Lewis Hamilton won a strategic Bahrain GP that was marred by a horrific crash on the opening lap. Romain Grosjean collided with a barrier at 137mph, breaking his car in two, before a huge fireball erupted. Grosjean was in the flames for nearly 30 seconds before jumping out by himself, only sustaining minor burns to his hands and feet.
Following a lengthy delay to fix the barriers, the race was a strategic nightmare with a multitude of different tyre strategies throughout the grid. Max Verstappen took a comfortable second place, followed by Sergio Perez for most of the race before tragically suffering an MGU-K failure with three laps remaining, allowing Alex Albon a comfortable podium.
Lewis Hamilton – 7.5
Lewis Hamilton scored his 95th win of his career in dominant fashion. In qualifying he was three tenths quicker than his teammate and lead every lap of the race, bar one. Post-race, Lewis said: “Physically it was such a demanding race. I was struggling a little bit with the car sliding around, but I just had enough to be able to respond to Max’s quick laps when it mattered.” Any problems Lewis had with the car did nothing to endanger the victory as he looked comfortable at the front of the pack, keeping the gap to Verstappen to a few seconds, forcing Red Bull into a different strategy.
Valtteri Bottas – 4
It was another weekend to forget for Valtteri. Having qualified on the front row, it looked as if he was the driver who was going to challenge Lewis for the victory. However, a poor start on the dirty side of the grid dropped him from second to sixth. After the red flag, he had another poor start and picked up a puncture from debris left on the track. This dropped him to the back of the field, and he struggled to overtake cars due to the Mercedes struggling to follow other cars’ dirty air.
“I tried fighting my way through the field, but we had a bigger wing than most of the others, so it wasn’t easy to get through the train of cars.”
It was painful to see Bottas struggle to pass the backmarkers. He was stuck behind the damaged Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen for several laps, but even with the fastest car on the grid, only managed to get to eighth. The bad luck continued as he picked up a puncture on the final lap of the race, but he was able to coast home under the safety car.
Max Verstappen – 7.5
Verstappen put in another solid performance, out driving the car to place it third on the grid, a tenth behind the Bottas. A great launch from the grid ensured that the race was between Max and Lewis, although the Red Bull did not have the pace to stick with Lewis. Max echoed this post-race, saying: “In the race I tried everything I could to stay with Lewis and there wasn’t much left to give, but unfortunately we were just a bit too slow.” Red Bull was comfortably the second quickest car, Max was able to three stop and achieve second place.
Alex Albon – 7
Albon drove very well all weekend, and amazingly so after the pressure that is on his shoulders, and to recover from Friday’s crash at the final corner. Albon did superb to qualify fourth, and a good start from the dirty side of the track allowed him to jump Bottas. All race he was a few seconds behind Perez and ultimately capitalised on Perez’s mechanical failure to secure his second podium.
“It’s been a good weekend for me pace wise and I’m happy with how it turned out,” said Albon. Whilst Red Bull have now pushed back their 2021 driver line up decision until after the season has concluded, this race is another confirmation that Alex needs some time. He has said over the weekend the car is becoming better suited to him, and it is showing with consistent performances.
Charles Leclerc – 5
Leclerc was in a race of his own yesterday; he was too slow for the midfield but quicker than the backmarkers, scoring a solitary point. He believed: “P10 was the best we could achieve today.” Charles did well to extend in his first stint on the mediums, taking them to lap 23, but ran on his own for most of the race.
Sebastian Vettel – 4
It was a race to forget for Vettel this weekend after such a great performance last time out in Turkey. Sebastian outqualified his teammate placing it p11, showing the fall of Ferrari after qualifying p1 and 2 last year. Vettel was upbeat after qualifying, saying that the car was starting to feel how he likes it. Vettel was caught up in the chaos of Stroll’s crash and on his own span around, claiming the car felt completely different from that in qualifying. “The situation improved as the race went on and in free air it was not that bad,” said the German. When he was driving in the dirty air of another car Seb’s pace dropped off, notably staying behind the Williams of Russell for the final 20 laps.
Lando Norris – 7.5
Lando qualified in a lowly ninth and believed that he had more pace than what qualifying showed, and it showed in the race. Lando claims that the key to the high finishing positions was due to the good starts, he said: “Both starts were really good which put us in a strong position ahead of the Renaults. That was all really!” Once he had dispatched the Renaults, the race was straightforward for the Brit. Norris came home in 4th, scoring essential points for the constructor’s championship, they now lead Racing Point by 17 points.
Carlos Sainz – 7.5
Sainz had a dismal qualifying session, finishing 15th after a rear brake failure meant he could not set a lap time. On Sunday he performed a miraculous recovery drive finishing 5th. The key to his race was his opening stint with the soft tyre, he said: “I managed to do a very strong first stint with the soft tyre, overtaking a lot of people but at the same time making that tyre last.” McLaren showed in the race that they will likely take third in the constructors simply by being the most reliable, Sainz showed it with a great comeback drive, had McLaren qualified better they could well have fought for the final podium position.
