BUTTON ON THE PODIUM IN LANDMARK RACE Defending world champion Michael Schumacher maintained his winning start to the season in the groundbreaking Bahrain Grand Prix -- the first Formula One world championship race to be staged in the Middle ...
BUTTON ON THE PODIUM IN LANDMARK RACE
Defending world champion Michael Schumacher maintained his winning start to the season in the groundbreaking Bahrain Grand Prix -- the first Formula One world championship race to be staged in the Middle East. Having qualified on pole position, the German controlled the event from start to finish as he clinched his 73rd career victory and Ferrari's 170th. His team-mate Rubens Barrichello followed him across the line.
Two weeks after recording the maiden podium finish of his Formula One career in Malaysia, Jenson Button (BAR Honda/Michelin) repeated the feat in the landmark Bahrain Grand Prix. He was one of six Michelin drivers from four partner teams to finish in the points today.
The Englishman tracked down Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) late in the race after the Colombian was forced to slow with a technical problem. Jarno Trulli (Renault/Michelin, fourth), Takuma Sato (BAR Honda/Michelin, fifth), Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin, sixth), Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin, seventh), Mark Webber (Jaguar/Michelin, eighth) Olivier Panis (Toyota/Michelin, ninth) and Cristiano da Matta (Toyota/Michelin, 10th) were also able to sweep past the stricken Williams driver, who plummeted to 13th by the end of the afternoon.
Sato - who equalled the best result of his F1 career - and Schumacher Jnr did well to score points after recovering from earlier problems. The two drivers collided at Turn Two early in the race, which forced the German to pit for repairs, while Sato also made an unscheduled stop after running over a kerb and damaging his front wing. Alonso also put in a spirited performance. He lined up towards the back of the field, after braking problems ruined his qualifying lap, and also had to stop for repairs after damaging his nose wing on the opening lap.
Jaguar rookie Christian Klien finished 14th after spinning off early in the race, but it was a disappointing weekend for Michelin partner McLaren-Mercedes. Last year's world championship runner-up Kimi Räikkönen suffered a string of technical woes during the weekend. He was given a 10-position grid penalty after his car was fitted with a fresh engine following a failure on Friday.
For tactical reasons he decided to abort his qualifying lap and start at the back of the grid, but he made little progress before a fiery engine problem brought him to a spectacular halt. His team-mate David Coulthard ran in the top eight for most of the event but was forced to pull off with a technical problem in the closing stages. They were two of only three drivers not to reach the finish.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
"This has been a satisfying weekend from several perspectives. Firstly, I would like to compliment the Bahraini authorities on running their first grand prix so efficiently. The event has been a great success. I would also like to congratulate a number of Michelin drivers on their stirring performances today. Juan Pablo Montoya was unlucky not to make the podium; Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli, Takuma Sato, Fernando Alonso and Ralf Schumacher all raced magnificently and between them pulled off some fantastic overtaking manoeuvres."
"In addition, as they clawed their way through the field several of our drivers were able to lap at the same pace as the race leaders. It was very satisfying to see Jenson Button finish in the top three for the second consecutive race. It is rewarding to note that the BAR Honda team has established itself as a regular front-runner since it made the switch to Michelin tyres."
Pascal Vasselon, Michelin F1 programme manager
"It can be difficult preparing for unfamiliar territory such as this, but all three of our dry-weather tyres performed well in the race. They were quick and consistent, as they have been throughout the weekend, and we didn't suffer any wear-related problems."