Double Apex resident F1 fan, Nick van der Meulen, give us his F1 review Bahrain 2019.
Motorsport is cruel. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton did well to take victory at Bahrain ahead of team mate Valtteri Bottas, but the real winner, in my eyes, was Ferrari’s young lion, Charles Leclerc. Even now, as I write, I can feel the Monegasque’s pain… despite the fact that he achieved his maiden podium.
Click here to read a list of the F1 drivers 2019 salaries.
Leclerc was the 99th person to claim pole position in the 999th Formula One Grand Prix and was leading by 10 seconds before the MGU-H system in his car failed in the closing stages of the race, leaving Hamilton and Bottas to sail past him. Renault, however, gifted Leclerc with third position by having both cars break down with three laps to go, bringing out the Safety Car.
Ferrari had the upper hand over its rivals for the entire weekend, leading the timesheets for each practice and qualifying session. Sebastian Vettel was extremely lucky to maintain his front-row grid position, after he escaped punishment for carving up Romain Grosjean (Haas-Ferrari) in Q1 who, in turn, had to take evasive action and inadvertently blocked Lando Norris (McLaren-Renault).
Grosjean received a three grid-slot penalty for the incident, while Vettel walked way scot-free. The German did not have a great race: his young team mate trounced him on race day and he spun trying to keep Hamilton at bay. He managed to save some face to finish 5th.
Mac is back
McLaren was surprisingly impressive in Bahrain. Carlos Sainz was particularly quick in qualifying, with team-mate Norris not far behind. Sadly for Sainz, he suffered contact early in the race, relegating him to the tail of the field. Lando Norris, on the other hand, drove superbly to claim 6th position – keeping the experienced Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) at bay.
Seeing red… bulls
Red Bull Racing had a subdued race day according to their high standards, with Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly both chipping away in the race – almost under the radar – to finish 4th and 8th, respectively. Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso-Honda) managed to score points in only his second Grand Prix start, finishing 9th, while Sergio Perez (Racing Point Mercedes) claimed the final point.
Winners and losers
While one can believe that Leclerc was the big loser in the race, this may have been marginally overshadowed by the retirement of both Renaults (of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo) three laps from the finish within 100 metres of each other. Hulkenberg charged through the field from 17th to 6th position, one position ahead of Ricciardo, only for both of them (unbelievably) to grind to a halt with a few laps of the finish…
A class act
The way Leclerc handled his disappointment was commendable. In the race, he was incredulous. He responded to the team communication by saying he’ll do his best to bring the car home. He was professional in the post-race interview with Martin Brundle…and he received the biggest cheer from the crowd. He was gracious in defeat, even though he knew the race was his and Lewis Hamilton acknowledged it. While Charles Leclerc may not have won the Bahrain Grand Prix, he won a legion of fans.
Click here for the race highlights video.