Unless you were hiding under a rock somewhere on Sunday or slaving away at work like some poor folk, no doubt you will be aware of this weekend’s F1 Grand Prix result. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa deciding that he had suffered enough of people harping on about his off road antics at Malaysia, and was going to give the press something else to talk about for a change by winning the Bahrain Grand Prix in convincing style.

felipestart.jpgGoing into the race lined up alongside our little Brazilian hero was McLaren’s star rookie Lewis Hamilton (yes at least I managed one whole sentence of my rambling without bringing him into everything like the British Press).

Young Felipe prior to the race issued a few words of warning to the demon starter of Australia and Brazil. Felipe suggested that if Lewis fancied trying to go aggressive at the start again, he would get the door shut in his face rather promptly or something similar…although how Felipe was going to get a complete door onto the grid for the task remains a complete mystery.

Luckily for the Brazilian the door tactic was not needed in the end, with the Ferrari star getting away cleanly off the line beating the McLaren driver into the first corner. Much to the delight and relief of the Ferrari pit-wall as this gave the team a much needed chance to control and dictate the race ahead.

Felipe’s team mate, Kimi however it would seem had contracted a case of sleeping sickness out in Bahrain. The Finn again caught snoring his head off as the starters got off the line, it was only when he got rudely awoken by the rather loud ‘vrooooom’ of Fernando Alonso zipping past him that he suddenly realised where he was.

jenseandscottcollide1.jpgAs is usual with these Grand Prix affairs, at some point on the first lap its compulsory to give the crowd something to gasp about and the stewards something to do for the afternoon. This time backmarkers Honda’s Jenson Button and STR’s Scott Speed doing the needful, colliding with each other sending debris all over the track, themselves out of the race and the marshalls swarming out of the stands like an army of gathering ants.
Once the safety car had been deployed, the marshalls began collecting up the scattered bits of memorabilia for the afternoon, and the F1 cars began to form up behind the pace car for the restart. Vitantonio Liuzzi from STR cleverly took advantage of the stint under the pace car to remove the slower harder tyres from his car and pop on a fresh set of soft tyres. An advantage he was later to throw away by having a slightly scatty moment and forgetting he was not allowed to overtake Ralf Schumacher under safety car conditions, thus earning himself a much deserved drive through penalty. Way to go.

Once the safety car man had enjoyed his five minutes of fame and leading the pack, the race began again in earnest. Felipe Massa kept his cool at the restart and managed to fend off the challenge of Hamilton who pursued his quarry doggedly, however Felipe appeared to have the slightly faster car and it never really looked like Lewis would manage to put the move on him. Puffs of smoke kept tantalisingly appearing out of the back of the McLaren, but much to the disappointment of the tifosi, the requisite kaboom never came…we can always hope for Monza….

Meanwhile it would seem someone on the Ferrari pit-wall forgot to wake up Kimi at the restart and again the Finn napped as the three cars in front of him managed to pull away. The Kimster was then always playing catch up, with Quick Nick Heidfeld not far behind showing himself to be rather handy in his BMW-Sauber facial hair withstanding.

Eventually the Kimster managed to catch up to the back of the McLaren of Alonso, but the Double World Champion continued to struggle with the car pretty much as he had all throughout free practice and qualifying. Kimi couldn’t manage to get past, presumably because it was impossible to see past the width of Alonso’s fat neck. Later we learnt from the Spaniard that he was suffering from understeer and oversteer at the same time, which quite frankly is baffling…wouldn’t they cancel each other out? ….but I suppose it sounds more technical and better than ‘sorry I was pants this afternoon’ and therefore less likely to get you in trouble with the boss.

Once the first round of pit-stops came, Ferrari Strategist and little poppet Luca Baldisserri (Baldo) cleverly managed to outwit McLaren both times. First by keeping Felipe out one lap longer than Hamilton giving him enough time to get round, in the pits, have a cup of tea and a few cucumber sandwiches and out again before the McLaren driver could get round to snatch the position away from the Brazilian. Then by keeping Kimi out just long enough to help him leap-frog Nando (not literally as I suspect there is no time for childhood playground games on a busy sunday afternoon) which released the Ferrari driver to go after Lewis Hamilton. McLaren however made a bit of a gaffe and heavily fueled the Englishman’s car meaning that after the first stop he began to struggle for pace and could never really threaten Massa out in front.

