Fernando Alonso

Well, well. The inaugural Grand Prix of 2010 has been a glimpse of things to come.

Fernando Alonso positioned himself nicely on Turn One of the first lap to get by Felipe Massa into second.

Sebastian Vettel held a confident lead from pole until late on a spark plug failure led to temporary loss of power and an inevitable overtaking by the Ferrari pair who sailed to a comfortable one-two.

Vettel slipped to fourth, bumping up Lewis Hamilton to third and Nico Rosberg fifth.

Michael Schumacher was satisfyingly non-dominant but solid in sixth, with Jenson Button and Mark Webber behind. Vitantonio Luizzi did well to score two for Force India and Rubens Barrichello scratched a single point in tenth.

Vettel must be disappointed by the mechanical fault that was outside his control, and Red Bull will be kicking themselves over a reliability issue.

What was interesting was how much Vettel fell off the pace once he had been passed by Alonso and Massa, missing apexes and looking de-zoned.

If he is to stand a chance of winning a championship, he must be able to stay focused in the face of disaster and claw back ground.


It was great to see again the spectacle of the new cars and teams and championship contenders, but on balance I felt deflated by Bahrain. The new refuelling ban meant one dimension of strategy had been closed. The fun of the mid-race shuffle has gone, as drivers can no longer leapfrog their rivals in the pitlane.

The big criticism has been that there was precious little overtaking in the race. True, the drivers were getting used to new regulations and cars. But it looks like their heavier cars are going to find it difficult to spar and joust on track, reducing the sport to a procession. Bernie Ecclestone- something has to be done.

What you had in Bahrain was drivers not going down to the wire, conserving fuel and conserving tires. That’s not racing. F1 isn’t supposed to be about the eking out of resources, it’s about which team can go fastest.

Hamilton and Button

When the greatest drama of the day comes from a spark plug failure, you know something is amiss. As it stands, Saturday qualifying is actually a better watch than Sunday’s race.

Overtaking is the crucial element to the spectacle. The rules need to make it easier. Lack of overtaking means predictable races and fans switch off.

At the moment, aerodynamics are the big culprit. The turbulence produced by those rear wings seems unassailable. Drivers can catch up to a point, then the dirty air holds them up and forces them back again. A new rear wing regulation that reduces turbulence and promotes overtaking is the way past.

Grands Prix are about the best drivers going head to head in the best technology. All other elements -track design, overtaking opportunities, aerodynamics, tyres- must exist to enhance, not dampen, this human drama at the centre of F1. I hope the teams and drivers can find a way to exploit the current rules to the advantage of motorsport.