In Depth

F1 Bahrain GP reactions: Hamilton lucky to win after Leclerc’s heartbreak

Ferrari youngster misses out on maiden victory as Mercedes seal another one-two

Mercedes celebrated a second successive one-two after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suffered heartbreak and missed out on the victory at the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.  

It was a “chaotic” and “incident-filled” race on Sunday, Sky Sports reports, after “disaster struck” for Ferrari and Leclerc.

Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas after long-time leader Leclerc had engine problems and had to settle for third.

Ferrari’s new driver had set the pace by qualifying on pole position on Saturday. He lost the lead early on but after regaining the front spot he was on course for a dramatic first-ever victory in F1. However, ten laps before the end his hybrid system failed.

F1.com described it as a “heartbreaking end” to what had been a superb weekend for Leclerc. The BBC said Leclerc “thoroughly deserved the win” and the young Monegasque driver had “already done enough to announce himself as a major title contender”.

Had it not been for the safety car at the end of the race the 21-year-old Leclerc, who is in his second season in F1, would have finished fourth.

Leclerc was able to secure the final podium spot ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in fourth and his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel who was fifth.

McLaren’s British rookie Lando Norris drove superbly to finish sixth at the Bahrain International Circuit.

F1 Bahrain GP drivers’ reactions

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (P1): “I had to go and see Charles because he did such a great job. I’m sure it was a devastating result for him because he’d done the job to win. We were lucky. This guy has a lot of race wins coming in the future. Congratulations to Charles. He deserved the victory. He did the job all the weekend. I expected him to be great and do a great job. But who would have known he would be so quick so early on.”

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes (P2): “As a team we got lucky today we kept it together. The hard work at the factory is paying off I had a difficult race as the balance of the car was everywhere and I made a few mistakes. I never will give space, the first lap was good I had a lock-up in turn one.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari (P3): “It happens. Unfortunately, today was not our day. But I am extremely confident. The team have done [an] amazing job. We have been lucky on an unlucky day with the safety car. Very hard to take but we will come back stronger.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull (P4): “We did not deserve to be on the podium today. We did not have the pace and the balance of the car was not good. I am not too disappointed [with finishing fourth].”

Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

Getty Images

Lando Norris, McLaren (P6): “I don’t know where it came from. The whole race today was more fun than Australia. I had better pace than I thought we would have. I got knocked down to 12th because of some contact and got back to P6. I could have done him [Kimi] a couple of laps earlier. I used my own initiative.”

Sergio Perez, Racing Point (P10): “It’s good to pick up my first point of the season. It was an unpredictable race and in that sense it’s a nice surprise. Considering everything that happened in the race we can be pleased to pick up a point.”

Lance Stroll, Racing Point (P14): “We finished the race and there is plenty to analyse, but we’ve got to see where we can improve before we get to China.”

George Russell, Williams (P15): “We know where we are at the moment, but it was a fun race for me. I had some nice little battles with Robert so I’m thankful to the team for letting us race as it was enjoyable. It was quite a good race from a personal perspective but obviously not too enjoyable finishing in P15. We know where we are fighting for, but we brought the car home and learned some more things.”

Robert Kubica, Williams (P16): “It was a very tough race, but we expected that. The car balance issues that I am having put me in a difficult position today. Additionally, the wind didn’t help so it made it more complicated, but I had a few enjoyable laps when the tyres were fresh. However, I knew what was coming so I had to take care of the rubber and ensure that I kept the FW42 on track rather than concentrating on performance.”

Carlos Sainz, McLaren (did not finish): “Very disappointed. Again a great start and a strong pace put me in a good position to overtake the Red Bull. I got hit, got a puncture and ended up retiring the car for a different reason. Not happy, but car felt good and congrats to Lando and the team for those points.”

2019 standings

Bottas leads the F1 2019 drivers’ championship on 44 points after two races, one ahead of Hamilton. Red Bull’s Verstappen is third in the standings on 27 points while Ferrari duo Leclerc and Vettel have 26 and 22 points respectively.

In the F1 2019 constructors’ championship Mercedes lead the way with 87 points. They are 39 points ahead of second-placed Ferrari who are on 48. Red Bull are third with 31 points.

When is the next F1 GP?

The third race of the 2019 F1 season will be the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday 14 April at the Shanghai International Circuit. China marks a huge milestone for Formula 1 as it will be the sport’s 1,000th world championship race.

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