2006 Bahrain Grand Prix

Quite a good race. Although it wasn’t action-packed from start to finish, there were a number of notable moments.

Firstly, it turned out that the Ferraris (Michael Schumacher at least, although we can’t tell with Felipe Massa) were not as lightly fuelled as some suspected. So Ferrari are back on form. Even though they did not win the race, it could hardly have been closer — if Alonso’s final pit stop was any slower, Michael would probably have won. But is that rear wing legal?

The podium was perfect — the three greatest drivers in the world today. Speaking of which, it was another amazing drive from Kimi Räikkönen. He is used to charging from the back of the grid to the front, which is just as well because that McLaren is still unreliable. But at least there were no reliability problems during the actual race. Once again, if McLaren can get their reliability act together, they can have a strong season. Not sure why Montoya wasn’t able to make so much of it though.

Clearly not all the cars are reliable though. Rubens Barrichello in a Honda had a dodgy gearbox. Meanwhile Giancarlo Fisichella inherited yesterday’s engine problems from qualifying. For some reason this made him ramble on about flocks of sheep, or something…

Jenson Button is also looking strong. I’m not a great fan of Button, but he really impressed me today. He made some very smart overtaking manoeuvres into turn 1. He’s blaming the lack of a better result on the first three seconds. Maybe he’s right. If that’s the case, he is another strong candidate for race wins at least.

Another person who impressed was Nico Rosberg. He has not had a perfect weekend, but he had some very impressive moments, and he set the fastest lap in the process of scoring two points. Not bad for his first race! Obviously the Williams is in good shape which was a help. At the moment it’s looking like a sturdy fifth-best car behind Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Honda. They can hardly ask for more.

The Red Bulls seem to be there or thereabouts. Coulthard’s flat-spotted tyre ruined the end of his race, but Klien looked good. Felipe Massa may have shown pace in qualifying yesterday, but he made a bad mistake today, almost taking out Alonso in the process. That is why Massa isn’t rated highly.

Toyota were terrible. I really don’t understand how they’ve allowed themselves to fall so far back. In the classification, Trulli was ahead only of a Midland and an Aguri. What an embarassment — surely they should be battling for higher than 15th or 16th position?

Lastly, Super Aguri. Their cars are slow, which is understandable, but they obviously haven’t quite got their act together in other respects either. Mechanics were still on the track when they should have been off. Both drivers tried to make a pit stop at the same time, and Ide ran over some of his pit crew. It’s the pinnacle of motorsport.

Finally, a word from the spectator’s viewpoint. It is impossible to tell apart the Midlands and McLarens unless it’s a detailed close-up, and even then it takes a second to work it out.

Anyway, not a bad start to the season, and it’s looking like we’ll be in for a close one between the big four teams!

Full race results

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