Sergio Perez – 8.5
Perez is simply driving the wheels off the Racing Point. The force of the Mercedes and Red Bull meant that Perez should not really be having a sniff of the podium, yet Perez was in p3 for every lap until he retired three laps from the end. Perez said: “I think we executed a perfect race, and the podium was definitely ours – it was going to be one of my best in Formula 1. It was gutting to retire with three laps left due to an MGU-K electrical issue.” Red Bull announced that they were postposing their decision on next years line-up until the end of the season, this glowing performance further cements the need to see him on the grid next year, although he knows that the decision is out of his hands.
Lance Stroll – 3
Stroll had a poor weekend, and it came from a poor qualifying. He was 1.2 seconds away from his teammate and being towards the back of the grid saw him tangle with Kvyat, ending his race before it really started.
“I can’t say much about today’s incident, I was going through Turn 8 and was mid-corner when I was hit by Daniil who came out of nowhere and connected with me.”
Daniel Ricciardo – 5.5
It was a disappointing race for the French team, qualifying had instilled high hopes that they could score big points, however, in the race they dropped off. Ricciardo had poor starts which dropped him behind his teammate, and then was playing catch up the rest of his race, although there was a few lovely divebomb overtakes he will be proud of. Unnecessary squabbles with his teammate cost him time when p6 was on the table.
Esteban Ocon – 5
Ocon did very well in qualifying to place his car just two thousandths off of his teammate, but his race pace was not at the level of Ricciardo’s. Had the team instructed him to pull over earlier and allow Daniel through, the gap between the two would have been much bigger, and potentially have allowed Ricciardo to overtake Gasly at the end.
“We have plenty to review from the race as the McLarens were a bit quicker than us.”
Pierre Gasly – 7.5
Gasly scored a superb p6 finish in the Bahrain GP, all down to a great strategic call to effectively make it a one stop race. By staying on the hard tyres for so long, he was able to make enough ground to survive until the late safety car. Gasly said: “We took a risky strategy, it was a gamble, but it paid off in the end.” The Alpha Tauri was not as fast as the other midfield cars this weekend, but a bold strategic call meant Gasly finished above both Ferrari’s and Renault’s.
Daniil Kvyat – 4
“To finish p11 is super frustrating.”
Kvyat’s race was very much a ‘what could have been’ type of race. His teammate showed that their car was fast and with the right strategy, a points winning car. Kvyat started the race colliding with Grosjean, causing the huge shunt. At the second restart he was adjusted to have crashed into Stroll, resultingly getting a 10 second penalty. After all of this, he still finished in p11 and without the penalty should have been fighting for points. Regarding the incident with stroll, Kvyat said: “I was fully on the inside of him and even if I think saw me, he chose to turn in like I wasn’t there. I put my whole car on the inside of the kerb and there wasn’t much more I could have done. So, I don’t share the same view as the Stewards regarding my penalty. It’s a shame they tookthis decision because itruined my race.”
Kimi Raikkonen – 4
It was a nightmare race for Kimi, with damage on both starts he was not able to pull out the performance in his Alfa. Although, he did well in the early phase to keep with Russell with a damaged front wing.
“The car was quick in the first laps after the stops, but the damage made the pace fall off quickly. It’s a shame as the car felt pretty good on the way to the grid.”
Antonio Giovinazzi – 5
Giovinazzi finished 16th in qualifying but was over three tenths quicker than his experienced teammate. It was only a strategic error that caused him to fall from battling with Russell at the beginning of the race to finish the race at the tail end. Alfa Romeo elected to keep Giovinazzi on the hard tyre at the back end of the race, and only pitted him when the final safety car came out, to plummet him last with the other safety car gamblers.
“Our pace was quite good but I have a feeling our choices for the race didn’t pay off as well as we expected. We chose to stay out on the hard tyres and only stopped when the final safety car came out, but that didn’t work for us in the end.”
Romain Grosjean – 10
He got himself out of the fireball relatively unscathed, there is no better performance.
Kevin Magnussen – 4
Following from Grosjean’s crash, Magnussen looked like he was the most shaken up seeing his teammate, more importantly, his friend, get out of the burning remnants of the Haas. He did well to compose himself, but bad luck on the restart meant he picked up a puncture following Stroll’s flip. This sent him to the back of the field and there was not much he could do. Post-race his thoughts were solely with Romain, showing the emotional weight Magnussen had to drive with.
“Firstly, I’m just very, very happy to see Romain walk away from that crash – it was unbelievable. To see him survive that is frankly a miracle. I’m so happy that the halo was introduced, and it was on his car. Without it I’m sure it would have been very different. That’s really all from me today. I’m just happy that we’ve still got Romain.”
George Russell – 6.5
“I think we can leave saying we got everything out of this weekend. It’s not a point but it is the maximum that we could do today.”
This was a great weekend for the Brit, whilst he did not achieve the points he has been craving, a fantastic race meant he finished 12th. For the 9th time this season he was able to get into Q2. Throughout the race he was able to battle with cars that were much faster than the Williams, not only that, but he was also able to keep the Vettel’s Ferrari behind him. Had the safety car not come out, he would have caught Kvyat at the end of the race to finish just outside the points.
Nicolas Latifi – 5.5
It was a so and so weekend for Latifi, he raced well to be able to jump from starting last to finish 14th. His opening stint was very good, and acted as a rear gunner for his teammate, holding up the Alfa Romeo’s and the remaining Haas, allowing Russell to drive away. Post-race, he said: “We had a strong strategy which meant I could achieve the target which was to get ahead of the Haas and the Alfa’s.”