Bahrain International Circuit - Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix!

Well…the Formula One season doesn't take long to heat up… lots of drama here today.

3. LEWIS HAMILTON (Mercedes)
4. PIERRE GASLY (Toro Rosso)
10. ESTEBAN OCON (Force India)

Fastest lap
Driver: Valtteri Bottas for Mercedes
Time: 1:33.740 on lap 22

f1 race track and racing car

Ferrari’s Vettel hung on for the win with fraying tyres, keeping Mercedes’ Bottas just behind him. Hopes for a 3-team title race were temporarily thwarted, after neither Red Bull driver finished. And a Ferrari mechanic was injured after being hit by Raikkonen in the pit.

Lewis Hamilton started in 9th – after incurring a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change – but managed to finish 3rd. An incredible moment, early in the race, saw him pass 3 cars in what was essentially one sweeping move.

Understanding that they were not the fastest team today, Mercedes instead tried to use tactics intended to force Vettel to pit for a second time.

“These tyres were done, done, in the last 10 laps.” (Vettel)

Earlier on in the race, Mercedes appeared to be about to pit Bottas, but changed their minds when Vettel pitted on Lap 18 for soft tyres. Bottas stayed out for 2 more laps and changed to mediums, clearly not planning to pit again. This put pressure on Vettel to make his soft tyres last for 39 laps, to maintain his position. Mercedes had assumed that Vettel would be forced to pit and re-join the race behind Hamilton. But Vettel managed his tyres and 1st place until the end. Vettel now leads Hamilton by 17 points after 2 races.

Despite starting in 9th, Hamilton managed to get on the podium today. After an excellent start, he played relatively safe during Lap 1 and was still in 9th by the end of the lap. But he didn’t bide his time for long.

“It is not an easy manoeuvre to pull off – it was quite risky.” (Hamilton)

The virtual safety car arrived following Ricciardo’s exit - before the race had entered the second lap. On the re-start, in one incredible move, Hamilton passed Alonso on the pit straight, then overtook Ocon and Hulkenberg into the first corner – passing 3 cars in one go.

On Lap 4, Verstappen’s left rear wheel made contact with Hamilton’s front wing, pushing Hamilton wide and causing such damage to Verstappen’s differential that he was forced to retire. Hamilton, unscathed, then passed Magnussen on Lap 6, then Gasly and was in 4th place by Lap 8.

Daniel Ricciardo had been fastest in the first practice; but today he lost power almost immediately, after suffering a suspected electrical engine fault.

The Ferrari pit error on Lap 36, carried many consequences. Raikkonen had been given the green light to leave the pit before the left rear wheel had been removed, and as he pulled away the wheel smashed into the mechanic who was waiting to remove it. The mechanic’s leg was broken in the incident and Raikkonen was unable to continue the race as he found himself on the track with the unpermitted ‘2 different types of tyre compound’ fitted. He had been in 3rd place. Ferrari were fined 50,000 Euros for an unsafe release. They had also been fined 5,000 Euros on Friday practice for a similar unsafe release.

Fernando Alonso had been poor in qualifying - but drove a superb race today to take 7th. He is currently 4th in the championship.

Toro Rosso-Honda’s Pierre Gasly, gave Honda their best result since returning to Formula One in 2015, finishing 4th.

On to China! Hamilton really needs to get a win to start challenging Vettel for this year’s title. Hopefully Red Bull have a better day too…

Our next great adventure is at the iconic Monaco Grand Prix on the 27th May 2018, we hope to see you there.