In a dramatic turn of events, it was Lewis Hamilton who took the victory in F1 Bahrain GP in a Mercedes 1-2 from Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
It was a slower start from pole-sitter Charles Leclerc in the F1 Bahrain GP with Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel taking the race lead. Leclerc was all over the place as he dropped behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who passed teammate Lewis Hamilton.
There was a clash in the mid-pack with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and Haas’ Romain Grosjean colliding as Stroll’s front right hit the rear left of Grosjean. Both pitted and continued on but Grosjean was forced to retire with a suspected floor damage.
Also, missing out in the melee was McLaren’s Lando Norris who dropped outside the Top 10 but at the same time, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg had a storming start to be 11th from 17th on the grid behind another fast-starter Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz made a good start to get ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen with Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen maintaining eighth from Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Perez inside the Top 10 points scoring positions.
Meanwhile, the fight in the front got intensified with Leclerc passing Bottas to take second while Hamilton then went wheel-to-wheel with Bottas to take third. Few laps on Lap 5, Leclerc got his act together and passed Vettel to take the lead of Bahrain GP.
The German lost second in pit stop when Hamilton managed the undercut and it worked. However, Vettel fought back later on and took second with the Mercedes driver on a different strategy on the soft compound to Vettel’s medium.
While the race settled in at the front, it got tasty behind when Verstappen and Sainz went wheel-to-wheel as they had a minor touch in the right-hander which damaged the Spaniard’s floor and sent him to the back of the grid.
The Dutchman then had a slow puncture to initiate the pit stop mania on Lap 12. The undercut allowed Verstappen to get ahead Bottas but the Finn passed him back on the track after his stop with the Dutchman back in a lonely fifth place.
The rest of the Top 10 had Hulkenberg in the lead with teammate Daniel Ricciardo going deep on his new soft compound but the Australian dropped outside the Top 10 after his late stop. Behind Hulkenberg, it was the battling Norris and Raikkonen.
The second round of pit stops post Lap 35 brought the race alive with Hamilton going after Vettel in wheel-to-wheel action. It was Hamilton on the charge as they battled out for a couple of laps when the British racer got ahead and Vettel spun on his own.
The German then lost the front wing as he dropped down to eighth post an unscheduled pit stop. It helped Mercedes to gain points with Hamilton in second and Bottas third with Verstappen moving up to fourth in the order – with a somewhat settled Top 4.
In the meantime, Vettel quickly got himself up to fifth but with the huge gap ahead of him, it was as much he could get to. Hulkenberg settled in on sixth behind with Norris seventh ahead of Ricciardo and Raikkonen as the trio battled out with Gasly in rounding the Top 10.
It was all going well for Leclerc up until Lap 45 when the Monegasque radioed for a power unit issue where he couldn’t deploy enough power and in three laps, Hamilton caught up Leclerc and passed him for the lead of the Bahrain GP in what looked a sure win.
Leclerc was then asked to keep clam and continue on and fight the issue but Bottas was catching him quickly which he eventually did on Lap 54 as it soon became a Mercedes 1-2 what looked like to be a Ferrari 1-2 at the start of the race.
More drama awaited in Bahrain GP when both Renault cars of Hulkenberg and Ricciardo stopped on the same lap at the same time with a suspected electrics issue which brought out the safety car. At the same time, Sainz retired for strategic reasons.
With the cars unable to be retrieved on time, the race had an anti-climatic end with Hamilton scoring the win in Bahrain GP to lead Mercedes 1-2 from Bottas with Leclerc eventually hanging on to score his first bittersweet career’s podium.
The Monegasque though took an extra point with the fastest lap as Verstappen edned up fourth with the Dutchman not having the chance to have go at Leclerc with Vettel rounding out the Top 5 ahead of Norris, who scored his first points in F1 with his best result.
Despite the lack of running on Friday, Raikkonen did well to be seventh with Gasly ending up eighth to score his first points for Red Bull ahead of career first points holder Albon in the Torro Ross with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez ending up 10th to get the sole point.
Alfa Romeo Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi was 11th after he survived a tangle with Kvyat earlier in the race which led the Russian into a spin as he finished 12th from Magnussen, who was all over the place. He started sixth and ended up 13th in the end.
Stroll could only recover to 14th with Williams’ George Russell and Robert Kubica in 15th and 16th respectively – everyone from Kvyat until Russell was a lap down with Kubica down by two laps to complete the runners in Bahrain GP.