozzle was clear.

  • Comment number 100.

    ANYONE FOR KERS?

    It saves fuel load and gets extra speed, if its close at the end, why not?

 

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