F1 2019: Chinese Post-Race Analysis

Well, if Lewis Hamilton didn’t deserve to win in Bahrain, he definitely deserved to win today. Overall, a poor start to the weekend meant that Hamilton seemed the weaker of the two Mercedes drivers, but a fantastic start and consistent pace led to back to back victories and the top of the championship, for now…

17/04/19

Crucial point of the race?

Once again, the start of the race was one of or the crucial point of the race with Lewis Hamilton getting a better start than team-mate and pole-sitter Valterri Bottas. The Finn admitted that it was because of his “poor start” that cost him the victory and the cause of it was of too much wheelspin. Since his poor starts in Australia and Bahrain, Hamilton has been working to improve his race starts and it looks like it has paid off.

Consistency is key..

The first team since 1992 to score three consecutive 1-2 finishes, Mercedes can’t believe their luck, or is it luck? Coming into the start of the season, Mercedes were considered the “underdogs” but they leave China ahead of their rivals and comfortably leading both championships. Key to their success in China has been put down to the Silver Arrows being set up to go well in the corners. This was a counteract movement as the German team was well-aware of Ferrari’s straight-line speed so being quick in the corners protected them from an attack.

Where’s it gone?

Apart from Mercedes and Ferrari, Haas are the only team to have both drivers qualify in the top 10 at every race so far this year, but they only have 8 points to show for it. Both drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, have qualified in the top 10 on the Saturday but keep dropping back come Sunday. The problem has been identified in the way the team operates their tyres. Team Principal, Gunther Steiner said “The problem is getting the tyres in the heat range so that the tyres work. It’s high-speed tracks with long straights and low energy corners where we can’t get the heat into the tyres. This problem might not be fixed ahead of F1’s next race in Azerbaijan so it could be another miserable Sunday for the Haas team.

Drivers of the Day

  • Lewis Hamilton, 1st: Indeed a poor start to the weekend meant that the Brit looked the weaker of the two Mercedes drivers but a perfect start and great consistency and race management, Hamilton now takes the lead in the champion thanks to two back-to-back victories.
  • Daniel Ricciardo, 7th: Finally, the Australian picked up some points for his new team in 2019. In his most convincing weekend for the team, out-qualifying and out-racing team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, Ricciardo will hopefully continue to settle into the French outfit.
  • Sergio Perez, 8th: An electric start from the Mexican saw the Racing Point driver move from 12th to 8th on the 1st lap. He kept pressure on the Renault’s throughout the race and bagged 4 points for his hard work.
  • Alexander Albon, 10th: From one emotion to another. The young rookie suffered a huge crash in FP3 but recovered superbly on Sunday to break into the points after starting from the pit-lane and then holding Romain Grosjean in the final few laps to claim the “Fans Driver of the Day” and a point for his effort.

Constructors Championship

1.Mercedes 130pts  2.Ferrari 73pts  3.Red Bull Racing Honda 52pts  4.Renault 12pts  5.Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 12pts  6.Haas Ferrari 8pts  7.McLaren Renault 8pts  9.Racing Point BTW Mercedes 7pts  9.Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 4pts  10.Williams Mercedes 0pts

F1 2019: Hamilton wins F1’s 1,000th race after dominant Chinese GP

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton wins the Chinese GP and takes the lead in the Championship as the Brit won F1’s 1000th GP ahead of team-mate Valterri Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

14/04/19

Starting Grid

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

Albon will start from the pit-lane

Tyre Choice

Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean, Antonio Giovinazzi and Alexander Albon will start on the Soft tyre. Everyone else will start on the Medium tyre.

Race

There’ll be a range of different strategies at play today with the drivers on the Soft tyre likely to aim to try and do a 1 stop. As the formation lap gets underway, Max Verstappen and Robert Kubica spin whilst trying to get some heat into their Medium tyres! They manage to spin back round and get back into position. 4 of the last 5 pole-sitters have gone onto win this race, so it’s a good omen for Australian GP Valterri Bottas.

