April 1, 2019 Off By The Badger

F1™ Race Report – Bahrain GP 2019

Heartbreak for LeClerc as he came agonizingly close to his maiden F1 win.

Heartbreak for Charles LeClerc

The star of the weekend without a shadow of doubt. Charles LeClerc is only starting his second full season in F1, and after a brilliant debut year secured the coveted seat at Ferrari replacing former champion Raikkonen. Many felt LeClerc will be perfectly suited to playing the wingman role to Vettel as Ferrari look to end their title drought. Well those initial thoughts quickly disappeared on Saturday evening as LeClerc got the better of his team mate to secure his first ever pole position in the sport ahead of both Vettel and Hamilton who qualified in P3.

On Sunday, the youngster from Monaco didn’t have the best start and was down in P3 in the first couple of corners with both Vettel and Bottas getting off the grid quicker. In normal scenarios, LeClerc brief moment of hesitation could have ended his race or seen him fall further behind. Wrong again. LeClerc overtook Bottas and then Vettel to re-claim the lead of the BahrainGP. Nobody could keep up with him as he sailed off into the night sky of the desert.

There was however, one final and very cruel plot twist to the race, and it wouldn’t be F1 it there wasn’t one. Nobody could believe it when LeClerc’s advantage suddenly went from 10 seconds to 7. Had he run wide on track? LeClerc was having engine trouble in the closing stages of the race and would now need a miracle to finish on the podium after having dominated all weekend long. Age is just a number, and Charles proved it, being so gracious and accepting of defeat at the end of the race. Lewis Hamilton had some encouraging words for his younger rival, and we will no doubt be seeing LeClerc take a win this year.

Consistency, patience, killer instinct

What more could be said about the current World Champion? In all honesty not much. This is Hamilton’s thirteenth season in the sport and we are witnessing a completely different animal to the young livewire that we first saw racing Fernando Alonso in 2007. His main attributes, his core strengths remain as strong as ever but what has impressed me the most about the post Nico Rosberg Lewis Hamilton is his approach. It helps having a car that you can trust to finish the race almost every time you race, but with Hamilton he seems to be in the right place at the right time every single time. Make a mistake and he will be waiting to punish you. Lady luck might have been on his side as Charles’ Ferrari engine stopped co-operating but his battle with Sebastian Vettel and his perseverance gave him the opportunity to win. An unlikely win for the champ and one that is definite to put some wind in his sails following Australia.

The curious case of Sebastian Vettel

Motorsport, like any other sport can be a very lonely place for the ‘out of form’ athlete. In the space of a couple of seasons Vettel has gone from a four time back to back champion extraordinaire to what many people now perceive as ‘past his best’. Let’s get one thing straight first, Sebastian is a four-time world champion and a very talented and quick driver. You don’t win four titles by being just lucky. Consistency has been lacking from the Ferrari man, but his inability to win the title last year and the year before that shouldn’t be put on his shoulders alone. As Lewis Hamilton started gaining on Vettel in the second stint we were about to be treated to part two of the battle that saw Vettel overtake Lewis earlier on fresher tyres. This time Hamilton who all of a sudden found pace on the medium trye, went wheel to wheel with Seb and somehow made the move stick, resulting in Vettel losing the rear end of the car all on his own and as the final nail in the coffin he also lost his front wing, all on his own again! Everyone makes mistakes, and I hope that for the sake of the sport Vettel will pick up the pieces and get back to doing battle with Hamilton, which is what we all want to see.

Lando’s first points

McLaren seem to be putting last year’s woes behind them, and with both cars making it to Q3 on Saturday, there was an air of anticipation come Sunday. Norris didn’t get the best of starts but Calos Sainz was busy battling Max Verstappen for P5 in the early stages before contact with the Dutchman would eventually bring an end to his race. Meanwhile, his younger team mate, the youngest on the grid was busy doing battle with the eldest on the grid, a certain Finn by the name of Kimi Raikkonen. Not bad for your second race in F1 right? Norris held on for a fine P6 finish, McLaren’s best result since Alonso finished P5 in Australia last year.

Final Classification

# Driver Team Time Stops
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34:21.295 2
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 2.980s 2
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 6.131s 2
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 6.408s 2
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 36.068s 3
6 Lando Norris McLaren 45.754s 2
7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 47.470s 2
8 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 58.094s 2
9 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 62.697s 2
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point 63.696s 2
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 64.599s 2
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 LAP 2
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1 LAP 2
14 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1 LAP 2
15 George Russell Williams 1 LAP 2
16 Robert Kubica Williams 2 LAPS 2
DNF Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1
DNF Romain Grosjean Haas 2
DNF Carlos Sainz McLaren 4
DNF Nico Hulkenberg Renault 2

Fastest Lap

Driver Team Time Lap
Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:33.411 38

1000 & not out…

China next, and expect some pretty big and extravagant celebrations as the sport celebrates its one thousand Grand Prix and here are some quick numbers for the stat geeks;

F1 Win % History

  • Michael Schumacher – 9.1%
  • Lewis Hamilton – 7.4%
  • Sebastian Vettel – 5.2%
  • Alain Prost – 5.1%
  • Ayrton Senna – 4.1%
  • Fernando Alonso – 3.2%
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