Hamilton wins Bahrain Grand Prix as Ferrari falters in night thriller

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton claimed victory in a thrilling Bahrain Grand Prix, as Ferrari faltered due to an engine issue for Charles Leclerc and a spin from last year’s race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Leclerc recovered from a poor first lap to dominate the race, before what Ferrari initially believed to be an MGU-H failure – but later revealed was a cylinder issue – robbed his engine of power and left him limping to the finish.

This was a disappointing result for Charles after scoring his first pole position in the sport. His Ferrari lacked speed and was overtaken in the final stages of the race by both Silver Arrows.

Hamilton took the lead with nine laps to go as Leclerc was limping home to a depressing third position. At least the Ferrari driver was able to score a bonus championship point for fastest lap.

Leclerc was able to hang on to a podium finish from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, thanks to a late safety car period following a double retirement of Renault.

The Ferrari driver had recovered superbly from a poor start to dominate most of this race, dropping to third on lap one but quickly repassing Valtteri Bottas and team-mate Vettel to reclaim the lead and streaking clear before disaster struck.

Vettel compounded Ferrari’s nightmare by inexplicably spinning out of third position after being overtaken by Hamilton around the outside at Turn 4 just after the final round of pit-stops.

Vettel got his Ferrari the right way again, but his front wing shattered shortly thereafter and he was forced to make an unscheduled third pit-stop, eventually finishing a lowly fifth.

Bottas made it a Mercedes one-two by easily passing Leclerc on the main straight with just four laps to the flag, moments before the Renaults suffered problems.

The Australian Grand Prix winner was running in second with a strong first lap, including passing Leclerc around the outside at Turn 4, but generally struggled for pace and was not a match for Hamilton or either of the Ferraris.

Hamilton moved up to second position by pitting earlier than Vettel at the first round of pit-stops, but struggled to stay on the circuit, lacked pace and could not use his softer Pirelli tyres to prevent Vettel closing in and using DRS to retake the place around the outside at Turn 4 on lap 23 of 57.

But Hamilton came back at Vettel at the second round of pit-stops, attempting a brave move on Vettel at Turn 4 on lap 37, while Vettel’s tyres were cold, but could not quite gain enough momentum to complete the pass at Turn 6.

Hamilton gained DRS on the main straight but couldn’t pass into Turn 1. He went round the outside at Turn 4 again to make the overtake while Vettel spun as he tried to get back on the accelerator at the exit, dropping him down the race order.

Lando Norris sacred an impressive sixth position for McLaren, after team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr’s race was ruined by contact with Verstappen while trying to pass the Red Bull around the outside at Turn 4 early on.

Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo was seventh, ahead of Pierre Gasly, while Alexander Albon claimed his first points finish with ninth. Sergio Perez’s Racing Point rounded out the top ten, as the Renault drivers both lost likely points finishes when their cars broke down approaching Turn 1.

So an exciting night race at Bahrain Grand Prix with the unlikely winner Hamilton benefitted from the Ferrari nightmare. Such a crying shame that Charles Leclerc was unable to convert his pole position to his maiden victory. Making no mistakes and driving beautifully, the Ferrari let him down. At least Leclerc has showcased his talent to succeed.

The following race will be Formula 1’s 1000th race and it should be a spectacular contest as championship resumes in China. Mercedes have won two races with both drivers scoring victory. Can Ferrari fight back? They need to in order to make this season’s entertaining.

Bahrain Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 57 1h34m21.295s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 57 2.980s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 57 6.131s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bul-/Honda 57 6.408s
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 57 36.068s
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 57 45.754s
7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 57 47.470s
8 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 57 58.094s
9 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 57 1m02.697s
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 57 1m03.696s
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 57 1m04.599s
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 56 1 Lap
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 56 1 Lap
14 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 56 1 Lap
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 56 1 Lap
16 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 55 2 Laps
17 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 53 Power Unit
18 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 53 Not running
19 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 53 Not running
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 16 Retirement

Drivers’ standings:
1 Valtteri Bottas 44
2 Lewis Hamilton 43
3 Max Verstappen 27
4 Charles Leclerc 26
5 Sebastian Vettel 22
6 Kimi Raikkonen 10
7 Lando Norris 8
8 Kevin Magnussen 8
9 Nico Hulkenberg 6
10 Pierre Gasly 4
11 Alexander Albon 2
11 Lance Stroll 2
13 Daniil Kvyat 1
14 Sergio Perez 1
15 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
16 George Russell 0
17 Robert Kubica 0
18 Daniel Ricciardo 0
19 Carlos Sainz Jr. 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 87
2 Ferrari 48
3 Red Bull-Honda 31
4 Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 10
5 McLaren-Renault 8
6 Haas-Ferrari 8
7 Renault 6
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 3
9 Racing Point-Mercedes 3
10 Williams-Mercedes 0

