Alonso heads one-two on Ferrari debut

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso got his Ferrari career off to the perfect start
Fernando Alonso got his Ferrari career off to the perfect start

Fernando Alonso won the Bahrain Grand Prix on his first appearance for Ferrari.

He took the lead from pole sitter Sebastian Vettel, who was struck by an exhaust failure while leading.

Felipe Massa followed his team mate home in second place giving Ferrari a one-two finish in the first race of the season.

Alonso began the race behind his team mate but passed him on the run to the first corner, leaving him perfectly placed to profit from Vettel’s problem.

Lewis Hamilton completed the podium for McLaren after losing time behind Nico Rosberg early in the race. An early pit stop allowed him to easily jump the Mercedes for fourth before taking third from Vettel.

Vettel slipped back into the clutches of Rosberg in the dying laps of the race but managed to get his car home in fourth before pulling to a halt.

Michael Schumacher’s comeback drive was a quiet run to sixth behind his team mate. Jenson Button and Mark Webber caught him towards the end of the race but neither were able to pass.

Vitantonio Liuzzi and Rubens Barrichello became the first drivers in F1 history to score points for ninth and tenth.

Of the new runners, neither of the HRT or Virgin cars finished their first race. Lotus got both of their cars home in the last two places, though Trulli was coping with an hydraulic problem.

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix

156 comments on “Alonso heads one-two on Ferrari debut”

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  1. Well Done to Ferrari, They did extremely well, and thats coming from a Mclaren Supporter.
    Also Great Job Lewis he was consistant and was so glad to see him grab third and a podium. i see this as the running order for the championship. Lewis, Felipe and Fernando in a close fight. i do hope that Lewis takes the WDC this year, although i cant see Mclaren taking the WCC, but it was a good result for Jenson, i just hope he grabs more like this perhaps even a little better.
    didnt expect to see all the new teams drop out of the race so quickly.
    All in all a good race, perhaps slightly dull, but im sure it will improve in Melbourne

    1. Lewis drove a very solid race, well done to him.

  2. As with 2006, staging the opening race at the Bahrain track just felt wrong. The place was entirely devoid of atmosphere, colour – everything. The flat desert landscape, all barren and dusty, presents a terribly uninspiring spectacle. It is often said by insiders how accommodating the country is, how warm the welcome and so on, but that crucial ingredient – passion – is sorely missing. Albert Park in Australia, where you can actually see proper fans within a hundred yards of trackside, should at least score highly on that count.

    As for the racing, it didn’t live up to the hype, but considering the feverpitch level of anticipation that’s hardly surprising. The big problem today I think was how conservative the teams and drivers were with regards to the new rules, clearly easing themselves in rather than going for anything dramatic. The race pace at the beginning, with laps well over the 2 minute mark, was almost painfully slow as the drivers seemed paranoid about pushing their tyres too hard and risk looking a chump by burning up the rubber. Button even admitted that he had been too soft during the first stint. Perhaps this is partly down to the testing restrictions, as teams just weren’t sufficiently prepared after what amounted to less than 15 days’ running – too many unknowns left over to stick their neck out and take a gamble. As others have said too, the engine and gearbox limitations also deter aggressiveness.

    It’s too soon to pass judgement on the refuelling ban. What happened at Bahrain today was no worse than, say, Abu Dhabi or Singapore previously, or indeed Bahrain itself in the last few years, in that there were moments of excitement in among stretches of not much going on. The real problem is the cars’ inability to follow one another through the corners, the ‘equalisation’ and rev limited engine rules, and the drivers / teams not quite attuning themselves to the new rules and the new mindset required. At least it was reassuring to know that, had Alonso wanted the win before Vettel’s technical woes intervened, he would have had to make the move himself on the track rather than relying on some boffin’s calculations back at the factory to ‘make the jump at the stops’. The truth is, it’s actually quite easy to overtake a stationary car, but a much tougher proposition to actually race one wheel-to-wheel.

