[F1 2019 NEWS FEATURE] RACE REVIEW: BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

Formula 1 news story about [F1 2019 NEWS FEATURE] RACE REVIEW: BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has won the Bahrain Grand Prix for the third time leading home teammate Valtteri Bottas for the team’s 46th one-two result in F1, but in heartbreaking circumstances as cylinder failure robbed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc of a maiden win - the Monegasque having to settle for his first podium after being in control for the majority of the race.

Hamilton got ahead of Leclerc on Lap 49, after the Monegasque suffered cylinder failure three laps earlier. Leclerc dominated most of the race, despite not converting his maiden pole position to the lead - his teammate Sebastian Vettel getting past into Turn 1, along with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.

But Leclerc fought back to re-pass Bottas, Hamilton and Vettel to take the lead on Lap 6. One he would keep for 43 laps.

“Today was a really, really hard job. This weekend, the Ferraris have been really incredible,” Hamilton said. “Charles did such a great job. I’m sure it’s a devastating result for him, obviously as he did the job to win the race. But you have to take it as it comes and ultimately I pushed as hard as I could.”

Leclerc was magnanimous in defeat, despite the maiden podium and a point for fastest lap.

“It happens. It’s part of motorsport,” he said. “Unfortunately today was not our day, but I’m confident the team has done an amazing job to recover the lack of pace in Australia. I want to say of course I’m extremely disappointed, like the whole team but it happens in the season and I think we made the best out of it.”

There’s now a two-week gap to the 1000th F1 Grand Prix, held in Shanghai, China.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired PTS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 57 1:34:21.295 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 57 +2.980s 18
3 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 57 +6.131s 16
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 57 +6.408s 12
5 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 57 +36.068s 10
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 57 +45.754s 8

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

Build Up:
There’s plenty of excitement ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, with an all-Ferrari front row - with the Scuderia dramatically turning around its Melbourne slump, but with its new charge Charles Leclerc taking his maiden pole position in Formula 1, ahead of his 4-time F1 World Champion teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Leclerc’s pole makes him the second youngest to achieve it, at 21 years and 166 days old - just behind Vettel, who is the outright record holder at 21 years and 72 days old (from Monza 2008). Leclerc is also the 99th different driver in the history of the F1 World Championship to secure pole, doing so in race number 999. But can he convert it into his maiden win?

The two Mercedes’ fill the second row, with 5-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton third ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who must get ahead of his teammate to keep his championship lead and maintain momentum. Behind them, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen - who ensures the start will thrilling with the Dutchman unafraid to go for the result, and the 21-year-old on a six-podium hot-streak.

Then it’s Haas’ Kevin Magnussen in sixth - his best grid slot since Russia 2018. Both McLarens are in the top-10 for the first time since Malaysia in 2017, with Carlos Sainz seventh and Lando Norris ninth. Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen starts eighth, while Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo completes the top-10 - having out-qualified his teammate for the first time. He retired at his home race, after losing his front wing on the run down to Turn 1 dropping his right-front tyre into a gap between two grassy sections, so will want to get some points on the board for his new squad.

We’re looking at a windy start (8.6km an hour, compared for 3.2km for qualifying) for the 15th Bahrain Grand Prix, which could mean it’s anyone’s game into Turn 1. For the tyres, it’s high-degradation meaning two-stops are not out of the question - with the track temperature at 28-degrees Celsius, and only set to drop as the race goes on.

Formation Lap:
The whole grid starts on the soft tyre, with the exception of Robert Kubica who starts 20th and last on the medium. The medium is 0.9 sec slower than the soft, with the hard 1.9 sec slower - though Kubica will be hoping to go longer on more durable rubber. For strategy, a two-stop window is expected to be between laps 8-18 and 28-39.

Lap 1:
Leclerc gets a good start, but Vettel get a better start and gets ahead into Turn 1 - with Bottas getting ahead of Hamilton. Racing Point Lance Stroll looks like he’s gotten damage. Bottas gets ahead of Leclerc for second, and he’s now in the grip of Hamilton. Grosjean last.

Lap 2:
Vettel leads Bottas, Leclerc, Hamilton, Verstappen, Sainz, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Perez. Leclerc gets past Bottas for second into turn 1, after the Finn locked up into Turn 1. Hamilton fighting Bottas into Turn 4 - and he gets past into Turn 5. So Bottas down to fourth. Stroll pits for new front wing.

