How Sebastian Vettel lost the race (Bahrain Grand Prix start analysis)

The Bahrain Grand Prix got off to a hectic start

The Bahrain Grand Prix got off to a hectic start

Before the Bahrain Grand Prix started Sebastian Vettel was favourite to win – with 64% of us on the live blog picking him to come home first.

But his chances evaporated in a frantic first lap where he slipped from third to fifth behind Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Here’s how the first lap unfolded:

Bahrian Grand Prix lap one position change (click to enlarge)

Bahrian Grand Prix lap one position change (click to enlarge)

Three of the best starts belonged to KERS-powered cars: Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Nelson Piquet Jnr. Fernando Alonso might have done better had he not been squeezed off the track on the run towards turn one.

Button, crucially, pounced on Vettel while the Red Bull driver was being passed by Hamilton. Vettel was pinched between Hamilton and Button at turn one and had to back off. He made a stab at re-passing Button on the run towards turn four but there was no way through.

That was the first moment that cost Vettel the race – the second came on the following lap when Button scrambled by Hamilton – but Vettel wasn’t able to replicate the move.

Raikkonen had made up five places at the start but was passed by Rubens Barrichello halfway around the first lap. Similarly Hamilton briefly got ahead of Jarno Trulli for second but couldn’t keep the Toyota behind.

Both the BMWs broke the right hand sides of their front wings on the first lap, and as they dropped back they held up a string of other cars and allowed Mark Webber to make some useful progress from 18th.

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51 comments on How Sebastian Vettel lost the race (Bahrain Grand Prix start analysis)

  1. antonyob said on 27th April 2009, 13:56

    “favourite driver” what are you, 12?

    Lewis might well have been outperforming the car but that didnt make it particularly dynamic to watch. btw as a Brit i leapt out of my seat when Lewis won the WDC and i think hes the most talented driver of his generation it was just a fairly lacklustre performance to watch…but sure he outdrove the car. no disputing, look where heikke finished.

    Im sorry if i dont watch f1 like you do or like people watch football. i want to see good close racing, oversteer, slides, risks. whether its piquet on nakajima or Lewis on vettel.. i dont care.

    • pSynrg said on 27th April 2009, 14:22

      I don’t get how outdriving the car (which he didn’t he brought it home in one piece, tyres and all) can be called lacklustre?

      Lacklustre were Trulli & Glock – both perfectly poised to grab Toyotas 1st victory and both let it slip, in Trulli’s case – again! I figure if Lewis had been in either of these cars he would have taken the battle to Brawn and/or Red Bull and probably won.

  2. antonyob said on 27th April 2009, 16:29

    you dont know what outdriving means then but if you are right and he just brought it home then how is that outstandng?

    Then you use unprovable supposition to back up your claim!

    Anyway enough; i am of that view and nothing you have said makes me change my mind.

    • pSynrg said on 27th April 2009, 19:05

      What, and “Lewis might well have…” is provable supposition?

      It wasn’t for backup by the way, it was fuel for the fire of speculation. I thought that’s what we were doing here, enjoying some banter..?

  3. pSynrg said on 27th April 2009, 19:10

    Is there anyone in any capacity in the Toyota team that has been involved in Grand Prix wins at some point in the past?

    As quick as Trulli can be he does not have a clue on how to win a race. Glock still a relative noob so…

  4. The Sri Lankan said on 27th April 2009, 22:31

    one more note, they really stuffed it up when they didnt push to get alonso into the team. he wouldhave sweeped the floor with brawns and redbulls with that toyota. now i dont think there’s a driver of race winning calibre available to Toyota anymore

  5. Chris P said on 28th April 2009, 4:05

    Sadly I agree with Sean’s point above about the racing not really living up to what was promised (hoped?). We’ve criticised KERS for this, criticised the diffusers, but there’s one aspect of the cars that seems to have avoided criticism (in this post at least); the tyres.

    Vettel said in the post-race conference that he tried to attack Hamilton, first, and then Trulli for a few laps, then his tyres went off. This appears to be the case for others as well.

    Call me crazy, but why, at the pinnacle of motorsport, are the tyres that these guys run so fickle? Surely Bridgestone can create a tyre that is grippy and lasts more than three laps in the heat of battle?

    • pSynrg said on 28th April 2009, 13:19

      It’s worth pointing out that Bridgestone don’t have any competition. No real incentive to develop the best tyre for the job.

      It was different in the days we had Michelin, Pirelli etc. all vying to play the decisive role in a teams success.

      Another cost cutting measure too far?

      Saying that I think tyre management should play its part with drivers having a feel for their chosen tyre and how much they can push it versus how much to keep in reserve. They sort of do that with the engines as it is so another parameter they have to carefully monitor is to me the kind of challenge I expect the very best F1 drivers to make the most of.

  6. Bad luck for Vettel, he was not having a good start, goes down several positions at the beginning of the race. After the first pit stop round, he also “stuck” too long in the back of Trulli. Consequently, he only able to finis second behind Button.

    • pSynrg said on 28th April 2009, 13:24

      Personally I think this is nonsense. Key here is ‘goes down several positions…’.

      In order to win he needs to overcome this factor – anything else is gifting him the win (or a better position.)

      Stuck behind Trulli, I think “could not overtake Trulli” is a more apt way of describing this situation.
      Don’t get me wrong, Vettel is clearly one of the best drivers on the grid. But the whole package, driver, car + team is not quite there yet.

      Losing positions at the start and not being able to overtake will no longer be required as excuses…

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