The lights go out for F1’s 1000th GP and it’s a great start by Lewis Hamilton to jump Valterri Bottas heading into turn 1. Charles Leclerc sneaks up the inside of Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel for 3rd place. Down towards turn 6, Sergio Perez goes round the outside of both Haas drivers of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg for 8th place. Behind, there’s contact between the McLaren’s and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.

Both McLaren’s of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr have damage but it seems that Daniil Kvyat has little to no damage. A replay of the incident shows that Kvyat momentarily lost the rear of his car exiting turn 6 which sent the Russian into the path of Sainz. On the outside of the corner, Norris rejoins the track after running wide and it’s a pincer movement. Kvyat makes contact with Sainz and then makes contact with Norris – forces the Brit to take some air time with his McLaren at an angle in the air. Sainz’s has lost a part of his front wing while both trundle back to the pits.The Virtual Safety Car is deployed for the marshals to recover some debris.

The VSC ends on lap 2 with Lewis Hamilton leading the way ahead of Valterri Bottas and Charles Leclerc. By lap 3, Hamilton has built a lead of 1.3 seconds back to Bottas who is 2.1 seconds ahead of Leclerc. Kimi Raikkonen overtakes Kevin Magnussen for 11th place just before turn 14. McLaren tell Lando Norris that he has floor damage to his car after the lap 1 incident. Both McLaren’s had to pit at the same time which lost Norris more time – both run 19th and 20th, a minute and a minute and eleven seconds behind the race lead.

On lap 5, Alexander Albon overtakes Antonio Giovinazzi for 15th place down into turn 14. Onto lap 6, Lewis Hamilton’s lead has increased to 2 seconds as the stewards award Daniil Kvyat with a drive through penalty for the incident on lap 1. The Ferrari’s in 3rd and 4th are nip and tuck, will there be team orders as 4th placed Sebastian Vettel looks quicker at this stage in the race? On lap 8, Kvyat takes his drive through penalty and rejoins in 17th. On lap 9, Romain Grosjean pits, goes onto the Hard tyre and rejoins in 17th as Ferrari tell Vettel to “push now”. On lap 10, Kevin Magnussen pits, goes onto the Hard tyre and rejoins in 17th with team-mate Grosjean ahead as Ferrari tell Leclerc “you need to go faster otherwise we’ll let Sebastian past”.

Onto lap 11, Ferrari tell Charles Leclerc on the pit-straight to let team-mate Sebastian Vettel past. Leclerc slows and allows Vettel past although Leclerc protests by saying “I am pulling away”. Kimi Raikkonen now overtakes Nico Hulkenberg for 9th place into turn 14 as Lewis Hamilton has extended his lead to 3 seconds. Onto lap 12, Nico Hulkenberg pits, goes onto the Hard tyre and rejoins in 16th just behind Romain Grosjean. Leclerc is not a happy man, Vettel isn’t pulling away as much and is making a few mistakes here and there, Leclerc thinks his race is being compromised.

At the end of lap 15, Lewis Hamilton became the 2nd driver in history to pass 4,000 laps led only second to Michael Schumacher on 5,111 laps. Onto lap 16, Hamilton lead is now 4.5 seconds ahead of Valterri Bottas. On lap 17, Renault decide to retire Nico Hulkenberg from the race and he becomes the first retirement of the race. On lap 18, Max Verstappen pits from 5th. He goes onto the Hard tyre and rejoins in 8th. Will Ferrari respond and with what driver?

Onto lap 19, Sebastian Vettel pits from 3rd. The German goes onto the Hard tyre and rejoins in 5th just ahead of Max Verstappen. It doesn’t look good for Charles Leclerc, it certain that the Ferrari driver will be behind Verstappen. Verstappen is very close to Vettel and lunges down the inside of turn 14. Vettel realises this and cuts back on the exit as the pair go side-by-side. Verstappen momentarily takes to the grass as Vettel manages to get ahead. Great racing between the two drivers who clashed here last year!