7 thoughts to “Hamilton wins Bahrain Grand Prix as Ferrari falters in night thriller”

  1. Bahrain Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Charles Leclerc had looked on course to convert his first pole position into a maiden win under the floodlights in Bahrain. That was until 10 laps before the end of the Grand Prix when an issue with his Ferrari’s engine forced him to concede the lead he’d held for the majority of the race to the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

    Hamilton went on to lead home Mercedes’ second one-two of the year ahead of Valtteri Bottas, while a late Safety Car brought out for the two Renaults retiring on the same lap at least limited the damage to Leclerc’s race, as he ended up third to claim his first podium in F1.

    It was still a heartbreaking end to what had been a superb Grand Prix for Leclerc, who had managed much of the race magnificently from the front and would certainly have become the 108th winner in F1 history had the issue with his engine not manifested.

    There was more woe for Ferrari too, as Sebastian Vettel – who himself had looked set to claim a podium behind Leclerc – spun while battling with Lewis Hamilton before dramatically losing his front wing down the back straight. He was left to fight back to fifth, behind the fourth-placed Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

    Lando Norris put in a fantastic drive to wind up sixth – benefitting from Nico Hulkenberg’s late retirement from that position, while Kimi Raikkonen was seventh ahead of the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly.

    You’d have to be very hard hearted not to have felt gutted for Charles Leclerc at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The majority of the race saw the Monegasque comfortably clear at the head of the field, leading like an F1 veteran rather than someone driving in his second race for Ferrari, the 21-year-old seemingly set for his first-ever victory before a reported MGU-H issue on his SF90 on lap 46 of 57 saw him fall back into the clutches of the chasing Mercedes pair behind him.

    Leclerc’s Sunday drive was all the more sensational given that it hadn’t got off to a great start, with team mate Sebastian Vettel pipping the pole man off the line to lead on the first lap, Leclerc dropping down to third as Bottas squeezed through too, with Hamilton slotting into fourth. Behind, Lance Stroll and Romain Grosjean clipped each other, while Lando Norris, having started ninth, plummeted down to P14 after having to take evasive action to avoid the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.

    On lap 2, though, Leclerc forced his way through on Bottas with a superbly judged move at Turn 2, with the Finn dropping down to fourth a few corners later after he and Hamilton went wheel to wheel through Turn 6.

    Further back, sparks went flying on lap 4 as Carlos Sainz, showing great pace in his McLaren, attacked the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. But the Dutchman shut the door firmly on his former Toro Rosso team mate, appearing to damage the McLaren’s front wing, leaving a furious Sainz to scrape back around the lap with a shower of sparks coming off his MCL34.

    Vettel may have gone off quickly at the start, but by lap 5 Leclerc had regrouped, and as he pulled himself closer and closer towards the German, he signalled to Ferrari over team radio that he was planning an attack. He unleashed it a lap later, the Ferraris ducking and diving uncomfortably around each other before Leclerc got the move done around the outside of his team mate into Turn 4. It was a fair fight – but neither driver had given the other any quarter, and it surely would have got Mattia Binotto sweating under his red collar in his second race in charge of the squad.

    Leclerc then proceeded to gap Vettel, who gradually fell into the range of Lewis Hamilton. By lap 37, with both drivers having completed their second planned stops, Vettel and Hamilton were circulating nose-to-tail. Hamilton got past the Ferrari into Turn 4, before Vettel, with inch-perfect judgement, re-asserted himself to stay ahead. Hamilton appeared to have the pace advantage, however, and on the very next lap, they diced in the same place again. This time, Hamilton got the move done around Turn 4, while Vettel appeared to jump too hard onto the power to get back on terms with the Mercedes. There were shades of Vettel’s error-strewn 2018 as he lost the back end of his SF90, rotating into the run-off as Hamilton accelerated on into a clear second place. As if that wasn’t bad enough for Vettel, as he rejoined the track, the front wing of his car then spectacularly detached itself down Bahrain’s back straight in a heart-stopping moment, forcing the German to pit once more for a new nose, while he also bolted on a set of soft tyres.

    Leclerc was having no such problems at the head of the field, however – that was, until he came on the radio on lap 46. “There’s something strange with the engine,” he reported in agitatedly. After looking into the problem, Ferrari confirmed an issue with Leclerc’s MGU-H (later diagnosed as an engine issue) which was costing him a huge chunk of straight-line speed on the straights. There was no hope to hold off the advancing Hamilton, who waved apologetically as he sailed by on lap 48.

    Leclerc was falling, falling down the order, and after losing second place to Valtteri Bottas – who’d been a full 27 seconds behind the Ferrari when Hamilton had gone past – he looked set to also be swallowed up by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen when the Safety Car emerged following a bizarre double retirement for Renault, the two yellow cars coasting into the run-off at Turn 1 seconds apart, both having seemingly lost power. With Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg having touched at Turn 1, it capped off what had not been a great weekend for the Anglo-French squad.

    That left Hamilton to claim his first win of the year behind the Safety Car, while Leclerc at least salvaged what was his first-ever podium behind Bottas, having looked set to have lost third place to Verstappen before the Renaults encountered their problem. Verstappen would have been frustrated not to have made his second rostrum appearance of the year at the hands of that Safety Car, and appeared to vent that frustration by spinning at Turn 10 on the cool-down lap, while Vettel recovered to fifth by the race end, just ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris.

    A glance at the race result would tell of a second weekend of Mercedes dominance over Ferrari. But this race will be forever remembered for the maiden win that was cruelly snatched away from Charles Leclerc.
    What’s next

    F1 now heads to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix on April 14 – and after Mercedes took their second win from as many races in 2019 in Bahrain, how dearly Ferrari would love to win the next one, as Formula 1 celebrates its 1,000th Grand Prix.

  2. After scoring a maiden pole position, Charles Leclerc suffered a misfortune with his Ferrari and was unable to score that dream victory. At least he made it to the flag with third position. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc says his maiden Formula 1 podium was “lucky in a very unlucky situation” after an apparent MGU-H failure cost him victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    Leclerc suffered a bad opening lap in which he slipped from first to third and only just fended off Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, before recovering brilliantly to take control of the race.

    The 21-year-old held a comfortable lead when he reported an engine problem with 10 laps to go and Ferrari told him he had no energy recovery from the MGU-H.

    That meant Leclerc was passed by Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas and was set to be overtaken by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen as well, before being saved by a safety car two laps from the end.

    Assessing the loss of his first F1 win on his second start for Ferrari, Leclerc said: “It happens. It is part of motorsport.

    “Unfortunately today was not our day but I am confident the team has done an amazing job to recover the lack of pace of Australia.

    “Of course I am extremely disappointed, like the whole team, but it happens during the season.

    “We have been lucky in a very unlucky situation. I’m happy to have the safety car at the end otherwise we would have finished even more rearward, and with fuel I don’t think we could have been OK.”

    To take the lead of the race Leclerc had to re-pass Bottas and Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel, and the Monegasque admitted his “very strong” grand prix only made the outcome harder to take.

    In the immediate aftermath of the result he also found it difficult to take his first F1 podium as much consolation.

    “As I have said a lot in the past, I am never looking at the result, I am looking at the potential to do better,” he said.

    “Today, third was not our place.”

    Leclerc’s mechanical problem and Vettel spinning while battling Hamilton let Mercedes steal an unlikely one-two in Bahrain.

    Hamilton paid tribute to Leclerc over the team radio after winning and said afterwards that Leclerc “has a lot of wins coming in the future”.

    “This weekend Ferrari have been incredible,” said Hamilton. “I’m sure it was a devastating result for him.

    “We were definitely lucky today.”

    His teammate Bottas added: “As a team we got a bit lucky today.

    [But] we kept it together, did no mistakes as a team and the car was very reliable, and that is the win today.

    “Otherwise it was a difficult race for me. The balance was a bit everywhere.”

  3. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel commented that his car was “extremely difficult to drive” in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel says his Ferrari Formula 1 car was “extremely difficult to drive” in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but accepts blame for his costly spin.

    Vettel overtook teammate Charles Leclerc off the line, but could not stay ahead of the Monegasque or keep pace with him afterwards, having to battle Lewis Hamilton for second instead.

    A spin while fighting Hamilton led to a front wing failure and eventually resulted in Vettel finishing only fifth, which meant he has failed to score a podium in either of the first two races of the season for the first time since 2010.

    “I realised after more or less half a lap after the start that it will be very difficult,” Vettel said.

    “The car was extremely difficult to drive for me.

    “I think Charles struggled less, he had no difficulty to follow and pass me, so yeah, quite tricky.

    “The second stint I think it could calm down a little bit with the medium tyres, but overall, not the pace that we should’ve had today, I believe.”

    Vettel had slipped to third place after his first pitstop but passed Hamilton, only to come under pressure again shortly after his second tyre change.

    He fought off a Turn 4 lunge from the Brit on lap 37, but was overtaken in the same place a lap later, and spun in Hamilton’s wake exiting the corner.

    “Obviously it was very close, I tried to get back on the inside just like the lap before,” Vettel recalled.

    “I think Turn 4 was one of the trickiest corners. Was my mistake, I lost the rear and I spun.

    “[The wind] probably didn’t help, it was turning in to tailwind in that corner the whole race.

    “I don’t know, I lost the car very suddenly, and once I spun it was obviously too late.”

    The front wing on Vettel’s SF90 then collapsed and went underneath the car on the back straight.

    “I think during the spin I damaged the tyre so much that I had quite a lot vibrations, which I then I think led on to the failure of the front wing,” Vettel explained.

    Vettel’s travails, paired with a late engine issue for Leclerc, meant Ferrari was powerless to prevent rival Mercedes from scoring another 1-2 result.

    “I think it was his race to take today,” Vettel said of Leclerc. “Unhappy for him and for the team, disappointing day overall.”

  4. Defending champion Lewis Hamilton admits overtaking Charles Leclerc “felt weird” since the Ferrari driver was dominating most of the race. The Mercedes star passed the Lerclerc to score victory. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton said it “felt weird” to pass the hobbled Ferrari of Charles Leclerc for an unlikely victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    Leclerc looked well on course for a maiden grand prix win as he was managing his gap over Hamilton in the closing stages of the race, only for his Ferrari to develop an MGU-H problem.

    The Monegasque slowed dramatically and Hamilton made quick work of what was an initial nine-second gap.

    He could be seen raising his hand as he breezed past the ailing Ferrari on lap 48, before going on to win the race.

    “Ultimately you want to pass someone because you’re quicker than them and it’s been a fight,” Hamilton said afterwards.

    “I went past Charles on the back straight and I raised my hand to him because there was nothing I could do, I didn’t have any problems.

    “It feels weird and honestly you can’t believe your luck in that scenario but what can you do? You can’t deny yourself, you just have to keep doing what you do.

    “I’ve been in positions like that before, where you’ve been in the lead and the car has stopped, so I know how it feels.”

    Hamilton said Leclerc, who became F1’s second-youngest ever pole-sitter on Saturday, “did incredible this weekend” and “has a bright future ahead of him”.

    “It’s always good to live with the glass half-full,” Hamilton continued. “Today he still got some great points [with third place], even though he had that problem, and he was so much faster than his teammate.

    “There are many positives for him to take from this, and we have a lot of work to do to keep up.”

    Hamilton described his race as “up and down”, saying that he “got a terrible start once again” and that he looked to be out of contention to finish in the top two after a poor second stint.

    “We [Mercedes] were very, very lucky today, to get the one-two,” he said. “Collectively we’ve done a solid job with the weekend but Ferrari outperformed us from the get-go and we’ve got to continue to work, [to find out] where we’ve gone wrong this weekend.”

  5. Ferrari has revealed that the problem which cost Charles Leclerc his maiden Formula 1 race victory was down to his engine dropping a cylinder, and had nothing to do with an energy recovery issue.

    Leclerc looked set to take a brilliant win in the Bahrain Grand Prix but his hopes evaporated just over 10 laps from home when he lost power and was reeled in and ultimately passed by Lewis Hamilton.

    Although radio messages that were played on television suggested he had lost his MGU-H recovery system, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has clarified that the issue was solely related to the internal combustion engine.

    Binotto said that investigations were going on right now to try to find the cause of the problem, with further checks to take place at both Maranello and in practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.

    “We are checking now the engine so we do not have yet a clear explanation of what happened,” he said. “It is an engine problem. We had miscombustion on one cylinder but [the reason is] to be understood.

    “The engine will go back to Maranello for careful checks because when something like this happens you need to take your time to do your checks carefully. But the engine was running at the end of the race so it is still able to run.

