First Blood to Alonso

Well, that was an anti-climax! The anticipation of the first 2010 F1 race in Bahrain had me over-excited and eager for the start of one of the best ever F1 seasons. Sadly, the new rules seem to have backfired badly. Drivers were paranoid about saving their tyres, saving fuel, etc. and over-taking appeared nearly impossible unless there was a massive speed difference. No-one wanted to follow the car in front too closely for fear of wrecking the tyres and the whole race. Everyone on the track was conservative.

Except, perhaps, for Fernando Alonso who was on-fire as soon as he passed Vettel who had an exhaust problem, losing him power. Alonso streaked away from Massa (who claims he was saving fuel for 25+ laps of the race) and set 3-4 fastest laps, for no other reason than to entertain himself. It seems odd that Massa had to save so much fuel and Alonso didn’t. Rumours before the year started were that the fuel consumption was the Achilles heel of the Ferrari however is it possible that Alonso’s driving style is so much more ‘efficient’ than Massa’s? Both drivers had a change of engine this weekend, probably due to Ferrari finding some last-moment efficiency with their engine configuration.

Hamilton’s race was a good one, despite being held up by Rosberg. Button’s race was ruined by sitting in traffic the whole race, as was Schumacher’s. The latter has been 3-4 tenths of a second slower per lap than team mate Rosberg all weekend. I really hope he improves and finds his form. I also hope that Mercedes can keep up with the ferocious rate of development that is inevitable at Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren.

Vettel did a good job keeping 4th place despite his mechanical problems. No doubt those points will be very valuable later in the year. I expect it could be a titanic battle between Alonso and Vettel this year, perhaps with Hamilton coming on strong (we know how well McLaren develop their car during a season). The Red Bull appears to have a one-lap advantage during qualifying and a short-term advantage at the beginning of a race. Apparently the Red Bull’s can carry 10kg less of fuel so they have a weight advantage that becomes smaller as the race progresses. The next race in Australia should confirm this.

The driver standings after the first race are as follows:

01 Fernando Alonso 25
02 Felipe Massa 18
03 Lewis Hamilton 15
04 Sebastian Vettel 12
05 Nico Rosberg 10
06 Michael Schumacher 8
07 Jenson Button 6
08 Mark Webber 4
09 Vitantonio Liuzzi 2
10 Rubens Barrichello 1

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