Written by SFCMelbourne member, Michele Terminello
Lewis Hamilton clinched an unexpected victory in a drama-filled Bahrain Grand Prix as Ferrari’s race fell into disaster with Charles Leclerc suffering an engine problem and a spin for Sebastian Vettel.
Pole-sitter Leclerc recovered after a poor run off the line on the opening lap to dominate the race, before an MGU-H failure robbed the Monegasque youngster of engine power and limped his SF90 racer to the chequered flag.
Hamilton’s Silver Arrow rapidly closed in on Leclerc’s struggling Ferrari with ten laps remaining and made the move stick on the rundown to the final corner.
Leclerc’s pace continued to drop off massively as the closing stages of the Grand Prix panned out as he settled for a harsh third but at least claimed the bonus fastest lap point.
Leclerc managed to avoid losing his podium spot to finish ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as the race ended under the safety car after the two Renault R.S.19’s breaking down with only a couple of laps remaining.
When the 57 lap Bahrain Grand Prix began, Vettel blasted passed his pole sitting Ferrari team-mate Leclerc on the rundown into turn one.
Bottas got by Mercedes team-mate Hamilton off the line as well along with Leclerc who was struggling for grip.
Vettel built a solid 1.4 second gap at the end of lap one.
Leclerc made half a look at Bottas into turn one before poking by the Silver Arrows and moved back into second place exiting the second corner.
Hamilton also flew by Bottas into third after a feisty battle between the two Silver Arrows, the two W10’s ran side by side into turn four but the Briton on the outside got the better run off the corner to make the pass stick.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz had an intense battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the run to turn four, but the latter keeps his nose up the inside and holds onto fifth with the duo colliding and Sainz got a sparking front wing.
Sainz plummeted down the order and was forced to pit for a new front and a fresh set of medium rubber.
Leclerc was going quicker than team-mate Vettel and had the DRS down into turn one with the Monegasque driver pulling to the outside and went around the German for the lead.
Leclerc managed to hold onto the place through the first corner, then kept hold of it on the run to turn four.
On lap ten, Leclerc built a 1.9 second gap to Vettel with Hamilton third, Bottas fourth and Verstappen completing the top five.
Verstappen was the first of the top five to stop on lap 12 for a set of mediums with Bottas following suit a lap later.
Leclerc pitted from the lead on lap 14 with Hamilton while Vettel remained on track and claimed the lead.
Bottas attempted to pass Verstappen’s Red Bull on the run to turn one. The Finn’s first try was unsuccessful but had another go at turn four and got the Dutchman that time round.
Alfa Romeo Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi clipped Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso into turn 11 forcing the Russian into a spin with the latter managing to recover and continue on.
Vettel stopped a lap later to try and cover Hamilton but emerged behind the Briton in fourth.
On lap 16, Leclerc lead from Hamilton, Ricciardo, Vettel, Bottas and Verstappen.
Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean was the first casualty to retire due to a damaged floor after a collision with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.
On lap 21, Leclerc built a solid six second lead from Hamilton with Vettel third, Bottas fourth and Verstappen rounding out the top five.
Vettel moved into within a second of Hamilton who reported his rears were gone on the radio.
On lap 23, the German used the main straight to get close to Hamilton and moved passed the Mercedes on the run to and around the outside of the W10 into turn four for second.
Hamilton was keeping Vettel honest afterwards with Bottas a further eight seconds back in the other Mercedes.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg quickly caught team-mate Ricciardo who pitted on lap 25 as the former moved up to sixth.
Ricciardo emerged from the pits in 13th place as the Australian ran a one-stop strategy meanwhile McLaren’s Lando Norris overtook Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen for seventh place on lap 27.
With 27 laps remaining, Leclerc lead from Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Norris, Raikkonen, Gasly and Perez.
Ricciardo passed the sole VF-19 Haas of Kevin Magnussen into 11th as the Australian attempted to make the one stopper work.
On lap 33, Verstappen was the first of the frontrunners to make a second stop window as he put on another set of medium compounds with the Dutchman emerging behind Raikkonen with the former then passing the Finn on his out-lap.
Hamilton stopped on lap 35 for a fresh set of mediums while Vettel came in a lap later also for a set of mediums to cover the Briton.
Leclerc followed suit on lap 37 and came out in-front of Bottas while the fight between Vettel and Hamilton behind re-intensified.
Disaster struck for Vettel as he spun out of third place after being overtaken by Hamilton around the outside of turn four just after the second pitstop window.
Vettel then got his SF90 the right way around again but shortly afterwards his front wing shattered and was forced to pit for a third time.
Vettel then emerged in eighth place with the German then immediately passing Norris’ McLaren for seventh as he charged to recover as much as possible.
Vettel then made short work of Ricciardo and Hulkenberg to get up to fifth place.
With ten laps remaining, disaster struck for Leclerc as he reported a problem with the engine as the Monegasque youngster lost 1.7 seconds and the pace started to fall rapidly.
Hamilton then moved within a second of the struggling Ferrari and passed Leclerc for the lead on the rundown to the final corner on lap 47.
Bottas breezed through Leclerc’s Ferrari for second on the main-straight as the tide turned on Ferrari to a Mercedes one-two.
With two laps remaining, both Renault R.S.19’s of Hulkenberg and Ricciardo went off at turn two due to a suspected electronics issue.
Hamilton crossed the line to win the race under the safety car with Mercedes team-mate Bottas second and Leclerc limping home to complete the top three.
Verstappen finished the race in fourth ahead of Vettel who was fifth and Norris who came home in an impressive sixth for McLaren.
Raikkonen settled for seventh place and in-front of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly who was eighth, Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon who was ninth and Perez rounded out the top ten.
The other Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi ended the race in eleventh place and ahead of Kvyat who took 12th and Magnussen who was 13th.
Racing Point’s Stroll was 14th and in-front of the two Williams FW42’s of George Russell and Robert Kubica who brought up the rear.
Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix Race Results Classification (57 Laps)
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||57||1h34m21.295s|
|2||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||57||2.980s|
|3||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari||57||6.131s|
|4||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||57||6.408s|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||57||36.068s|
|6||Lando Norris||McLaren-Renault F1 Team||57||45.754s|
|7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing||57||47.470s|
|8||Pierre Gasly||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||57||58.094s|
|9||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda||57||1m02.697s|
|10||Sergio Perez||SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||57||1m03.696s|
|11||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing||57||1m04.599s|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda||56||1 Lap|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||Rich Energy Haas F1 Team||56||1 Lap|
|14||Lance Stroll||SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||56||1 Lap|
|15||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing||56||1 Lap|
|16||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing||55||2 Laps|
|17||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault F1 Team||53||Power Unit|
|18||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team||53||Not running|
|19||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren-Renault F1 Team||53||Not running|
|–||Romain Grosjean||Rich Energy Haas F1 Team||16||Retirement|
Formula 1 2019 World Driver’s Championship Standings – Top 10
Formula 1 2019 World Constructors Championship Standings
Round three of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship returns to the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China for the Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix 2019 from April 12-14, which will be the sport’s 1000th race.