F1 2019: Leclerc robbed of victory after engine issues gift Hamilton Bahrain win

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton wins the Bahrain GP after turbo issues deny Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc of probable victory. Mercedes Valterri Bottas finishes 2nd as a late Safety Car lets Leclerc keep 3rd place and a maiden podium finish.

31/03/19

Starting Grid

1.Leclerc  2.Vettel  3.Hamilton  4.Bottas  5.Verstappen  6.Magnussen  7.Sainz Jr 8.Raikkonen  9.Norris  10.Ricciardo  11.Grosjean*  12.Albon  13.Gasly  14.Perez  15.Kvyat  16.Giovinazzi  17.Hulkenberg  18.Stroll  19.Russell  20.Kubica

Grosjean* received a 3 place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris during Q1: 8th – 11th.

Tyre Choice

All the driver bar Robert Kubica will start on the red-stripped Soft tyre with the Polish driver aiming to go slightly longer on the yellow-stripped Medium tyre.

Race

The wind has picked up and is really blustery. For this year, the circuit has 3 DRS activation zones. The first between turn 15 to turn 1, turn 3 to turn 4 and turn 10 to turn 11. Bahrain is one of the easiest tracks to pass on so expect a lot of overtakes.

The lights go out and it’s a good start by 2nd placed Sebastian Vettel who leads Charles Leclerc and the both Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas. Down to turn 4, Leclerc is pressurised by Bottas and the Finn is able to nip ahead of the Ferrari driver. Leclerc seems to be struggling to warm up these tyres and is battling Hamilton and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Leclerc defends his 3rd place as Hamilton and Verstappen slot into 4th and 5th.

It’s been a good start by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr who up into 6th after overtaking Haas’s Kevin Magnussen and a fantastic start by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who is now 11th after starting 17th. The other McLaren of Lando Norris has fallen from 9th to 14th. Romain Grosjean and Lance Stroll has come together and both limp back to the pits after the 1st lap. Stroll pits for a new front wing and Grosjean gets a new set of tyres. Onto the 2nd lap, Charles Leclerc forces Valterri Bottas into a mistake at turn 1 and that allows Leclerc to swoop around the Finn for 2nd place.

Valterri Bottas is now under attack from team-mate Lewis Hamilton who goes to the outside of turn 4. The pair run side-by-side through turns 5 and 6 with Hamilton muscling ahead into 3rd. Onto lap 3, Charles Leclerc sets the fastest lap of the race and closes the gap to Sebastian Vettel to 1.8 seconds. Max Verstappen locks-up going into turn 10 and is pressured by Carlos Sainz Jr for 5th into turn 11. Verstappen stays ahead of the McLaren driver. Onto lap 4, Leclerc sets the new fastest lap of the race and closes the gap to Vettel to 1.2 seconds. Sainz Jr pressures Verstappen heading into turn 4 with the Red Bull driver defending the inside line. The pair go side-by-side and there’s contact! Sainz’s front-right tyre has punctured and is caught between his front wing. He limps back to the pits, changes his front wing and goes onto a set of Medium tyres.

Onto lap 5, Charles Leclerc attacks Sebastian Vettel into turn 1 as the gap is down to half a second. It’s evident to see that Leclerc is far quicker than Vettel as the pole-sitter tells his team, “I’m quicker guys”. Onto lap 6, Leclerc, with the help of DRS, attacks Vettel round the outside of turn 1. He goes slightly wide but re-takes the lead through turn 2. However, it’s now Vettel with DRS going into turn 4 and the German pulls to the outside of turn 4 but Leclerc holds onto the lead of the race!

A replay of the start shows that there was contact between Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and Haas’s Romain Grosjean with Stroll hitting the left-rear tyre of Grosjean at turn 2. The Haas driver runs wide as Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon, who was behind Stroll, is hit with a lot of sparks as Stroll’s front wing is hitting the track!

Onto lap 7, Charles Leclerc is streaking ahead and has built a gap of 1.4 seconds as McLaren’s Lando Norris, who ran wide on the 1st lap between turns 6 and 7, is up into 11th place. Onto lap 9, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez pits as Leclerc’s lead has grown to 1.8 seconds. Onto lap 10, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly and Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon pit. It’s a slow stop for Gasly who goes onto the Soft tyre. Raikkonen goes onto the Medium tyre and Albon onto the Soft tyre. Raikkonen rejoins ahead of Perez in 14th place with Albon and Gasly in 16th and 17th.

