Monday, March 13, 2006

...we have normality, I repeat we have normality.

Aaahhh, things have returned to normal now. No, nothing to do with work or home, the Formula 1 season has kicked off and all is good.

If last night's Bahrain Grand Prix is an indicator for the rest of the season, then 14 (Malaysia, Australia and Japan are run in the afternoon our time) more Sunday nights during the year will involve staying up quite late. Pole position was surprisingly taken by Michael Schumacher after last years 'ordinary' season. Michael qualifying effort makes him equal with the late Ayrton Senna for the most pole positions. Michael now holds the record for the following:
  • Pole positions, 65 (equal with Ayrton Senna)
  • Race wins, 84
  • World Championships, 7
  • Consecutive championships, 5
  • Fastest laps, 69
  • Championship points, 1256
  • Wins for a single team, 65
  • Wins in a season, 13
  • Wins from pole position, 37
  • Points in a season, 148
  • Races led, 120
  • Laps led, 4664

Bahrain Grand Prix Results:
  1. F. Alonso
  2. M. Schumacher
  3. J. Button
  4. K. Räikkönen
  5. J. Button
  6. J. P. Montoya
  7. M. Webber
  8. N. Rosberg

Race report from
The 2006 season burst into sensational life in Bahrain this afternoon, as champions past and present, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher, fought out a tense duel which resulted in victory for the Spaniard by only 1.246s.

It was Schumacher who led away at the start, chased by team mate Felipe Massa who held off Alonso’s challenge into the first turn. Alonso squeezed ahead before the end of the lap, however, and then had a narrow escape on the eighth lap when Massa spun under braking there and actually overtook the Renault while going sideways. Alonso braked hard in successful avoidance and continued his pursuit of the leading 248 F1.

Michael pitted for fuel after 15 laps, while Alonso went four laps further. However, that was not quite enough to earn him the lead as Michael had opened up a bit of a gap. They resumed their fight all over again, moving back to first and second places by lap 24 once Juan Pablo Montoya had finally refuelled his McLaren after a 23-lap stint.

This time the Ferrari went until lap 36, the Renault until 39, and that proved to be the turning point of the race. Now Alonso got out of the pits ahead of the German, but it was nip and tuck as they went side-by-side through Turn One. Alonso kept his nerve and emerged in front, and then made sure he avoided any errors for the remainder of the nail-biting race. One slip, however, and the order could easily have been reversed.

Into third place, from the back of the grid, came Kimi Raikkonen, who started his McLaren with a full tank and didn’t stop until lap 30, by which time he had risen to third place. That clever bit of strategy from the Woking team earned him the final podium place as the previous incumbent of the position, Jenson Button, could only chase the Finn home but never really got close enough to mount a convincing challenge in the Honda.

Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth for McLaren after a two-stop run, and then came the Williams of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg. The young German was a star of the race; after a clash with BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld in the first corner on the opening lap, he pitted for brief repairs, losing 45s, and then staged a superb recovery. On the way he twice set the fastest lap, leaving it at 1m 32.408s. He passed Christian Klien’s Red Bull for seventh close to the end, to take two points on his debut.

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