Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vettel Finds Top Velocity for Bahrain GP Pole

Photo Credit: Lotus Racing

Following two practices in day one and a third before Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying (a session where the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso set fastest pace), the inconsistency in team times has led to few conclusions for where most of the Formula 1 teams measured for 2010. Many observers watch as the Bahrain Grand Prix grid would be set through day 2 qualifying. With starting positions for the first Formula 1 race of 2010 at stake, every driver will be pushing their race cars to yet-unexplored limits.

Starting on the pole position in the Bahrain Grand Prix is 4-time winner from 2009 Sebastian Vettel. Adding to the confusion after the two Friday practices, Vettel and his Renault-powered Red Bull Racing car was no where close to the top of the time sheets. Considerably off-song against the other competitors on day 1, a problem with the Red Bull-Renault's driveshaft was cited as the reason. Obviously with the driveshaft issue corrected and some other tweaks to the car, Sebastian Vettel was able to go from zero to hero at Bahrain.

Just as expected, one team eventually managed to show some early season poise. While missing the pole position, both Ferrari F10s showed consistent front-running performance qualifying on the Bahrain circuit. Timing in just 15/100ths of a second slower than the Red Bull-Renault, Felipe Massa did manage to beat new Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso for a front row starting spot. While the factory Scuderia Ferrari team took the lower positions on the starting podium, the teams partaking in the Italian company's customer engine program showed two different leagues of performance. BMW Sauber (who should earn points for simply staying in the sport in 2010) and Toro Rosso were well down the starting order placing just ahead of the new Formula 1 teams.

From an Italian auto company to a German auto maker, the Mercedes-Benz effort in 2010 Formula 1 competition consists of three teams including their first full factory F1 team since 1955. Consuming all but one of the starting positions from 4th through 8th place, the Mercedes GP team and McLaren-Mercedes cars were within 4/10th of a second off each other's best times. Lewis Hamilton led the grouping followed by the factory Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg. In the middle of the Mercedes-engine quartet, Mark Webber clocked his Renault-powered Red Bull into 6th place through the session. Two rows behind his teammate Vettel, Webber harshly censured the manner he drove his best lap indicating he made several avoidable mistakes.

Robert Kubica, making his Renault F1 team debut, had
a mixed result through qualifying placing 9th overall.

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic

Timo Glock, driving the all-new Virgin-Cosworth car, took the honours as the fastest driver amongst the 6 new Formula 1 cars. The Lotus Racing group filed behind Glock with the remaining Virgin as well as the two HRT vehicles rounding out the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix starting grid. More than 5 seconds behind the new Formula 1 teams, it appears clear that the 3 new teams have a significant amount of ground to make up through the season. However, with retirements common through the first Formula 1 race of the season, there remains a serious opportunity for one or more of these cars to steal some points by finishing in a top 10 position.

2010 Formula 1: Bahrain Grand Prix
Starting Order

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
6. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
7. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
9. Robert Kubica Renault F1
10. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
11. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth
12. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes
13. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth
14. Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari
15. Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
16. Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari
17. Vitaly Petrov Renault
18. Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
19. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth
21. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth
22. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth
23. Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth
24. Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth

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