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GP Week : Issue 43
>>F1BAHRAIN The thing about books and leaves ... SO, we’ve finally had a ‘normal’ race, and the signs for the old guard are pretty ominous. The new world order established after the opening races of 2009 shows no sign of slowing down, and with all of them promising upgrades for the start of the European season, the rate of development at Ferrari, McLaren and BMW is going to have to be even steeper than they may ever have imagined. Let’s not forget that out of 12 podium positions thus far won in 2009, only one has gone to one of the established order of last season … and that was only after the race was cancelled at half distance. It’s great for the sport, and the Bahrain Grand Prix, while not the most exciting, was evidence of just how impressive a job Brawn, Red Bull and Toyota have done with the new regulations. But the Bahrain Grand Prix this year has left a good impression with me for another reason. Each morning I left my hotel, and outside sat a bus put on by the race organisers to ferry fans and media alike to the track. The service was completely free and left every half an hour from something like 10 different hotels across the capital city Manama. Not only that, but they picked you up from the track too. Then there was the fan area at the Bahrain International Circuit itself. Sure, there were the usual vending stands selling t-shirts and caps, but Bernie had brought along his collection of historic Grand Prix cars that he showed for free to anyone with a ticket for the race. There was a stage show with bands, dancers, beatboxers, rappers … the Grand Prix even had its own official song named for the tagline of this year’s event – ‘Where the heart is.’ Everywhere you went there were musicians busking, and huge WILL BUxtON GPWeek Editor paintings to brighten up the place, be they on the walls or all over the vast swathes of run-off around the track. It’s a shame the Bahrain Grand Prix doesn’t attract more fans to its huge grandstands, because it’s a truly great day out for a race fan, or a music fan for that matter. We even had a world record set on the starting grid by a chap who held his breath under water for over 20 minutes! “Finally,”a colleague of mine chirped up as we genuinely started to wonder if the Pos # Driver gentleman in the water-filled box had failed in his mission and was actually no longer with us, “something to make Safety Car periods more interesting.” The upshot of all this entertainment, however, is that I am finally starting to see Bernie’s point about coming to far flung races. Bahrain has got things absolutely right. It puts the fans first, however few and far between they may be. It actually feels as though the place is proud to be hosting the race and really gives something back to those who buy a ticket. If races such as the British Grand Prix decided to take a leaf out of the Bahraini’s book of how to organise a world class event and how to treat its public, it might be that Bernie wouldn’t be so keen to drop it from the calendar. FORMULA 1 Round 4 BAHRAIN Team 1 22 Jenson Button 2 15 Sebastian Vettel 3 9 4 1 Jarno Trulli Lewis Hamilton 5 23 Rubens Barrichello 6 4 Kimi Räikkönen 7 10 Timo Glock 8 7 Fernando Alonso 9 16 Nico Rosberg 10 8 Nelson Piquet 11 14 Mark Webber 12 2 Felipe Massa Brawn-Mercedes RBR-Renault Toyota Laps 57 57 57 McLaren-Mercedes 57 Brawn-Mercedes Ferrari Toyota Renault Williams-Toyota Renault RBR-Renault 13 11 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 14 3 Ferrari 17 12 Sebastien Buemi 18 5 Robert Kubica 19 6 Nick Heidfeld 57 57 57 57 57 57 57 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 57 57 56 15 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 56 16 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 56 STR-Ferrari BMW Sauber BMW Sauber Ret 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 56 56 56 48 Time 1:31:48.182 +7.1s +9.1s +22.0s +37.7s +42.0s +42.8 secs +52.7s +58.1s +65.1s +67.6s +77.8s +78.8s +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap Oil pressure Points – Drivers: Button 31, Barrichello 19, Vettel 18, Trulli 14.5, Glock 12, Webber 9.5, Hamilton 9, Alonso 5, Heidfeld 4, Kovalainen 4. Manufacturers: Brawn 50, Red Bull 27.5, Toyota 26.5, McLaren 13, Renault 5, BMW Sauber 4, Toro Rosso 4, Williams-Toyota 3.5, Ferrari 3. 31 Grid 4 3 1 5 6 10 2 7 9 15 18 11 20 8 17 19 16 13 14 12 opinion