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Give the new F1 a chance

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso

Highlights - Alonso wins Bahrain Grand Prix

Martin Brundle column
By Martin Brundle
BBC F1 analyst

Bahrain was a rather tedious Grand Prix which didn't live up to our pre-season billing of potentially great racing.

It had its moments as Fernando Alonso pounced on Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa between Turns One and Two with an opportunist move just after the start.

I saw Felipe at a private function after the race but I couldn't quite find the right moment to ask him how Alonso managed to get so much more throttle on and also better traction than he did. It was the race-winning move.

As the pair of them eventually began closing in on Sebastian Vettel's leading Red Bull, it seemed game on for a grand finale until Vettel suffered what sounded very much like a broken exhaust pipe, but was later described by the team as a failed spark plug.

Lewis Hamilton is interviewed by Jake Humphrey

Hamilton hopes for more downforce

Two potentially interesting stories in the race were lost when Robert Kubica's Renault and Adrian Sutil's Force India connected and spun on the first lap.

These two were ultimately fast, although weren't going to threaten the podium. It seems clear that those swimming against the tide with contrary tyre and pit stop tactics - as Sutil chose by being the only man in the top 10 to qualify and therefore start the race on the harder of the two tyre compounds - will always be compromised by having to overtake other cars in each stint.

It was pointed out by several F1 strategists over the winter that the refuelling ban may well generate one early pit stop and a long run to the finish. Drivers also reported great difficulty in overtaking during pre-season testing. And so it all proved to be.

The only way this will change is if the tyres fade much more dramatically at some circuits or mandatory two-stops are introduced. This was generally discussed but dismissed by some teams who felt their cars were more easy on tyres.

I spoke to many drivers after the race and they confirmed that managing the tyres on heavy fuel, especially in turbulent air close behind another car, meant that it was a rather leisurely pace and not physically challenging for them. This was confirmed by a race pace largely six seconds off the pole position time.

We must give the new system a chance at a number of different circuit layouts with alternative tyre compounds. But I suspect that we'll get more of the same, especially if the safety car is deployed early in the race.


It would be radical and expensive in the extreme to try to re-introduce refuelling, so forget that.

Bridgestone understandably want to make racing tyres which perform well and represent their technology and brand in a positive light so they won't want to supply overly soft compound tyres which quickly fall apart.

So we come back to the age-old problem that modern aerodynamics make following one another very difficult. This was supposed to be improved last year but the radical and ultimately legal double diffuser spoiled that. And we have even more extreme versions of that device on all the cars this year.

Double diffusers, which generate a lot of downforce and turbulence under the rear of the cars, are banned for next year, but for this year a change to a mandatory two pit stops may be the only solution, and there is no guarantee that will fix the problem.

Michael Schumacher

New rules mean less racing - Schumacher

Most of my F1 driving career was spent with no race refuelling. Back then the cars were generally much less refined and it was easier to make an error, especially with manual gearshifts. Also the cars carried a lot more drag and slipstreaming was more effective. They were certainly far less reliable and that mixed up the results considerably.

Many football matches are scoreless draws, and five-day cricket Test matches end in draws, too. Similarly, we have been spoiled these past couple of years - not all F1 races can be classics.

Keep the faith - F1 can sort it, especially if Mercedes and McLaren can get themselves on the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari.

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see also
We can match Ferrari - Hamilton
14 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher questions rule changes
14 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso triumphs as Vettel fades
14 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix photos
14 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Prost backs race refuelling ban
14 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Ask Mark Webber
17 Mar 10 |  Formula 1

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