Tag Archive | Bahrain Grand Prix

Raikkonen completes Free Practice 2 on top

Kimi Räikkönen completed Fridays action at the top of the time sheets.

The Lotus driver set a time of 1m34.154 beating the Red Bull pair of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso finished 4th ahead of Scot Paul di Resta and team mate Felipe Massa.

Romain Grosjean, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Lewis Hamilton rounded off the top 10.

Button completed the day as the fastest Mclaren driver in 11th. Vergne was 12th followed by Perez, Ricciardo and Hulkenburg. Williams completed a disappointing day down in 16th and 17th. Van der Garde finished the day at the bottom of the time sheets.

The session got underway with plenty of cars heading out to complete early lap times.

With 40 minutes of the session to go, teams began their longer runs on both sets of tyres and heavier fuel loads yielding no further improvements in lap times.

A few drivers ran off the circuit with the most notable incident coming from Esteban Gutierrez who over steered his Sauber into the front end of Charles Pics Caterham, puncturing the Mexicans front left tyre.

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Massa leads Free Practice 1

Felipe Massa started the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend in good form by going fastest after Free Practice 1, beating team mate Fernando Alonso, who was second, by a little under a tenth of a second.

Nico Rosberg finished 3rd ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Paul di Resta, Jenson Button and Mark Webber. Sutil in 8th, Räikkönen in 9th and Grosjean in 10th rounded out the top 10.

Perez finished the day in 11th ahead of Bottas, Hamilton, the Toro Rosso’s of Vergne and Ricciardo finished 14th and 15th respectively, Maldonado, Hulkenburg, Gutierrez finished 16th, 17th and 18th. Charles Pic managed to outpace returnee Heikki Kovalainen at the bottom of the field, whilst Gonzalez finished last in the Marussia after suffering with a gearbox issue.

There were no obviously incidents throughout the session, with just a few minor lock ups and excursions off the track.

Right Race, Right Place

Formula One completed a race in Bahrain yesterday, after coming under international condemnation.

Since the Arab Spring in February last year, Bahrain has had to overcome mass protests from the Shia minority. The race, which had to pulled from the calendar in 2011, came under scrutiny from human rights campaigners.

Before this weekend’s proceedings Formula One was criticised for holding such an event, given as so many people have been injured and killed by the ruling regime in the country. On Saturday a protestor was killed after filming a protest.

Ed Miliband made a statement on Friday night saying that the race should not go ahead.

“Given the violence we have seen in Bahrain, given the human rights abuses, I don’t believe the Grand Prix should go ahead and I hope that the government will make its view clear and say the same.”

The Labour leaders calls were met with anger from the F1 paddock, as they believed the calls were too late. “Politicians in the UK were saying we should withdraw once we’d got here,” Mercedes GP Team Principal Ross Brawn said. “Why didn’t they say something beforehand?”

The McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh added: “I don’t think it’s helpful to wake up and hear we shouldn’t be here when we’re already here.”

Some have argued that the race was used by the Bahrain government as a propaganda tool to show the country in a good light around the world, as it aims to create a positive image of the country. This is further backed up by the country endorsing the F1 brand in the race slogan, ‘UniF1ed’.

Smoke outside the track during the race

The race did however go off without a hitch.

Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel went on to win the race after overcoming a challenge for victory with Kimi Raikkonen, fellow Lotus driver Romain Grosjean rounded off the podium with 3rd place. Scottish driver Paul Di Resta had an impressive race to finish in 6th. It was a poor race from the Mclaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Hamilton had several poor pit stops and finished the race in a lowly 8th place, whilst Button was forced to retire from the race two laps before the end with a differential failure.

After the race it was announced that a number of Channel 4 journalists are to be deported on Monday after being arrested for entering and working in Bahrain on just a tourist visa.

Record Breaker in Bahrain

The Bahrain Grand Prix was a record breaker. No fewer than four cars stopped on the in-lap as soon as they had passed the chequered flag.

Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa all pulled up after they finished the race, instead of making it back round to the pits. The standard procedure directly after crossing the finish line is to travel around slowly trying to conserve fuel (more fuel means added ballast) and add debris-such as discarded rubber to the tyres (more discarded rubber means added ballast), then make it to the pit lane and Parc Ferme, where the driver can get out and celebrate (if he deems it necessary) and then get weighed. The cars will then be scrutinised to make sure they have not been breaking the rules throughout the race.

Vettel runs back to the pits after stopping in Bahrain

Of late however, many teams have asked their drivers to pull up and stop on the side of the track immediately. The possible reason for this is for reliability purposes, but the most likely explanation is due to the fact a team is running low on fuel, and thus, will not have enough fuel/weight in the car to pass the scrutineering, if it completes the ‘slow down lap’.

