[F1 2018 NEWS] BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Formula 1 news story about [F1 2018 NEWS] BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has won the Bahrain Grand Prix for the fourth time, his second-straight in the Kingdom - the four-time F1 World Champion outfoxing Mercedes by switching to a one-stop strategy, making his soft tyres last for 39-laps despite heavy pressure from Valtteri Bottas to the last corner of the last lap.

Vettel is now the most successful driver in Bahrain, the four-time F1 World Champion winning his 49th race on his 200th Grand Prix start, but had to work hard for it - pitting on Lap 19 for the softs, but with the Silver Arrows running strong on a one-stop strategy, the German was forced to switch to the same but on rubber that was two-steps softer meaning he’d be vulnerable in the race’s closing stages.

“These tyres were done, they were done for the last 10 laps!” Vettel exclaimed.

“I was looking at the pace of Valtteri at the time, [and there was] no way I could do that. And I was making the maths inside the car, 10 laps to go - that pace, he’s going to catch me. I really tried to keep it as clean as possible. Both Mercedes, at the end of the stint, were quite strong. And by going onto the prime, obviously they saw what we did but going onto the medium tyre, I felt that was checkmate as we had to come in again. That was the original plan, but then we diverted and tried to make the tyres, nurse them as much as I could, and it worked.”

Bottas finished less than seven tenths adrift in second, with Lewis Hamilton coming home third - six places up from where he started, after a five-place gearbox penalty dropped him five places on the grid.

The sport now moves from the Middle East to China, in the first back-to-back race weekends on this equal-longest season in F1 history.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 57 1:32:01.940 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 57 +0.699s 18
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 57 +6.512s 15
4 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 57 +62.234s 12
5 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 57 +75.046s 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 57 +99.024s 8

Here’s how the FORMULA 1 2018 BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:

Build Up:
There’s set to be fireworks in the desert, and not just after the race, with an all-Ferrari front row in Bahrain for the first time since 2006 - and a number of big names out of position on the grid.

Sebastian Vettel took his 51st pole for his 200th Grand Prix start, Ferrari’s first in Bahrain since 2007, with the four-time F1 World Champion hoping to take his second win for the year - and fourth in Bahrain, which would make him the most-successful driver there. His teammate Kimi Räikkönen is alongside on the front row, the Finn having never won in Bahrain - but in prime position to do so, with the race only won from the first two rows in 13 attempts.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas starts from third (the Finn earning his maiden pole in Manama last year), with Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo in fourth - handing the Australian a shot at victory. In fifth, it’s Toro Rosso rookie Pierre Gasly, who pulled out a brilliant lap - arguably the best in qualifying - to be the best of the rest after the top-three teams.

Incredibly, four-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton starts ninth, after taking a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change - the Brit unable to match the Ferraris on one-lap pace. He’s never won a race from outside the top-six, though, and his W09 suffers on the softer compounds at the rear. We’re also expecting a huge fightback drive from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who will start from P15 after a spin (due to a 150bhp power surge) in Q1 that ruled him out of the rest of the session.

McLaren is disappointed to start from P13 and P14 with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne respectively. The squad says it just wasn’t fast enough in qualifying, and will be looking to limit damage in Bahrain - albeit with what it says is an “aggressive strategy”.

We’re expecting a two-stop race, with that the fastest way through the Grand Prix - but it’s only marginally ahead of a one-stop for those not starting on the supersoft tyres, so it will be fascinating to see those coming through the field likely capitalising on track position.

Formation Lap:
The top-10 are all on supersofts, with the exception of Hamilton in P9 on the softs. Sainz and Hartley are on the supersofts in P10 and P11 respectively, with the New Zealander on a new set. The rest of the field are all on softs, other than Vandoorne and Grosjean on a new set of supersofts. Track temp is 33 degrees Celsius, with ambient at 28 for the start of the race.

Lap 1:
Vettel gets a great start to lead into Turn 1, but it’s Bottas that gets ahead of Raikkonen - who’s bumped into Turn 2. Almost four wide going into Turn 4. Ricciardo is P4, ahead of Gasly. Vandoorne has slipped back to P18.

Lap 2:
Vettel leads Bottas by 1.3 seconds, then Bottas, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Gasly, Magnussen, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Alonso. Verstappen passes Hamilton aggressively into Turn 1 for P9, touching his front wing. But, Verstappen has a puncture as a result, dropping back. Ricciardo has also stopped at the side of the track, with an engine issue. The Virtual Safety Car has been deployed.

Lap 3:
Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:40.505. We’re still under the VSC here. Verstappen has limped back to the pits, he switches to the supersofts. Replays show Perez spinning at Turn 4 on Lap 1, being tapped by Hartley

Lap 4:
VSC continues, with VET ahead of BOT, RAI, GAS, MAG, OCO, HUL, ALO, HAM and HAR as top-10. Rest of the field is SAI, ERI, STR, GRO, VAN, SIR, PER, LEC, VER. VSC coming to an end. Gasly pushes Magnussen wide and off the track.

