Monday, 19 February, 2018

F1 Bahrain GP: Second possible in Bahrain without brake failure - Verstappen

Melissa Porter | 17 April, 2017, 00:14

Sebastian Vettel's ability in a Formula One auto is beyond doubt, as his second victory in three races saw him take an outright lead at the top of the championship standings.

With the dust settled and the safety auto still running, the top ten comprised of Vettel, Bottas, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Ericsson, Perez and Grosjean.

A slow stop for Bottas delayed Hamilton slightly anyway and he dropped behind the Red Bull, and was then hit with a five-second penalty for delaying Ricciardo.

The top three were in for an early race, with Bottas having to constantly fend off Vettel, who in turn was heavily bombarded by Hamilton behind.

Hamilton, who had started the floodlit race level on points with the German, took second place for Mercedes after staging a late chase following the five-second penalty for driving deliberately slowly into the pits. Massa finished sixth behind Daniel Ricciardo, with Sergio Perez delivering an excellent recovery drive from 18th on the grid to seventh.

Vettel stopped on lap 33 for his second change of rubber to allow Hamilton to take the lead of the race.

Max Verstappen on track during Saturday's practice session. Meanwhile, Hamilton had eaten away Vettel's gap to 3.9s by lap 32.

Bottas came in first as the leading vehicle with Hamilton stacked behind him to take the soft tyres. Hamilton also appeared to be struggling and had Verstappen close on his tail throughout the opening laps as the Red Bull seemed to extract a remarkable amount of performance from the super-soft compound tyre. We went for the undercut and it worked fantastically.

In Bahrain, the Briton recognised he could have put himself in a much better position to win.

"The vehicle was a dream today ... the last half of the in-lap with the fireworks & the track lit up, I just thought I love what I do", the German added.

Also, Verstappen wasn't the only driver to retire from the race, as Stoffel Vandoorne failed to make the start with a power unit issue, Kevin Magnussen came to a stop on track due to a mechanical problem, and Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll collided in Turn 1 bringing out a safety auto. Mercedes took the opportunity to pit Bottas and Hamilton from first and second, but in doing so was forced to double stack its cars in the pit lane.

"It was definitely costly -- the pit lane incident", said Hamilton. In came Bottas and Hamilton, too, but fearing he would lose time queuing behind his Mercedes team-mate, Hamilton slowed down on his approach to the Mercedes garage and effectively blocked Ricciardo.

Defence of the race: Vettel holding firm under the attack of Valtteri Bottas after the Safety Car restart turned out to be vital to his race.

Vettel had taken the lead after an early stop and stayed clear of Hamilton through the final stages when the Englishman launched a desperate charge to claw back the Ferrari.

Racing resumed on lap 16 with Hamilton immediately passing Ricciardo for third as the Red Bull driver struggled to get temperature into his soft tyres. With the dust settled, Vettel was now 12s behind Hamilton, Bottas was third while Ricciardo and Raikkonen lay fourth and fifth respectively. Drama followed on lap 13 when Verstappen crashed out at Turn 4, apparently his brakes failed. The vehicle was really unbelievable to drive and I could control the race in the end. Indeed the top five were covered by just three seconds.

Vettel, to that point, had stuck his auto right behind Bottas and wasn't letting him create any separation.

Fourteen drivers were classified but Fernando Alonso bookended a miserable day for McLaren by stopping three laps from the end.

"It was my fault", said Hamilton.