Lap 20, Pierre Gasly pits and rejoins  in 8th. Ferrari tell Charles Leclerc to “keep pushing as we are going a bit longer”. The Racing Point drivers of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll pit. Perez rejoins in 9th with Stroll in 16th. Lap 21, Valterri Bottas pits from 2nd and rejoins on the Hard tyre in 3rd. Lap 22, Lewis Hamilton pits from the lead, rejoins on the Hard tyre and rejoins in the lead as Leclerc pits. Leclerc goes onto the and rejoins in 5th albeit 11 seconds behind Max Verstappen. Lap 24, Hamilton asks Mercedes “why did you stop Valterri first?” Mercedes reply by saying that it was down to tyre life. The gap between the Silver Arrows is only 1.5 seconds.

Alexander Albon and Lance Stroll overtake the struggling Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi. Lap 29, Lewis Hamilton has extended his lead to 3.1 seconds as Kimi Raikkonen overtakes Romain Grosjean for 9th place out of turn 15. Lap 30, Charles Leclerc is now just 6.4 seconds behind Max Verstappen in 4th and 5th place. Lap 35, Verstappen pits from 4th and goes onto the Medium tyre. He rejoins in 5th just ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly. Lap 36, Sebastian Vettel pits from 3rd and rejoins on the Medium tyre in 4th.

Reacting to everyone else, Mercedes decide to pit Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas in succession. There’s enough of a gap between them so Bottas doesn’t get held up. It’s an amazing feat achieved by the team which can easily be mucked up. Both go onto the Medium tyre and rejoin in 1st and 3rd. Very well executed and perfection! Charles Leclerc has yet to pit for a second time that’s why he’s currently in 2nd. Lap 38, Sebastian Vettel set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:34:836.

Valterri Bottas tries to overtake Charles Leclerc for 2nd but Leclerc is able to stay ahead until lap 39 when the Finn overtakes him into turn 14. On lap 42, Sebastian Vettel overtakes Leclerc for 4th place just before turn 14 as Leclerc pits at the end of the lap. He goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 5th. His aim now is to try and catch 4th place Max Verstappen. Lap 43, Toro Rosso decide to retire Daniil Kvyat from the race.

Lap 51, Lewis Hamilton’s lead has grown to 6.3 seconds ahead of Valterri Bottas. Charles Leclerc in 5th is 9.3 seconds behind Max Verstappen in 4th. Daniel Ricciardo is holding onto 7th just ahead of Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen. Alexander Albon is in 10th and fending off Romain Grosjean. Lap 53, McLaren decide to retire Lando Norris from the race.

Lap 54, Pierre Gasly pits, goes onto the Soft tyre and now will and try and get the fastest lap and the bonus point for doing so. He had enough of a gap to Daniel Ricciardo behind so he’s ensured that 6th place is his. Onto the final lap, Lewis Hamilton still leads ahead of Valterri Bottas. Hamilton crosses the line to win the Chinese GP. Gasly is able to nick the fastest lap off of Sebastian Vettel. Alexander Albon hangs onto 10th place and gets the “Fans Driver of the Day.”

Race Result

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 56 Laps
  2. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, +6.552s
  3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +13.744s
  4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Honda, +27.627s
  5. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +31.276s
  6. Pierre Gasly, Red Bull Racing Honda, +89.307s
  7. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, + 1 Lap
  8. Sergio Perez, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, + 1 Lap
  9. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  10. Alexander Albon, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, + 1 Lap
  11. Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  12. Lance Stroll, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, + 1 Lap
  13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  14. Carlos Sainz Jr, McLaren Renault, + 1 Lap
  15. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  16. George Russell, Williams Mercedes, + 2 Laps
  17. Robert Kubica, Williams Mercedes, + 2 Laps
  18. Lando Norris, McLaren Renault, DNF
  • Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, DNF
  • Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, DNF

 

F1 2019: Back on form Bottas beats Hamilton to Chinese GP Pole

Mercedes Valterri Bottas beats team-mate Lewis Hamilton to Pole Position for tomorrow’s Chinese GP with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in 3rd.

