Bahrain saw new Ferrari signing Charles Leclerc dominant, setting pole position and streaking away from team mate Sebastian Vettel. He was so close to his maiden F1 podium he would have won easily but with 12 laps to go, an engine malfunction resulted in a loss of 160 BHP, slowing him so much that Hamilton and Bottas (Mercedes) were able to reel him in.
Ferrari team boss Binotto expects the fault will have a straightforward fix and is not related to how the team runs its engine. He showed confusion reigning supreme, saying after the race, “I think what happened, even if we have not a clear understanding now and we are still looking into it, it is a single problem that will be easily addressed. So it’s not related to the way we’re using the engine mapping or whatever. It has to be, let me say, a single component failure. We’ll find out.” Ferrari has two weeks to fix it! Not as much as Leclerc wants it fixed.
Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul described the team’s double failure in the Bahrain Grand Prix as “frustrating and unacceptable”.
Abiteboul admitted the team has made “a very bad start” to the season. (That was putting it mildly!) “Similar to Melbourne, our qualifying in Bahrain was massively compromised by minor electronics issues, which impacted both cars.
“Our race today came to a sudden stop so close to the finish. These are issues we have previously encountered but something we were unable to rectify in Bahrain. These problems are increasingly frustrating and unacceptable as both cars have shown very good competitiveness both over one-lap and race runs,” said Abiteboul, who added the team must “react and shift our focus on reliability.”
Renault also managed automotive synchronized racing, with both cars expiring with three laps to go, while in a points finish.
Back to the front runners and Vettel (Ferrari) had another race to forget. Taking the lead at the start over his team mate, he was hunted down and passed by Leclerc, to then fall into the clutches of Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), and then spin unaided, damaging his tyres so much that the vibrations shook the front wing off!
A much better race in Bahrain with scrapping (and scraping) all the way down the field. The usual first lap suspects in trouble were Lance Stroll (Racing Point Indian Takeaway) and Romain Grosjean (Hasn’t got it right yet). Surprises were McLaren being in the points for most of the race, while Ricciardo’s strategist got it all wrong dropping the Australian out of the points before the Renault imploded.