Bahrain Grand Prix 2005

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Alonso crushes the opposition at Sakhir
Bahrain GP – Race

[03/04/05 – 15:32]

Alonso takes his third win of his career
today at the Bahrain Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso took his second dominant win in as many weeks this afternoon at Sakhir as he took the chequered flag ahead of Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen. While the Renault driver extends his lead in the drivers’ championship to ten points, Toyota celebrate another fine performance from Trulli, while Kimi Raikkonen secured McLaren Mercedes’ first podium position of the season after a strong drive to third.

Like the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago the interest for much of the race was not at the front, as no one looked like challenging Fernando Alonso once Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari had cried enough and broken down. Alonso cruised across the line to take the win by just over 13s from Trulli with Raikkonen recovering from his poor qualifying run to finish 30s down in third.

"It was hotter than it was in Malaysia and felt it," said Alonso. "But I knew my car was perfect and we would be strong in the final part of the race on the long run after the pitstops. Michael put me under pressure in the early part of the race but I wasn’t worried. I knew that even if he overtook me I could regain the lead later on and win the race. At every stage I felt confident and it is fantastic to win here. To be on top of the championship is, for me, a dream coming true."

Ralf Schumacher finished in fourth position in his Toyota to make it another very impressive day for the German-based Toyota team while Pedro de la Rosa drove an energetic and entertaining race to a fine fifth position. The Spaniard was the driver of the day in many ways as he battled his way to the position. Standing in for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya, da la Rosa battled hard to pass Takuma Sato, Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello and finally Mark Webber.

There were a few mistakes from de la Rosa but he had the car right on the limit for much of the race and he did enough to secure valuable points from McLaren, while also impressing many with his race-craft.

Over at BMW Williams, it ended up being a disappointing third race of the season. From the start the team showed little race pace and while Webber got the jump on Heidfeld to run fourth early on, it was clear he did not have the speed in the FW27 to stay with the front runners. Nick Heidfeld, the only driver on track running an engine for the second straight race, suffered an engine failure mid-race which will be a disappointment for BMW. Webber finished in fifth position following a high-speed spin that cost him position to Kimi Raikkonen and Ralf Schumacher and was then passed by de la Rosa in what was a most entertaining battle.

The final points paying positions went to Felipe Massa in the Sauber Petronas and David Coulthard in the Red Bull Cosworth who made contact with Jacques Villeneuve in the closing stages. Both drivers were however fortunate to be in the points and the result came largely through race attrition rather than race pace. Still for Sauber, seventh place give them the first two points of the season while Coulthard continues to score for Red Bull.

Rubens Barrichello finished in ninth position and was very unfortunate not to finish in the points in what has been a nightmare weekend for him and the Ferrari team. Starting at the back of the field following an engine change, Barrichello soon fought his way into the top ten. Late in the race however his F2005 seemed to suffer with yet more gearbox problems and he dropped off the pace, losing the final point to Coulthard on the final lap of the race.

For Ferrari, they leave the race pointless after Michael Schumacher’s failed to finish with what seemed to be a hydraulic problem with his F2005. Schumacher pushed Alonso hard in the opening laps, but the car did not go the distance. Three races in and Michael Schumacher has just two points to his name and the championship is quickly slipping away.


An early shower for Schumacher in Bahrain
Tiago Monteiro finished the race in tenth place in his Jordan Toyota two laps down on the leaders while team-mate Narain Karthikeyan had a short race before retiring the sister EJ15. Jacques Villeneuve was classified in 11th although he retired his Sauber with three laps to go with suspension damage after contact with David Coulthard who got the final point. Patrick Freisacher and Christijan Albers finished the race for Minardi but were three and four laps adrift respectively. Of the non finishers, Christian Klien’s race was over before it began when an electrical problem left him stranded on the grid in his Red Bull Cosworth, while Melbourne winner Giancarlo Fisichella was an early retirement when his Renault V10 failed. It was a poor weekend from Fisichella who never had the pace to challenge his team- mate but he can take some comfort as at least he will have a new engine for his home event at Imola.

Finally, BAR Honda failed to finish the race once again although this time both drivers ran reasonably well before they stopped. Takuma Sato retired with braking issues while Jenson Button had a clutch problem. For a team on the podium at Sakhir 12- months ago, they have a long long way to go to get even close to such a feat in 2005.

