Lewis Hamilton holds on to win Bahrain Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton notched up his third win of the year by taking the chequered flag first at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

It was a nervy final 20 laps for the team as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen mounted a charge and eventually passed Nico Rosberg. Both Silver Arrows cars limped across the line with brake issues and, had the race been a few laps longer, it could have been Raikkonen on the top step of the podium.

Hamilton started the race on pole position ahead of Sebastian Vettel while Rosberg and Raikkonen lined up on the second row. Before the race McLaren confirmed that Jenson Button would not be taking part due to an ERS problem. He had already endured a difficult weekend, completing minimal laps in practice and breaking down on his out lap in qualifying. He instead took to live tweeting during the race. Felipe Massa nearly failed to make the start after stalling on the grid but the team were able to get him fired up in the pit-lane and as a result he started at the back of the pack.

Prior to the race even starting Carlos Sainz was handed a five second stop/go penalty for exceeding the time limit for his reconnaissance lap. Pastor Maldonado also picked up the same penalty for being out of position on the grid. When the lights went out Raikkonen moved up to third ahead of Rosberg. It did not take long for the Mercedes driver to move back ahead, however, and he soon set off on pursuit of Vettel. He overtook his fellow countryman but throughout the race he had to pass him twice more. Vettel pitted twice attempting to make the undercut work – which it did – but Rosberg found a way through each time. It was an uncharacteristically scruffy race for the four time world champion who locked up and ran deep a number of times. On one occasion he ran wide and picked up some damage to his front wing meaning he had to add an extra pit-stop. His advantage, however, was enough that he was able to hold on to fifth position.

While most of the front runners took on the soft tyres again – leaving a stint on the medium tyres on the end – while Raikkonen went in the opposite direction. He pitted for the final time on lap 40 and started reeling the leaders in at a rate of about two seconds a lap. He continued to put the pressure on and Rosberg ran wide at Turn 1 allowing him through. It later transpired that Rosberg had brake issues as did race leader Hamilton but Raikkonen ran out of laps to catch him. It was Raikkonen’s first visit to the podium since the latter half of 2013.

Elsewhere it was an eventful end to the race for Daniel Ricciardo whose engine gave up at the final corner. He limped across the line giving Red Bull a double points finish. In total contrast both Toro Rosso drivers failed to finish – Sainz at the side of the track and Max Verstappen retiring in the garage. Maldonado nearly became a third retirement as he suffered with engine problems during his pit-stop but he managed to keep going. Also in the points were Valterri Bottas in fourth for Williams, Romain Grosjean in seventh for Lotus, Sergio Perez eighth, Daniil Kvyat ninth and Felipe Massa in tenth. Massa’s tyres started to go off towards the end of the race and Fernando Alonso started closing the gap rapidly. When they crossed the line at the end of the race Alonso was just around four seconds behind the Williams driver while he had been 15 seconds back. Alonso had had a battle with the front runners earlier in the race – unlapping himself when they started to catch him.

The next race signals the start of the European season with the Spanish Grand Prix.

2015: Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying Report

Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton all topped a practice session ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Raikkonen led the way in Free Practice 1 ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, while Mercedes concentrated on heavy fuel runs. Rosberg was fastest in Free Practice 2 while Hamilton was ahead in Free Practice 3. Going into qualifying it looks once again like Mercedes have the upper hand but Ferrari are not close behind. Behind them the midfield looks close – especially the gap between getting through to the pole position shoot-out.

Q1

Kimi Raikkonen was the first driver out on track for the start of qualifying, using the medium compound tyres. His first flying lap was compromised by a lock-up at turn one resulting in a 1:36.731. This was beaten by Valtteri Bottas with a 1:36.268 and then Nico Rosberg with a 1:35.657. Jenson Button compounded what has already been a difficult weekend by pulling off at the side of the track on his out-lap, revealing everything had shut down and there was a “loud bang”. His team-mate Fernando Alonso went straight out on the soft tyres and his first flying lap was good enough for ninth. Sebastian Vettel came out with just six minutes of the session remaining on the soft tyres. His first flying lap was a 1:34.919. At the end of the session, in the dropzone were Pastor Maldonado who encountered an engine problem in his Lotus, Daniil Kvyat, Will Stevens, Roberto Merhi and Button.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:33.928
  2. Valtteri Bottas 1:34.161
  3. Nico Rosberg 1:34.398
  4. Felipe Massa 1:34.488
  5. Kimi Raikkonen 1:34.568
  6. Daniel Ricciardo 1:34.691
  7. Sebastian Vettel 1:34.919
  8. Romain Grosjean 1:35.007
  9. Fernando Alonso 1:35.205
  10. Felipe Nasr 1:35.310
  11. Carlos Sainz 1:35.371
  12. Marcus Ericsson 1:35.438
  13. Sergio Perez 1:35.451
  14. Max Verstappen 1:35.611
  15. Nico Hulkenberg 1:35.653
  16. Pastor Maldonado 1:35.677
  17. Daniil Kvyat 1:35.800
  18. Will Stevens 1:38.713
  19. Roberto Merhi 1:39.722
  20. Jenson Button No Time Set

