How Lewis Hamilton can win the race – for Toyota (Bahrain GP pre-race analysis)

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Starting from the clean side with KERS fitted, Lewis Hamilton is one to watch

The fuel loads have confirmed the suspicions that the Toyotas ran with lower fuel loads than their rivals to take control of the first row of the grid.

On row two we find the two drivers most likely to become our title protagonists: race winners Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. Which one of these is most likely to overcome the Toyotas to win? And what can the KERS-powered Lewis Hamilton do from fifth?

The start

The little-used Bahrain circuit is noted for being dirty off-line, which could be a problem for those starting in the even-numbered grid slots. As it happens, this was not the case last year, when Felipe Massa moved up from second into the lead. But still I would expect those on the cleaner side (Trulli, Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, etc…) to have an advantage.

This present Vettel with a strong chance of taking Timo Glock for second, leaving him with one Toyota to pass instead of two.

Button, meanwhile, could be looking over his shoulder. The Brawn has not been the quickest car off the line this year (remember Button’s first-to-fourth at Sepang), he starts from the dirty side at Bahrain and the fifth placed McLaren of Lewis Hamilton is ready to pounce.

Hamilton has the advantage of being the highest-starting KERS-equipped car. We’ve seen some impressive KERS-boosted starts this year, and the long run into turn one followed by another blast to turn four offers Hamilton a major chance to make up places. Just as long as he doesn’t cream the McLaren into the back of a competitor as he did last year.

A scenario where Hamilton gets past Button and Vettel at the start could offer Toyota their best chance of winning this race. The MP4/24 may not be too quick, but as we’ve seen earlier this year a car with a KERS button is especially hard to pass.

Further back, look to Fernando Alonso and the Ferraris for more KERS fireworks.

Read more: Bahrain Grand Prix grid

The strategy

At China we saw some drivers fuelling lightly to get their super-soft tyre stint out of the way as quickly as possible (at least, they would have done had it not rained). The durability of the tyre seems to be less of a concern here, and the teams are more likely to use it than the medium compound.

On the flip side, the medium tyre may prove difficult to get speed out of. Button has had particular problems generating heat in tyres this year, so it’s starting to look like the odds are stacked against him.

Once again we have a driver in a fast car starting way out of position. Mark Webber starts way down in 18th after his altercation with Adrian Sutil in qualifying (for which Sutil has now been punished). How much progress can he make from there with his light fuel load?

Read more: Sebastian Vettel carrying more fuel than Toyotas (Bahrain GP fuel and pit stops)

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “How Lewis Hamilton can win the race – for Toyota (Bahrain GP pre-race analysis)”

  1. its going to be a great race. the predictable whether and the big run off areas should keep the safety car in the garage and hopefully we’ll be treated to a proper race!

    I hope Button keeps up the good work, a fight between him, Vettel and the toyotas would be amazing to watch

  2. Could you clarify Keith?

    I always understood that KERS cars couldn’t come to the starting grid fully charged.

    Doesn’t the system charge starting on the first racing lap (not the parade lap)?

    If so how do we get a KERS boosted start?

    1. The KERS can be used from the start they are allowed to charge it up in the garage if they want.

    2. Chris has got it spot on.

    3. Seriously? Or is this something that reporters imagined and didn’t turn out true afterwards (like the 100km/h minimum speed for KERS to engage) Is this directly from a quote from a driver or the FIA?

      The rules seem pretty clear:

      Any KERS may only be capable of increasing the stored energy whilst the car is moving on the track. Release of power from any such system must remain under the complete control of the driver at all times the car is on the track.

      So that means, no charging allowed in the garage (not on track and not moving).

      There is no point anyway since the KERS can be charged on the out lap or the parade lap.

  3. With a well balanced Redbull car that gets off the grid excellently, Vettel is in a very good position for a race win.
    Hamilton is likely to get past Button, and be facing the back of Glock into the first corner.

    This may be the first opportunity we see of the Toyota starting in their correct order, lets see as it goes.

    As for KERS, if they can make use of it during qualifying, and cars are parked and left untouched afterwards, isn’t it easy to assume KERS is already fully charged. But why waste an opportunity to charge up KERS during the parade lap.