    1. I agree about Bahrain. I felt like I was watching a test, not the real start of the 2010 season.

  3. Just looking at the races fastest laps:

    1. Alonso 1:58.287 on lap 45
    2. Sutil 1:59.393 on lap 49

    If you’re not in a Ferrari (or a Red Bull actually) you’re in trouble. People may say that Alonso took an easy win and to be honest he could have won that race in his sleep. If only Vettel hadn’t had his problem, I wanted to see Alonso attacking Vettel for the lead over the last 10 laps like he said he was planning to do in the press conference. With races of that nature that’s probably what we’ll be seeing through the season, if 1st and 2nd are close like Vettel and Alonso, the guy in 2nd will hang back out of the dirty air and look after the tyres then come the last 5 or 10 laps providing the tyres are in good shape that’s when they’ll be attacking for the lead.

    For 2011, they’ve banned the double diffusers, which is a step in the right direction, but with this nature of racing like we saw today it’s still not going far enough. The aero under the car needs to be minimized, the front wing aero minimized, just a single plane front wing without all the little winglets and intricate crap just above that main plane, the end plates minimized as well, just one surface for the end plate. No turning vains on the side of the car and a single plane rear wing. Also I’d ban the shark fins. The focus needs to be on getting the tyre manufacturer(s) to push with the competitiveness with the tyres. Perhaps rather than push for aero performance the focus should be more on the mechanical side and perhaps have the teams developing their tyres with the tyre manufacturer. Mechanical grip over aero grip, too much aero is ruining the racing! Tell me are you Pro Mechanical Grip or Pro aero grip?

    The refueling ban is good for safety, but most teams have built their cars to conserve the tyres over long stints, so therefore drivers are gonna drive conservatively aiming for one pit stop, which isn’t good for the racing. The teams aren’t going to agree to having a mandatory 2 pit stop rule, especially Ferrari as they seem to be the best at conserving the tyres, so they need introduce that next year otherwise the racing will just be about conserving tyres rather than pushing the limits and racing.

    Just my opinion, but I guarantee this will improve the racing.

    1. I think that Alonso’s lap was just him getting one of those “laps of a lifetime” together that every driver gets, somewhat like Hamilton’s lap last year in Q3 at Abu Dhabi when he had multiple laps more fuel on board than the Red Bulls. Alonso’s fastest lap was 1.3 seconds quicker than Massa’s; do we really think Alonso is that much quicker than Massa? I sure don’t.

      With that said, I think Ferrari has the best piece right now. But I don’t think it’s miles ahead.

      1. I’m just making the point that I’ve not seen such a gulf between the fastest lap and the next fastest lap in a Grand Prix for a long time. And Remember that all the cars had more or less the same fuel load at the same time of the race, everyone started full and everyone finished empty. So their individual cars performance is comparable throughout the race unlike say last year when everyone was doing different things.

        I agree with you, I certainly don’t think Alonso is better than Massa by that margin, he said he was nursing the car, so you’ve gotta give him the benefit of the doubt on that. But today Alonso had him beaten before his car had troubles, not by much but by enough, however yesterday in Qualy Massa got the upper hand, it’s gonna be close between those 2 all year.

        By way of comparison Hamilton (who remember was in clear air) set the 4th fastest lap 1:59.560 on lap 42, just behind Webber’s 1:59.487. That tells me that perhaps the McLaren wasn’t looking after it’s tyres as well as the Ferrari and that they’re lacking downforce, which of course they admitted to.

    2. I don’t think just closing up the top deck of the diffuser and shaving off the little vanes will make much difference.

      The biggest producers of turbulent air are the open wheels and rear wing, the very things that make a formula car recognisable.

      Thats why they did those tests with the CDG wing a few years ago.

      1. I actually said they need to change a lot more than just the double diffuser and the turning vanes (those big bits on which the Ferraris mirrors are mounted). They need to totally minimize the cars aero dependency, hopefully without losing the classic F1 car shape. Look at the cars from the 1950s, virtually no aero apart from the shape of course, they had no problems overtaking.

        Good point about the turbulence from the rear wing, but that’s not as big a problem as the warm air that’s getting flicked out and upwards by the double diffusers, right onto the car directly behind! The air from the rear wing is generally flicked upwards and over the following car depending on the wing angle. Perhaps if the cars could adjust the rear wing so it’s fully flat on the straights (Monza levels) would mean the following car would be getting a pretty clean airflow which isn’t disturbed as much as before.

