BAHRAIN GP – Lewis Hamilton wins, as Romain Grosjean walks away with just burns from an inferno

Testing & Race Reports

Lewis Hamilton has won a drama-filled Bahrain Grand Prix after beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, the race was filled with accidents with the race being suspended on the opening lap following a huge crash for Romain Grosjean.

The Mercedes driver won the race by a second and lead nearly all the race following the restart on lap two. It was a perfect race for the seven-time champion who proved to be calm and collected, despite the accident which ruined the Haas.

A dramatic crash saw the race stopped at the end of lap one when Grosjean crashed into the wall and his car split in two at turn two. The Frenchman appears to have got away with only minor burns and injuries.

The Haas driver collided with Daniil Kvyat through Turn Three and Four, before veering off into the barrier. The impact saw the car split in two, with the engine and gearbox coming to rest away to the side.

The fracture to the chassis exposed the fuel tank, and the car, now lodged in the barrier, burst into flames.

Grosjean was in the inferno for several seconds before he managed to extricate himself and was helped over the barrier by FIA doctor Ian Stewart, who was in the medical car which rushed to the scene.

Grosjean initially sat in the medical car before being helped into an ambulance and then flown to hospital in Bahrain. The Frenchman appears to be without serious injury, escaping he fireball only with rib injuries and burns to his hands.

It’s also believed that the Halo, the head protection system, which was brought to F1 in 2018, was credited with saving Grosjean’s life by many, including the majority of the grid. A full inquiry into the accident is likely to be launched by the FIA in an attempt to learn the lessons to prevent a similar accident.

FIA medical car driver Andy van der Merwe, said in a media briefing, “It was a big surprise. I have never seen that much fire in 12 years. Romain got out of the car himself, which is pretty amazing after an accident like that.”

“All the systems we have worked to develop, everything worked hand-in-hand: the Halo, the barriers, the seat-belt. Everything worked. Without just one of those things working, it could have been a very different outcome.”

The race resumed an hour later when Hamilton made a perfect restart, to lead the race by a few tenths following the second safety car.

He went onto take his eleventh win of the season, equalling Michael Schumacher’s sixth place in highest percentage wins in a season. Also, his own personal best of five consecutive race wins.

Verstappen finished the race a second behind Hamilton and ahead of Alex Albon by six seconds, a key race for the British-Thai driver as he looks to retain his seat next season.

Hamilton said, “It was physically very demanding. With the break we had at the beginning – you get into a mindset of going out and getting a good start – but with that 45-minute wait we had, it is so easy to step out of the zone.”

Verstappen added “I  was lacking a bit. I tried to keep close but they were ahead and we didn’t have an answer and we didn’t really go aggressive enough with the strategy, we also had a slow pit stop. It is what it is. Second isn’t too bad.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris was fourth beating his teammate Carlos Sainz by a tenth and a half, key points for the team in the battle with Racing Point and Renault in the constructors’ championship. An excellent recovery drive for McLaren following a tough qualifying.

Neither Racing Point managed to finish the race, Lance Stroll retired after being flipped into the barrier on the restart following a collision with Daniil Kvyat, and Sergio Perez forced to stop late in the race with an engine failure. Perez retirement promoted Charles Leclerc into the points.

The Mexican was running in third place, crucially ahead of Albon the man he is looking to replace next year when he retired with three laps to go. The engine failure led to the race ending behind the safety car, with Red Bull securing their first double podium since 2017.

Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly was sixth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Esteban Ocon was ninth, the Renault team losing ground to McLaren in the constructor’s championship.

Gasly was one of few drivers to make a one-stop race work, despite losing out to the two McLarens. He was able to hold off Ricciardo thanks to the late safety car.

In between the two Renault’s was the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. The Finn was forced into a three-stop race after developing a puncture, before nursing his tyres to eighth place. Bottas finished three tenths ahead of Esteban Ocon, the final car on the lead lap, with Leclerc tenth.

The Finn’s race was bad from the very start, he was then set back by a puncher during the second safety car, before managing to nurse his second set of tyres to seventh place.

Ocon had been fighting his teammate Ricciardo midway through the race, and that appears to have ultimately cost the Frenchman position. He finished the race three seconds ahead of Leclerc, who inherited tenth place following Perez’s late retirement, on a tough weekend for Ferrari. Daniil Kvyat was eleventh ahead of George Russell.

Sebastian Vettel was thirteenth splitting Russell and his teammate Nicolas Latifi. The two Alfa Romeo’s were fifteenth and sixteenth, with Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi. Kevin Magnussen was seventeenth the final finisher.

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