BAHRAIN GP – Lewis Hamilton wins as Charles Leclerc dominance sees victory slip away

Testing & Race Reports

Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in a tense conclusion to the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Englishman leads his teammate Valtteri Bottas after they both managed to pass the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc with nine laps to go because of a failure on his car in the closing stages.

The race looked as if it belonged to the Monacan, after losing out to his teammate Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap he managed to repass him shortly after and remained in the lead. It was perfect for what should have been his, he had a commanding lead over both Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The issue for Leclerc allowed Hamilton to close a four-second lead and seal the victory, as a late safety car stopped the Ferrari from coming under pressure from Max Verstappen. Verstappen had closed on the Ferrari during the latter part of the race, then two simultaneous breakdowns for the works Renault’s brought out the safety car.

Ferrari’s race was another implosion, like Suzuka last year, Sebastian Vettel spinning his car after his final stop and allowed Hamilton to take second. Vettel’s spin had also caused heavy damage to his car, making Hamilton’s job that bit easier.

The incident saw the German spin the car and wrecked his tyres. While it also meant that Lance Stroll was able to unlap himself. Vettel front wing also shattered shortly after with Ferrari forced to bring him in for an extra stop.

Somewhat reminiscent of a series of spins Vettel had in 2018 as he was fighting wheel-to-wheel with other cars. Ultimately, the loss points from those mistakes cost him last year’s championship.

Speaking about the incident Vettel said, these are “things that may happen in a race. They are fighting. It is never easy. I think it’s understandable. So no blame at all.”

That dropped him back to ninth, however, he managed to claw his way back to fifth. Bahrain may go down as the race where Vettel’s Ferrari career unravelled, and Leclerc came of age.

Hamilton said “Today was a really, really hard job and the team were incredible. It was a devastating race for Charles. We were lucky today. I gave it everything in the race. This guy [Leclerc] has a lot of race wins coming in the future”

Leclerc added “Unfortunately today was not our day. But I am extremely confident. The team have done amazing job. We have been lucky on an unlucky day with the safety car. Very hard to take but we will come back stronger.”

The safety car was caused by the double retirement for Renault. It appears as if both Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg suffered simultaneous failures with three laps to go. The pivotal moment in the closing stages as it neutralised the race until the finish.

Lando Norris continued his good start to the season taking fifth after his McLaren teammate made contact with Verstappen. Carlos Sainz made contact as he went around the outside of his former teammate when they made contact.

The contact ended what appeared to be an extremely strong evening for the Spaniard.

For the Bristolian it again capped off a brilliant start to his debut season, holding off the experienced former champion.

Kimi Raikkonen finished seventh ahead of the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly. It was another disappointing race for the Frenchman, who finished ahead of Red Bull rookie Alex Albon in the Toro Rosso. Racing Point’s slow start to the season continued.

Sergio Perez taking the final points following the retirements of the Renaults. Racing Point has struggled to find the performance which they are used to this weekend, and Lance Stroll only managed fourteenth ahead off the two Williams.

Hopes of an early recovery from Williams never really materialised, the team remained firmly routed to the back with George Russell again finishing ahead of Robert Kubica.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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