        1. MuzzleFlash
          15th March 2010, 8:49

          So you did, I’m sorry I tend to read more carefully then that.

          Yeh the cars from the 50’s focused more on streamlining rather than producing downforce though, much like modern NASCAR, they have lots of overtaking too.

          I just think the reason they seem to keep failing is because it’s almost impossible. I don’t really know enough about aerodynamics to be harping on here, but they need to put the air “back together” as neatly as possible after they “take it apart” at the front of the car, if you’ll pardon the layman terminology.

          I still believe the massive vortices created by wings and wheels, and therefore irremovable, are the main culprits though. The double diffuser just seems to further feed them.

          1. I totally agree, but you can still have a streamlined car with wings and open wheels, just look at Indy cars. Martin Brundle talked about this in his blog on the BBC website. Also perhaps another change that might improve the racing would be the banning of semi-automatic gear boxes, only have manual gearboxes legal. This would provide the opportunity for drivers to make mistakes changing gear and provide overtaking opportunities, just like in the good old 1980s.

            The weird thing is some of technological innovations that have come into F1 could have been or could be massively beneficial to the automotive industry, in particular active suspension! Banning it was a mistake, it could have had a massively positive effect on the cars we’re driving now if it wasn’t banned, it increased the corner speeds but not nearly as much as the aero has in recent years, and active suspension had no effect on the cars ability to follow each other. Also KERS is a good thing, especially for our eco transport of the future, but simply if every car hasn’t got it, it’s an unfair advantage. As Hamilton’s victory in Hungary and Raikkonen’s victory in Spa last year showed. I’m not saying they weren’t worthy winners, but it did allow them both to overtake cars that were lacking KERS.

            I imagine some people might say that some of my ideas here are like taking F1 back to the stone-age, steel brakes and manual gearboxes in particular. But if technological advances are having an adverse effect however small on the racing do we really want them in F1, they are detracting from the skill of the drivers. These are the best drivers in the world, this 2010 grid is argue-ably one of the best fields of F1 drivers assembled in history. They should be tested to the limit.

            Perhaps we should start a thread on what the ideal F1 car should be, everyone put in ideas and then send off a proposal to FOTA and the FIA with as many fan signatures as possible, because clearly FOTA and the FIA can’t get the balance right!!!

            Oh and in case anyone is wondering, I actually work in the Motorsport industry, but would prefer to keep the identity of the company I work for anonymous.

            All the best, Jasper

          2. Jarred Walmsley
            15th March 2010, 17:30

            Jasper, are you talking about a proper dogbox manual shifter or sticking with the paddles but making them manual shift only?, Because in order to make them a full manual gearbox the cars will need to have a massive increase in width to accomadate this.

    3. Very good Jasper. I would also like to see the cars also being made 1,5 meters SHORTER and half a meter narrower, and also steel disc brakes of a restricted size.
      I agree with you to take all that snowploughing junk off.
      These cars are so long they will make historic tracks obsolete.
      Shorter cars would also be more fun to drive ( more movement and driver skill )

      1. Thank You I try to give a balanced opinion. Yes I think a return to steel disc brakes would increase the braking distances and should make it easier to overtake in the longer braking zones.

        Speaking of snowploughing junk don’t you think it’s ironic that Ferrari’s front wing is very simplistic, note the two adjustable main planes on the front wing either side of the nose and then the small winglets just above that. And then compare with the McLaren’s front wing, their front wing is almost overloaded with intricate crap above the two adjustable main planes. And yet in Bahrain McLaren said they lacked downforce in the middle sector!

      2. Well Jarred I’m afraid I’m not an expert on gearboxes, but to incorperate a fully manual gearbox into a car of the size of the current cars, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem according to my colleagues, but essentially the cars would run the same sprockets ratios and gearing as a conventional semi-automatic, so I don’t understand why you feel the cars will need a massive increase in width.

        1. Jarred Walmsley
          16th March 2010, 4:04

          well the main reason is the extra space that the driver would need to be able to reach a gear shifter and change gears. Another reason is the need to have a third pedal in the car to have the clutch pedal, this would involve either widening the car or moving the steering column up as on the TV you can see the brake and the accelerator are on two opposite sides, so you would either need to raise the column to fit a pedal underneath or increase the width to fit a second pedal next to the brake.

