Race Report: Vettel wins Bahrain GP over Hamilton, Bottas

The race in Bahrain never got started for Stoffel Vandoorne as his engine issues this weekend, concerning the MGU-H, prevented him from starting the race. It did start exactly the way Sebastian Vettel wanted having gotten by Lewis Hamilton at the start and slotting behind Valtteri Bottas.

The race turned toward Ferrari’s Vettel when he seemed able to follow Bottas without any serious tire degradation. Vettel pit just before the safety car period and the strategy started to favor the Italian team.

Lewis Hamilton, having fitted Soft compound tires on lap 42, engaged Hammer Time and passed his teammate, Bottas, to run down Vettel in the waning laps of the race. Had he not have had the 5s penalty, this race may have been completely different.

Sebastian Vettel wins the Bahrain Grand Prix with pace and strategy and the help of a 5-second penalty for Hamilton.

Win

Certainly, a win for Ferrari who started 3rd on the grid and worked their strategy and tire management for a win. Vettel’s second of the season and it moves him into the championship lead over Hamilton.

A win for Felipe Massa who took his Williams well into the points having had a bad outing in China a week prior.

Also a win for Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who scored points capitalizing on his terrific qualifying efforts as well as Romain Grosjean who nursed his Haas F1 into the points.

A win for Pascal Werhlein who had a tidy race upon his return to F1 beating his teammate, Marcus Ericsson but that was made easy with Ericsson’s retirement on lap 52.

Fail

Stoffel Vandoorne and McLaren for never fielding his car for the race. From bad to even worse at McLaren as MGU-H issues prevented him from running and even Honda say they’re not sure what the issue is and if they’re not, who is? This was his first race last season where he scored points so a bad day at the office for Stoffel.

Not the start Lewis Hamilton wanted as he lost a spot to Sebastian Vettel and not the start Kimi Raikkonen wanted either as he lost places to both Red Bulls. Kimi had pace but seemed to get mired behind Felipe Massa for too long. Needed some imagination to get by him. He eventually waited for a DRS pass for 4th on lap 24.

Lance Stroll was surprised to find Carlos Sainz exiting the pits and the two clouted each other at turn one ending both their races. Carlos had a complete view of the track, Stroll was committed and focus on turn one apex, Carlos—on cold tires exiting pit—should have been a little more prudent.

Lewis Hamilton received a 5s penalty for holding up Ricciardo entering the pits during the Safety Car period. It’s understandable as Merc was stacking their pit stops and he wanted to give enough time but the stewards didn’t like the amount of time he was trying to create.

A fail for Red Bull as Max Verstappen looked to factor in the podium until he had a brake failure immediately after his pit stop. Max looked every bit the contender but his race ended early.

McLaren, who didn’t start Vandoorne, saw Alonso with an engine failure that ended his race with a couple laps to go in the race.

WTH

A rare moment of technical issues for Mercedes that saw a slow pit stop, stacked no less, during the safety car period for Sainz/Stroll incident. It put the two silver cars behind the previously pitted Sebastian Vettel on lap 13. Very rare to see a team like Merc has issues like that. With that, Bottas was adrift trying to make ground back toward front.

If you wanted to see what happens on soft compounds and cooler tires, Daniel Riciardo lost three spaces after the Safety Car restart.

At this point, does it make much sense for Fernando Alonso to keep complaining of a lack of power in the McLaren? He knew that was the case when he got in the car and I think the team are fully aware of it too.