No race report would be complete without mentioning some of the other players of the afternoon and three particularly spring to mind. Firstly that of Super Aguri’s Ant Davidson, who had doggedly got himself up into a fantastic 6th position, unfortunately though later his car suffered a fit of technical gremlins that put the Englishman out of the race (well did you expect more? after all its still a Honda).

Another notable drive came from Red Bull’s resident geriatric David Coulthard who was determined to put his Mr.Magoo image behind him. After getting permission to overtake his team mate Mark Webber, whose fuel flap was ‘flapping’ (a bit like Webber’s mouth usually then), DC was released and went on a charge performing several do or die overtaking manouvres on the hapless victims in front. Although given his attempts to behead Wurz in Australia its no wonder there was little resistance from the likes of Fisichella and co.

Shortly after, Chewbacca (I mean Nick Heidfeld) pulled out perhaps the best manouevre of the afternoon in his BMW-Sauber, making short work of getting past Double World Champion Nando. Much to the delight of BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen, and subsequently proving having a beard does indeed produce less drag than two giant slugs for eyebrows.

Meanwhile Giancarlo ‘Fist-shaking’ Fisichella was coming under increasing pressure from the Toyota of Jarno Trulli and immediately got on the radio to the team to announce “I’m in trouble! I’m in trouble” not as much trouble as you will be when you get back to the garage and have to explain to Flavio why you let DC past so easily we can’t help but think.

While Felipe Massa was out front controlling things very nicely, Takuma Sato’s engine decided enough was enough. The V8 spectacularly blew sending a huge cloud of smoke and oil all over the end of the main straight in front of the exit from the pits, and directly into the path and face of Lewis Hamilton. Yum. Sato seemingly to go out of his way yet again to cause some sort of incident wherever he goes.

Unfortunately around this point in the race for our squared-headed Mr.Magoo his car decided to pack up and call it a day, putting an end to a rather spectacular afternoon’s work.
“Moving chicane” Jarno Trulli in his Turkey Toyota managed to get past the hapless Fisichella for ninth position….at which point Flavio no doubt started gnashing his teeth and Heikki Kovaleinen could breath a sigh of relief that he wasn’t likely to be on the receiving end of a few choice words for a change once the race was complete.

The second round of pit-stops eventually followed, Felipe Massa pitting and rejoining in fifth, in effect handing him the victory as the four cars in front of Hamilton, Raikkonen, Heidfeld and Alonso all still needed to come in for their pit-stops. Clever work by Luca Baldisserri (of course I’m not biased at all – much). An attempt was made to get Kimi in and out again in front of Lewis Hamilton but unfortunately the gap was not enough and the Englishman maintained his second position. The Kimster appeared to have got bored and given up the chase, settling for third place….which was disappointing but on the plus side gave him enough points to be equal with Nando and Hamilton at the head of the WDC standings heading into the Spanish Grand Prix in a month’s time.

happyfaces.jpgOn the pit-wall poor Baldo looked like the end couldn’t come quick enough for him, his blood pressure through the pit gantry roof and hands clasped as he nervously waited in anticipation for Felipe to cross the line and claim victory for the Maranello boys. Which Felipe did with a margin of 2 seconds over his nearest rival McLaren rookie Hamilton.

A thoroughly enthralling race with some fantastic overtaking lower down the field, and a dominant and commanding performance by Massa who this weekend has not put a foot wrong. Felipe looking completely delighted to have got his championship campaign back on course happily snogging any camera that came within five feet, Hamilton looking chuffed again with another strong performance. Kimi looking like he had dropped a pound and found a penny (which considering he can only manage one facial expression comes as no big surprise) and Nando skulking off in a big pair of dark sunglasses to hide the fact he had been crying. The Spaniard appearing not at all amused at being upstaged yet again by his young upstart of a rookie team-mate. Fantastic stuff. Forza Ferrari.

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