There is no rule in the FIA’s Sporting or Technical Regualtions for this whole procedure, but perhaps it is time there was. It has now become clear that teams will start the race lower on fuel, to gain an advantage throughout the race and then recoup their loses by pulling over as soon as the race is done.

A similar incident happened in Qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix in 2010. Lewis Hamilton took Pole Position and then stopped his car half way back round to the pits, to save fuel, which they needed for regulation checks. The FIA promptly decided that stopping on a Qualifying in-lap was illegal and it has now been outlawed.

Hamilton pushes his car in Canada 2010

Is it correct for one driver or one team to run the race lighter in the knowledge they can just pull off straight after the chequered flag, whilst everyone else abides by the sporting ethics of the regulations? Should the FIA go one step further and punish those for not making it one extra lap at the end of the race, whilst everyone else seems to manage?

F1 2012 is incredibly close and highly competitive. All the teams should be on a level playing field. It would not be correct to have a rule for one whilst the rest abide by the code.

Links of Interest

FIA Sporting and Technical Regulations: http://www.fia.com/sport/Regulations/f1regs.html

Why Bahrain should not happen

It may seem like an obvious statement, but with a little under three weeks until the Bahrain Grand Prix is due to start, its a statement yet to be resolved.

As of Monday 2nd April 2012, the Bahrain Grand Prix is still due to go ahead. Yet the issues in the country from last years ‘Arab Spring’ are still apparent. The politics surrounding Bahrain’s unrest are not for a sport such as Formula One to delve into.

Instead F1 now needs to take a look at what is happening and realise that the country is not just unsafe for drivers or people at the racetrack, but for all the corporate hospitality including team members, TV crews and journalists. Where are these people supposed to sleep or go about their work in a nation ravaged in conflict?

On Saturday a man was killed when he was open-fired upon, whilst filming protests. Another, Ahmed Amir (photo below) a 15 year old was photographed on Twitter lying in ICU. He was hit in head with a tear gas canister and suffered a serious skull fracture. There was also a harrowing statement from Twitter user @VendettaBH who posted:

“Dear #F1 driver, This man just got killed by regime’s thugs in #Bahrain with live rounds! U still feel safe?!” They then gave a link to a graphic photo.

Picture of 15 year old Ahmed Amir - Courtesy of Bahrain Human Rights Twitter page @BahrainRights

People in Bahrain have stated that they do not wish for F1 to take place in their country this year, with a petition (http://www.avaaz.org/en/f1_dont_race_bahrain_teams/?cl=1513814427&v=12046) in place to write to all the F1 teams and urge them to turn away and not to return until there are verifiable steps towards democracy.
“Do not tarnish the reputation of the respected auto sport with the blood of Bahrain victims,” was a warning from a Bahraini in an online video. The social-networking site Twitter has also become a place to campaign against the race, with people using these hash-tags to voice their opinion: #BloodyF1 #NoF1

'No F1' Banners in Bahrain, courtesy of @GrandPrixDiary

For Formula One, a decision will definitely be made by the Sunday evening of the Chinese Grand Prix, a little over 4 days until first practice at the Sakhir Circuit, although there may be an announcement as early as Thursday 12th April. Bernie Ecclestone is expected to fly to the country to deem whether it is feasible for the race to go ahead, but contingency plans are already in place if the answer appears negative. Most teams intend to fly to Abu Dhabi, where they can either head back to their European bases or continue to Bahrain, creating a logistical nightmare.
The worry is that team members and guests themselves may be subject to attack. It has been noted that some Mclaren members are concerned about going to a country, which owns 50% of their team, making them a vulnerable target for protest.
This is no simple matter to solve though. The race costs £25 million ($39 million) and whoever is first to blink essentially pays that cost. Last year, the Bahraini Government realised that it couldn’t hold the race, so cancelled the race themselves and payed the fee to Bernie. If Bernie should be the person to pull out of the deal, he does not get the money from the race organisers. It is a tough and costly call to make.
Formula One will not progress financially or as a sport by going to a country with such a massive unrest. F1 will be frowned upon if it is seen delving in such murky and bloody waters. Bernie Ecclestone said in November 2011: “We’ll be there [Bahrain], unless something terrible happens to stop us”. Well Bernie, something terrible is happening.
Links of Interest
Al Jazeera’s Bahrain Blog: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/liveblog/Bahrain
Bahrain Human Rights on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/BahrainRights