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Features: Race Features

Bahrain GP Winners + Losers

There were few losers in F1's opening race of the season, though one Japanese team fielded two very dodgy cars. The Super Aguris weren't much better...

Star of the Race
Nico Rosberg, Williams, 7th
You don't need to have a huge insight into motorsport to work out that a rookie who got into a tangle at the first corner, lost a front wing, pitted and then drove from the back of the field to finish 7th is the star of the race.

Yes, other people had good races, but come on, this was extraordinary. Not only did he make a fantastic recovery, he set two fastest laps and scored two World Championship points on his debut.

He joined the elite club that includes Button, Brundle, Herbert, Hakkinen in the process - though strictly speaking, when they all did it, they were 6th or better.

His far more experienced team-mate had the same equipment but didn't get close to Rosberg's lap time.

His overtaking move on Klien where he junked one way and then the next wasn't really a contender for overtaking move of the race because he was just so much faster than the Red Bull.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Fernando Alonso, Renault
Button's second pass of Montoya was fantastic - Jenson threw Juan-Pablo the subtlest of dummies that he was going to pass, then acted like he had thought better of it, and then came again, catching JPM off-guard.

Alonso's first lap pass on Massa, though less of a work of art, was absolutely critical to his winning the race. Alonso muscled his way past Massa at a time when the second Ferrari could easily have acted as a blocker.

If Fernando hadn't got past then we might have had a very dull afternoon of it. As it was, the Brazilain seethed in his cockpit for seven laps before trying too hard in Turn 1, destroying his race. All thanks to Alonso's first lap pass.


Fernando Alonso, Renault. 1st
We already knew from Imola 2005 that Alonso can resist enormous pressure from Michael Schumacher and following cars.

What it seems he can't put up with is slow cars in front of him. He got worked up in Canada last year when his team-mate wouldn't move over and this race he thought he'd lost the race because Heidfeld and others wouldn't get out of his way.

So he's not Ayrton Senna, striking fear into back markers. Maybe he ought to have a bit more attitude in the paddock.

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2nd
Ferrari confirmed what we already knew, that they were going to be strong in Bahrain and that Schumi was a force again. But they were strong thanks to a hell of a lot of testing in one place and as a result Bridgstone had given them a tyre that really worked.

Though Schumacher was in with a shout for his 86th GP win for much of the race, the ominous thing was the performance of the McLarens. They haven't done Ferrari's mileage round Sakhir yet Raikkonen would have won if he'd started from near the front.

It was a great achievement to equal Senna's 65 GP poles, even if he did it from 232 starts, whereas Ayton needed only 161 to get there. We will see just how much the intensive testing was a factor in this result when we get to Malaysia next week, but if anyone had any doubts about Schumi's state of mind after the disastrous Chinese GP of 2005, then they have been surely dispelled.

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, 3rd place
Raikkonen got the best result he could possibly have hoped for starting from the last row of the grid. This was another patient performance from the 2006 bookies' favourite - not spectacular, but pressing hard when he needed to

Last year he spent a certain amount of time stuck behind Jacques Villeneuve in races waiting for him to pit, and this race must have brought a certain sense of deja-vu.

They say of football teams that you need to grind out results on poor afternoons to be successful and Raikkonen did just that

And at least his car is falling apart for new and interesting reasons in 2006, not just the smoky left or right bank of Mercedes-machined cylinders.

Jenson Button, Honda, 4th
There'll be a post-race enquiry as to why Jenson had such a dog of a start, because even Rubens Barrichello swept past him on the way down to Turn 1.

Had he kept ahead of both Rubens and Juan-Pablo on Lap1 then he wouldn't have lost a podium place to Raikkonen. Though 4th is a pretty good start, he must have been anticipating more.

Juan Montoya, McLaren, 5th
He started from 5th on the grid and ended his race in 5th place. Over an 18-race season consistency is the key, so points scoring is good. However he was rarely held up by anyone and he still finished behind his team-mate.

Mark Webber, Williams, 6th
Once Webbo was clear of Fisichella and his ****ing ***t car he had a pretty solitary run to 6th place. He'll be glad to have had an incident-free first race, but slightly mindful looking over his shoulder at the performance of his new team-mate.