Lap 5:
Hulkenberg passes Ocon for P6 at final corner, but Hamilton passes all of them into Turn 1 - for P6. Incredible. Alonso is also in the mix. Verstappen stopped at the side of the track, so both Red Bulls out.

Lap 6:
Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:35.721. Hamilton passes Magnussen down the pit straight for P5. Hulkenberg in P7 is pushing Magnussen hard now, Alonso chasing them both.

Lap 7:
Vettel sets another fastest lap, a 1:35.369. He leads Bottas by 2.2 seconds. Raikkonen 2.7 seconds behind Bottas in P3. Hamilton is now half a second behind Gasly in P5, with that move a matter of time. Perez and Hartley clash being investigated by the stewards.

Lap 8:
Vettel extending his lead slightly over Bottas, now 2.4 seconds. Hamilton has passed Gasly down the straight for P4, though the Frenchman is staying close behind. Alonso told Hulkenberg ahead is struggling with his battery. The Spaniard in P8. Verstappen and Hamilton clash has been cleared by the stewards.

Lap 9:
Vettel, Bottas and Hamilton are the only men in the 1:35s. Vettel in P1, 2.6 seconds ahead of Bottas. Hulkenberg and Magnussen clash has been cleared. Sainz in P11 is 0.6 seconds behind Hartley, in his old team Toro Rosso. Hartley has a 10-second time penalty ahead of his pit stop for causing a collision with Perez.

Lap 10:
Vettel leads Bottas by 2.8 seconds. Raikkonen 3.1 seconds behind in P3. The big battle is Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Alonso in P6-8, just four seconds between them all.

Lap 11:
Vettel leads Bottas by 3-seconds, while Hamilton has dropped into the 1:36s. Stroll pits with a damaged front wing. Replay showing Ricciardo’s engine failing at Turn 10.

Lap 12:
Vettel leads Bottas by 3.2 seconds, then Raikkonen, Hamilton (8.3 secs behind Raikkonen), Gasly, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Ocon and Hartley closes out the top-10. Hamilton has picked up the pace again and is back into the 1:35s - two tenths up on Vettel on that last lap. Ericsson in P12 is the only car within 1-second of another, the Swede behind Sainz.

Lap 13:
Vettel leads Bottas still by 3.1 seconds, as Magnussen pits from P6. He moves onto the supersofts, exits ahead of Hulkenberg in the same place.

Lap 14:
Hartley and Perez under investigation for not retaining position on the formation lap.

Lap 15:
Vettel leads Bottas by 2.8 seconds, Bottas beginning to claw back the gap - the Finn two tenths ahead of that last lap.

Lap 16:
Gasly stops, as does Hulkenberg - who stays ahead of Alonso after his stop. Strange things happening earlier on with official FOM lap count, now looks sorted.

Lap 17:
Vettel leads Bottas by 2.6 seconds. Alonso passes Leclerc for 13. Sainz pits from P7. Top-four the only ones in the 1:36s. Alonso passes Sirotkin for P11 into Turn 1.

Lap 18:
Vettel’s lead waning, with Bottas now just 2.1 seconds behind. Hamilton in P4 is 5.9 seconds behind Raikkonen, and the Brit much faster on that last lap - six tenths faster. Ferrari coming out into the pit lane with soft tyres.

Lap 19:
Vettel pits from lead, releasing Bottas. Vettel comes out behind Hamilton in P4. Grosjean pits from P8. Bottas now leads, 5.6 seconds ahead of Raikkonen - but is yet to stop. Vettel is 19.4 seconds behind the Finn now. Ferrari again in the pit lane, hoping to force Mercedes to pit.

Lap 20:
Raikkonen pits, heading onto the softs - as Vettel sets purple sectors to try and stay ahead of Bottas when he finally pits. FOM timing not showing pit stop times.

Lap 21:
Bottas pits from the lead, he goes onto the mediums - so a one stop for the Mercedes. The Finn comes out between the Ferraris, ahead of Raikkonen covering off the undercut with an alternative strategy. Vettel sets the fastest lap of the race, a 1:34.696. Hamilton now leads the race, but is yet to stop. He’s 5.1 seconds up on Vettel.

Lap 22:
Raikkonen in P4 sets the fastest lap, a 1:34.411, as Vettel sets a personal best lap. Hamilton in P1 is 1.7 seconds slower than the Ferraris at this point.

Lap 23:
Bottas in P3 sets the fastest lap, a 1:33.740, on the mediums. He’s 7-seconds behind Vettel in P2. Hulkenberg in P8 is 0.3 seconds behind Ericsson, and looking to swoop - the Swede is yet to stop.

