Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ferrari Back on Top with 1-2 Finish in Bahrain Grand Prix

With the drop of the flag on a beautiful day at the Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir Bahrain, another season of Formula 1 racing got underway. After a very disappointing season last year, Ferrari made a very bold statement in the opening race of the season; they are the team to beat in 2010, posting a 1-2 finish when the final lap was completed.

Fernando Alonso, making his first start for Ferrari after two years driving for Renault, added to the legend of the prancing horse, winning his first race with the Italian team; a feat also accomplished by Nigel Mansell in his first appearance with Ferrari in 1989 and three years ago by the man Alonso replaced, Kimi Raikkonen. The Spanish national anthem rang out as Alonso took his place at the top of the podium for his twenty-second career victory and third win at the Bahrain Grand Prix. He overtook Sebastian Vettel on the 34th lap for the race lead and never relinquished the top spot, cruising to victory on the 49-lap circuit.

“A very special day for me as coming back to the top of the podium is always special but I think it is even more special with Ferrari with all the history behind the team and all the expectations a driver has when he drives for Ferrari,” said Alonso in his post-race press conference, available at the Formula 1 website. “There is no better way to start the relationship.”

The new season also marked the return of Felipe Massa to the track after an accident last year that resulted in life-threatening injuries for the Brazilian driver. The 29-year-old Massa was seriously injured in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix when a suspension spring from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn car struck Massa in the helmet, resulting in a crash. Massa’s health quickly improved after the accident and despite missing the remainder of the season, there was little doubt he would be back behind the wheel of his Ferrari in time for the start of the 2010 schedule. His second place finish at the Bahrain GP confirmed that the young man from Sao Paulo is ready for a run at the Driver’s Championship.

With a disappointing 2009 season in their rear-view mirrors, Ferrari is ready to battle for the Constructors Title with their 2010 car. Last year, there was much discussion when Ferrari made the decision to abandon the race for the Constructors Title and focus on research and development for the 2010 season, but any controversy ended today with the 1-2 finish.

Also making his return to Formula 1 racing today was 7-time Driver’s Champion Michael Schumacher. With almost every record in the sport, most championships, race victories, fastest laps, pole positions and most races won in a single season, the former Benetton and Ferrari driver was at the wheel for Mercedes at the Bahrain GP. After a three-year absence from the sport, Schumacher almost returned last year as a replacement for Massa after his accident in Hungary but a bad back from a motorcycle injury forced the living legend to postpone his return until this season. Schumacher and his Mercedes crossed the line in sixth place.

“After three years away, I'm happy to say that I had fun out there today especially at the beginning with the good start that I had,” Schumacher said in an interview available at the Formula 1 website. “I can live very well with sixth position and it gives both me and the team a good base to make progress.”

The next race on the Formula 1 schedule is the Australian Grand Prix on March 28th and all eyes will be on Ferrari to see if they can repeat their success in Bahrain. The final results from today’s Bahrain Grand Prix: 1st: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 2nd: Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 3rd: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren).

Photo by Daniel Hector Stolfi Rosso on Flickr.

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