Lap 3:
So Vettel now leads Leclerc, 1.7 seconds the gap - and the Monegasque sets the fastest lap, a 1:36.602. The Ferraris 1.3 seconds faster than the Mercedes. DRS enabled. Bottas coming under fire from Verstappen now. Verstappen locking up into Turn 10, Sainz in P6 now challenging the Dutchman.

Lap 4:
Leclerc sets the fastest lap, a 1:36.383. He’s now just 1-second behind Vettel. Sainz tries to pass Verstappen, but can’t make it work - and then has a right front puncture. 3.5 seconds covers the top-three. Leclerc chasing down Vettel.

Lap 5:
Leclerc is now within half a second of Vettel, and challenging his teammate for the lead. This is just what we wanted to see. Hamilton is 2.7 seconds behind the leading pair. Bottas another 3.6 seconds behind in P4. But the big battle is up front.

Lap 6:
Leclerc has DRS, and he passes Vettel for the lead around the outside - and he’s defending into Turn 4. He stays ahead. Hamilton has closed the gap to Vettel to 1.9 seconds, with the Ferraris fighting above. Replays show Stroll made contact with Grosjean at Turn 2.

Lap 7:
Leclerc leads Vettel by 1.4 seconds, he was 1.7 seconds faster on that last lap. Top-10 is Leclerc, Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Perez and Magnussen. Hulkenberg has made up places since the start.

Lap 8:
Leclerc is 1.6 seconds up on Vettel, who’s increasingly coming under fire from Hamilton. Raikkonen in P7 is coming under fire from Hulkenberg behind.

Lap 9:
Hamilton in P3 was a few tenths faster than the lead Ferraris on that last lap, the gap 1.2 seconds to Vettel. Huge battle between Norris, Magnussen and Gasly - all for P9. Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz are under investigation for their clash that caused the Spaniard to have a puncture.

Lap 10:
Raikkonen pits from P8. Will we see Hamilton try the undercut to get ahead of Vettel? He’s now just 1-second behind the Ferrari. No further action between Grosjean and Stroll at Turn 2 on opening lap. Up front, Leclerc is 2.1 seconds ahead of Vettel.

Lap 11:
Leclerc leads Vettel by 2.6 seconds, Hamilton now 1.6 seconds back in P3. Bottas is 3.2 seconds behind in P4. Verstappen is staying in touch in P5. Ricciardo and Hulkenberg are P6 and P7. Albon passes Gasly for P16.

Lap 12:
Verstappen pits from P5, he’s onto the mediums - 2.1 second stop, so good, quick stop. He exits in P9 behind Giovinazzi. Replays show that Gasly had an issue with his rear-left tyre at the stop. Mercedes are in the pit lane.

Lap 13:
Kvyat has spun at Turn 11, after being tagged by Giovinazzi after trying to pass. Bottas pits for the mediums, 2.5 second stop - he exits in P5, but is soon passed by Verstappen. Hamilton is all over the back of Vettel and charging for P2.

Lap 14:
Hamilton and Leclerc pit. Leclerc stays ahead (on mediums), Hamilton behind on the softs. So Vettel has been compromised. Verstappen in P6, after being passed by Bottas, set the fastest lap, a 1:35.387. So the order is Vettel, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Hamilton, Bottas.

Lap 15:
Vettel pits. He’s onto the mediums, 2.1 second stop. He’s out and behind Hamilton - in P4. Hamilton able to make the undercut work! Bottas is under fire from Verstappen. Hulkenberg has done the fastest lap, a 1:35.215. So the order is Leclerc, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Hulkenberg and Norris.

Lap 16:
Hamilton passes Ricciardo for P2 down into Turn 1, the Australian yet to stop. As Leclerc sets the fastest lap, a 1:33.914. He’s 3.3 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Vettel passes Ricciardo for P3 into Turn 11.

Lap 17:
Leclerc leads this race, 3.8 seconds up on Hamilton - then it’s Vettel, Ricciardo, Bottas and Verstappen. Magnussen racing Gasly, the Frenchman gets ahead for P11 into Turn 4, with Albon now trying his luck.

Lap 18:
Leclerc leads Hamilton by 4.2 seconds - but was three tenths on that last lap. Kvyat given a 5-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Grosjean retires after contact with Stroll. Albon has passed Magnussen for P12.

Lap 19:
Magnussen switched to a one-stop, so explains pace. Leclerc leads Hamilton by 4.3 seconds. He was 0.5 seconds faster on that last lap. Vettel is just 2.3 seconds behind the lead Mercedes. Hamilton goes very wide at final corner, not helping him in his battle against Vettel.