13/04/19

Mercedes Valterri Bottas will be on Pole Position for F1’s 1000th GP in China having taking his first Pole since the Russian GP last year. The Championship leader will start ahead of his Mercedes team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, who was just 0.023s behind in 2nd with the Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc who were both 3 tenths adrift of the Finnish driver.

Having topped FP2 and FP3, Bottas has seemed the more confident of the two Mercedes drivers. He then topped Q1 with Hamilton leading the way in Q2 but it was a two great laps in Q3 which secured Bottas a well-deserved pole position.

Mercedes and Ferrari have been neck and neck all weekend with the Scuderia’s power advantage on the straights proving to be a nightmare for the Silver Arrows. However, Mercedes are confident by saying that they would counteract Ferrari’s power advantage by making sure their car was steady and quick in the corners.

Being on the second row of the grid, Vettel and Leclerc are positive that being on the second row of the grid buys the team the better race option. Leclerc had to do two runs in Q1 as he was hampered by traffic.

The Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly were 5th and 6th however Verstappen was annoyed as he felt he could have fought for 3rd if it wasn’t for traffic issues on his final Q3 run. There was finally some good news for Gasly to qualify 6th but 8 tenths behind Verstappen will be still a bit of concern.

There was smiles at Renault. Daniel Ricciardo finally managed to out-qualify Nico Hulkenberg to 7th and 8th and more importantly ahead of the American Haas team who did not choose to run. Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean in 9th and 10th decided not to run in Q3.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was looking good to creep into the top 10 but 11th and with a free choice of tyres might be better for the Russian driver come race day. Racing Point’s Sergio Perez headed Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen in 12th and 13th ahead of the McLaren’s of Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris in 14th and 15th.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was eliminated in Q1 for the 7th time in succession and for the 3rd time this season. The Williams pair of George Russell and Robert Kubica were evenly matched but were nearly 1 second slower than Stroll in 16th.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi who has had a disappointing weekend so far, through no fault of his own, did not take part in Qualifying due to power unit issue. Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon also didn’t take part in Qualifying as the team were still rebuilding his car after the British born Thai driver crashed heavily in the final minutes of FP3.

Chinese Qualifying Result

1.Bottas  2.Hamilton  3.Vettel  4.Leclerc  5.Verstappen  6.Gasly  7.Ricciardo  8.Hulkenberg  9.Magnussen  10.Grosjean  11.Kvyat  12.Perez  13.Raikkonen  14.Sainz Jr  15.Norris  16.Stroll  17.Russell  18.Kubica  No Time: Giovinazzi & Albon

Qualifying Stats

  • Valterri Bottas’s first Pole Position since Russia last year is the first time that he been able to out-qualify team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
  • Making it into Q3 was Pierre Gasly’s first appearance in the top for Red Bull.
  • With Kimi Raikkonen in 13th, it ended a a 53-Grand Prix streak of making it to Q3, the longest consecutive run of any driver on the grid.

 

Countdown to F1’s 1000th GP: Chinese GP 2019

Only 1,000 races, surely not! Some people can hardly believe that this weekend’s Chinese GP is Formula One’s 1000th race. So much has happened since the start of the championship in 1950: drivers have come and gone, teams have joined and faded but the racing remains the same. Let’s hope this weekend’s race lives up to expectations!

09/04/19

F1 in a 1000 races

Formula One celebrates it’s 1,000th race this weekend in China. It’s amazing that the sport has been going so long – since 1950 – in fact. On the run-up to this weekend, Liberty Media have been publicly counting down the number of races until this weekend and have even brought out a number of commemorative items: a limited-edition poster with the name of every Grand Prix winner, a limited-edition Chinese GP poster and a black 1000th GP t-shirt are on sale. A competition is also being run with a number of prizes to be won. The Formula One website is also counting down some of “F1’s Best Drives”.

