Three races in to the 2014 Formula One season and for the third time, it’s a Mercedes driver on the top step of the podium. For the second time in two weeks Lewis Hamilton is a grand prix winner, heading home another Mercedes one-two finish.
In a fiercely contested race, Lewis Hamilton had the edge over his team-mate, but not by much. As the two crossed the line, Lewis’ advantage over Nico was exactly one second. But this does not tell the story of how close the two came together. Throughout the race the two Mercedes drivers were in a class of their own, miles clear of third with only each-other to duel with. And with no team orders from the pit wall, to battle they went.
From lights out the race between the two began. With Rosberg starting on pole position, his worse nightmares would have been Hamilton leading out of turn one. But after a great launch from his grid slot, Hamilton took the inside line for turn one and took the lead.
As the two paraded around the Bahrain International Circuit in the first stage of their strategies, it was hard to split the two. This led the team to splitting the two drivers strategy. Keeping Hamilton on a soft, soft, medium strategy, compared to the alternate strategy of soft, medium, soft, of which Rosberg was given. This meant as fuel dropped and the track rubbered in, Rosberg would have a greater chance of getting past Hamilton. But this was not going to be a hare and tortoise scenario.
On lap 41 the safety car came out. As Maldonado left the pit lane exit, the Sauber of Gutierrez turned in for the apex of turn 1. But this would prove to be the end of Gutierrez’s grand prix. Approaching turn 1, Maldonado attempted to get his car ahead of the Sauber but failed to react in time and back out of the move. Resulting in his Lotus almost T-Boning the Sauber as Maldonado’s front wheel and front wing made contact with the side of Gutierrez’s Sauber. This contact was extremely nasty, and the Sauber was somersaulting through the air before a heavy landing. Gutierrez initially landed back on the ground after his right side tyres planted themselves into the track, but this heavy impact destroyed the rear tyre, completely tearing off the rear suspension, leaving the carcass of the tyre hanging from the car. Thankfully after the heavy impact, Gutierrez was able to walk away from the remains of his car, without any aid. This wasn’t even the first collision of the race for Maldonado after a first lap incident with Jean-Eric Vergne. In this incident, Maldonado left the Toro Rosso with a punctured tyre.
After all of his comings together, Maldonado was awarded three penalty points and a five-place grid penalty for the Chinese Grand Prix by the FIA.
Before the safety car came out Lewis had a 13 second lead, and due to their split strategies was now on the medium tyres, compared to his team-mate who was on the soft tyres. This meant Lewis was going to have to do all he can to defend the charging Nico Rosberg.
Back in Malaysia, the team-orders called at Williams was a big talking point, but this was not going to be the case in Bahrain for Mercedes. Whilst the drivers prepared for the re-start, Executive Technical Director, Paddy Lowe came across team-radio to tell both drivers to bring the cars home, not insisting either had to stay behind or allow the other past.
Now with the tyre advantage, no team-orders, right behind Hamilton and being faster across the race weekend, this race appeared to be Rosberg’s to lose. On each lap the two Mercedes drivers pounded out Rosberg kept with Hamilton, staying in DRS range in a bid to get the lead into turn one. Of which he did more than once. Each time Nico dove down the inside of Lewis he was able to take the lead through turn one, but with the better grip and slower entry speed, Lewis was able to get the switch back on Rosberg to regain the lead.
But this was not the end of the battle on these laps. As both pushed down the straight between turn three and four, Rosberg had another chance to regain the lead. But each time Hamilton was, either, able to position his car perfectly to block of Rosberg, or get back past his team-mate as they drove down the hill. All before Hamilton was able to take the chequered flag by just 1.0 seconds.
Other talking points from the race include DRS failures for Vettel, on lap 14, and for Button on lap 27. Jenson, celebrating his 250th grand prix start must have been hoping it was one to remember but unfortunately, the DRS failure would prove to not be the worse part of his race as on lap 55, he was forced to retire.
Over at Williams, there two drivers spent most of the race fighting in the higher point scoring places. But once the safety car came out it hindered their progress before eventually finishing down in 7th and 8th. As for Force India it was more than a race to remember. Their two drivers were on the coat tails of the Williams in the early stages but it was the opposite story to Williams after the safety car as their two cars sat in 3rd and 4th place.
After the safety car came in, the Force India drivers fought for the final podium spot but Ricciardo was able to get past Hulkenberg for 4th and close down Sergio Perez in a bid to steal their podium spot. This proved unsuccessful for the Australian, as he finished narrowly behind Perez, by just 0.4 of a second.
Final standings for the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix:
|2||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||57||+1.0 secs||1||18|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||57||+24.0 secs||4||15|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||57||+24.4 secs||13||12|
|5||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||57||+28.6 secs||11||10|
|6||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||57||+29.8 secs||10||8|
|7||19||Felipe Massa||Williams-Mercedes||57||+31.2 secs||7||6|
|8||77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams-Mercedes||57||+31.8 secs||3||4|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||57||+32.5 secs||9||2|
|10||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Ferrari||57||+33.4 secs||5||1|
|11||26||Daniil Kvyat||STR-Renault||57||+41.3 secs||12|
|12||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||57||+43.1 secs||16|
|13||4||Max Chilton||Marussia-Ferrari||57||+59.9 secs||21|
|14||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||57||+62.8 secs||17|
|15||10||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham-Renault||57||+87.9 secs||18|
|16||17||Jules Bianchi||Marussia-Ferrari||56||+1 Lap||19|
|17||22||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||55||+2 Laps||6|
|Ret||20||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren-Mercedes||40||+17 Laps||8|
|Ret||21||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||39||+18 Laps||15|
|Ret||9||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham-Renault||33||+24 Laps||20|
|Ret||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Renault||18||+39 Laps||14|
|Ret||99||Adrian Sutil||Sauber-Ferrari||17||+40 Laps||22|
Now you have seen my views and the full standings for the Bahrain Grand Prix, vote here for your driver of the day. For me, driver of the day goes to Lewis Hamilton after a superb performance and great defending against his team-mate in order to secure the win.