Four More Things About The F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel, after the 2010 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Sakhir

Sebastian Vettel, after the 2010 Bahrain GP.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been a bit skeptical about the 2010 Formula One season. While the driver points changes seemed as though they had the potential to make things more interesting, I don’t think the refuelling ban betters anything for anyone. I’m also in the camp of “Michael Schumacher has everything to lose and nothing to gain by coming back, so…why is he doing it, exactly?” Obviously the man loves the sport, money and fame aside. That much is wonderful. But still. Have I been convinced this will be an incredibly exciting season? Not really. I do, however, hope to be proved wrong.

More after the jump.

The 2010 Gulf Air Grand Prix of Bahrain started out somewhat promisingly. Bahrain has been, since its introduction, one of those sort of unobtrusively bland sort of modern circuits. The track changes this year (which resemble nothing so much as an upside down bunny in a bucket, if using the Ben Spies method of track analysis) made it somewhat more interesting, however. Mid-pack and back-of-pack teams such as Force India and Sauber promising to bring the fight forward and refusing to be relegated to backmarker status are always my favourite sorts of things to watch. And, of course, Red Bull Racing. Who, if Adrian Newey had his way, would have spent every waking moment in the wind tunnel sorting out aerodynamics rather than doing track testing (oops). When Vettel started having engine problems in the last quarter of Bahrain, after a particularly dominant start from pole, you could practically hear the sound of hearts breaking.

Cameras showed it live for the world to see. The entire Red Bull garage slumped in defeat, eyes downcast, refusing to look up at the cameras. We couldn’t see Vettel’s face, as he was busy trying to salvage what he could out of the day. Some points, after all, are better than no points. I can’t imagine how he must have felt afterward, though—especially since it seemed the team had done EVERYTHING right up to that point, including one of the most blindingly fast pit stops I believe I’ve ever seen. While it was thought that perhaps an exhaust header failure had done poor old Sebastian Vettel in, it was in fact a spark plug issue. Even if RBR had managed the 2-second pit stop they’d promised pre-race, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Which brings me to my second point. LG is doing official timing and scoring for the F1 world feed this year, and it sucks. At least, compared to Siemens and Tag Heuer in past years. Thanks to the new timing graphics, it’s impossible for viewers at home to clearly see whether that pit stop took two seconds, or four seconds, or 23.3 seconds. If anyone associated with the department that handles F1 timing and scoring at LG reads this, what have you done with the graphics along the side that told us exactly how far each driver was off the pace of whomever was running fastest at that moment? Even more frustratingly, what have you done with showing us actual times elapsed during pit stops? I’ve never before wanted to have a stopwatch in hand whilst watching an F1 race until 2010 Bahrain.

On the other hand, seeing Felipe Massa back on track was almost as heartening as seeing Red Bull’s instant deflation was the opposite. You could see it in his dad’s face, too, as he watched anxiously from the pits. How fantastic, too, that Massa drove masterfully to a second-place finish. While I’m far more inclined to root for the underdog, watching the team dynamics between Alonso and Massa this year is indeed something I look forward to.

Finally, as some of you may or may not be aware, in addition to Formula One, I also love cooking. In fact, I went to school for one of those two things (guess which one), and allegedly am some sort of professional. What does one have to do with the other? I’m proud to introduce Cooking with F1, my soon-to-be regular series on my cooking blog that will run whenever there’s a race. I’ll be showcasing a menu featuring foods from whichever country the F1 circus has landed in for that weekend. You can check out Bahrain, here.