On Saturday, we saw Lewis Hamilton taking Pole Position for the Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.
Before the start of the race, it was announced that F1 bosses have failed to agree on a new qualifying format for the Chinese GP. If you want to read more about this, then please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/f1-bosses-fail-to-agree-new-qualifying-format/.
Before the race could even begin, Sebastian Vettel was out of the Grand Prix on the formation lap due to his Ferrari engine letting go which is a shame for him after a great performance in Qualifying on Saturday.
The Bahrain GP is underway!
Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas got great starts off the line as Kimi Raikkonen had a dreadful start. As they headed into the first corner, Bottas touches Hamilton and Hamilton sustains damage to his car and loses places as a result.
Further down the grid, positions were changing left, right and centre but a good move from Manor rookie Rio Haryanto saw him pass Felipe Nasr for eighteenth place. Lap 2 sees Rosberg leading the race from Massa by 1.6 seconds. As we head into Turn 1, Perez and Sainz Jr are battling for eleventh and twelfth places and both drivers touch, with bits of carbon fibre going everywhere.
This then left Perez with front wing damage and Sainz Jr with a right rear puncture on his Toro Rosso and both drivers now needed to pit in order to get the issues on their cars sorted. As we move into the next few corners, we saw both Sauber drivers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Massa racing together very closely indeed; with Nasr being able to pass his team mate with a good move.
Lap 2 saw Jolyon Palmer officially retiring from the race after pulling into the pitlane at the end of the formation lap with problems with his Renault as Jenson Button finds himself in the points at this stage of the race. The next lap we saw a battle for third place between Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen building up.
Lap 6 saw Rosberg still leading the race from Massa by 6 seconds. At Turn 4, Raikkonen passes Ricciardo with a good move with Hamilton catching up rather quickly. The next lap sees Raikkonen passing Bottas with a brilliant move using DRS into Turn 1. By Lap 7, the stewards announced that they are looking into the first lap incident between Bottas and Hamilton as Jenson Button officially retires from the race with issues with his engine.
The next lap saw Hamilton passing Bottas into Turn 1 for third position. Two laps later saw Bottas gaining a drive through penalty as a result of the incident between himself and Hamilton on the first lap of the race. A battle for tenth between Ericsson, Massa and Ricciardo is ongoing on the track.
Lap 11 saw Esteban Gutierrez officially retire from the race with a technical problem on the car as as Nico Hulkenberg and Max Verstappen very nearly collided with each other on the track but both managed not to hit each other. This then allowed Stoffel Vandoorne the opportunity to pass Hulkenberg and he did so for fifteenth place.
Two laps later, Vandoorne and Perez are battling with each other for fourteenth place and Vandoorne wins the battle and is now fourteenth. But we also see a battle between Ricciardo, Massa and Perez with Massa in the space of two corners losing places as Ricciardo and Raikkonen are able to pass him for track position. Towards the end of the lap, Raikkonen is then past Ricciardo and is now in fourth place.
At the end of Lap 13, Rosberg pits from the lead of the race to change his tyres and rejoins the race back in front ahead of Kvyat. Lap 14 saw Raikkonen yet again making a brilliant move into Turn 1 to get past Ricciardo for second place at this stage of the race. We also saw a battle between the two Red Bull drivers and also the battle for tenth between Perez, Bottas and Hulkenberg building up on the track.
At the start of Lap 15, Ricciardo passes Kvyat for position as Hamilton passes Massa for position as all the drivers headed into Turn 1. The next lap saw Massa trying to pass Ricciardo for position heading into Turn 1, but Ricciardo did his best to defend but Massa had more power and was able to get by. Rosberg still lead the GP ahead of Raikkonen by Lap 17 by just over 10 seconds as Hamilton passes Ricciardo for third place into Turn 1.
Our attention is then turned to the battle between Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean on Lap 17; with Grosjean pushing his Haas car ever nearer to the Williams of Massa and is able to pass Massa through Turn 10 with better traction.
In the latter stages of the first half of the race, we saw a battle for tenth place between Ericsson, Nasr, Wehrlein and Kvyat and also Massa and Verstappen for sixth place taking place on the track, which sees Verstappen passing Massa on Lap 20 heading into Turn 1. We also saw Nasr, Wehrlein and Magnussen battling for twelfth place and Grosjean catching Ricciardo for fourth place.
By Lap 24, Grosjean is now ahead of Ricciardo and is now running in fourth place. Kvyat and Bottas are now battling for ninth place, with Bottas catching Ricciardo very quickly indeed as Rosberg still leads the race ahead of Raikkonen by 14.9 seconds. Five laps later sees Grosjean passing Bottas for seventh place in the race and Verstappen passing Bottas for eighth place.
On Lap 31, Rosberg has pitted for a second time and regains his lead ahead of Raikkonen by 8.8 seconds. Carlos Sainz Jr officially retires his Toro Rosso from the race. The next lap saw Felipe Nasr via team radio state that his car “is terrible and very difficult to drive.” Grosjean is now catching Kvyat for fifth place and passes him on Lap 33.
But there is now a battle between Vandoorne and Massa for ninth place on the track; with the Belgian driver starting to come under pressure from the more experienced Brazilian driver. However, both drivers soon start to close up to Bottas and the battle for eighth place is on. As the Williams and McLaren-Honda battle continues, we have the two Force India’s battling each other and Ericsson for eleventh place; with Hulkenberg quickly gaining on his team mate.
