2005 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix

We interrupt this hiatus to bring you this urgent comment on the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Well we definitely now have a clear leader — Renault — and Toyota are in a clear second place (as long as you ignore Ralf Schumacher). Fernando Alonso first, Jarno Trulli second is becoming a very familiar result.

The new Ferrari raced for the first time today, and it was neither fast nor reliable. Although Rubens Barrichello was stonkingly fast to start with, Michael Schumacher struggled to keep up with Alonso and neither car ended the race in good shape — and Barrichello only just reached the end after an engine change and two gearbox changes. It is Schumi’s first mechanical failure since 2001. I think Michael Schumacher has gone off the boil actually. It started at last year’s Italian Grand Prix, when he made a mistake in qualifying at the parabolica. I couldn’t believe it at the time, and since then he’s not exactly been consistent.

But the story of the day was definitely Pedro de la Rosa! He really made this race truly exciting. All those miles on the test track as opposed to the race track have clearly meant that he had forgotten how to overtake. He raced as though he was playing a video game — don’t worry about the consequences, just go for it; and no matter how many times you fall off the track your car still seems magically faster than everybody else’s. Pedro de la Rosa is not a stupid driver. He is one of the few drivers to score a point in his debut race — in an Arrows of all cars — way back at Australia in 1999.

The McLaren is clearly an extremely fast car; it seemed to get stuck behind everyone, even the Ferarris. It is finally coming together, but they’re still not quite up to where you expect them to be. I would expect McLaren to be ahead of Toyota at least by the middle of the season. Mind you, McLaren have been consistently ‘underperforming’ for the past four or five years; I’m not too sure why we always expect them to be winning all the time. It looks as though driver error has had its fair share to play in McLaren’s misfiring start to the 2005 season. Kimi Räikkönen didn’t have a great race, going off a few times over the weekend; and Pedro de la Rosa’s mistakes were there for all to see. Still, McLaren have at last got a podium, and two solid points finishes.

While McLaren’s luck seems to be steadily improving, Red Bull Racing’s luck is beginning to look like just that — luck. Klien had mechanical problems, so he could have had a good race today. But David Coulthard was nowhere near as impressive as he was in Australia and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, BAR don’t actually look too bad when you compare them to McLaren or even Ferarri. They just look bad when you compare them to Alonso or Trulli. Oh, and in terms of reliability. And what is with that radio message to Sato at the start? That would put me right off. Can’t they trust him to position his own car?

As for the other teams, Sauber were able to overtake Ferrari for once, but only because the Scuderia were so bad. Jacques Villeneuve is still rubbish. Williams certainly have had a mediocre season so far. Minardi and Jordan are as inconspicuous as ever.

What a stonking season it’s been so far though. This is excellent entertainment.

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