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Review: 2008 Bahrain Grand Prix

March 5, 2010

From now on, in every week before a race we will review a past race from that Grand Prix, be it the last years race or one from 40 years ago. Hopefully we will have an article for all races of the season (except for the Korean Grand Prix, for obvious reasons). To gear us up for the season opener we will take a look at one of Bahrain’s most action packed races from the 2008 season.

Jenson goes wide on the first lap of the race

Jenson goes across the dust on the first lap of the race

This track may not be a classic but it really can provide entertainment.

It was still early in the season when the cars landed in Bahrain but the results here were just as important. The 2008 season was beginning to be shaped and it was still unclear just who would be launching a full-scale title campaign that would last.

The standings of the top 5 going into the race were:

Drivers Points
Constructors Points
Hamilton 14 McLaren Mercedes 24
Räikkönen 11 BMW Sauber 19
Heidfeld 11 Ferrari 11
Kovalainen 10 Williams Toyota 9
Kubica 8 Renault 6

Hamilton smashed into the barrier during second practice and Mclaren and to work hard to get everything in order for the next day.

The surprise of the 2008 weekend was when Pole Robert Kubica scored his first pole position. Not only were the newspapers awash with-Pole-on-pole headlines but it put him in the history books as he was the first driver from Poland to achieve the feat.

The four championship contenders dominated the front of the grid. Massa lined up second, ahead of Hamilton by just under 1.8 tenths of a second while Raikkonen was to start fourth.  The other Mclaren of Kovalainen was fifth, he may have had a good car under him but he never looked to threaten the frontrunners come race-day.  Button managed to qualify in the top ten for the first time that season (9th) while fellow Briton Coulthard was knocked out of Q1.

Bourdais showed some speed against Vettel and managed to put a few spaces between them. Fisichella wouldn’t let teammate Sutil get an easy ride, he still had some pace. While Super Aguri unsurprisingly made up the rear end of the grid.

Race day dawned and the win was anyone’s guess. When the lights went out it was clear that starting first was to be Kubica’s only highlight of the race weekend when Massa easily beat him to the first corner.

Hamilton didn’t get the best of starts either and quickly lost out and rapidly slid down the order. He lost out eight places to wind up eleventh but was eager to make up for his mistake. While Coulthard hounded Alonso, Hamilton waited in the wings. When the Scot made a move on Fernando, Hamilton saw an opportunity but it left him the worse for wear when he made contact with his former teammate.

Hamilton seemed to survive just about although his front wing had definitely sustained damage.

Massa was giving a majestic performance and left Kubica unable to catch up. Thanks to Hamilton’s error Raikkonen was now third with Heikki fourth but he was quite a way off. Quick Nick overtook Trulli at turn one to claim fifth.

Hamilton was still showing his raw speed; despite the front wing damage he was still clinging on to Alonso. When a gap briefly opened up the situation just declined further when another error saw the McLaren briefly mounting Alonso’s Renault. Hamilton had no choice but to pit.

The Briton’s frustration was clear when he was visibly shaking his head when he had no choice but to pit for repairs.

Raikkonen had reeled in Kubica and the Pole showed some determination by putting up a commendable fight but there was only ever going to be one outcome when Kimi had the bit between his teeth. If things stayed the same it was to be a Ferrari one-two.

While one BMW struggled, the other was flying and Heidfeld –almost immediately after Kubica was overtaken-disposed of Heikki for fourth.  The Finn did make some sort of mark on the race when he set the fastest lap (1:33.193 on lap 49) in the silver car however.

Massa calmly took the win at Bahrain; the first for Massa that season, the first Ferrari one-two of 2008 and the one hundredth win since di Montezemolo had been in charge. This was when Felipe’s championship bid kicked off although few realised at the time just how far his campaign would go.

It was a much needed win too as the Brazilian hadn’t stood at the top spot since Turkey the previous year and his previous two races had ended in retirement due to driver error.

Hamilton climbed up to thirteenth but it was well short of the expectations the team had on the Saturday night.

Kubica may have rued most of the Sunday but his pole position showed clearly his potential. By the end of the year many felt that Kubica had shown great maturity and potential particularly when BMW froze development of the 2009 car.

The Championship standings after Bahrain:

Drivers Points
Constructors Points
Räikkönen 19 BMW Sauber 30
Heidfeld 16 Ferrari 29
Hamilton 14 McLaren Mercedes 28
Kubica 14 Williams Toyota 10
Kovalainen 14 Toyota 8

2008 Bahrain Grand Prix race results:

Driver Team Grid
1st Felipe Massa Ferrari 2
2nd Kimi Räikkonen Ferrari 4
3rd Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1
4th Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 6
5th Heikki Kovalainen McLaren Mercedes 5
6th Jarno Trulli Toyota 7
7th Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 11
8th Nico Rosberg Williams Toyota 8
9th Timo Glock Toyota 13
10th Fernando Alonso Renault 10
11th Rubens Barrichello Honda 12
12th Giancarlo Fisichella Force India Ferrari 18
13th Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 3
14th Kazuki Nakajima Williams Toyota 16
15th Sébastien Bourdais Toro Rosso Ferrari 15
16th Anthony Davidson Super Aguri Honda 21
17th Takuma Sato Super Aguri Honda 22
18th David Coulthard Red Bull Renault 17
19th Adrian Sutil Force India Ferrari 20
Ret Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 14
Ret Jenson Button Honda 9
Ret Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso Ferrari 19
2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2010 9:00 pm

    Great idea for articles like this! And I also love the quote of the day.
    I think Kimi would have won this race had he not had the problem with his ears.

  2. Alex Stabler permalink
    October 19, 2010 11:03 am

    The 2008 Bahrain Grand Prix was a brilliant race – back then Bahrain was one of the best overtaking circuits on the calendar – don’t know how it managed to become on the worst ones in 2010 with the “endurance” circuit.

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