Rate The Race and Driver of the Weekend.
Round 2, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, 2019
Mean Reader Score: 8.08
This may not be the best ever score for this race but at 8.08 it came pretty close to last year’s 8.17, which knocked the 7.08 (2017), 7.06 (2016), and 6.96 (2015) into a cocked hat.
As with last year, Ferrari locked out the front row, but with the new boy, Leclerc, taking his first ever pole, as the second youngest ever pole-sitter, (more of that later) with the youngest ever pole-sitter having to settle for P2 this year.
Did this race have everything a F1 fan could wish for? Let’s see: We have to mention the windy conditions, which made driving in a ‘sandstorm’ a bit tricky; Ferrari topped the leader boards in Q’s 1,2 and 3. then locked out the front row in qualifying.
Followed by the two Mercedes (Hamilton and Bottas.1), followed by Verstappen (Red Bull) and, wait for it, KMag, Sainz, RoGro, Kimi, Lando Norris (more about him later, as well) and last and in many ways least, Daniel Ricciardo in P10.
So yes, we had two Haas AND two Mclarens in Q3 (eat your heart out, Alonso).
We had a great start, with Vettel taking the lead and Bottas version 2 taking P2. However, the newer, tougher Bottas v2 didn’t seem to last very long as by lap 2, he had locked up and been overtaken by Leclerc (more of him later) and Hamilton, but not without a putting up a bit of a fight.
We had Sainz v Verstappen with the ‘inevitable’ outcome; a bit of a dog fight between the two Ferraris; Red Bull played a master stroke, causing a cascade of pitstops (which actually turned out to be a slow puncture rather than cunning strategy); Vettel spun and then drove over his newly detached front wing, sparks flew across the track; sudden loss of power for the race leader: not one but BOTH Renaults retired within metres of each other on the same lap and the race finished under safety car conditions. Phew.
Somewhere in the mix Grosjean and Sainz also retired, Kubica was lapped twice and McLaren got into the points, and Mercedes scored maximum points with Hamilton taking yet another win.
Driver Of The Weekend: Charles Leclerc 76.09% of Reader Vote
Oh dear- what a tale of triumph and heartbreak this weekend was for young Charles Leclerc. Hyped as (yet another) ‘Bright Young Thing’, this ‘Real Deal’ was living up to his ever-growing reputation.
Being top of the leaderboards in Q1 and Q3, he took his first ever pole with not one, but two track records (well, first time round he equalled the record). He was the 99th pole-sitter in this the 999th GP. (numerologists make of that what you will).
After the triumph of winning pole, his inexperience came to the fore as he lost two places at the start, admittedly he was on the ‘dirty’ side of the grid, but quickly made them up by firstly taking Bottas on Lap 2, and spectacularly breaking team orders and overtaking team mate Vettel a few laps later.
Once in the lead he never looked back, until of course he lost power with a dozen laps still to run. A sitting duck, he was losing 4+ seconds per lap as Hamilton in quick pursuit, who then took the lead.
Verstappen was not far behind and it looked as if Charles’ dream would turn to dust when both Renault cars suffered DNFs bringing out the safety car, which is how the race ended.
On the podium for the first time in his career, (but not, sadly the winner) this young man was very gracious in ‘defeat’. He also dedicated his first pole to his father, his godfather Jules Bianchi, and Charlie Whiting.
Honourable mention must also go to the Rookie, Lando Norris, who not only came second in our Driver of The Weekend poll but also scored his (and McLaren’s) first points of the season putting them in P5 in the constructor standings (equal with Haas).