Disaster hits Scuderia Ferrari, as Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel fail to deliver after a qualifying front row lockdown at the Bahrain GP. Mercedes exploits the team’s difficulties and gives Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas yet another 1-2 on the podium. Let’s see what went down today.
Bahrain GP: lights out for Ferrari
After a disappointing Australian GP, the Prancing Horse seemed ready to fight back. Leclerc and Vettel have dominated throughout every single session and have secured the front row. When the lights go out in Sakhir, an impeccable start from the #5 puts him in the lead. Leclerc keeps both Mercedes at bay. Despite the final outcome, this Grand Prix gave us some very exciting on-track battles between teammates (Leclerc-Vettel, Hamilton Bottas), rivals (Vettel-Hamilton) and unlikely pairing (Norris and Raikkonen). Initially falling under Bottas’s pace, Leclerc makes a counter-move at lap 6 and retains his advantage. Contact between Grosjean and Stroll puts the French out for good, and a few laps later Carlos Sainz is again betrayed by his McLaren.
Max Verstappen starts the pit carousel, trying an undercut on the two top teams. Bottas and Hamilton follow, the latter opting for the softest compound, followed again by both Ferrari’s. Most drivers on the grid opt for a two stop strategy, which Pirelli suggests as the second quickest.
Right when the race appeared to be set for success for the Prancing Horse, at lap 39 Sebastian Vettel spins without contact and loses his front wing for no apparent reason. The long pit stop he has to take confines him in the middle of the grid. The German later emerges P5, unable to cover the interval between his SF90 and Max Verstappen. A few minutes go by and Charles Leclerc, comfortably in the lead, suffers an MGU-H failure. Consequently, the loss of regen power leaves him 40 km/h slower that his direct challengers, and he is not able to resist the attack from Hamilton and Bottas.
The Monegasque is only able to save his podium because of a safety car. Both Daniel Ricciardo’s and Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault simultaneosly stop on track for an electrical failure at the second-to-last lap. In fact, the safety car allows Leclerc to prevent Verstappen’s attack, and he defends his position in a photofinish chequered flag.
Will Ferrari be able to bounce back? Second race of the season, second time the SF90 proves to be unreliable. Maybe we will have some answer’s at Formula 1’s 1000th Grand Prix, in two weeks’ time in China.