Onto lap 11, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen pit. Norris rejoins on the Medium tyre as does Magnussen. The Stewards decide that there’ll be no further action between Romain Grosjean and Lance Stroll and the incident between Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. Onto lap 12, Verstappen pits, goes onto the Medium and rejoins in 9th as Charles Leclerc has extended his lead at the front to 3.1 seconds. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat has come together with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi with Kvyat facing the wrong way at turn 11. Onto lap 13, Mercedes Valterri Bottas pits from 4th. The Finn goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins ahead of Verstappen. Hang on a minute, Verstappen is now ahead of Bottas, the Red Bull driver has overtaken the Mercedes! Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg also pits, goes onto the Soft tyre and rejoins in 10th behind Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez.

Onto lap 14, race leader, Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton pit from 1st and 3rd. Leclerc goes onto the Medium tyre as Hamilton goes onto the Soft tyre. Surely this means that on newer and quicker tyre that Sebastian Vettel will be overtaken by Hamilton. Valterri Bottas pressures Max Verstappen into turn 1. The Red Bull driver stays ahead but Bottas, with DRS, fights back and pulls to the outside of turn 4. The Finn swoops round the outside of turn 4 to re-gain that position, what a move! Hamilton is going very quickly on his out-lap and will be ahead of Vettel once he pits. Onto lap 15, Vettel pits, goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins behind Hamilton. Leclerc manages to overtake the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, who is yet to pit, for the lead of the race.

Whilst talking to Sky Sports, Red Bull team boss, Christian Horner, reveals that they decided to pit Max Verstappen because he had a slow puncture as the incident between Daniil Kvyat and Antonio Giovinazzi is under investigation. Onto lap 16, Charles Leclerc has extended his lead to Lewis Hamilton to 3.6 seconds. Onto lap 17, Haas decide to retire Romain Grosjean after damage to the floor of his car sustained at the start as Kvyat is rewarded with a 5 second time penalty for speeding in the pits. Onto lap 19, Leclerc’s gap to Hamilton has grown to 4.5 seconds with Vettel now starting to catch the Mercedes.

The Stewards decide that there’ll be no further action between Daniil Kvyat and Antonio Giovinazzi. Onto lap 21, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg overtakes Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen for 7th place into turn 1. Onto lap 23, Lewis Hamilton is really struggling on his Soft tyre and this invites Sebastian Vettel to go round the outside of turn 4 to overtake the Brit. Charles Leclerc’s lead is now 7.5 seconds ahead of team-mate Vettel with Hamilton in 3rd, Valterri Bottas in 4th and Max Verstappen in 5th. Onto lap 25, Daniel Ricciardo finally pits and rejoins in 13th. Onto lap 26, Lando Norris overtakes Raikkonen for 7th place into turn 1.

Behind in the top 5, Nico Hulkenberg is in 6th ahead of Lando Norris, Kimi Raikkonen, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez. Onto lap 30, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo overtakes Haas’s Kevin Magnussen before turn 1 for 11th place. Onto lap 33, Max Verstappen pits from 5th. It’s a slow stop for the Dutchman who goes onto the soft tyre. Hulkenberg also pits and rejoins in 11th. Onto lap 34, Raikkonen and Perez pit with Raikkonen going onto the Soft tyre. Onto lap 35, Lewis Hamilton pits from 3rd, goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 4th. Onto lap 36, Sebastian Vettel pits from 2nd, goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 3rd ahead of Hamilton.

Onto lap 37, race leader, Charles Leclerc pits. He goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 1st ahead of Valterri Bottas, who hasn’t pitted for a second time. Lewis Hamilton pressures Sebastian Vettel into turn 4 and goes round the outside. The pair go side-by-side through turn 5 but Vettel remains ahead. Vettel overtakes Bottas for 2nd at turn 14 as the Finn bails out and pits. Onto lap 38, Hamilton goes to the outside of Vettel once again of turn 4 but this time Hamilton is able to get ahead as Vettel loses the car!!!