The F1 circus packs up and heads back to the test tracks of Europe and the nest race takes place at San Marino in three weeks time. The question now is not can Ferrari get back on the pace, but can Ferrari make a car go the distance?

© CAPSIS International

A Bad Race For Ferrari and BAR Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari; Jenson Button, BAR-Honda; Bahrain GP, Sunday April 3rd, 2005.

When Michael Schumacher managed to put the all-new F2005 onto the front row of the grid in Bahrain many thought that the team had managed to turn around its disastrous start to the season. The Ferrari F2005 afte rit broke down after its qualifying lap.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2005Any such optimism disappeared on lap 13, when the World Champion coasted into the pit lane to retire after a mechanical failure. His pace had looked promising during the opening laps of the race and in the post race press conference eventual winner Fernando Alonso actually said that he thought the Ferrari was faster than his Renault – but the breakdown will have hit Ferrari’s confidence hard. It’s the first time that Schumacher has retired from a race for mechanical reasons since 2001.

Rubens Barrichello also suffered from an eventful race. An engine and gearbox change after second qualifying forced him to start from the back row of the grid, from here he made a searing start – running in 10th place within a couple of laps, and running as high as fifth during the first wave of pitstops. But as the race went on his F2005 began to suffer and his pace fell off dramatically – he eventually lost eighth place, and the chance to salvage a single World Championship point – on the very last lap as David Coulthard passed him in the Red Bull.

For a team that was mourning the death of Pope John Paul II, the F2005’s racing with black nosecones, it was another disappointing weekend, although Schumacher’s early pace does offer some promise later in the season.

The BAR team also suffered from another frustrating afternoon, a far cry from Jenson Button’s third-place here at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Sato had a strong early race, blazing his way from 13th on the grid up to a brief run as high as fourth during the first round of pitstops, but retired on lap 28 with what seemed to be braking problems brought on by the intense heat.

Jenson Button had no more success in the second BAR, qualifying down in 11th place and then, after some hard-fought battles in the mid-field, retiring on lap 45 after the car stalled repeatedly during his second pit stop.

David Coulthard said he wants his Red Bull team to launch an inquiry into why his car was so far off the pace at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Scot salvaged a point in the race after qualifying 14th – seven places behind team-mate Christian Klien.

"A point out of a difficult weekend is encouraging," Coulthard said.

"But now we need to do a total investigation of where we are with the car because I just struggled badly in the race and in qualifying."

Coulthard grabbed eighth place from Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello on the final lap as the Brazilian struggled with a gearbox problem.

"At the end, Barrichello was a lot slower in his braking area and kept overshooting," Coulthard said.

"So I pretty much lined him up for a couple of laps and I knew I was going to have a go on the last lap."

Earlier on Sunday, Coulthard admitted he had driven badly in qualifying.

"I don’t seem to have managed many good laps here but this was definitely the worst one of the weekend," he said.

"I drove an untidy lap and I just wished I could start all over again.

"I’m not making excuses, but I also got a bit distracted, seeing (Barrichello’s) Ferrari parked at the side of the track."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari; Bahrain GP, Sunday April 3rd, 2005.

Alonso invincible in Bahrain Renault make it three wins from three races in 2005 A second consecutive victory, and potential title challengers Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella failing to finish, made the Bahrain Grand Prix a perfect race for Fernando Alonso and Renault as they further extended their world championship leads. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R25 celebrates his race win as he enters Parc Ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2005With Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari alongside him on the front row of the grid, Bahrain was Fernando Alonso’s sternest test of mettle. But at the start the Spaniard made no mistake, and though Schumacher remained close to him for the first 11 laps the Renault driver was always in control and there was always a suggestion that Schumacher may have been running a lighter fuel load. That became moot on the 12th lap, however, when Schumacher plunged wide in Turn 10 and then pulled into the pits at the end of the lap to retire with an hydraulic problem that affected his gearshifting. It was the champion’s first mechanical retirement for 58 races, and left Alonso unchallenged on the way to the third win of his career.

