Rosberg stymies Hamilton while Vettel saves fourth (Bahrain GP analysis)

Vettel coped admirably with his exhaust problem to salvage fourth

Vettel coped admirably with his exhaust problem to salvage fourth

The ban on refuelling gave the race a very different structure to what we saw in 2009, with almost every car one-stopping.

For several drivers that meant a frustrating day stuck behind rivals, unable to get close enough to try a pass.

The start

Lap 1 position change (Click to enlarge)

Lap 1 position change (Click to enlarge)

The oil-belching Mark Webber initially lost places to Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher – but a canny pass around the outside of turn nine got Webber ahead of Button again.

Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil collided while distracted by Webber’s smoke, and fell behind all the other cars except the HRT duo who started their race in the pit lane.

The biggest benefact was Kubica’s team mate Vitaly Petrov, who made up six places with a clean start.

Hamilton stuck behind Rosberg

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix - Hamilton's pace (click to enlarge)

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix - Hamilton's pace (click to enlarge)

Lewis Hamilton’s attempt to pass Felipe Massa at the start ended up with him losing a place to Nico Rosberg. That cost him dearly, as the lap times above show.

Despite being able to lap 0.5-1 seconds faster than Rosberg, the aerodynamic wake from the Mercedes prevent Hamilton from getting close enough to try to pass.

After his pit stop, where he’d got ahead of Rosberg, Hamilton was more or less able to keep pace with the Ferraris. Towards the end of the race Fernando Alonso let rip and set a series of fast lap that neither Hamilton nor Felipe Massa, who seemed to have some kind of problem, could keep up with.

Vettel’s problem

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix - Vettel's problem (click to enlarge)

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix - Vettel's problem (click to enlarge)

I’d only just Tweeted that the race was “coming to the boil nicely” when it all fell apart. Alonso and Massa had been slowly catching Sebastian Vettel but suddenly his lap times increased and it became clear he had a problem.

As the graph shows Vettel coped admirably well with his exhaust fault and brought his lap times back down again. So much so that while it looked at first like he might drop out of the points completely he was able to stay ahead of Nico Rosberg for fourth.

It’s a long season and the points Vettel salvaged today could prove highly valuable later on.

New teams

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix - New teams (click to enlarge)

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix - New teams (click to enlarge)

As expected, new teams Lotus and Virgin were very closely matched for pace and we saw some good racing between them. But they were a couple of seconds off the pace of the slowest of the established runners.

They were not a close match on reliability, however. Both Virgins were gone within 16 laps, both Lotuses were classified, although Trulli experienced some hydraulic problems which ended his race early. They were lapped a lot, which is what the spikes towards the end of Kovalainen’s line are.

HRT F1 were further off Lotus and Virgin’s pace than these two were off the rest of the field, but that is to be expected when they’ve had no testing.

Pit stops

Bahrain Grand Prix pit stops (click to enlarge)

Bahrain Grand Prix pit stops (click to enlarge)

The standard strategy at Bahrain was a single pit stop around the lap 15 mark followed by a long 30-plus lap stint to the flag.

Generally it was the drivers who made their pit stops earliest who gained places – Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher for example. The crucial calculation being made on the pit wall is how early a driver can make his pit stop and come out in clean air without a slower car in front.

Race and lap charts

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix race chart (click to enlarge)

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix race chart (click to enlarge)

Drivers' gap to leaders' average lap time (click to enlarge)

Drivers' gap to leaders' average lap time (click to enlarge)

The Bahrain Grand Prix was a processional affair – more on that later.

Most of the pit stops happened on laps 15 and 16 as the field spread out and the front runners found themselves able to pit and resume racing in clean air. Given how most of the front runners were able to get to the end of the race without any obvious tyre problems we could see even early first stops in future races.

Unless the ‘option’ tyre has a significant performance advantage, one-stopping could be the way to go at many races this year.

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix

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121 comments on Rosberg stymies Hamilton while Vettel saves fourth (Bahrain GP analysis)

  1. Nick Someone said on 14th March 2010, 20:19


    This is a re-post of a message I left for you on the “Bahrain Grand Prix FP2 analysis” page. I had suggested some ways to improve the graphs, and you had written back saying the ideas were good, but you didn’t know how to do them. I apologise for reposting if you have already seen the message.


    I spent a little time looking into this for you. I have found a website which you can use to generate charts with several useful features. The website is:

    with it you can:

    -enter CSV data (which you can get out of any spreadsheet prog).
    -create a graph of any dimensions.
    -check and uncheck tick boxes to hide the line graph of a driver(s) times.
    -zoom in and out to sections of the graph.
    -enter times in seconds and have the graph display them in the HH:mm:ss format.

    It’s basically an online Flash application that gives you an XML/HTML file. You’ll be able to embed the charts in this site, and it’s free although there is a link to the site in the top left corner of the charts it generates.

    Here’s a direct link to the bit of the site you’ll want to use:

    Click on the CSV “Data tab” and enter your session data. If the driver is pitted, don’t enter a value and it will make a gap in the graph line.

