The weekend started with Sebastian Vettel having a commanding qualifying performance, making a mockery of his team mate and grabbing pole position. The race was a different story though, with Vettel having an exhaust problem leaving Alonso to grab first place and have a commanding drive to the finish, alarmingly quicker than team mate Felipe Massa. Hamilton never looked particularly happy this weekend, admitting he was surprised to qualify 4th. But Lewis made the most of a slightly iffy weekend and finished on the third step of the podium for McLaren.
Results in full:
And here’s how it all happened – The lights go out
As the lights with the sound of 24 grand prix cars screaming into action all the drivers managed to get away cleanly with pole position driver Sebastian Vettel taking the lead with ease. The two Ferrari drivers had a mini-squabble, which Fernando won, taking up second place against Felipe Massa. Rosberg up to 4th, closely followed by Hamilton into the first couple of corners.
Mark Webber’s Red Bull car caused a bit of chaos with his engine chucking out clouds of blue smoke after the first corner which temporarily blinded the Renault of Robert Kubica who then banged wheels with Force India’s Adrian Sutil. They both spun, but impressively everyone else just avoided the pair of them.
Elsewhere in the opening laps, the highly tipped Nico Hulkenberg had a pretty major spin, losing control with the super heavy car. Out of the new teams, one of each of the Virgin and Hispania cars had failures.
The pit stops phase
As expected, by lap 15 many of the cars made their pit stops, in terms of the front runners, McLaren came out on top with Hamilton jumping Rosberg for 4th place and Button jumped Webber for 7th. All because their cars were in the right place at the right time in the pit lane. The Russian rookie Petrov didn’t get to complete lap 15 with is car having suspension damage, possibly from a knock at the start.
With the fuel loads going down, the lap times fell and by lap 30, we were down to only 17 cars with both Virgins, both Hispania and both Saubers out of the race along with Renault’s Petrov. Vettel had his lead under control, but Fernando Alonso started to put the pressure on Vettel with the gap hanging around a single second of time. With the new rules and no refuelling it is much more tricky to predict the finishing order because of differing tyre wear and of course with the points difference being so great now the drivers may be more determined to start their 2010 campaign with as many points as possible. With 20 laps to go, the top 10 looked had Vettel, Alonso and Massa running as the top 3 followed by: Hamilton, Rosberg, Schumacher, Button, Webber, Liuzzi and Barrichello.
Disaster for Vettel
By lap 35, Vettel’s dream start to the 2010 season took a hit with a massive loss of power effecting his straight-line speed and gifting the lead to Fernando Alonso, then 2nd to Felipe Massa. This was a godsend for Ferrari who were concerned over engine temperatures – getting Vettel out of the way allowed them to get some clean air and turn down their engines a little with the next best driver, Vettel hanging onto 3rd and dropping back with Hamilton a full 10 seconds back on the Ferraris in 4th.
With 10 laps remaining, Hamilton easily drove past Vettel’s Red Bull for 3rd. Felipe fans should be concerned because with only 4 laps completed since passing Vettel, Fernando Alonso was nearly 6seconds faster than Massa. The other battle with the front runners was Schumacher looking fairly average in 6th (still, not bad at all for the first race out of retirement like) being chased by Button (also having a fairly average day) in the McLaren, who had Mark Webber only another second behind him. Liuzzi and Barrichello completed the top 10 respectively.
Race for the chequered flag
For the final 5 laps it looked pretty set for the finish, with the only question being, who can catch the suffering Red Bull of Vettel, as it turned out, the young German nursed his car home in 4th, while Fernando Alonso lead home a Ferrari 1-2 and ended his wining drought. The prancing horse is back to it’s winning ways and Felipe Massa will be asking himself questions because it seemed today that he had no answer for the might double world champion Spaniard.
More analysis, driver focus will be on F1Badger.com later today.
Image credit: Alex Comerford
So what did you make of the racing? Enjoy the first race and how do you think 2010 will pan out? They say that the driver who wins the first race, often goes on to win the title? It’s ridiculously early days, but can you see Alonso as the 2010 champion?
As ever, use the comments below to voice and share your thoughts…