Lucky for some, extremely unlucky for others: the Bahrain Grand Prix was a shocker, especially for Ferrari and Renault.
Monaco’s young Charles Leclerc seemed certain of a runaway win — until 10 laps before the end when his Ferrari suddenly lost power, as did both of the Renaults.
While Leclerc managed to hang on to third place for Ferrari, electrical problems forced Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo to park their Renaults.
Both cars were in the points at the time, Hulkenberg in sixth place and Ricciardo 10th.
Leclerc’s misfortune allowed the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to sweep past for their second one-two result of the season, while Sebastien Vettel, who was running close behind his young teammate for most of the race, managed to spin his Ferrari after a tussle with Hamilton, and finished a distant fifth, behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Not a great day for Ferrari, which dominated the qualifying session and was on course for a long overdue win.
Nineteen-year-old Brit Lando Norris put in a great drive to end up sixth for McLaren with Kimi Raikkonen seventh, ahead of Pierre Gasly’s Red Bull.
It could have been a fifth and sixth for McLaren, but Carlos Sainz had to retire early after a collision with Verstappen’s Red Bull, ending the fiery Spaniard’s promising drive.
Ninth and 10th went to Thai driver Alexander Albon in the Toro Rosso and Sergio Pérez in the Racing Point, (formerly known as Force India).
Renault showed great pace, with Hulkenberg scorching from 17th to sixth, with just a few laps left to go when the electrical gremlin struck.
He and Daniel Riccardo suffered problems at the same time and Ricciardo attracted the interest of stewards when he climbed out without removing the car’s steering wheel, as demanded by FIA.
But he explained: “I had the ‘red’ light on so I couldn’t touch the car.
“I wasn’t taking any risks. I didn’t really feel like getting electrocuted today.”
Ricciardo started from 11th and was running a different strategy to most of the drivers, opting for a single pitstop plan rather than a two-stopper.
It cost him dearly, as he slipped from sixth and was hanging on for 10th as rivals with fresher tyres sailed past.
He later said it was the wrong strategy and that the team had left it too late to change — not that it mattered after the electrical failure.
It was a particularly hard result for Ferrari’s Leclerc had a 10-second lead in the closing laps and suddenly radioed: “There is something strange with the engine” followed by an expletive.
However, winner Hamilton consoled him on the podium, saying “it was extremely unfortunate for Charles. He drove such a great race.”
Next Grand Prix is in China, on April 14.
- Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1hr 34min 21.836 sec
- Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) at 2.980
- Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 6.131
- Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Honda) 6.408
- Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) 36.068
- Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Renault) 45.754
- Kimi Räikkönen (FIN/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) 47.470
- Pierre Gasly (FRA/Red Bull-Honda) 58.094
- AlexanderAlbon (THA/Toro Rosso-Honda) 1:02.697
- Sergio Pérez (MEX/Racing Point-Mercedes) 1:03.696
- Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/AlfaRomeo Racing-Ferrari) 1:04.599
- Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso-Honda) 1 lap
- Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari) 1 lap
- Lance Stroll (CAN/Racing Point-Mercedes) 1 lap
- George Russell (GBR/Williams-Mercedes) 1 lap
- Robert Kubica (POL/Williams-Mercedes) 2 laps
Retirements: Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas-Ferrari), Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/McLaren-Renault), Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Renault), NicoHülkenberg (GER/Renault).