  4. I think the most effective way to increase overtaking is by setting the minimum ride height of cars to about 15 centimetres…about as much as a road car… so that aero dependance is reduced and mechanical efficiency is given more importance

  5. I was watching the build up to the race on the BBC and on there JB said that this should be the most exciting years of F1 for a long time…if it isnt then we are doing something wrong.

    By what I can tell so far they are doing a lot wrong. DDD should have been banned for this season, how they haven’t is beyond me. That stupid quali tyre rule is just unnecessary and leads to everyone being conservative.

    Then I heard Whitmarsh saying that he will try push the 2 mandatory pits. Sounds like a terrible idea to me as we will loose another variable. Wouldn’t it be great to see a new team sneak a point by doing a stop while everyone else has done two? Although I did agree with him that the tyres should be less durable but im worried that this might lead to even more conservative driving.

    I am really worried about this year. It was meant to be great, maybe one of the best of all time but it looks to me like it will be even duller then last years.

    I am praying for rain at every chance we get because to me that is the only way we will see an exciting F1 race anymore.

  6. I am delighted with the result and so glad that the Prancing Horse is back after last year! Fernando showed us all that he is a class act, and Felipe made a very solid return from injury, too.

  7. It wouldn’t be so bad if they had a bit more horsepower, at present they’re all down on power and carrying a load of fuel. I might as well watch buses go up and down a street.

  8. John Edwards
    14th March 2010, 16:56

    The worst start to a season I remember. If the rest of the season is like this I don’t think may people will have any interest left by mid season.

    Until they limit the cars reliance on aero these are the kind of races we’ll get.

    That said the poor circuit layout didn’t help, that wiggly section seems to have done it about as much good as another tequila does a drunk.

  9. that race has proved to me that a tyre war is needed to soften up the rubber, and closen up the cars.

  10. First off, thanks Keith and everyone.. it’s good to be back.

    First the good stuff. F1 in 2010 is exciting in that there’s new teams on the grid, some new talent and four world champions on track. The most exciting things about today’s racing were seeing Fernando in a Ferrari, how the new teams would cope, wondering if anyone would get into a scrap with Schumacher and seeing that Senna-yellow helmet in a car once again.

    Otherwise it was a procession. The cars are starting on equal weights, the tyre technology means we’ll mostly get one-stops, and as a consequence, the drivers will be nursing their tyres in the last third of a grand prix. We’ve also got engines having to last 3 races and gearboxes for 5, so with turned down revs and short-shifting, I fear it’s going to be a conservative management excercise, rather than overtaking and “to the limit” racing.

    I hope the drivers will get used to their tyres and know when they can push and be more aggressive – but that settling in will take a good few races, something that Martin Brundle mentioned after the race today.

    Opening the Championship at Bahrain is also a poor decision, it’s such a bland setting, and that silly new mid-section didn’t do anyone any favours.

    Having said all that, it was great to see the Ferrari 1-2, such a shame for Red Bull, Webber needs to raise his game and watch out for Force India, they’ll be on the podium soon!


  12. nice race!

    1) poor vettel
    2) great time for ferrari!
    3) stupid sutil (mr crash!)
    4) naughty oil tricks from webber haha, did he want to crash sutil and kubica in the smoke?
    5) superb kubica going from 23 to 11
    6) hulkenberg – big big disap.

  13. That was a bit of a snooze and all very predictible. Looks as if overtaking will be as hard as ever (which we all expected) then they should soften the tyres, they have too much longevity. The super short stops are quite exciting, but we need the decision between number of stops to be a greyer area, today a 1 stop was a no-brainer and easily done, if the tyres had gone off more, might have seen some interesting calls.

    Congrats to Lotus – Kovi was my driver of the day, managing a proper fight against a much faster car and bringing it all the way home ahead of an STR. Good to see.

  14. Formula 1 is not about racing anymore, it is about who is the best at nursing their car around to the finish.

    This race today just proved it, with an uniteresting pointless procession, with drivers either unable or unwilling to really go for it.

    Give them as many tires/engines/gear bozes/fuel as they want or do not want in each race.