But both Force India drivers on Lap 36 go wheel to wheel with each other while trying to keep Ericsson behind them and it is Hulkenberg who is ahead of the two of them with a great move and Ericsson then passes Perez who is struggling on the soft tyres at this stage of the race.
As positions swapped and changed throughout the field, Rosberg by Lap 38 still lead the race ahead of Raikkonen by 8.9 seconds. Meanwhile on the track, Bottas is being caught by Wehrlein for twelfth place. Lap 40 sees Kvyat passing Vandoorne for eighth place and the next lap we see Ericsson trying to keep Wehrlein behind him for eleventh place.
By Lap 45, Rosberg still lead the race ahead of Raikkonen and Hamilton. The battle for twelfth position between Nasr and Magnussen was building up. But Magnussen was able to pass Nasr for twelfth on Turn 1 at Lap 45. The next lap saw Vandoorne passing Ericsson for tenth place. Lap 47 sees Grosjean passing Massa for sixth place.
The battle for seventh place between Verstappen and Bottas got our attentions and Bottas appears to be catching the Toro Rosso quite quickly. As Magnussen is battling and catching Ericsson for eleventh place and looking likely to make a move on the Sauber driver. Lap 51 saw Bottas passed by Kvyat for eighth place.
Hulkenberg and Wehrlein towards the end of the race where battling each other for thirteenth place and Wehrlein is able to pass Hulkenberg on Lap 52 into Turn 1 and is having yet another great race. Now Wehrlein is on a mission to pass Ericsson for twelfth place and looks very likely to win this battle too.
On the last lap, Kvyat passes Massa for seventh place. But Rosberg leads Raikkonen on the final lap of the race by 6.5 seconds and wins the Bahrain Grand Prix which is his fifth consecutive win in F1, his second of the season and his sixteenth win of his career.
Raikkonen is a credible second 10 seconds behind Rosberg, Hamilton finished in a brilliant third place despite what happened 30 seconds behind Rosberg, Ricciardo was a credible fourth 1.02.4 seconds behind Rosberg and Grosjean finished fifth 1.18.2 seconds behind Rosberg.
Verstappen was a credible sixth and was 1.20.9 seconds behind Rosberg, Kvyat finishes seventh 1 lap behind Rosberg, Massa finished in eighth place 1 lap behind Rosberg , Bottas finished in ninth place 1 lap sbehind Rosberg and Vandoorne picked up the final point in tenth on his debut in the sport 1 lap behind Rosberg.
Nico Rosberg leads the Drivers’ Championship with 50 points, Hamilton is second with 33 points, Ricciardo is third with 24 points, Raikkonen is fourth with 18 points, Grosjean is fifth with 18 points, Vettel is sixth with 15 points, Massa is seventh with 14 points, Verstappen is eighth with 9 points, Hulkenberg is ninth with 6 points and Kvyat is tenth with 6 points.
Mercedes lead the Constructors Championship with 82 points, Ferrari is second with 33 points, Red Bull are third with 30 points, Williams are fourth with 20 points, Haas are fifth with 18 points, Toro Rosso are sixth with 11 points, Force India are seventh with 6 points and McLaren are eighth with 1 point.
I feel that McLaren have had an good weekend especially with Vandoorne scoring their first point of the season after stepping in for Alonso. Vandoorne is the first Belgian driver to pick up a point in the sport since Thierry Boutsen in the 1992 Australian GP and it is a fantastic achievement and I am so proud of Stoffel (I am a big fan by the way of him!).
But with both drivers struggling all weekend long on long run pace, it is still clear that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car that they need in order to get back to competitive ways once again as quickly as possible for the rest 2016 season.
The biggest surprise this weekend for me was Grosjean getting fifth place in the race. I do feel that Romain drove a superb race to gain fifth yesterday despite a defensive race and it is very well deserved. And for him to secure Haas this result on their second GP shows that he did a brilliant job and has shown that despite not having the outright pace to challenge their rivals; he drove a great race to claim this result today and showed why he was signed by the team.
Bottas did a brilliant job to get ninth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Kvyat, Vandoorne and Verstappen for most of the race. These points for himself and Williams are vital and only shows just how much promise he has as a driver if he has the car underneath him to do so and that he is a talented and promising racing driver.
Massa battled his way through today to get eighth place yesterday He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Massa may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Williams this weekend despite what happened with his team mate in the race, but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team and also started his season well.
Kvyat had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish seventh. But he managed to score some much needed points for himself and his team and even though he couldn’t beat his team mate, he still managed to get a result from the weekend and will help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.
Verstappen did a great job to get seventh place today after battling with the Williams drivers yesterday. But in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.
Ricciardo did a great job to get fourth place yesterday and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race today and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.
Hamilton did a credible job to finish third yesterday especially after doing his best to carry on after the incident with Bottas on the first place. Hamilton last weekend has managed to struggle to extract pace and performance from the car this weekend; and I feel that the results that Lewis achieved so far in the season will only spur him on to get better this season as the pace is there.
Raikkonen deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to second place. He may not have won the battle with Rosberg; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. What a fantastic job from him and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in China.
All that is left to say about this race is that Rosberg deserved to win at Sakhir and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far since pre-season testing and have shown that they are just the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Rosberg for doing a superb job last weekend and winning his fifth consecutive race and his second race of the season.
With China not far away, many will wondering if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely.