Sebastian Vettel Wins The Bahrain Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel has won the 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix.
It was a very exciting start, with so much happening in the first six laps.
It only took less than a minute for the first Red Bull nightmare to take place. Max Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel with Lewis Hamilton and picked up a puncture which ultimately ended his race. This lead to a virtual safety car, and a second eventful moment of the race.
Perez and Brendon Hartley collided and Hartley was handed a 10-second penalty for banging into Sergio Perez at the start of the race.
Pierre Gasly was doing so well, sitting in fourth, and holding this until the finish which was incredible for someone who has raced in less than 10 Grand Prixs.
On the 6th lap, Hamilton made his move. He moved inside three cars (Hulkenberg, Alonso and Ocon) at one corner and moved from up from 9th place to 5th. At this point in the race, Vettel was 2.3 seconds ahead of Bottas. This then increased to 2.8 seconds by lap 17.
Bottas had a disappointing pit-stop at 3.8 seconds, coming out on the medium tyres just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. By lap 21, Hamilton was leading the race but was yet to pit.
Ferrari used their pit-stop to move to soft tyres, whilst Mercedes were on medium tyres.
Lap 22 and Lewis Hamilton was 5.3 seconds ahead of Vettel with Hamilton still left to pit.
At lap 26, Vettel managed to, with the help of a slip-stream, pass Hamilton with his fresher, quicker tyres to lead the race. Hamilton pitted at lap 27 with a one-stop strategy. He came out in fourth place.
It was a very disappointing day for Red Bull with Verstappen retiring with a puncture, and Daniel Ricciardo also retiring due to a suspected electrical engine issue.
Daniel Ricciardo, spoke to BBC Radio 5 at lap 32 on his early race retirement:
"Just power, everything switched off. It was as if I'd turned the car off myself, no warning it just turned off. It was a quick death, not slow and painful. I have two hours of energy stored up in me and I don't know what to do with it now."
There was some tension between teammates; Magnussen and Grosjean. It seemed as though Grosjean was holding Magnussen up and lost over one second because of it. Safe to say magnussen was absolutely enraged.
At lap 36, there was a huge issue for Ferrari. Raikkonen came in for his second pit-stop, which was an unsafe release. Raikkonen left the pit lanes with a rear tyre not in place, which resulted in his car going up in smoke, as well as one of the Ferrari engineers seemingly injured, and being taken out of the pit-lane on a stretcher.
Because of the Raikkonen issue, Ferrari changed their pit-stop strategy at lap 40.
They were on a 2-stop strategy, but moved to “plan D” which was a 1-stop strategy.
At lap 44, Grosjean was experiencing problems, with parts of his car flying off. He finished in 15th position.
Between lap 43-46 there was some communication issues between Hamilton and the Mercedes team. Hamilton wasn’t sure of what was going on with Ferrari, and wanted to know how hard he should be pushing. It seemed as though there was a huge disconnect, and that Mercedes were not getting the information they needed to direct Hamilton.
With 12 laps to go, there was a huge question mark around whether Vettel was going to pit or not. He was speed because he was originally on a 2 pit-stop strategy but with the Ferrari issues, no one was sure what strategy Vettel was on, including Vettel.
Lap 47 nearly saw the end of Lewis Hamilton’s race as he almost slid into the back of 13th place Sergio Perez. Luckily, danger was averted... but only just.
Bad communication between Hamilton and his team continued in Lap 48 with the following exchange taking place:
Lewis Hamilton: Feels like you guys are not giving me much of a picture.
Race engineer: Lewis, the target is 34.0, we need to get that pace up or we will not make the catch.
At lap 50, the teams were on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what was going to happen, with Vettel on a soft tyre for 34 laps, and losing speed. Bottas was gaining on Vettel, as was Hamilton.
With just 5 laps to go, Bottas was around 2.84s behind Vettel and quickly closing the gap. A lap later, and Bottas was just 1.55s behind Vettel. At lap 55 (of 57), the gap closed to 1.1s. Lap 56, and just half a second behind Vettel. Unfortunately it just wasn’t enough.
Sebastian Vettel took the win, with Bottas in second and Hamilton in third.
Here is how the race finished.
#1: Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 25 points
#2: Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 18 points
#3: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 15 points
#4: Pierre Gasly - Toro Rosso/Honda - 12 points
#5: Kevin Magnussen - Haas/Ferrari - 10 points
#6: Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 8 points
#7: Fernando Alonso - McLaren/Renault - 6 points
#8: Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren/Renault - 4 points
#9: Marcus Ericsson - Sauber/Ferrari - 2 points
#10: Esteban Ocon - Force India/Mercedes - 1 point
#11: Carlos Sainz - Renault - 0 points
#12: Sergio Perez - Force India/Mercedes - 0 points
#13: Brendon Hartley - Toro Rosso/Honda - 0 points
#14: Charles Leclerc - Sauber/Ferrari - 0 points
#15: Romain Grosjean - Haas/Ferrari - 0 points
#16: Lance Stroll - Williams/Mercedes - 0 points
#17: Sergey Sirotkin - Williams/Mercedes - 0 points
#18: Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari - DNF
#19: Max Verstappen - Red Bull/Renault - DNF
#20: Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull/Renault - DNF
Sebastian Vettel leads the championship, with Hamilton in second place, and Bottas in third.
The Chinese Grand Prix takes place on the 16th April where Kimi Raikkonen will be looking to dust off an awful end to the second race of the season.