With wet conditions in two earlier Formula 1 Races this year, the climate was decidedly different in Bahrain on April 26. Hot, sweltering conditions were the order of the day for the 2009 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Drivers dealt with heat in their external and internal cockpit environment.
It would be a race of endurance to see which cars would hold up under the heat. It would also be a test of the physical and mental fortitude of the drivers. All that remained is who would emerge victorious on the Bahrain International Circuit.
Held in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the racing gods said "bah to rain" this particular Sunday. The heat did not stop top-notch drivers from performing at the top of their game for race fans. A tradition of exciting Grand Prix racing is beginning to build in this country. The Grand Prix of Bahrain first ran in 2004. It was the first ever round of the Formula 1 World Championships to race in the Middle East.
The Bahrain International circuit is at Sakhir. It is 30 kilometers south-west of the island's capital, Manama. The race is set at 57 laps on the 5.412-kilometer circuit. Drivers who finish the race run a total of 308.238 kilometers. It's not your typical leisurely Sunday drive on a typical Formula 1 Sunday.
This year's race began with Jenson Button battling for prime position as the opening lap ran. He began the day fourth on the starting grid. In qualifying on Saturday, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, both of Toyota, raced well. This secured the drivers a one-two placing respectively on the starting grid for Sunday's race. Sebastian Vettel took the third position on the starting grid.
Jenson Button clearly had his work cut out for him early on in the race. He had a clutch problem at the start, which meant a slow getaway for him. However, he maneuvered well in the first two minutes of the race. He then took control of the course when the Toyota team took their pit stops. In fact, Button only relinquished his lead whenever he made refueling stops. He made up for this with a combination of aggressive strategy and driving skill.
In the end, Jenson Button crossed the line with the checkered flag hailing him as the victor. It was a race that he called his finest ever. He battled the climate and his engine temperatures in the final laps.
In addition, an electrical box in his cockpit overheated and burned his left leg during the race. The only disappointment was that his Brawn-Mercedes teammate Rubens Barrichello did not get a podium placing with him. However, Barrichello did finish a respectable fifth in the race.
The Bahrain Grand Prix garnered a second place finish for German driver Sebastian Vettel. He had a little trouble early on in the race, which contributed to not finishing first. Lewis Hamilton on his right, and Jenson Button on his left in the first corner impeded his initial foray to the forefront.
Vettel ended up behind Hamilton, who started fifth on the grid. Vettel also experienced rapid tire degradation. He did secure a second finish when Jarno Trulli lost pace during his middle race portion on prime rubber tires. Prime rubber tires are a harder tire.
For Jarno Trulli the race was a little disconcerting considering he held the pole position. He led for one lap in the race. Upon pitting, he emerged in sixth place. He lost time with the aforementioned prime tires. He fell behind Sebastian Vettel by the time he converted back to the super soft tires for his final portion of the race.
For Jenson Button it was the third win this season for him and the Brawn-Mercedes team. He finished the race in a time of 1:31:48:182. Vettel of RBR-Renault and Trulli from Toyota celebrated on the podium with him.
Button, from Britain, now leads the Driver Standings with 31 points. Rubens Barrichello, of Italy, stands second with 19 points. Sebastian Vettel, from Germany, rounds out the top three with 18 points. In the Team Standings, Brawn-Mercedes leads with 50 points. RBR-Renault is second with 27.50 points, followed by Toyota with 26.50 points.
Next up in the Formula 1 Grand Prix season is the Spanish Grand Prix set for May 10. Then follow races in Monaco, Turkey, and Britain, before we head into the heat of July. Temperatures will definitely heat up on the track as the summer ensues.
With the Bahrain Grand Prix in the books, teams have a week to formulate their next strategies. The essence of Grand Prix racing is precision technology, mechanics, and driver's skill. The season is now full speed ahead with these three aspects working together to find that winning "formula."
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