Newly-crowned seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton on Sunday took his 11th victory of the 2020 season, winning out over the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon at the Bahrain Grand Prix – in a race whose start was overshadowed by a horror crash for Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean’s Haas car plunged into the barriers at Turn 3 on Lap 1, the Frenchman emerging from the fiery remains of his cockpit before being airlifted to hospital with suspected broken ribs and minor burns – but thankfully nothing more serious than that – with a lengthy red flag period ensuing as the barriers were repaired after what had been a horrible incident.
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Seconds after it caught fire, Romain Grosjean leaped from his on-fire F1 car.
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Following a subsequent Safety Car period at the restart after Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was rolled over after contact with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, it was a relatively simple evening’s work for Hamilton – crowned world champion last time out at the Turkish Grand Prix – whose victory never looked seriously under threat from Verstappen, despite the Dutchman shadowing him for much of the race.
Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2020
|1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes||1:34:01.829|
|2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing||+1.254s|
|3 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing||+8.005s|
|4 Lando Norris McLaren||+11.337s|
|5 Carlos Sainz McLaren||+11.787s|
Behind the leading pair, it looked for much of the Bahrain race as though Sergio Perez was set to claim his second podium in as many races, before the Mexican’s Racing Point expired with a suspected power unit issue three laps from the end. That promoted Albon up to third, giving the Thai driver his second career podium as the race finished behind a Safety Car brought out as Perez’s car was recovered.
Perez’s retirement was great news for McLaren, who claimed fourth and fifth, Lando Norris leading home Carlos Sainz, while their 22-point haul saw them move ahead of the point-less Racing Point to P3 in the constructors’ standings.
A one-stop race for AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly gave him a well-deserved P6, ahead of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas – who suffered a puncture at the race restart on Lap 3, leaving him with a recovery drive to P8. The top 10 was rounded out by the second Renault of Esteban Ocon and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in P10.
So, a topsy-turvy race – but once again, it was Lewis Hamilton who found himself on top, the Mercedes driver now a four-time winner of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The key quote
“[Grosjean’s crash] was such a shocking image to see… it was horrifying. His car, the cockpit, I don’t know what Gs he pulled but I’m just so grateful that the halo worked.
“[The race] really was physically very demanding. I think with the break that we had at the beginning, you get into a mindset, you go out and you’ve got a good start and then that 45 [minute] to an hour wait that we had, it’s so easy to step out of the zone. That was quite tricky but then getting back in, [Red Bull] had a lot of speed today, so I was flat out the whole way just trying to keep them at bay.
“But I’m massively grateful and thankful to my team because at the end of the day they did a great job with the strategy and what a privilege it is to be able to get another result like this” – Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
The Formula 1 drivers and teams are set to stay on the ground in Bahrain, as next week we’ll be back at the Bahrain International Circuit for the inaugural Sakhir Grand Prix on December 3-6. Using the super-quick Outer Track for the first time, and with sub-minute lap times expected, it’s a race you won’t want to miss.