Lap 24:
Hamilton leads Vettel, 2.3 seconds the gap. Then Bottas, Raikkonen, Gasly, Magnussen, Ericsson, Hulkenberg, Alonso. Ericsson pits, going into the mediums for a one-stop. Vettel is catching Hamilton, just 1.3 seconds the gap. Is Mercedes playing a game here?

Lap 25:
Pit stop gap is 23-seconds in Bahrain. Vettel is now in DRS range of Hamilton now, 0.7 seconds the gap. Bottas told to run to Plan B. Vettel gets past Hamilton on the way to Turn 13, but can’t stay ahead.

Lap 26:
Hamilton leads Vettel, but the German passes his foe into Turn 1 - with that move crucial for Vettel’s race. So it’s Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen and Gasly the top-five. Mercedes out into the pits for Hamilton.

Lap 27:
Hamilton stops for the mediums, and 30 laps to go - with mediums able to run for 40. The Brit drops to P4, behind Raikkonen. The top-five is covered by 43-seconds, the top-10 59-seconds.

Lap 28:
Vettel leads Bottas by 5.1 seconds, Raikkonen 2.1 seconds adrift in P3. Hamilton is 17-seconds behind Raikkonen in P4. Magnussen pits from P7. Top-three all in the 1:34s. Grosjean’s Haas has just shed some carbon fibre.

Lap 29:
Bottas reeling in Vettel, 4.9 seconds the gap now - the Finn three tenths up on that last lap. Perez in P12 is being chased by Ericsson. Vandoorne pits from P10. Ericsson passes Perez for P11 down into Turn 1, impressive move.

Lap 30:
Vettel leads by 4.6 seconds, Raikkonen 16.8 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Grosjean in P9 is chasing Ocon - 0.7 secs the gap. Magnussen is behind his teammate, very close behind. Grosjean tries to pull out a move on Ocon, but can’t make it work. Magnussen goes wide at Turn 20 trying to overtake them both.

Lap 31:
Magnussen heavily complaining about Grosjean over the radio. This battle is the closest on the track right now. Grosjean pits now, releasing Magnussen. Ericsson is in P10, the 50th race since the Swede scored points in the 2015 Italian GP.

Lap 32:
Vettel leads Bottas by 4.2 seconds, with Raikkonen now just 1.6 seconds behind the Mercedes. Hamilton is now 16.1 seconds adrift of the the second Ferrari. Magnussen all over Ocon, and he passes the young Frenchman for P8 into Turn 1.

Lap 33:
Can Vettel make this set of softs last to the end of the race? Ricciardo says he just lost all power, could be electrical issue. “The sport can rip your heart out,” he says.

Lap 34:
Vettel trying to clear the traffic. He’s 4.4 seconds up on Bottas. Hamilton in P4 is doing 1:34.3s, half a second up on the Ferraris. He’s hoping to take Vettel at the end of the race for the podium.

Lap 35:
Vettel may be managing the race, but if he stops he will drop behind Hamilton who is in P4 currently. Gasly pits and has come out in P7, ahead of Magnussen.

Lap 36:
Raikkonen pits from P3, for supersofts. He’s the guinea pig, but has hit one of the mechanics and left rear wheel not on. This is a disaster for the Scuderia. Raikkonen’s brakes are smoking, and the Finn is getting of his car. He throws the wheel into the cockpit, and is now retired from this race. Incredible. Ocon having to move around the stranded Ferrari.

Lap 37:
Vettel leads Bottas by 5.3 seconds, Hamilton now 14-seconds behind in P3 - the Brit now onto the podium potentially. The leaders have now lapped all up to P11, with Vandoorne in P10 the last on the lead lap.

Lap 38:
Verstappen shown ready to leave the track. Vettel 6.1 seconds ahead of Bottas, the Finn 0.7 seconds slower on that last lap. Second time this weekend that Ferrari has done unsafe release. Hamilton doing the fastest first sector.

Lap 39:
Vettel now knows he has to stay out to win this race. but Hamilton is again the fastest man in sector one. Three tenths up on the leader’s pace on that last lap. Vettel now on Plan B, which is one-stop. Ricciardo shown leaving the track.

Lap 40:
Vettel leads Bottas by 7-seconds. Hamilton 12.3 seconds behind his teammate. Can the Silver Arrows put pressure on the Ferraris? Hulkenberg pits from P4, as does Alonso from P5. Gasly is P4.

Lap 41:
Top-10 is Vettel, Bottas, Hamilton, Gasly, Magnussen, Ericsson, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Hartley and Vandoorne. So both Toro Rossos are in the top-10. Only the top-nine are on the lead lap. Ocon in P13 is chasing down Sainz, 0.7 seconds the gap. Hamilton asking what he needs to do, he’s told he’s doing the target lap times.

