Middle Eastern teams take first and third slots in opening Formula 1 championship round

The opening round of the 2010 World Formula 1 Championship in Portimao, Portugal over the weekend saw a success for Abu Dhabi’s Ahmed Al-Hameli after starting second on the grid.

He was also to benefit from three yellow flag stoppages allowing him to surge ahead of Italian Francesco Cantando, last year’s winner. Emirati colleague Thani Al-Qamzi finished third.

2008 American Formula 1 champion Jay Price finished fourth, a creditable result after suffering a serious flip in the pre-race time trials the previous day.

“Of course I’m happy with fourth position after the problems yesterday and nine championship points is better than nothing, it was vital that we came away from Portugal with something and my team mate, Britain’s Andy Elliot, has also driven well and achieved vital points to boost our cause,” Price said.

The start saw Ahmed Al Hamli take the lead followed by Cantando and Portugal’s Duarte Benavente.

The yellow flag was waved when Rinaldo Isculati stopped on the racing line, allowing the field to bunch up.

At this stage Benavente pulled into the pits with power trim problems. Meanwhile, Thani Al Qamzi, Jay Price and Sami Selio were working their way through the pack to join the front-runners.

At this point China’s Philippe Chiappe moved up to third ahead of Al Qamzi before succumbing to mechanical problems.

It then became a close battle with the Qatar Team‘s Jay Price just securing fourth place with team mate Andy Elliott finishing sixth behind Pierre Lundin.

It was a bad day for Team Azerbaijan as Andersson never got away from the dock while teammate Marit Stromoy’s engine seized after she had worked her way through the pack to fill seventh slot by the 20th lap.

Selio’s team partner Alex Carrella was well placed until a mechanical problem forced him out on the 29th.

Of the 17 contenders who started the 42-lap event, only eight reached the finish.

Fabian Kalsow and Davide Padovan, however, were both later deemed finishers although Kalsow, Padovan and Elliott had only completed 40 laps.

It was later announced that Selio was disqualified for a race stoppage after his engine stalled with Gambi and Comparato also disqualified for receiving outside assistance.