    “We will use it certainly on the Friday in China and we have an entire Friday to assess its behaviour, its functionality and its performance.”

    Asked about claims that the problem was related to the MGU-H, Binotto said: “I don’t know where the rumours came from. There was nothing wrong with the MGU-H.

    “When something like that happens you try to move on the recovery in terms of any combustion control mapping that you may do, at least you try to change mappings.

    “You try to see if there is any way to make it better. That was not the case today so we had to manage the race.

    “It has been a brave decision to continue racing in those conditions. But at the end it was a third place that was important so finally probably the right decision.”

    Binotto is confident that the Bahrain problem is an isolated incident and curing it should be simple.

    “It is a single problem that will be easily addressed,” he said. “It is not related to the way we are using the engine or the mapping or whatever.

    “It has to be a single component failure that we will find out.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  6. Despite dominating qualifying and suffering misfortunes in the race, Ferrari left feeling “disappointed but not unhappy” after the Bahrain Grand Prix. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto says his outfit leaves Bahrain “disappointed but not unhappy” after a bittersweet Formula 1 weekend.

    The Italian outfit bounced back from its struggles in Australia to emerge as the clear fastest team at Sakhir, with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel locking out the front row of the grid.

    Leclerc had looked set to take his maiden F1 victory too, but a dropped cylinder led to a loss of power 10 laps from home and he eventually came home third.

    But while Leclerc’s heartbreak was hard to accept, Binotto thinks it is important the Maranello outfit takes some encouragement from the pace it showed in Bahrain.

    “We are certainly disappointed but we are in a positive mood,” he said.

    “We know that there is still a long season and there are a lot of positives coming out from this weekend. Believe us, [we are] disappointed but not unhappy.”

    Ferrari’s closest rival Mercedes have been taken aback by the Italian squad’s straight line speed advantage, which was key to its dominance in qualifying.

    But Binotto is cautious about the prospect of Ferrari having such an edge at every track.

    “I think that each race is different,” he said. “If you’re going to judge, we know certainly we have a good package but we know as well it needs to be developed to be optimised.

    “The only confidence we may have is that in Bahrain we were fast enough, but that doesn’t mean it will be sufficient for the rest of the season.

    “At home everybody is working hard to develop the car, to have developments and improvements as soon as possible – which are upgrades or set-up improvements. Today we were performing well but tomorrow is a new day.”

    Binotto also defended Sebastian Vettel, who threw away his chance of fighting for the win when he spun during a wheel-to-wheel contest with Lewis Hamilton.

    “I don’t think we should discuss mistakes,” he said. “We are always in the battle, in the fight, that’s what they are doing. It’s never easy. It’s something that may always happen.

    “We need to encourage our drivers because it’s only by driving to the limit that they can achieve the best result. This is what Seb was trying to do.

    “We have some homework, and we’re still learning our car. We’ve got some days of testing next week here in Bahrain that will be useful as well in the preparation of China. So I think it’s all good in that respect. Keep focused on that and we may only improve.”

  7. Nico Hulkenberg has described his retirement from the Bahrain Grand Prix as a “brutal moment”, after both he and teammate Daniel Ricciardo exited the race within moments of each other.

    The German was on course for a top-six finish, after battling through a ‘war zone’ of an opening lap, but was robbed of a strong result when he suffered an engine problem just two laps from home.

    Moments later, Ricciardo stopped at the same corner with what was later confirmed as an MGU-K issue.

    With Renault left shellshocked by the events, Hulkenberg said he too found it hard to accept that a good result had been taken away so quickly.

    “In my mind I had it booked already,” he said. “But it just shows you have to bring it home full race distance.

    “Without that, three laps, I was controlling everything. I had a gap to [Lando] Norris and everything was fine. It came also without any signs or problem before. It just happened from one moment to another.

    “Obviously it’s a bitter one, hard to swallow. A brutal moment that can happen in racing.

    “But on the positive side we had decent pace in the car today. Just yesterday and today the problems prevented really good results.”

    Hulkenberg managed to charge through the field from 17th on the grid, after what he described was a crazy opening segment to the race.

    “Lap one was like a war zone. It was crazy,” he said. “Cars all over the place, contact, sparks, parts flying around – I got a big hit on the helmet from a part as well. Everything was in that race.

    “It was a spectacular race to be in. I did a lot of overtaking which was fun.

    “It would have been really nice to reward myself and the team with those points, but we just need to bounce back another time.”

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