The Bahrain Grand Prix highlighted another twist in what is shaping up to be another epic season. It was a weekend where we saw Ferrari come back, but it wasn’t Sebastian Vettel emerging as the lead driver it was his young teammate Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc had one of the best weekends in his career, he soon highlighted what we all expected that he is a great racer and why he dominated his junior career. At Sauber last year, we saw him drag that car many of times into the points and race well.
Leclerc’s first pole showed to me and confirmed what we already knew, he has the speed and in the race, before his issue, he had built a second lead over Vettel. The Monacan re-joined behind him and soon repassed him and rebuild the four-second lead.
If you were new to the sport you would have said Leclerc was the four times champion and not Vettel. The race strategy by Ferrari highlighted that Vettel wasn’t the number one driver, thus allowing Leclerc to race freely made him emerge as the led driver in that race. Leclerc though out the weekend was on fire.
Leclerc’s first win was robbed away from him, not by Hamilton but by an MGU-H failure. Although his start was bad, he managed to come back from the poor start to retake the lead from Vettel and build the lead, on merit.
Your heart had to sink as that MGU-H failure came, it was a race he deserved to win, regardless of team or which driver you support. Leclerc will get that win I believe that will come. If he manages to get in Vettel’s head, we know what happened with Vettel in his final year at Red Bull up against Daniel Ricciardo in 2014.
The driver of the day by some margin of 40%.
Bahrain also gave us an answer (kind of) to the Melbourne question, Mercedes had such a massive lead in Melbourne on Ferrari, but they did come back. This championship now has been thrown wide open, as it’s the ’supporting drivers’ who have claimed outshone their teammates in the early part of the day.
It amazing to think since that crash at Hockenheim last year, Vettel has struggled in wheel to wheel racing, in four of the last twelve races. These mistakes are what cost him last years title, this could force Ferrari to rethink who their number one driver.
I have always personally despite his four world titles, have questioned Vettel’s ability in wheel to wheel racing and I hoped that this season would prove me wrong. Vettel still can, but that has got harder the wrecked tyres didn’t help.
Ferrari now needs Vettel to deliver more so than Leclerc, he knows that the loss points from those mistakes cost him last year’s championship. The future for Vettel may see him become number two, I wonder if Leclerc has unsettled him.
Two races into the season the title race has instantly become a four-horse race because Vettel and Hamilton will win soonish and now their teammates are ahead in terms of race wins. If Vettel is to come back into this, he needs to soon.
But as Hamilton and Bottas said, “This guy here [Leclerc] has lots more wins coming in the future so congratulations to him.” But will it be in China at race 1,000?