Tom Clarkson's 2008 Bahrain Grand Prix race report

Published: 07 April 2008

As predicted, the Prancing Horse galloped into the distance in Bahrain. Felipe Massa controlled the race from the front and Kimi Raikkonen demonstrated the superiority of the F2008 by driving around the outside of Robert Kubica to take second place. The red cars were a class apart.

As a result, the story of the race wasn’t Ferrari; it was the contrasting fortunes of Kubica and Lewis Hamilton. While Kubica revelled in his most impressive grand prix to date, Lewis was all at sea.

Robert’s pole position lap was 'stunning' according to his BMW engineers, but the pace of the F1.08 has broadened his horizons so much this year that he seemed underwhelmed when we spoke on Saturday evening.

'It was an okay lap,' he told me in the bar of the plush Novotel Resort in Manama, 'but it doesn’t mean much. Points are only awarded in the race, so that’s what counts.'

Kubica’s subsequent drive to third place was mature, consistent and blew the doors off Lewis, who might as well not have turned up in Bahrain. The McLaren driver was out-performed by his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and never seemed to recover from his crash in Friday's practice.

He went on to botch his start after forgetting to press an engine mapping button on the steering wheel; he lost his nose cone when he hit the back of nemesis Fernando Alonso on lap two and he came home in a lacklustre 13th position. He then left the track immediately after the race, preferring to let the McLaren press release speak for him. 'I think I let the team down today,' he said

Good on you, Robert, for a great performance; go on holiday, Lewis, and come back with a clear head at Barcelona in three weeks time.

By Tom Clarkson

F1 correspondent, BBC pitlane man, accesser of all areas, head beans-spiller