Q2

The Mercedes duo and Sergio Perez were the first drivers out for the start of Q2. Nico Rosberg’s initial time was a 1:33.878 which was quickly smashed by Lewis Hamilton who went 1.2 seconds faster. Rosberg was warned to save his tyres because they would be the tyres he would start the race on. Felipe Massa slotted into second between the two Mercedes while Ferrari went 2nd and 4th on their first runs, Kimi Raikkonen leading Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso ventured out onto track with two and a half minutes remaining in McLaren’s first Q2 appearance of 2015. He set a lap-time of 1:35.039 going 12th, before being dropped down to 14th. Nico Hulkenberg crept into the top ten going ninth, and was nearly joined by team-mate Perez who was knocked down by Carlos Sainz.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:32.669
  2. Kimi Raikkonen 1:33.540
  3. Felipe Massa 1:33.551
  4. Sebastian Vettel 1:33.623
  5. Nico Rosberg 1:33.878
  6. Valtteri Bottas 1:33.897
  7. Romain Grosjean 1:34.123
  8. Daniel Ricciardo 1:34.403
  9. Nico Hulkenberg 1:34.613
  10. Carlos Sainz 1:34.641
  11. Sergio Perez 1:34.704
  12. Felipe Nasr 1:34.737
  13. Marcus Ericsson 1:35.034
  14. Fernando Alonso 1:35.039
  15. Max Verstappen 1:35.103

Q3

Going through to the pole position shoot-out were two Mercedes, two Williams, two Ferraris, a Lotus, a Red Bull, a Force India and a Toro Rosso. The Ferrari pair were first out on track and were soon joined by Daniel Ricciardo. Sebastian Vettel’s first effort was a 1:34.552 which was 0.013s better than Kimi Raikkonen’s time. Ricciardo’s first flying lap was a 1:33.850 while Nico Rosberg completed a 1:33.854. Lewis Hamilton took provisional pole with a 1:33.522 – three tenths faster than Ricciardo. Vettel improved his time by six tenths to take pole position with Valtteri Bottas going second. Raikkonen then took second before losing it to Rosberg. Ultimately it was Hamilton who secured pole position, going four tenths faster than his provisional pole time.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:32.571
  2. Sebastian Vettel 1:32.982
  3. Nico Rosberg 1:33.129
  4. Kimi Raikkonen 1:33.227
  5. Valtteri Bottas 1:33.381
  6. Felipe Massa 1:33.744
  7. Daniel Ricciardo 1:33.832
  8. Nico Hulkenberg 1:34.450
  9. Carlos Sainz 1:34.462
  10. Romain Grosjean 1:34.484

Kimi Raikkonen leads Ferrari 1-2 in Bahrain FP1

Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest man in the first practice session ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Finn – who has impressed at the circuit before but never won – was two tenths faster than his team-mate by the end of FP1. The top 11 were within one second of the Ferrari pace with Valtteri Bottas half a second down on his fellow countryman’s pace.

A green track saw a number of drivers struggling to stop at corners and lock-up. The conditions in FP1 are also not representative of the rest of the weekend as the race goes from day to night while free practice takes place earlier in the day and therefore much warmer conditions. In the first thirty minutes of action – in which the drivers have an additional set of tyres which they must return after that time – Raikkonen lead the way from Vettel, Bottas, Daniil Kvyat, Marcus Ericsson and Sergio Perez.

