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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. For those of us who like overtaking ,I would suggest the following extra points for the top 10 drivers and teams on the grid at the end of each race :

    – Drivers extra points
    +3 points per corner overtake!
    +2 points per straight line overtake !

    – Constructor extra points
    +2 points per corner overtake !
    +1 point per straight line overtake!

    This way both the driver and team are rewarded for the overtake.What do you think ? :)

    1. Bloody good call Serfio but it aint going to happen.

      I feel that there is simply too much technology in F1 now. There is nothing “raw” about this sport anymore. Like Soccer, one man can turn around a team in a minute, just by stepping up and taking ownership and running hard.

      You cant do that in F1 anymore. Everything is “the air is too turbulent behind this car” or “i dont have enough front end grip through this corner” or “Kobayashi is wandering in the breaking zone”. Shish. This is so frustrating.

      This season is going to be utterly boring. Like i said before – who ever qualys in the top 3 will be the only ones who can possibly win these races..

      …..and No. Im not an Aussie who is utterly dirty about webbers performance last night. =(

      I do have my fingers crossed for him when we go to Melbourne though. =)

      1. Yep, the drivers were so busy whining they missed a golden opportunity to ask all those old champions how to apply pressure to the driver in front…

        Alonso can do it, he was all over the back of Vettel, trying different lines and so on. I know Seb’s engine was sick but he’d have done it anyway in the end.

        Some of the new boys have a go too, like Kobayashi. Shame Petrov had to drop out, I’d have liked to see him get stuck into Liuzzi and Webber, on soft tyres, in his very first race.

    2. No, would make things too complicated. Plus, it’s not that the drivers don’t want to overtake, most of them just said there was no opportunities to overtake.

      I think having 2 manditory pit stops could make things more interesting, or as Whitmarsh said after the race – getting Bridgestone to produce “racier” tyres that last less laps.

  7. How about less rules that lead to conservative driving? All out low fuel quali with no park forme -sp? No mandatory use of two compunds. Engine limit that is really simple to keep. And then fuel or no fuel shouldnt matter too much

  8. mr zing zang
    15th March 2010, 0:14

    Keith can you please go back to using the same type of lines on the graphs that you used last year? These graphs don’t look as good and they are simply just harder to read. Thanks

    1. You want him to make you’re dinner, tidy you’re room and make you’re bed also?

  9. So, now you’ve quit your day job to make this F1 fanatism your day job, I’m guessing that you have even less of a life than you had previously?!??! Cuz nobody with any kind of a life could produce this quality of coverage! Loved the test coverage…. loving the this weekend’s coverage! Keep it up Keith!

    1. I appreciate you concern for my well being but I can tell you I’m enjoying a healthier social life now than I was before!

  10. How can I get a lap-by-lap comparison of Rosberg’s and Schumacher’s lap time for the Bahrain GP ? – does anyone know ?

    1. Maybe Schumacher isn’t sharing that information with anyone…

    2. The FIA F1 Media Centre has timing information such as each drivers lap times for each lap

      It can be best not to wait around too long as the data usually gets taken down before the next GP and if that is the next weekend then the files may only stay up for a few days.

      1. Brilliant, thanks for the link.

        So it looks like Rosberg did the job in the first 1-8 laps, in all of which he was quicker than schumi.

        Overall MS fastest in 22 laps, and Nico faster in 26 laps between them.

        Consistency wise MS seems to be a bit off, but never can be sure as he may just be saving the tyres and just managing the gap to the cars behind him and not trying to push – very clear of this if you look at timings of laps 44,45,46,47 – several tenths of difference there between each of the laps.

  11. Again, BS Keith! I never saw Hamilton close on Rosbergs tail. He was not quick enough in the first part of the race.

    1. That was because he couldn’t get close enough because of the aero. He said on the radio Rosberg was holding him up (see the transcript here:

  12. I feel Vettel did the right thing and not fight “OTT” and just took 4th place for the points. We all know what happened to Vettel last year when he tried to fight Kubica in Aus, 6 more points could of added more pressure to Button in 09 if he just let Kubica past. Vettel played safe and smart since he knows he will be a front runner all season.

    12 points is better then no points.

  13. After the fuel heavy slugslow start the race developed into the boreing precessional race i have ever seen. I have been a fan of F1 on TV from the start and these new rules and inputs from the dreaded health and safty have ruined what was an exciting and spellbinding sport have spoiled it completely. there was supposed to be more overtaking and closer racing – this will not happen with this full-tank rule, drivers will be saving their tyres. sorr F1 but you are now rubbish – please change.
    Mike Line

  14. I like the “pit stops” graphic – maybe the colours could be changed for future charts to reflect the type of tyre used in each stint?

    1. The first challenge with that is gathering the data on who used which tyre and when. If we can get that information reliably then it’s potentially something we can do.

      1. Thanks for the “comment of the day”!

        Pitpass always produces a “driver tyre strategy” report as part of its post-race analysis (example: Maybe this info comes via a Bridgestone press release?

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