    When you have finished click on the “HTML” tab, click “Copy to clipboard”. You can then paste in the code to this site or wherever you want.

    I hope you find this helpful. I found a lit of other similar sites here:

  2. yelrom said on 14th March 2010, 20:33

    Where the hell was the overtaking?? All they were were saving there tyres!!! I dnt like the ban of re fueling.. jst wasnt the same :(

  3. Stoat said on 14th March 2010, 20:35

    Yep. The ‘soft’ and ‘super soft’ tyres should have been brought to Barhain. That way holding on for 60% race distance on either compound is no option, and we get to see drivers ragging the snot out of cars to make 2-or 3-stops work.

    • Salty said on 15th March 2010, 0:02

      As per Whitmarsh – the supersoft could have gone 25 laps. The medium had no signicant wear at all. So a one stopper with any combo.

  4. Andy c said on 14th March 2010, 21:16

    it was quite interesting to hear lewis telling dc today that the mclarens he has driven have really never had a great back end. I’m assuming he’s talking mechanical grip, but surprising he was so open.

  5. Todfod said on 14th March 2010, 21:31

    I expected the ban on refueling to dull the races, but I did not expect it to absolutely demolish the spirit of racing. Throughout the race the drivers weren’t going flat out and were more concerned about how long the soft tyres would last, and how they should be preserving the tires, turning down engine revs, blah .. blah.. blah.

    Bernie Ecclestone needs to scrape the rust and cobwebs of his brains..and realise how he managed to screw up such a potentially brilliant season with stupid and unnecessary regulations.

  6. Gilvan said on 14th March 2010, 21:38

    Very nice race, good drive by Alonso, shame about Massa, a little bit too cautious under braking on the first corner, it cost him a race victory. New teams, really did what was expected, very happy that Lotus made it to the end though. I was watching the race and thinking that the new teams should be allowed testing. If its your first season in F1, and your team is starting from zero, you are allowed testing for the first season. At least it helps to bring them up to speed.

  7. DirkWar said on 14th March 2010, 22:07

    Yes a boring race. Easy fix, Ban front wings.Make tham run a mini front wing instead for stability then the cars would follow each other. Also just bring super soft tires to each event, some drivers might make them last ,others will go faster but wear them out and have to change.

  8. Wade said on 14th March 2010, 22:15

    Im with Todfod. Seriosuly, that was the most boring race I have ever watched, in my life. I cant believe just how much race spirit was lost.

    The new regs are useless for improving the excitment in Formula 1. Im sorry, but no refueling has made it even worse. One tyre change too – BORING.

    These guys arent going to push that hard if they are going to wear out tyres. They would rather the place. We saw that last night.

    Im not even that excite to go to the Melbourne GP now because its quiet clear, whoever gets pole, will win unless they have a mechanical failure.

    Again – Boring.

  9. Hamish said on 14th March 2010, 22:27

    Well if that is a sign of things to come we have a very boring season ahead. This was the sports one chance to impress who don’t follow the sport given the attention that was on this race and it did disappoint. After that race to say I’m an F1 fan is a tad embarrassing.

  10. Gilvan said on 14th March 2010, 22:36

    Come on lads, it wasn’t that bad :) I quite enjoyed it actually. Maybe Bridgestone could have provided a softer tyre compounds so the cars would have to stop twice.

  11. Hamish said on 14th March 2010, 22:38

    Part 2 – get rid of these ultra efficient brakes. This will bring move overtaking and will bring increase an aspect of the sport which is missing, the human element.

  12. The Limit said on 14th March 2010, 22:56

    The problem is not with the difusers, fat fuel loads or aero alone, the biggest problem is track layout and design. The fact is, even with light race cars, the average speed is down on last year by 5mph. The circuit is longer, but sector two’s new design for me has killed this Bahrain racetrack. Slowing the course down does nothing to improve the show, and has just made overtaking all the more difficult.
    Take turn one for example, did it really need changing on exit. The only overtaking we saw today, despite Glock’s move on Kovalainen, occured at turn one.
    Too many of these new circuits are too mickey mouse for my taste. These cars need to be given more of a chance to slipstream each other, but cannot do that when there are too many corners all at once.
    Yet again I am baffled by Bahrain’s redesign, which has ‘slowed’ the cars down. When asked about a simular layout at last years Abu Dhabi Gp, the now absent Raikkonen hit the nail on the head! ‘The first corner is ok, after that it is abit s**t really!’ Enough said.

  13. manatcna said on 14th March 2010, 23:04

    Yup- boring, but then I expected it to be – I remember the last time there was no refuelling.
    But unlike some, I don’t look back through rose tinted glasses.

  14. I’ll be interested to read your initial thoughts on the refuelling ban Keith as you came out in favour of it. I’m generally in favour of refuelling but I can see the arguments against have logic and “for sure” this is just the first race so there is fair way to go yet before we can get a more representative view. Michael Schumacher was fairly candid but that should be expected from the prodigiously successful supreme strategic implementer.

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