Formula 1 put on quite a show under the lights in the desert during Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Ferrari rookie, Charles Leclerc, showed he is the future of the sport until an untimely engine issue and a spin from teammate Sebastian Vettel ruined Ferrari’s strong weekend while handing another one-two finish to rival Mercedes with Leclerc finishing in third.
As thrilling as the entire race weekend was, at the end of the 57-lap race, a somber mood was cast over the blustery Sakhir Circuit. Leclerc, who qualified on the pole, lost the lead at the start to Vettel and was also overtaken by the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who was able to jump teammate Lewis Hamilton when the lights went out. Leclerc only remained in third for a lap after blitzing Bottas down the front straight and catching up to Vettel by lap six, surpassing him for the lead.
After the second round of pit stops was completed midway through the race, the Ferrari’s began to unravel. Championship rivals Vettel and Hamilton battled back and forth on lap 37 until Hamilton made big lunge on the following lap in turn four. Hamilton’s silver arrow rocketed around the Ferrari, but as Vettel was set to return the favor upon corner exit, the rear end broke loose causing him to spin. While Vettel was recovering, a flat spot on the rear left tire caused a vibration so bad that it ripped the front wing clean off dropping him down the order, but later was able to recover to finish fifth.
Ferrari’s bad luck wasn’t over, though. On lap 46, Leclerc announced over team radio that he was limping the car around after one of his six cylinders failed from the lead of the race. Hamilton was able to pass the wounded Ferrari with a sympathetic wave to the young driver on lap 48, while teammate Bottas completed the pass for second on lap 54. Leclerc’s only saving grace for his first podium finish was the simultaneous engine failure and stranding of both Renault’s on lap 54 from sixth and seventh place, ending the race under the safety car. Only the eighth time in F1 history that a race has ended under a yellow flag. Hamilton’s win marks his 74th overall maintaining his second place in the driver’s championship; one point behind Bottas.
Just off the podium was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in fourth with Vettel in fifth. Rookie McLaren driver Lando Norris proved his worth yet again with a strong sixth place finish followed up by veteran Alfa Romeo Racing driver Kimi Raikkonen in seventh. Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly scored his first points of the season with an eighth-place effort ahead of Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon who also scored his first points in ninth. Albon’s finish was the first time since 1954 in which a Thai driver was able to score points in a race. Racing Point driver Sergio Perez rounded out the point finishing positions.
Next stop for Formula 1 is the Chinese Grand Prix from Shanghai International Circuit in two weeks time.