Lewis Hamilton capitalised on Ferrari’s technical issues at the Bahrain Grand Prix to take his first win of the season, and Mercedes’ second 1-2.
Charles Leclerc, who lost out to teammate Sebastian Vettel at the start before managing to regain the lead just laps later, had led the majority of the race before having issues with his MGU-H component near the end of the race.
The component, which recovers lost heat energy, cost him 40 kph on the straights and allowed his Mercedes rivals to catch up to the runaway leader at around 5 seconds per lap, before overtaking with ease and racing into the distance.
In fact, if it wasn’t for the peculiar failure of both Renaults at the same corner on the same lap that led to the race finishing under the safety car, it is likely Max Verstappen would have stolen the final podium position.
Elsewhere, rookie Lando Norris was ‘best of the rest’, claiming an impressive sixth spot after yet another good qualifying session on Saturday. However, his teammate Carlos Sainz suffered a second-straight retirement near the end, following first lap contact with Verstappen.
Kimi Raikkonen, Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon and Sergio Perez rounded off the points scoring positions.
There was a silver lining for Leclerc, however, who secured an extra point after recording the fastest lap of the race.
This was also his best ever finish to a Formula 1 race; his first podium at the 22nd time of asking following his breakthrough year in 2018.
FERRARI DOMINATION – BUT NO REWARDS
Leclerc, who led free practice sessions one and three, as well as all three qualifying sessions and most of the race, felt hard done by when the chequered flag fell.
It also means that the Scuderia, who looked certain to finish 1-2 after only managing 4th and 5th in Australia, slumped to another poor result that puts them way off Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.
And there was more disappointment too, as Sebastian Vettel spun out when challenged by Lewis Hamilton soon after the second round of pit-stops.
The four-time World Champion, who could well have won the race following Leclerc’s problems, got on the accelerator too early out of turn four and spun, damaging his tyres which soon led to his front wing to fall off.
A WEIRD RACE FOR RENAULT
Meanwhile at Renault, it was looking good towards the start of the race, with Nico Hulkenberg making up plenty of places and looked set to finish 6th, whilst Daniel Ricciardo wasn’t too far behind on a one-stop strategy.
However, with less than five laps to go, both cars mysteriously failed on the same corner.
First it was Hulkenberg, whose engine seemed to give way, followed by Ricciardo, with what appeared to be an electrical issue.
The French outfit, who only have six points to their name from the first two races, will be hoping for better luck when the F1 circus rolls into Shanghai in two weeks time.
FULL RACE STANDINGS
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
- Pierre Gasly (Red Bull)
- Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso)
- Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
- Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
- Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
- George Russell (Williams)
- Robert Kubica (Williams)
- Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) – Retired, Classified
- Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) – Retired, Classified
- Carlos Sainz (McLaren) – Retired, Classified
- Romain Grosjean (Haas) – Retired, Not Classified