    1. We haven’t seen much of Glock as wheel-to-wheel racing in F1 – but take it from his GP2 and Champ Car days that he’s a proper racer’s racer. I think he’ll defend pretty aggressively off the line.

    2. We haven’t seen much of Glock as wheel-to-wheel racing in F1 – but take it from his GP2 and Champ Car days that he’s a proper racer’s racer. I think he’ll defend pretty aggressively off the line.

      You´re right and he can prove that HERE

    3. Wow, that’s a great race.

  4. Vettel needs to keep in touch with the Toyota’s so that he can put in 4 quick laps in clean air and hopefully emerge infront after his pitstop. RedBull is the fastest car on the grid! Amazing job by Newey

  5. I think Glock has a good shot at victory.
    Trulli has the edge in qualy, but in race conditions Glock has been great!

  6. I’m really not sure that the advantage of the clean side of the track is that huge. Remember in 2007 Alonso in 4th got ahead of Raikkonen in 3rd while Kovalainen in 12th moved up to 9th. In 2006 Alonso in 4th again made the best start, challenging for 2nd into the first corner and Button in 3rd dropped down to 6th. Certainly there have also been instances of people on the clean side making better starts, and there is probably some advantage, but I don’t think the difference is anywhere near as big as it is in places like Turkey and Hungary. Weigh that against Vettel’s fuel disadvantage and I think it is reasonably likely that Glock will still be ahead of Vettel into the first corner. Whether either of them will still be ahead of Hamilton, I wouldn’t bet on it given the KERS potential we’ve seen this year. In fact, I think all of the top four need to watch their mirrors…

  7. I’m not certain about “charging” the KERS system whether in the pits or on the formation lap but I do know it can NOT be discharged (used) until moving at 60 MPH / 100 KPH which they should reach before turn one!

    Button is starting “lighter” and COULD out accellerate Vettel to turn one, thus ruining many Red Bull plans. Could Hamilton sneak into third and “hold up” everyone ……. not impossible.

    I sometimes wave the flag for Trulli, but both Toyota’s on the front row does look like a recipe for disappointment. I’d rather see Glock do another points finish from the pit lane.
    He’s a hidden talent this year.

  8. If Vettel becomes the Drivers World Champion come the end of the season, will he then become the youngest ever world champ?

    1. That would be exciting!

      However, with BrawnGP, Toyota looking great this season and and McLaren/Ferrari bound to make performance gains as the season progresses, it will be tough.

      I’m just thrilled for yet another exciting F1 season. The different teams challenging for poles and race wins.

      Love it! ;)

  9. Thanks everyone for the explanations on the 1 st lap usage of KERS.

    Since it takes no more than 2-3 seconds to reach 60 mph I can see how KERS could be great help getting to the first turn.

    1. No problem mate. However in an ideal world i agree with you not using it on the first lap as all of Max’s talk about KERS being green etc goes out the window with teams using the elec in the garage to charge it up!!!!!

  10. I am looking for a good battle between Glock and Vettel tomorrow,should be a great race.I predict only one Toyota on podium though.Vettel and Hamilton are gonna give them some trouble.Hopefully no trouble with the Toyota’s brakes to make it even more interesting.

  11. Chris, I actually think Kers can be charged by the engine as it spins down during braking. So during the formation lap, there is plenty of opportunity to have KERS fully charged up as I don’t know of anyone who would use a KERS burst during the parade lap :-)

  12. Oliver and Chris

    I think charging on the parade lap is what is happening. Having a fully charged car sitting on the grid with that many people around could be an accident waiting to happen.

  13. And again ferrari did it…they did force Kimi use all his new softy tires in Q2 so he did not have any for Q3…GREAT JOB Ferrari :(

    I start think that they really want give all chance to Massa.