Lap 20:
So it’s Leclerc, Hamilton, Vettel - then Bottas in P4 who is 7.9 seconds behind. No further action in incident between Kvyat and Giovinazzi. Hulkenberg in P8 is chasing down Raikkonen, half a second the gap there.

Lap 21:
Grosjean had to retire with damaged floor. Hulkenberg passes Raikkonen for P7 into Turn 1. Great move. He defends into Turn 4, and stays ahead - but the Finn isn’t giving up. Vettel now just 1-second behind Hamilton.

Lap 22:
Vettel closing in on Hamilton. But he can’t get ahead into Turn 4. He looks like a sitting duck, though. Will it be a matter of time? Hamilton has said his rears are nearly done.

Lap 23:
Vettel getting closer on that lap, very close into turn 1. He passes him around the outside into Turn 4. Vettel now into P2. Hamilton just doesn’t have the grip to re-attack. “I’m a sitting duck here guys,” says Hamilton. So it’s now Ferrari one and two in Bahrain.

Lap 24:
Leclerc leads Vettel by 7.5 seconds. Hamilton trying to come back at Vettel at Turn 1. Can’t make it stick, despite Vettel locking up. He can’t attack into Turn 4. But is staying with his rival.

Lap 25:
Leclerc leads Vettel by 8.2-seconds. The fight behind perfect for him to extend his lead. Ricciardo finally pits from P9, he returns in P13.

Lap 26:
Vettel is pulling away from Hamilton, 2-seconds the gap now. So it’s Leclerc, Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, and then Norris who passes Raikkonen for P7 into Turn 1. Raikkonen tries to come back at Turn 4, but not close enough.

Lap 27:
Vettel starting to claw back gap to Leclerc, 7.9 seconds the gap now. The pair doing similar times though. 25-seconds covers the top-five. Leclerc lapping traffic.

Lap 28:
Leclerc has responded, he’s into the 1:36s. And now 8.3 seconds up on Vettel, proving his pace. Replays show Leclerc just touched with Hamilton into Turn 2, though escaped without damage.

Lap 29:
Leclerc leads Vettel by 8.3 seconds. Top-three covered by 10.5 seconds, Hamilton 2.5 seconds behind Vettel in P3. Top-five, with the exception of Bottas, in the 1:37s.

Lap 30:
Top-five covered by 27-seconds. Ricciardo in P12 is all over the back of Magnussen - less than 0.5 seconds the gap. He gets past on the run down to Turn 1. He’s up to P11 - Perez the next driver ahead, 5.1 seconds up the road.

Lap 31:
Vettel dips into the 1:36s, in building a gap to Hamilton - now 2.7 seconds. We are nearing the second pit stop window.

Lap 32:
Leclerc leads Vettel by 8.6 seconds. Stroll looking to unlap himself from Verstappen - and he does so at Turn 1. Impressive. Kubica is fighting Sainz for P18.

Lap 33:
Only the top-15 are on the lead lap. Red Bull out in pit lane. Verstappen pits from P5. He’s onto the mediums, 4.7 second stop. Hulkenberg pits for mediums too. How will Mercedes react to this? Will Ferrari try and protect against it?

Lap 34:
Verstappen passes Raikkonen for P6 into Turn 11, ensuring he makes the most of his out lap. Raikkonen pits for softs, comes out behind the two Toro Rossos in P14.

Lap 35:
Hamilton pits from P3. He’s onto the mediums, 2.5 second stop. He’s back in P4. Raikkonen passes Kvyat for P12 at Turn 10. Albon passes the Russian for P13 along the back straight. How will Ferrari choose to cover off the undercut attempt?

Lap 36:
Vettel pits from P2. He’s onto a new set of the mediums, 2.3 secs for his stop - and comes out behind Bottas in P2. And crucially ahead of Hamilton. Leclerc struggling for grip now. Hamilton all over Vettel now.

Lap 37:
Leclerc pits from the lead, 2.4 second stop - he’s kept the lead ahead of Bottas, who locks up into Turn 1. Vettel stays ahead of Hamilton, who just set the fastest lap - a 1:33.528. Hamilton goes wheel to wheel with Vettel around the outside into turn 4. He can’t get ahead, even with a wheel on the sand.

Lap 38:
Bottas pits, as Hamilton tries into Turn 1 - but can’t get ahead. Hamilton goes outside for Turn 4, as Vettel spins! Has he gotten some damage? This is incredible! Front wing is now gone. He’s going to have to pit.