Toro Rosso also have a reason to celebrate…

This weekend also marks 250 races that Toro Rosso have participated in since the team joined the sport in 2006. Formed from the back-marker team, Minardi, Toro Rosso functions under the same brand as it’s sister team Red Bull. As a junior team, Toro Rosso grow and develop young drivers in the hope of promotion to the senior team. As a result, 5 drivers have progressed to the senior team.

  • Drivers: Vitantonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed, Sebastian Vettel, Sebastien Bourdais, Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastian Buemi, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz Jr, Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly, Brendon Hartley and Alexander Albon.
  • Race Wins: 1 (2008 Italian GP)
  • Fastest Laps: 1 (2016 Spanish GP)
  • Pole Positions: 1 (2008 Italian GP)
  • Highest Championship finish: 6th, 39pts (2008 F1 Season)

My Favourite F1 race is…

My favourite Formula One race has to be the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. It was a race that had it all and showed exactly why a driver in motorsport should never ever give up, even if you’ve crashed into your team-mate, collided with a double world champion or been in the pits six times.

By all accounts, this was a very wet race. The heavens had opened and rain poured on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with the Safety Car leading the field until Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel led the way. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton tangled with the Red Bull of Mark Webber which invited the McLaren of Jenson Button to get involved. The McLaren team-mates clashed after an unsighted Hamilton was forced into the wall by Button. A new set of tyres along with a stop and go penalty left Button 15th. The race was then suspended for 2 long hours as a rainstorm soaked the circuit even more. The rainstorm passed and the race now back underway thanks once again to the Safety Car. Button, making his way up the field, collided with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso which brought out the Safety Car. Another pit-stop for a puncture left Button 24th and last. Button sliced through the field and made his pit-stop for the dry tyres at the right time. Button overtook Webber and Mercedes Michael Schumacher for 2nd with only a few laps to go. Time was running out for Button but on the last lap, Vettel ran wide, losing the rear of the car with Button sailing through to claim a shock victory.

 

F1 2019: Bahrain Post-Race Analysis

Was it Lewis Hamilton’s race to win? In some respects no, but the Brit, after he performed the under-cut strategy on Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the first round of pit-stops, overtaking Vettel later on and holding his nerve to take the lead of the race, well and truly took the opportunity when it came knocking. Here is the 2019 Bahrain Post- Race Analysis.

01/04/19

Crucial point of the race?

There were many crucial points of the race this time. One of them was that overtake performed by Lewis Hamilton on Sebastian Vettel which left the German in a tiff. As tried on the lap beforehand, Hamilton went round the outside of the Ferrari driver of turn 4 and successfully completed the overtake.

The other crucial point of the race was Hamilton overtaking Charles Leclerc for the lead. After developing turbo issues, Hamilton started to reel in Leclerc at a rate of knots. One of the more easier overtakes of the night, Hamilton sailed past the heartbroken Monegasque driver. In the end, Mercedes, on the day, had a more reliable car and this brings in that famous saying in sport, in general, motorsport..

‘To finish first, you must first finish.’

Momentum can swing very quickly…

What a weekend for Ferrari. The Scuderia needed to bounce back after a difficult and under-whelming weekend in Australia and were doing so for 90% of the weekend in Bahrain. Quickest in the practice sessions, qualifying on the front-row and on course for a deserved victory – how situations can change so quickly in Formula One..

From having two cars on the podium, one for a probable victory and the other on the podium, to just one car on the podium will be a difficult result for Ferrari to take in. However, there are positives to take from this weekend – Leclerc was quick and comfortable with the car and that the team had Mercedes in their back pocket when it came to overall speed. Thank-you Bahrain, the championship has just started.

Missed opportunity for Renault

How weird! Both of the team’s cars retire at the same corner, a few seconds apart for different reasons – how can you explain that? With 3 laps to go, both Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo pulled off and retired from the race. Hulkenberg was on course to finish 6th with Ricciardo near the lower end of the top 10. Ricciardo’s failure was down to an MGU-K problem while Hulkenberg’s retirement hasn’t been solved. Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul admitted: “It’s been a very bad start to our racing season”.

