Lewis Hamilton won his 11th Grand Prix of the season in Bahrain, following a dominant display in the desert. He was joined on the podium by both Red Bull drivers, with Max Verstappen finishing in second, ahead of teammate Alex Albon, taking his second career podium, and ensuring that both Red Bull drivers stood on the podium for the first time since 2017.
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The race was a success for McLaren, with Lando Norris finishing in fourth place, one pace ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz. Pierre Gasly drove a terrific one-stop race to finish in sixth, ahead of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo. Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture at the race restart after Grosjean’s horror crash (more on that later), and ended the race down in seventh. Another disappointing weekend for the Finn, who was looking to bounce back from a poor race last time out in Turkey.
The top 10 was rounded out by Esteban Ocon in the second Renault and Charles LeClerc for Ferrari. It was a very unpredictable race, with different strategies, accidents and more, but it was Lewis Hamilton who triumphed once again to extend his championship lead. It also takes him up to four victories at the Bahrain GP.
Romain Grosjean Horror
The race got off to an incredibly scary start, with Romain Grosjean’s Haas careering into the barriers at Turn 3 on lap 1, before splitting in two and engulfing the Frenchman in flames. He managed to extricate himself from the remains of the car before he was airlifted to hospital with burns to the back of his hands. It was also thought he had burns to his ankles and suspected broken ribs, but it looks like there are no fractures anywhere. It was a horrible, sobering incident, and after the race was red-flagged, the drivers headed back to the pits. Many of them looking shaken, with team members fighting back tears after witnessing the replays of what had happened.
There was chaos at turn 3, with cars running wide and trying to avoid each other, but it soon took a turn for the worse when orange flames ignited on screen. The Haas had gone nose-first into the barriers, actually penetrating the barriers themselves. The rear of the car split away from the front, with Grosjean trapped inside the monocoque, which was in turn still tangled up with the barrier. The photographs taken of the front part of the car afterward are shocking, and it is amazing Romain was able to walk away from that.
Watching on the television at home with a friend, we were both sitting in stunned silence, watching flames erupt and engulf the Haas. We both feared the worst, so we were incredibly happy to see Romain Grosjean out of the car and go to sit in the medical care, looking shaken but thankfully ok. It was a reminder to everyone of just what can happen in Formula One, and it shows just how far we have come in terms of safety and car construction. We cannot thank the trackside marshals enough for their efforts, and of course, the medical team, who were straight on the scene helping Romain and assisting anywhere they could. Well done to everyone involved as it could have been so, so much worse.
I’ve never seen an F1 car split in two like that and I’m sure I’ve never seen one go up in flames quite like that either. Hopefully, it’s not something we will see again any time soon.
Halo Saves A Life
I have never been a fan of the halo aesthetically. To be honest, I’m still not. But I’m all for having it in Formula One, especially after today.
Its’ first season in 2018 saw a lot of complaints from F1 fans, with some of them being silenced after Charles LeClerc’s scary crash in Belgium that saw him vaulted by the McLaren of Fernando Alonso.
People argued “but it’s an open cockpit sport” and “they shouldn’t race if they don’t want to take the risk”. It’s still an open cockpit, and drivers will always be at risk, no matter what measures they bring in. But driver safety is paramount, and this proves exactly why it’s needed in the sport.
The Halo device undoubtedly saved Romain’s life, with his car penetrating the barrier and passing through it before getting wedged in it. If there were still any debates raging over the Halo, there shouldn’t be now. Without it, we could well be mourning the loss of a well-liked and respected driver.
So Close For Perez
Sergio Perez found himself running in a solid third for most of the race, before a suspected power unit failure ended his Grand Prix with only a few laps to go, with the Racing Point smoking spectacularly before flames started to take over the rear of his car. Following on from his brilliant race last time out in Turkey, it would have been the first time in his career he had scored back-to-back podiums. Unfortunately for him, the Racing Point had enough and called it a day. Another brilliant drive from the ever consistent and quick Mexican.
His retirement promoted Alex Albon up into third, with the two drivers seemingly fighting for one Red Bull seat next year. Albon may have eased some of the pressure on him with his drive, especially following his nasty shunt in FP2 on Friday.
It’s a travesty that someone of Perez’s ability and caliber hasn’t got a drive for next year. But who knows, Red Bull may still be undecided, and if it wasn’t for his retirement, he would have finished ahead of Albon, who currently occupies that sought after Red Bull seat, yet again.
Lewis Dominates Again
A familiar story, isn’t it? Pole position, dominant race, then race victory. It happened again in Bahrain. A decent start from Lewis Hamilton saw him run away from the field before the race was red-flagged due to Grosjean’s crash. The second restart was the same again, however, and he soon cruised away from Verstappen and the chasing pack.
He kept his head down, drove smoothly, and did what he needed to do to wrap up another race victory. At this rate, he will beat Michael Schumacher’s record for the most laps led in F1 before the season is out.
Valtteri Bottas will certainly need something special in his porridge if he wants to beat Lewis next year, or even at the remaining two races to end his season on something like a high!
Yep, that section again. A poor start from Bottas saw him drop behind Verstappen, Perez, and Ricciardo, and it turns out he had picked up a puncture somewhere after the start. He dropped to the back of the field following a pitstop and never looked like really challenging to get himself back up the order.
The second restart wasn’t much better, and he spent most of the race cruising around the tail end of the top 10, with the odd decent overtake, but nothing really of note. He will need to up his game next season if he ever wants a sniff at the World Championship, especially with the form Hamilton is currently in.
He showed a lack of fight again today. There were a couple of good overtakes, but he should have cleared the cars ahead of him much quicker than he did, and he never looked like getting himself back into contention for a top 5 finish. Disappointing again from Bottas.
How Is The Championship Looking Now?
Well, even though he has already won it, Hamilton increases his lead at the top of the standings. He is now a mammoth 131 points ahead of his teammate, with Verstappen still in third. Daniel Ricciardo moves up into fourth ahead of Perez, with the retirement for the Racing Point driver not helping in the constructors standings either.
Mercedes are light years ahead in the constructors championship with 533, their nearest challengers Red Bull on 274. McLaren are up into third ahead of Racing Point who failed to score. Renault are only 10 points behind them, with Ferrari a further 13 points behind in sixth. Williams remains the only team yet to score, and I am starting to come to the realisation that they may not score at all now, with only two races left to go in what has been a strange and chaotic season.
Where Are We Heading Next?
Bahrain, again! We will be racing again at Sahkir in one weeks time, but this time the drivers will be using Bahrain’s much quicker Outer circuit. I can’t wait for this one!
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Take care and stay safe.