Brits shine in the sand of Bahrain

119Forumula1.com‘s Hugh Podmore on Button’s third win of the season in Bahrain…

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton produced performances of a vintage standard to take first and fourth places respectively in today’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Button won the race through a combination of clever tyre strategy, incisive overtaking at the start and raw speed when he needed it. Hamilton too was ruthless at the first corner and dragged his McLaren into contention for a podium, high above what is expected for the car at the present time.

The two Brits’ talented drives were in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the field, who failed to provide on-track entertainment for much of the race. Jarno Trulli, despite a competitive package and pole position, was unable to capitalise and did not challenge Button overmuch. He also was unable to threaten second placed Sebastian Vettel despite being on superior tyres in the final stint.

Vettel drove a characteristically determined race, but did not have the outright race pace to mix it with Button. He did not need to overtake Trulli in the second stint as he was longer-fuelled than the Italian, and so could afford to rely on strategy. Most of the other competitors also fell back on strategy to help them up the field, which succeeded in a race where tyre usage was critical.

Lewis Hamilton showed his fighting spirit by jumping three places at the start, only to gradually fall back as the performance limits of his McLaren were quickly superseded by his immediate competitors. Nevertheless Hamilton gamely hung on to the coat-tails of the leading pack and always threatening to capitalise if a mistake or mechanical problem had affected those in front of him.

Hamilton used his KERS to great effect at the start, as did Kimi Raikkonen and Nelson Piquet Jr to defend places at crucial points. This was perhaps the first race where the usefulness of the system was proved to outweigh its disadvantages. Raikkonen gave Ferrari the first points of their season, a welcome relief which will not have masked the real problems the team still suffer. The Finn’s team-mate Massa suffered with his KERS, was lapped and had the indignity of having to fight with Giancarlo Fisichella at one point.

Speaking of indignity, BMW Sauber will not be in the slightest happy to have finished last of the classified runners. The Hinwil team have to improve fast.

Conversely, the form appears to be with Brawn, Red Bull and Toyota at the present time. However, the three teams will be looking over their collective shoulder at the next race as many teams start to put long-awaited upgrades on their cars.