At the start Jarno Trulli almost took his Toyota round the outside of Schumacher to snatch second place, but had to settle for third initially. As in Malaysia the Italian’s car lacked the outright pace to stay on the Renault’s tail, but it was still there in a strong second place, 13.409s adrift, when the chequered flag fell, boosting Trulli’s second place points score. To make it a wonderful day for the revitalised Toyota team, Ralf Schumacher completed an up and down race by taking fourth place, giving Toyota their best-ever result and maintaining their second place in the constructors’ championship.

Third place fell to Kimi Raikkonen, who was in challenging mood all afternoon in a McLaren that once again came to life in the race. The Finn fought with the two Williams of Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber, passing the former after their first fuel stops on laps 23 (Heidfeld) and 24 (Raikkonen), and then pressuring Webber into a big spin in Turn 10 on the 34th lap. Various offroad moments for Ralf Schumacher also helped the Finn, who finished a further 32s adrift of Trulli but set the third fastest lap.

As Heidfeld retired from seventh place on the 26th lap with engine failure, the other star of the race, Pedro de la Rosa in the second McLaren, stormed to fifth after the best drive of his Formula One career. Standing in for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya, the Spaniard drove pretty much as one might have expected the Colombian to, charging after Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello (who had sprinted up to the midfield after a post-qualifying engine change relegated him to the back of the grid). Barrichello blocked de la Rosa for several laps until he finally made a move stick in the final corner on the 41st lap, but the Brazilian’s defensive driving lesson was nothing compared to the one Webber gave de la Rosa. The Spaniard closed on to the Australian’s tail by the 46th lap, and they circulated literally nose to rear wing, with de la Rosa looking every whichway for an opportunity and Webber placing his car exactly where the McLaren driver needed to be. It was gripping stuff, conducted only millimetres apart and at high speed all the way, but it never bordered on the stupid. This was big boy’s racing, conducted cleanly and fairly, but without any compromise.

The Williams was not using its tyres as well as the McLaren, and de la Rosa was losing three seconds a lap to Raikkonen having earlier matched his team-mate. De la Rosa actually set the fastest lap on lap 43, but Webber was doing what Williams pay him to do and it was not until de la Rosa got a better exit from a corner and was able to pull alongside on the 55th of the 57 laps that he was able to make it stick.

Behind Webber, Barrichello looked set for seventh place but began losing time hand over fist as his tyres went off. First Massa passed him in Turn One to move his Sauber into seventh place for the team’s first points of the season in their 200th race, then David Coulthard grabbed eighth place literally on his final lap. With Alonso lapping Barrichello on lap 53, it was indeed a tough day for Ferrari.

There were plenty of disappointed drivers besides Schumacher and Barrichello. Giancarlo Fisichella’s terrible weekend came to an end in the pits on the fourth lap after he had already called through the previous lap. His engine was smoking ominously and he had dropped many places when it finally broke. Takuma Sato had run as high as sixth, fending off a train comprising de la Rosa, Barrichello and BAR team mate Jenson Button during the race’s mid-point, but the Japanese driver retired on lap 27 with a brake problem. Button seemed on course for a top six finish, but when the clutch failed during his final stop on lap 46 he was only able to creep to the end of the pit road after the team deliberately dropped the car off the jack to get it going again.

Sauber’s Jacques Villeneuve was in contention for the final point but was pushed into a spin by Coulthard on the 54th lap, the French-Canadian retiring in the pits with rear suspension damage.

Narain Karthikeyan was ahead of Jordan team mate Tiago Monteiro by the second lap, but retired his Jordan with an electrical problem. Monteiro, however, went on to take 10th place for the team.

Patrick Friesacher overcame Minardi team mate Christijan Albers for the first time in the weekend to take 12th place, with the Dutchman the final finisher in 13th.

There was huge disappointment too for Christian Klien, whose Red Bull stalled on the parade lap and therefore was pushed away to start from the pit lane instead of from seventh on the grid; unfortunately the team could not fire it up due to an electronic problem so he was the first retirement.

The race was run in sweltering conditions, and the result extends Alonso’s title lead over Trulli, 26 points to 16. Fisichella is third with 10, from Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard on nine apiece and Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya on eight each. Michael Schumacher’s title prospects have taken a huge hit, as the champion trails Alonso by 24 points after the three ‘flyaway’ races.

In the constructors’ stakes, Renault lead Toyota 36 to 25, with McLaren third on 19 ahead of Williams on 13 and Red Bull on 12. Ferrari are sixth with 10, and a mountain to climb.


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