Rate The Race and Driver of The Weekend.
Race 1, Sakhir International F1 Race Circuit,
Mean Reader Score: 6.8 Rated 1 /1 Races so far this season
Once again, Bahrain held our attention, being the best (and only) race of the season so far. Not quite as high as the 8.11 from last year or the 8.17 from 2018. In fact this is the lowest this race has scored for the past years seven years, (except for 2020 when it only scored 6.10) i.e. 8.08, 7.08, 7.06 and 6.95.
The assumption (from last year) was there would be an epic battle between Verstappen and Hamilton. Controversially, Verstappen won his first, and so far only, WDC in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi last year, when he pipped Hamilton to the post over a one lap sprint at the end of the race, (some say) ‘robbing‘ Hamilton of his 8th WDC. However, with the major regulations change that has occurred this year, it can’t be taken as read that Mercedes and Red Bull will have the two dominant cars. After this year’s pre-season testing, Ferrari were looking good and Mercedes were not (or were they sandbagging?).
Well it would appear not, as the big race this year looked as if it could have been between Red Bull and not Mercedes, but Ferrari? Hmm….. Leclerc took pole and pretty much out- drove Verstappen for most of the race. I say most because three laps from the end Verstappen’s Red Bull gave up the ghost and had to be retired. Verstappen had been running in p2 for most of the race but having just been overtaken by the second Ferrari of Sainz and then slipping right back through the field before eventually limping his way back to the pit lane to retire the car, Verstappen managed to score a big fat zero on his first outing to defend his WDC. As if losing 18 points was not bad enough for Red Bull, things went from bad to worse when one lap from the end, the second Red Bull (which was running in P3) spun, and also failed to finish, losing Red Bull another 15 points and ‘gifting’ Hamilton (who was running in P4) yet another podium.
Ferrari therefore took maximum points on this race with Mercedes taking P3 ad P4 and Red Bull had a double DNF. Spectacularly, Hass nearly but not quite had a double points finish with Magnussen taking 10 points for P5 (yes, a Hass in P5) and team mate almost scoring the final point but Mick Schumacher had to settle for P11. Rookie Zhou scored a point on his maiden F1 race, and with Red Bull out of the picture the other teams scored a few points more than they might otherwise.
Driver of The Weekend, Charles Leclerc 64.30% of reader vote.
The esteemed winner of our Driver of the Weekend accolade, I think won this mostly from the race itself, as he only topped the leader boards twice in qualifying. He started from pole and as well as winning the race, won an extra point for fastest lap. He showed what a wiley young fox he is during the race as not once, but three times he regained the lead after being overtaken by a rather grumpy Verstappen. The first two times he ‘deliberately’ let Verstappen overtake him so he would have DRS on Verstappen for the re-take. On Verstappen’s third attempt, his tyres were shot and Leclerc took the lead back again by turn two (the previous two retakes were at turn four). Scoring null points, for this race leaves Leclerc a full twenty six points ahead of Verstappen, eight points ahead of Sainz and ten points ahead of Hamilton. Could our young Charles be headed for HIS first WDC? We’ll just have to wait a little while (a lot) longer to get an answer to that one! Well done Charles!!