Image: Vettel getting out of the car to victory. (From F1 media site)
The second race of the season is in the books and it’s beginning to look red for the championship. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took the win in Bahrain this weekend in what looked to be one of the most exciting finishes we have seen on the track for Formula 1 in some time.
Viewers’ nerves were on edge as they watched Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas take what was over a five second gap with 10 laps to go, down to a half second, and nearly getting by Vettel on one of the turns in the last lap of the race. The pass never happened though, and Vettel sailed into victory lane.
Bottas’ teammate, Lewis Hamilton, had a rough start after starting P9 on the grid following a five-place grid penalty due to a need for a gearbox switch after the Australian Grand Prix just two weeks ago. The penalty was not a complete bust though as Hamilton was able to make up four of those places by the sixth lap. He would run in the top four until Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen’s folly–hitting one of his crew members in the pit area when pulling into pit lane and unsafe release. His car was stopped and he did not continue the race after lap 37.
Hamilton would take third and that would be his podium finish, completing the usual Ferrari-Mercedes podium trifecta.
Surprisingly the fourth place finisher was not an Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team member, as both cars were out in the first five laps. Daniel Ricciardo would suffer a significant crash, while Max Verstappen would suffer a detrimental puncture–as he made it into pit lane he was already a half of a lap behind and the repairs were beyond repair.
Now, when you have three of the usual top six drivers out, the rest of the field finishes tend to be interesting.
That fourth place finish belonged to the well-earned F1 Driver of the Day, Toro Rosso’s (and rookie) Pierre Gasly, who held to that top spot for the race and gave Honda their highest finish since the introduction of the Hybrid engine era. Toro Rosso had a certain celebratory victory–you would think their garage had won the race.
Speaking of Honda, their ex’ team, McLaren, managed yet another double-points ending in Bahrain with Fernando Alonso finishing P7, and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne P8.
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen beat his stint of bad luck we saw last year, as he finished P5 today. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg for P6, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson for P9, and the Pink Panthers, Force India, make a return to the top 10 with Esteban Ocon finishing P10.
Sauber’s performance is by far the most surprising as this is a team frequently forgotten in the races due to very consistent last or next-to-last place finishes. A P10 finish is incredibly strange considering.
This weekend may have been the most exciting Formula 1 race we’ve seen in a while, but chances are it’ll return to normal by next week when they go to China.
2018 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix results:
P1 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
P2 – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
P3 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
P4 – Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)
P5 – Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
P6 – Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
P7 – Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
P8 – Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren)
P9 – Marcus Ericsson (Sauber)
P10 – Esteban Ocon (Force India)
P11 – Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso)
P12 – Sergio Perez (Force India)
P13 – Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso)
P14 – Charles LeClerc (Sauber)
P15 – Romain Grosjean (Haas)
P16 – Lance Stroll (Williams)
P17 – Sergey Sirotkin (Williams)
NC – Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
NC – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
NC – Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)