Highs and Loews: Bahrain


Sebastian Vettel
Would have been disappointed to have qualified behind both Mercedes for the first time this season, but managed a great start to jump Lewis Hamilton, after which he knew that with Valterri Bottas’ struggles that he had the pace to take victory. Ferrari found a time to perform an undercut that even a safety car couldn’t thwart, thanks in part to Mercedes pit stop mishaps, but in typical Vettel style once in the lead, he didn’t look back. The title race is on, Vettel and Hamilton are exchanging blows, but whereas Hamilton seems slightly edgy thus far, Vettel seems in complete control.

Felipe Massa
Made amends for his disappointing weekend in China with a maximum return again to take an important 6th. Lance Stroll’s early struggles mean Massa really needs to lead the Williams team to keep them competitive in the constructor’s championship, best of the rest may only be a consolation to someone like Massa, but right now it’s vital to Williams.

Sergio Perez
Lost out in qualifying after a double yellow flag ended his quick run, but typically for the Mexican, made the most of his situation on Sunday. You wonder if top teams are still looking at Perez, who has been doing an exceptional job with whatever resources he’s been given at Force India. The worry is now that he is being labelled as a midfield specialist.

Romain Grosjean
A solid weekend for Grosjean who out-qualified his teammate comfortably then avoided any issues to score Haas’ third points finish from three races. Probably not much more he can do in the Haas in its current position.

Nico Hulkenberg
Another great qualifying getting into Q3, then ending up P7, 1.2 seconds ahead of his teammate. The Renault looks slower in races, but did a good job to keep it in the points. As expected, is doing his career no harm by driving for a works team with a much weaker teammate.

Pascal Wehrlein
It was a huge weekend for Wehrlein, who had come under increasing (ridiculous) scrutiny for taking time out from the first two races to improve his fitness after his huge accident at the Race of Champions. Some of the pressure would have been alleviated by Antonio Giovianazzi’s difficult Chinese GP, but he was still in the spotlight going into Bahrain. He response was resolute, he qualified in front of both Force Indias and over half a second in front of his teammate. He then bettered that by finishing eleventh on a one stop strategy, ahead of both Kvyat in the Toro Rosso and Palmer in the Renault, a fine return. The German will be delighted to silence critics, Sauber will be delighted to have him back.


Lewis Hamilton
Second, yet in the ‘Loews’ for the second time this season, Hamilton will leave Bahrain hugely disappointed. Being beaten by his teammate in qualifying set up his frustrating weekend, then losing out to Vettel into the first corner created a huge uphill task for the Briton. It’s hard enough to get in front of Vettel when he has an immensely competitive car at the best of times, but to do it when your teammate gets first call on the first pitstop was going to be beyond tough. Hamilton then made his job even harder with a completely needless penalty for holding up Daniel Ricciardo going into the pits, and Vettel was essentially gifted victory. A late surge was never going to be enough, and this was another early blow to Hamilton’s title chances. He can’t afford to let Vettel get away from him, Red Bull at some point will get closer to the front, and he won’t want to be playing catch up with 5 possible drivers taking points off of him.

Valterri Bottas
Bottas will have rarely felt such euphoric highs followed by such lows as he did in Bahrain. To take his first pole must’ve felt great for the Finn, especially given his performance in China, and although he would have gone to bed on Saturday night knowing the job was only half done, he would still have been dreaming of a first GP win to go with it. Was slow from the off, thanks to issues with tyre pressure, but even after his 2nd and 3rd stops, just couldn’t find the pace needed to keep up with Vettel or justify keeping Hamilton behind him. Said afterwards that team orders hurt him, well he’ll need to show he can compete with his teammate, or he’ll hear them far more often as the season goes on.

Jolyon Palmer
Perhaps harsh, given his first appearance in Q3, but as mentioned above, still managed to finish 1.2 seconds behind Hulkenberg in the other Renault. The Renault does appear slower in race trim, but as Hulkenberg held strong to bring home Renault’s first points of the season, Palmer slipped much further back and ended last of all the finishers. Renault need points, 10th on the grid should return more than this.

Carlos Sainz
Was obviously unfortunate in qualifying, but his reckless attempts to force Lance Stroll wide having exited the pits cost him dearly. He was never going to get in front given the angle he was coming in at and how far behind he was, so why take the risk that Stroll wouldn’t turn in?

Kevin Magnussen Qualified 20th on the grid, whilst Grosjean in the other Haas got into Q3 and ended 9th, and was unable to rectify during the race due to a retirement (albeit through no fault of his own). But looked off the pace compared to his teammate in what seems a fairly competitive car, needs to bounce back as he did in China.


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