Sunday @ Sakhir Circuit, Bahrain - The RACE

~ Bad, Worse, Worst ~

A bad day for McLaren, and a race they should forget fast. Apparently, nothing before announced that this day would turn into a nightmare. After losing his chances because of a failed start, Lewis Hamilton continued to go down, and in an attempt to overtake Fernando Alonso(fatality!), he lost the front aileron of his car while getting airborne after simply mounting on the other car's right back wheel. That cost him important positions and a visit to the pit stop. To sum up, he completely lost 'communication' with the first 10 drivers in the race, being pushed back on the 18th position. He did all that he could to save his honour, and when the race finished, he was located on the 13th position. Totally dizgratious!
But the one who needs and must be congratulated is Heikki Kovalainen, who managed to maintain his 5th position from the start up to the finish of the race. He showed his competent driving skills all over the GP, he didn't force his car, he succeded in keeping his calm and maintaining a balance between being too ambitious and too moderate. He was the great winner of today for McLaren. Hamilton should really reconsider his status in the next races, because now, in this crucial moments, he is only a shadow of the 'professional rookie driver' we saw in the 2007 F1 season.
After this terrible "success", Lewis Hamilton & Vodafone McLaren Mercedes lost the leadership both in the drivers and constructor standings.
Proceed below to read the official press release, the standings of the 2008 Bahrain GP & F1 season and download photos from the race. Enjoy!(if you can...)


Sahkir, Sunday 6th April 2008

Lewis Hamilton MP4-23 22
Heikki Kovalainen MP4-23 23


Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen finished the Bahrain Grand Prix in fifth position. After 57 laps (308.238 kms), Heikki came home 26.7 seconds behind winner Felipe Massa and set the fastest lap of the race with 1m33.193. Lewis had to make an early and unscheduled pit stop (11.5 seconds) after an incident on lap two with Fernando Alonso and finished 13th. Heikki was on a two-stop strategy and came in on laps 21 (9.4 seconds) and 47 (7 seconds). Lewis made only one routine halt on lap 31 (9.9 seconds). After the third of 18 Grands Prix, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is third in the Constructors’ Championship with 28 points. Lewis is third in the drivers’ rankings with 14 points.

“Quite a tough race today. I made a great start and overtook Kimi coming into Turn Two but then outbraked myself in Turn Four and he regained his position. I then went in too deep at Turn Eight and flatspotted my front right tyre which caused a lot of vibration. It vibrated so much that I was worried something would fall off the car. Things improved in the second stint and the car worked really well towards the end when we changed to the prime tyre. Fifth was the maximum I could do today. However we still scored points on a difficult day, and that is the main thing. I have total commitment to the team and a good car, and I know we will keep working hard to improve for the start of the European races.”

“I am really disappointed and feel like I let the team down today as I always am the first to blame myself. The whole weekend has not been ideal starting with the accident on Friday, but I will keep my chin up and bounce back at the next race. I messed up at the start as I didn’t hit the switch early enough and therefore had not engaged the correct engine setting, and the anti stall kicked in. I lost a lot of places but things were still salvageable at that point. Then I had the incident with Fernando. I was behind him, and I moved to the right, and he moved to the right and that was it – a racing incident I guess. I am confident that we have the pace to be fighting at the front so the confidence is still there. I have had such a good run in Formula 1 until now, and it was almost inevitable that at some point things would go wrong. However there is a long way to go in the Championship and I intend to win it.”

“Most of the teams used the same tyre strategy with the exception of those who went for a one-stop-strategy which we switched Lewis to following his incident with Fernando. Heikki’s race was hampered by understeer which we systematically dialled out to a level which allowed him to set the fastest lap during the closing stages of the race. Lewis’s bad start and the incident with Fernando, which extensively damaged his car, seriously hampered his pace, and we then took the early decision to save the engine for the next race in Barcelona. We will continue to work hard in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart to make sure we are well prepared for the start of the European races.”

“A day to forget. First Lewis lost seven positions at the start and then he lost his front wing in the rear end collision. As a consequence his car was damaged and technically handicapped he was without a chance to score points. Heikki had a reasonable speed only towards the end of the race. The only positive point after today’s race is that the top five in the Drivers’ Championship are within five points and the top three in the Constructors’ ranking within two points. Congratulations to Ferrari on the first one-two victory and to BMW Sauber on their lead in the Championship. We will now focus on the start of the European season in Barcelona in three weeks time and will increase our efforts to be upfront there.”
Race standings

Drivers standings

Constructor standings

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