The German spins on the exit of turn 4. He’s able to get going again but his tyres are shot. He’s also lost his front wing –  a pit-stop will be necessary. A replay shows that between turns 10 and 11, Vettel’s front wing detached itself and went under the car –  a hugely scary moment there for the Ferrari driver. He makes it back to the pits for a new front wing and a new set of Soft tyres. He rejoins in 9th behind the squabbling Renault team-mates of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg.

Onto lap 40, Pierre Gasly makes his second stop and rejoins in 12th as Charles Leclerc’s lead to Lewis Hamilton is now 8.4 seconds. A potential 5th place could be the best recovery position for Sebastian Vettel, who is now 8th. Onto lap 41, Vettel overtakes Lando Norris for 7th place into turn 1. Onto lap 42, Vettel now overtakes Daniel Ricciardo for 6th into turn 11. Onto lap 43, Vettel overtakes Nico Hulkenberg for 5th into turn 1. However, Vettel’s dashboard on his steering wheel is telling him to use higher gears – it looks like Vettel is going to have to nurse this car home now.

Onto lap 44, Charles Leclerc’s lead is now 9.5 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Valterri Bottas and Max Verstappen are in 3rd and 4th. Lando Norris overtakes Daniel Ricciardo for 7th out of turn 2 as Kimi Raikkonen sits behind and watches the pair battle. Onto lap 45, Raikkonen takes his chance and overtakes Ricciardo round the outside of turn 1 for 8th place. Onto lap 46, Leclerc’s gap has decreased slightly – something is wrong. He radios Ferrari to say “There’s something strange with the engine”. His gap is now just 7 seconds to Hamilton. Things have gone downhill for Ferrari…

Onto lap 47, Charles Leclerc’s lead is now down to 4.2 seconds and he’s seemingly not getting a response from Ferrari to hear what they think is wrong with his engine. There’s enough of a gap back to Valterri Bottas in 3rd, 30 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton, for Leclerc to still finish on the podium if he can’t hold onto the lead. Ferrari tell Leclerc that it is a Turbo issue which is losing Leclerc 25 to 30 kilometres on the straights. Onto lap 48, Hamilton overtakes Leclerc for the lead before the final corner of the lap.

Lap 49, Valterri Bottas in 3rd, is catching Charles Leclerc and the gap is now 24 seconds. Onto lap 51, the gap between the Ferrari and Mercedes driver is now down to 15 seconds. Onto lap 53, Leclerc’s gap to Bottas is now down to just 3 seconds. Onto lap 54, Bottas breezes past Leclerc for 3rd place before turn 1. Nico Hulkenberg has stopped in Sector 1 and is in the run-off area. My goodness, the other Renault of Daniel Ricciardo has also pulled up as well!

Both have stopped at turn 1 and turn 2. Did something happen between them? No, thankfully, but it seems that Daniel Ricciardo just lost power completely. As for Hulkenberg, it was a complete engine failure. For Leclerc’s rescue, the Safety Car has been deployed on lap 55 for the stricken Renault’s. McLaren decide to retire Carlos Sainz Jr, who was running near the back of the pack.

The race looks like it is going to end under the Safety Car, the 8th time that this will have happened and the first time since China 2015. Lap 57, Lewis Hamilton wins the Bahrain GP ahead of Valterri Bottas and Charles Leclerc. Leclerc receives “Fans Driver of the Day” and the bonus point for the Fastest Lap Award.

Race Result

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 57 Laps
  2. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, +2.980s
  3. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +6.131s
  4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Honda, +6.408s
  5. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +36.068s
  6. Lando Norris, McLaren Renault, +45.754s
  7. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, +47.470s
  8. Pierre Gasly, Red Bull Racing Honda, +58.094s
  9. Alexander Albon, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, +62.697s
  10. Sergio Perez, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, +63.696s
  11. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, +64.599s
  12. Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, + 1 Lap
  13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  14. Lance Stroll, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, + 1 Lap
  15. George Russell, Williams Mercedes, + 1 Lap
  16. Robert Kubica, Williams Mercedes, + 2 Laps
  • Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, DNF
  • Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, DNF
  • Carlos Sainz Jr, McLaren Renault, DNF
  • Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, DNF

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