    1. I’m pretty sure Kimi is also in control of what tyres he uses too you know. He might just have a say.

    2. Erm, how about Ferrari NEEDING to use all supersofts to get into Q3?

  14. And I can hear Alonso singing ” What ever you do, i do it better” while he drive wheel to wheel with Hamilton in first corner, same time Kimi try stay away from that mess and take both of them from outside. After first corner everybody it stuck behinde Trulli train so who ever is leading after that corner will win :) LOL

  15. Snoopy, it must be Kimi doing it, seeing that Massa was able to save his tyres, how come Kimi couldn’t?

  16. The Sri Lankan
    26th April 2009, 0:14

    Considering the lap time penalty of carrying extra fuel is around 0.035s per kg, on a fueladjusted grid, i rekon Trulli would still have been on pole away from vettel. still, i think toyota should deploy some team tactics to keep the hard charger Vettel, Hamilton and alonso at bay. ideally i think it would be best if jarno kept everyone back while glock gets away since he really need to punch in the fasteset times as he is pitting i before Truilli and Vettel. this way Jarno could also open the door for Vettel being attacked by Hamilton or Jensen or maybe even alonso.

  17. Hamilton is so slow in S2 those behind have no choice but to be aggressive with him. Webber has at least taken the aggressive path and should be good to watch. Trulli for non kers and Alonso for kers are my two fastest off the line predictions followed closely by barrichello and hamilton who are overdue fast starts.

  18. stop press……fat losers slag off Hamilton confirming that even his walking down the street is some corporate show off pre planned lie/cheat.

    eh? bleeding obvious? no original point? sod it? i’ll say it anyway.

    please…… carry on.

  19. I think it’s very tough for Webber, starting that far back. He probably will overtake a bundle of heavier guys, only to come back out in slow traffic and have it all to do again.

    Heidfeld has got the odd result from the same disadvantage by opting for heavy plodding. It’s an unenviable way to start a race from any point of view.

    I think this will be a very tough race for any of those lower down the order to break into the points.

  20. look for a top 5 for webber today, I know he is near last but…watch out for his progress 4 sure.

    I am even willing to go as far to say say he may evne end up on podium..

    Vettel will walk this one in
    Toyata will fall back
    Hamilton will ditch it
    Alonso will be strong and fade


  21. Does anyone have any video showing adrian blocking webber?

  22. Kimi was really outpacing massa in qualifyiing, and he was in a safe position. but the team told him to do go out once more as he didnt want to go, and finally ferrari ruined his q3 with no tyres left….poor kimi

  23. i am bit confused about the title of this article …”How Lewis Hamilton can win the race – for Toyota”

    damn , i am no good at english , can some body explain whats the message :)

    1. Keith explains this in his analysis:

      A scenario where Hamilton gets past Button and Vettel at the start could offer Toyota their best chance of winning this race.

      If Hamilton gets behind the Toyota’s after the start and then holds everybody up, he would help Toyota to a possible win.

  24. Yes, Kimi did not want to go but team forced him to go no matter what Kimi was thinking himself. I was reading about this from MTV3 finnish F1 site and example JJ Lehto was uppset for that situation….but well thats motorsport. and i still cant wait to see how Alonso and Hamilton will go threw first corner..

    I will put my money to Vettel, Glock will be second. About 3th place there will be war. hamilton will not be on podium and both ferraris will be in points.

  25. Becken thanks for posting the Hamilton, Glock, Piquet GP2 race, I had not seen that very entertaining. Great prep for todays race. Can’t wait.

  26. Does anyone have any video showing adrian blocking webber?

    I haven’t llok for a video, but I remember what happened and can tell you.
    Sutil whas on his out-lap, behind Alonso. In the straight before the main-straight, he slowed down on the racing line to put distance between him and Alonso, not noticing Webber has coming from behind on a fast lap. Webber moved to the right to vertake, but Sutil did likewise, so Webber had to go again to the left and overtook on braking to the last corner. This was the first blocking, but then, Sutil overtook Webber on the main straight (prooving that the Force India is fast on the accellerator), when Webber was going for his second flying lap, so actually, it ruined Webber’s last 2 attempts.

    I don’t think they penalised him for overtaking, because then Sutil was on his flying lap, but the truth is that Sutil was slowing down on the racing line going into the last corner, so this is enough for considering a blocking manouver

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