Williams will be thrilled to get a 6th and 7th first time out and will have been chuckling at the fate of the BMW-Sauber team. Mid-grid points will be even harder to come by this year. Especially with the kind of reliability we've seen in the opening race.

Christian Klien, Red Bull, 8th
It's a good job that Adrian Newey's joined Red Bull, because 2006 could be a bit of a challenge for the team. Klien put up a great performance in qualifying and benefited from Fisichella, Barrichello and Massa falling out of top places. DC will be keen to move away from his position on 499 points, but if he wants a new contract to benefit from the first Newey Red Bull in 2007 he'll have to start beating Klien.


Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, DNF
Fisichella's new slogan for Renault isn't going to catch on like - "The car in front is a Toyota" (not that that applies in F1 right now). My Renault - it's ****ing ***t, as Fisi announced on his pit radio to his engineer and 200 million fans.

Fisi got the balance of bad luck last year after a jammy start. Maybe this year things are going to go right from Malaysia onwards.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 9th
He knows he was so close to getting pole position on his debut for Ferrari. He also knows that he cocked up royally, as did his pitcrew when he came in to change tyres.

Massa's disappointment might bode ill for the Ferrari team because he will be anxious to impress next time out in Malaysia. How he handles the next race will be very important for his future career at Maranello.

Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 15th
Barrichello struggled on without third gear, but wisely decided not to stress his engine knowing that it's got another race to run in a week's time.

They qualified badly and they didn't race any better, Toyota look like they have taken a massive step backwards over the winter testing period. Considering the driving talent they have in the two cars, they should be doing so much better. Perhaps Mike Gascoyne might be tempted to go back to last year's V10s.

F1 Super-Nanny
(Who got to sit on F1's naughty step this race?)
Candidate No.1 has to be Kimi Raikkonen. Judging by the amount of spare parts the McLaren dispensed out of the back of his motor after the suspension failure it was a miracle that he could actually drive it back to the pits.

Raikkonen's MP4/21 started shedding parts like it was some kind of comedy stunt motor yet still he drove it back to his garage. To achieve what? All eyes were focused on the Finn as he got out of the car - would he be having a tiny tantrum? Not in camera shot anyway.

Candidate No.2 is Ralf Schumacher who had a moan about Kimi being the cool Finn just because he can't speak English very well. More "miaoow!" than toys out of the pram - but maybe he read our season preview that predicts Kimi to replace him at Toyota next year.

Media Watch
ITV's new look was anchored by the uber-professional frontman Steve Rider who looked like he'd been doing it for years. Smooth yes, but given the opportunity to ask Max Mosley a hard question - such as: Why is changing tyres a good thing this year when it was such a bad thing last year? He flunked it.

Sad to see Tony Jardine gone. Sad to see Louise Goodman still there and surprised to see that Messrs Brundle and Allen hadn't. got to grip with their timing screens in qualifying. First they were predicting six drivers would go out after the restarted first session.
"No, you ****ing clowns, Raikkonen's out already!" screamed the person next to me.

In Session 2 they started telling people that the list of most-vulnerable drivers were the six at the bottom, ignoring the fact that the timing screens had been reshuffled so it wasn't the six slowest at the bottom. Then they started to read the Session 1 times as the Session 2 times.

Of course if you didn't have the F1 timing screens in front of you you couldn't see what a cock they were making of it all. And there's the rub. The new system is definitely exciting, frenetic - but you really need to have an inset on screen of the timings.

Not everyone can arrange to have a PC at the side of their TV set and so viewers really need to see what's going on.

That Mark Blundell 'Git orf me barra!' Moment
Mark was done up in a nice whistle for the Bahrain GP and gave us some surprise information about Fisi's 2005 build-up.

"We saw last year he came out the box and won his first grand prix."
said Mark.

Then he was off into all kinds of vivid word imagery to describe Felipe Massa's arrival at Ferrari.

"He's keen to lift his game - and the team has given him something so he can enlarge his game..."


Andrew Davies

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