Gary Anderson: McLaren to blame for Button-Perez Bahrain scrap

By Gary AndersonBBC F1 technical analyst
Bahrain GP highlights: Sebastian Vettel powers to win

Sebastian Vettel drove to a very dominant win at the Bahrain Grand Prix - but let's not forget there are two Red Bulls out there and the other one finished seventh in Mark Webber's hands.

Vettel started second on the grid and the Ferraris ran into problems. That helped him a bit as he did not need to fight that battle through the race, and he really got away, aided as well by Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus having to fight up from ninth on the grid.

Everything was in Vettel's favour.

There was no tyre durability issue. They were reasonably consistent. It is a track where lack of grip at the rear dominates performance, and the Red Bull's downforce-producing Coanda exhaust system is probably the most effective on the grid.

The Coanda system gives more downforce when the drivers get on the throttle, which helps traction. As long as the traction is good enough in the first place, it's a sort of double whammy. And that helps with the thermal degradation of the tyres.

The car still has to be driven within the tyre but Red Bull have the tools on the car to give them the extra grip off the corner.

I said before the action started that this race suited Red Bull, and so it turned out.

Vettel got the fastest lap by just 0.109secs from Adrian Sutil's Force India and by 0.243secs from Fernando Alonso's Ferrari so it was not a runaway win; it just looked like that.

He won it by a long way and was able to get back out again in the lead after the second of his two stops.

But bear in mind the guy behind him was on a two-stop and also that on lap nine Raikkonen was 11 seconds behind Vettel and he finished nine seconds behind.

Yes, Vettel was controlling his pace, but for Raikkonen the race was lost when he qualified poorly and got stuck in traffic.

Behind Vettel, there was some racing going on in terms of moving up through the field.

Raikkonen used a two-stop strategy to great effect to move from eighth on the grid to second, while Paul di Resta managed to take fourth after driving very well on the same strategy as Raikkonen.

Between them at the finish, Raikkonen's team-mate Romain Grosjean raced well from 11th to move up to third.

The rest of the race behind them was a bit like Nascar stock car racing - there was a lot of activity and overtaking but much of it for nothing.

It was great to watch, just battle after battle for no real reason. It wasn't racing to overtake and get to the front, most of that was done in pit stops with Raikkonen and Grosjean, it was just the same people constantly battling.


The fight between McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez created some controversy. I blame the team; they should have the authority to say what to do.

Hard racing is OK. But the guy has to respect his team-mate.

If Perez is quicker than Button, the team will know and they should tell Button to let him by, or tell Perez to go ahead. If he's not quicker and he's just having a bit of argy-bargy, tell him to stay behind. But the team has to do that.

McLaren say they don't use team orders, but that's not team orders, it's trying to get the best result possible at the end of the race.

At halfway through the race like that, everything could have been lost.

Bahrain GP: McLaren's Jenson Button and Sergio Perez battle on the track

In the end, Button dropped back because he had rooted his tyres and needed to make an extra stop. Well, that means Perez was quicker, so why not tell Button to let him through and Perez might have got another place?

They need to look at the bigger picture, which is how many points you can drag in at the end of the race when you haven't got a chance of winning.

I'm not a great believer in blaming the drivers, just as I'm not keen on blaming Vettel for passing Webber in Malaysia. Red Bull should have been strong enough there to say 'look, this is the way it is' and in Bahrain McLaren weren't strong enough either.


Ferrari have thrown away big points twice now. They did it in Malaysia by not pitting to change a damaged front wing on Fernando Alonso's car; and now in Bahrain by not telling Alonso not to use his DRS overtaking aid after he had pitted to have it closed.

The wing failed. The hydraulics open the rear wing, and whenever the pressure is released it springs shut. But the angle the flap went up to, it went over-centre and flipped itself upside down.

So Alonso had to pit to get it shut back down again but there is no logic at all in Ferrari not telling him not to use it again.

That extra pit stops cost 19-20 seconds. He finished 37 seconds behind the leader. Grosjean was 19 seconds behind Vettel so Alonso would have finished third even with no DRS.

Ferrari have a quick car this year and they're making really bad decisions; last year they had a slow car and they were making really good decisions.

It's happened before - when they're fighting at the front, they can trip up over themselves.

They need to have a little chat with themselves to see why that's happening because two races in and major points thrown away in two of them is really not good enough.


I was surprised not to see Vettel on pole but on one lap, on new tyres, the Mercedes is quick. The problem is, it uses the tyres too aggressively.

There is a balance between one-lap performance and race pace and they are at one end of it.

You could see Nico Rosberg starting to fight that battle as early as lap two. This is the fourth year in which their car cannot keep the rear tyres alive. They do overheat them more than anyone else and apparently they have no idea why.

There's a compromise between making the tyres work for one lap or over a race distance. Some cars do both. The Mercedes doesn't.

For Rosberg it was probably pretty disappointing, but I also don't understand Lewis Hamilton's race. For half of the grand prix he seemed to be asleep; he was ninth, 10, eighth, and then suddenly he came alive and finished fifth.

He said something happened in the car and he doesn't know what. The same thing happened last year in Japan - he had a clunk in the back of it and away he went. It's like he's released the handbrake but I don't know how that can happen.


Force India have been strong all year and have been quietly getting better. Paul di Resta drove well to take fourth in Bahrain but there is room for improvements.

Bahrain GP: Paul Di Resta positive after finishing fourth

Force India undercut Raikkonen at the first pit stop and kept ahead but then Raikkonen did the same thing to them at the second pit stop. They should have reacted.

They might have ended up with the same result but they let a possibly even better result get away from them at that point - if Raikkonen had been behind them that would have been another car Grosjean had to get by.

Nevertheless, the speed of the car is there and for a small team they are doing a mega job.


There are two issues Pirelli will want to look at.

First of all, there were a lot of graining problems in China - where the tyre tears and loses grip - and I think they have a good handle on that. There is an agent in the tyres that only operates after the tyres get up to a certain surface temperature. It seems that needs a tweak.

More worrying were the three tyre failures; one for Hamilton in final practice and two for Felipe Massa in the race.

Lewis Hamilton suffers tyre failure in third practice in Bahrain

Hamilton's tyre threw the tread off. Pirelli say it got cut. If a tyre gets cut down to the carcass it can peel off the carcass but for that to happen it needs to be cut right across so I don't really buy into that.

Pirelli mentioned two issues with Hamilton's tyre - being cut and overheating. I would say the bonding between the carcass and the tread is a bit critical.

Pirelli say Massa's first tyre was cut right across the tread by debris and the second had a cut in the sidewall

Lots of things could cause the failure - such as going over the kerbs, for example - but it shouldn't happen. When the tread comes off it does a lot of damage.

They will have the tyre data, pressure, internal and external temperature.

You have to look at that stuff and be really honest with yourself about whether there is a problem, and if there is you have to get on and fix it because it is quite a tricky situation when a tyre fails.

Gary Anderson, BBC F1's technical analyst, is the former technical director of the Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar teams. He was talking to BBC Sport's Andrew Benson

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