    We went in the right direction in getting rid of driver assisting technology. But now with all these silly tire, fuel and engine regulations the drivers are concentrating more on nursing their cars around the track and not crashing into one another, than they are in winning in fighting for position.

    We saw the start of this a couple of seasons ago, when the passing in the pitstop routine began to be played out, with teams not risking any passing manouvres on the track so they can pass in the pits.

    Now we have this crazy 55 metre rule in the pits as well, so there were passes actually in the pitlane due to over the top safety rules.


    I am sick of all this, just give the teams all they need and lets go RACING! Let the drivers fight tooth and nail! They are supposed to be racing drivers, not train drivers!

    This is Formula 1! Things are supposed to be expensive, cost cutting shouldn’t be an issue.

  15. Alonso did well, today in driving, and also in the build up to the season and in the press conferences: he really really is doing everything he can to make sure his is the biggest fanbase in the Ferrari factory, ‘the guys in Maranello’.

    And I credit him for both – just as I creditted Kimi for just sticking to the driving

  16. Martin Whitmarsh says that they could have gone on the supersofts till lap 25. They only decided to bring the drivers early since the first guy made his pitstop on lap 17.

    The pit-stop window is now even smaller, as teams waste no time in mimicking their opponents’ actions.

    Martin goes on to say that they would have gone on and on on the medium tyres. He sais that if there were to be a safety car on lap 5, then everyone would have dived, changed tyres and finished the race, 44 laps (close to 1.5 hours) on the same set.

    Lewis said that managing tyres wasn’t a problem.

    The only one genuine problem which pundits said would occur and upset the drivers was the issue of heating of the fuel. And even that happened only to Felipe.

    Where are all the advocates of refueling ban. Please come out and defend your preferred format.

    Some changes must be done. Soon. The no refueling format was designed to work only on the early 1990s cars, when aerodynamics wasn’t as developed, and teams performance was almost solely decided by the tyres.

    Sadly, we are 20 years ahead of the regulations. Tyres aren’t the sole decider of the performance anymore. Aerodynamics has hurt overtaking. And to counter that is to either reduce the influence by making the aerodynamic rules stricter or allowing more room for different strategies.

    2009 rules did the former. But 2010 rules are in a totally tangential direction.

    Re-introduce re-fueling and get rid of pit-lane speed limits (or increase them). That will a world of good for Formula 1

    1. I happily defend the refuelling ban. The refuelling ban has simply further highlighted the real issue which is aero. But if you want to change the rules again (from as they stand today), then that would be where to look, not lamely bring back refuelling. Besides, there are plenty of other ways. As you rightly highlight, the tyres are far too strong and not so quick. If they were using last years compounds, or if there was a tyre war (which I think there should be) this would not be the case. The problem is not the refuelling ban, it’s that it was brought in without correct attention to tyres and aero. As double diffusers will be banned next year, maybe that’s when they should have brought the refuelling ban in (plus stripped more aero off), but the ban per se is still a good idea. And at least it means races will tend to become more interesting towards the end, not less, as was the case today, and unlike most of the last 10 years.

      You’ll never get pit lane limits raised again, so no point even thinking about it. But I think the no release rule they’ve brought in is far too strict.

  17. *sigh*. I am so disappointed; it couldn’t possibly get worse. Like someone said earlier, we might as well watch buses on a circuit. I was actually enjoyng it until team radio told somebody(jenson?) to go easy on the tyres coz they have to finish the race. At half distance!! So what do we have: slow heavy cars, soulless modern circuits (abu dhabi!) that just get slower(Bahrain ‘upgrade’), technological regression and no pitwall strategy. I mean ONE tyre for 2/3 of the race(an oxymoron really)!! And they call this racing. Total inaptittude. I’ve just stopped caring.

  18. so..the first gp is history and all people going nuts with the refueling. I much prefer to wait until Melbourne to make a comment on that matter.

  19. Better bet your money on Alonso, than bet it on Vettel. Alonso – Hamilton, two drivers, two top teams, two enemies on track…………..One destiny: F1 History.
    I can´t wait¡¡¡¡
    Welcome everyone, sit, relax and watch what we have been waiting for¡¡

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