Lap 39:
Leclerc sets the fastest lap, a 1:33.411 - as Vettel’s campaign has unravelled. Replays show Vettel’s front wing exploding on the back straight. Vettel 12.1 seconds stationary, slow away from his stop. Ricciardo locks up as the two Renaults touch. The pair now racing hard for P6.

Lap 40:
Leclerc leads Hamilton by 8-seconds. Bottas is now 26-seconds behind his teammate. Gasly pits from P5. Vettel is now in P8.

Lap 41:
So it’s Leclerc, Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Norris, Vettel, Raikkonen, Albon. Vettel passes Norris for P7 into turn 1.

Lap 42:
Leclerc leads Hamilton by 9.7 seconds, the Monegasque 1-second faster on that last lap. Vettel passes Ricciardo for P6 into Turn 11. Hulkenberg is 1.2 seconds up the road.

Lap 43:
Leclerc leads Hamilton by 10.5 seconds, with Bottas in P3 26.1 seconds behind. Vettel is chasing down Hulkenberg for P5. Vettel gets ahead of Hulkenberg for P5 into Turn 1. He’s 26-seconds behind Verstappen with less than 15 laps to go.

Lap 44:
Leclerc leads Hamilton by 9.5 seconds. Norris in P8 is chasing down Ricciardo ahead - he gets ahead around the outside into Turn 2 and up into P7. Raikkonen is chasing the pair in P9.

Lap 45:
Raikkonen passes Ricciardo for P8 into turn 1. So top-10 is Leclerc, Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Norris, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Gasly. Then it’s Albon, Perez, Giovinazzi, Kvyat, Magnussen, Stroll, Russell, Sainz, Kubica.

Lap 46:
Leclerc says there’s something strange with the engine. So is he on the way to retirement? Leclerc into the 1:36s. The gap to Hamilton is now 7.2 seconds. Raikkonen tries to pass Norris into Turn 1, but can’t make it stick.

Lap 47:
Leclerc’s now leading Hamilton by 5.0-seconds. He’s down in the 1:38s. 10 laps to go. You can hear Leclerc is agitated. He’s 3.8 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Has Leclerc lost his hybrid power? He has no MGU-H, the team suggests.

Lap 48:
Leclerc is less than a second ahead of Hamilton.

Lap 49:
Hamilton passes on the way down to Turn 14 - and takes the lead. A heartbreaking moment for Leclerc. Bottas in P3 is 27-seconds behind him. But 5-seconds a lap faster.

Lap 50:
Ferrari says Leclerc can stay ahead of Bottas, but that gap is now plummeting. 21 seconds the gap. “Follow the numbers on the dash,” says Ferrari to Leclerc. “Oh my god, I will try,” he replies.

Lap 51:
Hamilton leads Leclerc by 11.3 seconds, Bottas is now 15 seconds behind Ferrari. Bottas told he can take second from Leclerc on the final lap, he’s now 7-seconds faster than the Ferrari.

Lap 52:
Bottas now within 8-seconds of Leclerc. Hamilton complaining his downshifts are very clunky.

Lap 53:
Bottas now 3.8-seconds behind Leclerc. A pass is imminent. But can Verstappen get past as well for the podium? Red Bull has confirmed he can get do it.

Lap 54:
Bottas within DRS range now. And he goes past for P2 into Turn 1. Verstappen 5.3 seconds behind Leclerc. Hulkenberg has stopped, as has Ricciardo at the end of the pit straight. “Everything just cut out,” says the Australian.

Lap 55:
Safety car deployed. Sainz has also retired.

Lap 56:
We’re still under the safety car.

Lap 57 - FINAL LAP:
Hamilton wins, the eighth F1 World Championship race to finish under the safety car - the first since China 2015.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired PTS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 57 1:34:21.295 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 57 +2.980s 18
3 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 57 +6.131s 16
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 57 +6.408s 12
5 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 57 +36.068s 10
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 57 +45.754s 8
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 57 +47.470s 6
8 10 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing Honda 57 +58.094s 4
9 23 Alexander Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 57 +62.697s 2
10 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point BWT Mercedes 57 +63.696s 1
11 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 57 +64.599s 0
12 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 56 +1 lap 0
13 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 56 +1 lap 0
14 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point BWT Mercedes 56 +1 lap 0
15 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 56 +1 lap 0
16 88 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 55 +2 laps 0
17 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 53 DNF 0
18 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 53 DNF 0
19 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 53 DNF 0
NC 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 16 DNF 0