Drivers of the Day

  • Charles Leclerc, 3rd: Apart from losing the lead at the start of the race, Leclerc did not put a foot wrong all-weekend. Qualifying on pole, then bouncing back to overtake Valterri Bottas and team-mate Vettel and then creating a gap, he deserved this victory. There’ll be many more opportunities for this guy in the future.
  • Lando Norris, 6th: In his first F1 weekends, he’s been able to qualify in the top 10 and now he’s scored his and the team’s first points of the season. After a poor start, the young Brit battled back to settle for 6th after Hulkenberg’s late retirement. A very good start to life in F1.
  • Alexander Albon, 9th: A mature race in which the Toro Rosso driver had sparks in his face during the 1st lap chaos. Albon battled team-mate Daniil Kvyat and the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly and he benefited from the retirement of both Renault’s to score his first F1 points and first for a Thai driver since 1954.
  • Nico Hulkenberg, DNF: He might of retired but this was one of Hulkenberg’s best races for a while. After engine-mapping troubles in Q1 left him 17th, the German was 11th after lap 1 and made the right choice to do 2-stops. Another points haul was in the bag..

Constructors Championship

1.Mercedes 87pts  2.Ferrari 48pts  3.Red Bull Racing Honda 31pts  4.Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 10pts  5.McLaren Renault 8pts  6.Haas Ferrari 8pts  7.Renault 6pts  8.Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 3pts  9.Racing Point BWT Mercedes 3pts  10.Williams Mercedes 0pts

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

F1 2019: Leclerc on Pole as Ferrari strike back

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc takes his 1st Pole Position of his F1 career ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel and the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton as both McLaren’s qualify in the top 10.

30/03/19

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will be on Pole Position ahead of the Bahrain GP having taking his debut front-row start ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes Lewis Hamilton will start in 3rd ahead of team-mate Valterri Bottas although 3 tenths behind the lead Ferrari.

After topping Q1 and Q2, Leclerc was already on Provisional Pole Position after his first run in Q3. In fact, his first run was equalled Vettel’s pole position lap time from last year. However, Leclerc’s second lap was an improvement to a 1:27.866, nearly 3 tenths ahead of his 4 time world champion team-mate.

“Yesss!!! Thanks guys, car was amazing. I’ll push to try and finish the job tomorrow…” That was the response from Leclerc after he crossed the line at the end of Q3. Vettel was compromised in Q2 after a poor lap meant that he only had one set on the new Soft tyre for Q3 meaning he only did one lap.

Have the tables turned? Mercedes have been second best to Ferrari so far this weekend but Lewis Hamilton was optimistic and pleased to be within a tenth of Vettel’s time. Australian race winner, Valterri Bottas, was 4th and less than a tenth behind his team-mate. What could help Mercedes is that their long-run pace looks just a tad better than the Scuderia’s. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was a distant 5th, 5 tenths behind Bottas’s time.

To be within half a tenth of a Red Bull will very much please Haas. Once again, Kevin Magnussen was best of the rest in 6th in which the Dane was delighted with. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr was 7th with the other Haas of Romain Grosjean in 8th. Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Lando Norris rounded out the top 10.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was a disappointing 11th just ahead of the lead Toro Rosso of Alexander Albon. The struggling Red Bull of Pierre Gasly was 13th just ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was 16th ahead of Q1’s surprise exit, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll continued his streak of being eliminated in Q1 and was comfortably ahead of the Williams of George Russell and Robert Kubica.

Bahrain Qualifying Result

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

Qualifying Stats

  • At 21 years and 166 days old, Charles Leclerc is the second youngest pole-sitter in F1 history.
  • Qualifying in 5th is Max Verstappen’s best start in Bahrain. His previous best start was in 6th.
  • With Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris in the top 10 for McLaren, it was the first time this feat had been achieved since the 2017 Malaysian GP.