Lap 42:
Hartley in P10 is all over the back of Vandoorne. Vettel leads this race, 7.1 seconds ahead of Bottas. Hamilton is 10.7-seconds behind his teammate. The Silver Arrows are much faster than Vettel, a few tenths up. Mercedes doesn’t expect Vettel to stop again. Vandoorne has passed Hartley for P9.

Lap 43:
Vettel leads Bottas by 8.1 seconds, Hamilton 9.3 seconds adrift in P3. Grosjean’s car shedding carbon fibre.

Lap 44:
Alonso in P8 is chasing down Ericsson, 0.7 seconds the difference. Bottas told he’s doing a good job, just to close Vettel down for the lead.

Lap 45:
Alonso and Ericsson battling for P7, and the Spaniard gets past down into Turn 4. Vettel having to clear traffic, the aforementioned battle between Alonso and Ericsson. Vettel leads Bottas by 6.7 seconds, with Hamilton 9.5 seconds behind - but the Brit and his team are struggling to hear each other.

Lap 46:
Ocon passes Grosjean for P11 down the straight after Turn 3 - and into Turn 4. Perez getting in the way of Hamilton into Turn 8, losing him over a second. Hamilton tells his team he’s not getting much of a picture.

Lap 47:
Vettel leads Bottas by 5.7 seconds, Hamilton 12.1 seconds behind his teammate. Grosjean pits for supersofts, and bargeboard issue sorted. Gasly does a personal best time in P4. An incredible result for the Toro Rosso rookie.

Lap 48:
The top-three all on low 1:35s, the Silver Arrows not troubling the sole Ferrari out front. Only the top-seven are on the lead lap. Vettel complaining about blue flags, as he goes through traffic and approaches Alonso to lap.

Lap 49:
Vettel leads Bottas by 5.4 seconds, Hamilton 12.2 seconds behind. The Silver Arrows not able to put the Ferrari under pressure on its flagging softs, showing Vettel’s ability to save tyres earlier in the race. Will he fall off the tyre curve? Gasly in P4 is 50-seconds behind Hamilton. The top-three in another league.

Lap 50:
Bottas needs to step up to pressure Vettel, his last lap two tenths up. Vandoorne in P9 is chasing down Ericsson - 0.7 seconds the gap. Hamilton and Vettel doing same lap times, 1:35.3s.

Lap 51:
Vettel leads Bottas by 4.5 seconds, the Finn 0.8 seconds faster on that last lap.

Lap 52:
Bottas has closed the gap to Vettel to just 3.6 seconds. The pair now in sight of each other. Is Vettel now a sitting duck? This is a reverse of what happened last year in Russia and Austria. But can Bottas now make the difference? Bottas told no more lapped cars, so straight fight to the flag.

Lap 53:
Bottas just under 1-second quicker on that last lap. Hamilton doing the fastest sector three time. The gap between the top-two is now just 2.4 seconds. Vettel on the radio complaining of vibration from his right front tyre, the German starting to really struggle.

Lap 54:
Vettel now leads Bottas by 1.6 seconds, the Finn has smell victory ahead of him - he was more than 1.2 seconds faster on that last lap. The gap now 1.2 seconds. He’ll soon be in DRS range. A thrilling finish coming up.

Lap 55:
Vettel has upped his pace, just three tenths shy on that last lap - with Bottas locking up on the last tour. The gap now just 1.1 seconds. Vettel is doing everything he can to keep a gap. He’s not yet in DRS range.

Lap 56:
Bottas is in DRS range now, but Vettel remains ahead 0.4 seconds the gap now. This is coming down to the last two laps. Bottas hasn’t yet been able to make a move just yet, unable to get close enough.

Lap 57 - FINAL LAP:
Bottas has DRS, but can’t make his move stick into Turn 1 - the Finn pulling out into clean air but has to tuck back in. They’re through Turn 4, Vettel still ahead. Turn 10, Vettel has to get through this DRS zone - and he’s still leading now. Vettel wins the Bahrain Grand Prix, becoming the most successful driver in the Kingdom - as former Grand Prix driver Gerhard Berger waves the chequered flag.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 57 1:32:01.940 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 57 +0.699s 18
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 57 +6.512s 15
4 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 57 +62.234s 12
5 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 57 +75.046s 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 57 +99.024s 8
7 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 56 +1 lap 6
8 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 56 +1 lap 4
9 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 56 +1 lap 2
10 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 56 +1 lap 1
11 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 56 +1 lap 0
12 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 56 +1 lap 0
13 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 56 +1 lap 0
14 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 56 +1 lap 0
15 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 56 +1 lap 0
16 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 56 +1 lap 0
17 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 56 +1 lap 0
NC 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 35 DNF 0
NC 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 3 DNF 0
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1 DNF 0