From the outside looking at the result of the Bahrain Grand Prix if you didn’t watch the race, you would think it was a comfortable 1-2 finish for Mercedes. But it was far from that.
Charles Leclerc was denied a fairytale first win down to his hybrid system failing after dominating the majority of the race. You can’t help but feel sorry for the Ferrari man but his time will come for sure and if he carries on putting in drives like he did in Bahrain, it will be a case of when rather than if as to when he will make it onto the top step of the podium this year.
I think that I’d be right in saying that we were treated to a cracking race in Bahrain and if this is a sign of things to come with so many battles throughout the field, then we are in for a superb 2019 season.
Ferrari Bahrain race woes – Mercedes benefit
After strong performances in all three practice sessions and a front-row lockout in qualifying at Bahrain, this was the time for Ferrari to bounce back following a not from ideal weekend in the season opener in Australia.
And for a while it certainly looked like a Ferrari 1-2 was on the cards in the race. But Sebastian Vettel with 20 laps to go spun while being passed by Lewis Hamilton and then ended up suffering a front wing failure. Vettel’s spin was another unforced error from the four-time World Champion and its incidents like these that can make a big difference come the end of the season.
What can you say about Charles Leclerc and his race? Yes the Monegasque made a poor start to the race and dropped behind Valtteri Bottas and Vettel. But boy Charles bounced back quickly.
A fantastic move at the start of the second lap on Bottas and then on lap four going past his team-mate Vettel on the outside of Turn Four and then sailing off into the distance.
It all was going swimmingly well for Leclerc. But sport can be so cruel at times and in the closing laps of the race, Leclerc was told on team radio he had suffered a failure of the MGU-H, the part of the hybrid system that recovers energy from the turbo.
From then onwards, Leclerc was a sitting duck and both Hamilton and Bottas swept by. Had their not been a late safety car, due to a late double DNF for both Renault drivers, Max Verstappen would probably have got past as well. But Leclerc at least finished on the podium, not that it would have felt like a consolation knowing it could so easily have been him standing on the top step of the podium.
And the man who took top spot was Lewis Hamilton. You have to be in the right place at the right time to pounce on any bad situations ahead of you and Lewis did just that to win an enthralling race. And with Bottas coming home in second, the Finn still finds himself leading the Drivers’ Championship by a single point from his team-mate.
Despite a 1-2 for Mercedes it wasn’t the strongest of the weekends for them and Ferrari if they haven’t already from the race in Bahrain and in pre-season, have certainly given the Silver Arrows something to think about for the season. But as I have said, you have to be in the right place to take advantage of misfortunate events and Mercedes did just that.
Well if it was entertaining at the front, it was just as entertaining in the midfield with battles galore from start to finish. Other than Leclerc, my star driver of the day was McLaren’s Lando Norris who drove a brilliant race to finish sixth. Norris didn’t have the best of starts but recovered superbly and even had a great battle with Kimi Raikkonen.
It is still very much early days but it looks as though McLaren have made significant improvements which is great to see. Carlos Sainz had he not been forced to retire could so easily have made it a double points finish for McLaren but it wasn’t to be. The signs though look promising for the team.
It was a horrible end to the weekend for Renault with both Nico Hulkenburg and Daniel Ricciardo suffering almost simultaneous technical malfunctions in the final laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix. It has not been easiest of starts to the season for the Aussie and it was always going to be tough to pull off a one-stop strategy. Hulkenburg looked set for another points finish but was forced to retire in the closing stages of the race.
Another rookie who has had a decent start to the season is Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon. The Thai driver scored his first ever points in F1 with a ninth place finish in Bahrain so well done to him. Toro Rosso are well in the midfield mix and could potentially surprise one or two people this season.
And the top ten was rounded out by Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. It was a tough weekend for the ‘Pink Panthers’ and even Perez himself said it was going to be tough to score points after qualifying 14th. But to come away with a point will I’m sure feel like a bonus. And with major upgrades planned at the start of the European season for the team, it will be interesting to see how Racing Point progress this season especially now with new fresh investment.
It was a great race in Bahrain with so many great battles throughout the field and hoping this is just a sign of more things to come.
Star Driver: Has to be Charles Leclerc.