It wasn’t all straight forward for the pacesetters as Vettel complained of a loss of power halfway into the session. With half an hour to go the timing screens showed Max Verstappen fastest ahead of Fernando Alonso, Perez, Pastor Maldonado and Raikkonen. Alonso ended the session seventh for McLaren while team-mate Jenson Button spun just three minutes into the session and failed to get out again. Vettel did get out in his car following his problems, however, as Raikkonen improved his time. Jolyon Palmer was in action for Lotus and finished just four tenths off team-mate Maldonado. Elsewhere the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg focused on long runs and tyre evaluation.

Free Practice 1 times:

  1. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.827 – 13 laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:38.029 – 12 laps
  3. Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.390 – 23 laps
  4. Carlos Sainz – 1:38.447 – 14 laps
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.455 – 17 laps
  6. Max Verstappen – 1:38.504 – 22 laps
  7. Fernando Alonso – 1:38.598 – 18 laps
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:38.628 – 17 laps
  9. Daniil Kvyat – 1:38.661 – 17 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:38.790 -21 laps
  11. Sergio Perez – 1:38.793 – 15 laps
  12. Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.842 – 23 laps
  13. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:39.187 – 20 laps
  14. Jolyon Palmer – 1:39.281 – 31 laps
  15. Nico Rosberg – 1:39.293 – 23 laps
  16. Lewis Hamilton – 1:39.532 – 22 laps
  17. Marcus Ericsson – 1:39.534 – 21 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:42.973 – 12 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:44.265 – 15 laps
  20. Jenson Button – No Time Set – 2 laps

2015: Bahrain Grand Prix Preview

In the first back-to-back races of the year, the Formula One circus has moved on to Bahrain after the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend.

Following Ferrari’s time at the top of the podium in Malaysia it was business as usual for Mercedes in China as they recorded a 1-2 finish. There were post-race rumblings of another falling out between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as the latter accused the race winner of holding up his progress by driving too slowly. Both made their feelings perfectly clear in post race interviews and things are set to heat up again in Bahrain, where Hamilton won last year. It was yet another Mercedes 1-2 with Force India’s Sergio Perez finishing 20 seconds behind them on the podium.

Whilst Mercedes once again dominated proceedings in China – both on and off the track – Ferrari were the team closest to them, finishing third and fourth. They were followed by the two Williams, Romain Grosjean scoring his and Lotus’ first points of the year, Felipe Nasr, Daniel Ricciardo and Marcus Ericsson. At the back of the field there were reasons to celebrate for both Manor and McLaren as both teams got two drivers to the finish. Jenson Button was handed a five second post-race penalty following a collision with Pastor Maldonado, meaning McLaren were classified 12th and 14th. Manor were classified 15th and 16th of 17th classified finishers, although Max Verstappen pulled off four laps before the end of the race.

Bahrain Stats

Circuit: Bahrain International Circuit
Number of Laps: 57
Circuit Length: 5.412km
Number of Corners: 15
Lap Record: 1:31.447 Pedro de la Rosa (2005)
Previous Bahrain winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (4 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Soft

Bahrain has been on the Formula One calendar since 2004. It has been held on ten occasions having been cancelled in 2011 due to political unrest. It hasn’t always been in the current format either. In 2010 the race flirted with a longer endurance circuit but it reverted to the Grand Prix circuit for 2012 onwards. The Bahrain Grand Prix became a twilight race in 2014 – starting in daylight and ending in darkness.

Due to the differences in conditions teams and drivers have a lot to take into consideration when setting up the cars. There will be a discrepancy between temperatures during the ‘day’ and ‘night’ parts of the race, resulting in changes in balance and grip levels. It is also a track which gives brakes a good workout as there are a number of slow-speed corners at the end of straights. Qualifying has proven to be of particular importance in Bahrain in the past with the race having never been won from further back than fourth on the grid. Ferrari challenged Mercedes in China during qualifying but ultimately the Silver Arrows came out on top. Rosberg narrowly missed out on pole position, taking the fight to his team-mate.

It is a race where Kimi Raikkonen has performed well in the past but never won. Most recently he finished on the podium for Lotus in 2012 and 2013. He is yet to get a podium in 2015 but has finished in fourth. He has encountered problems, including a loose wheel which forced him to retire from the Australian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel has been demonstrating what the Ferrari is capable – being the only driver to so far beat a Mercedes this year – so Raikkonen could be one to watch out for this weekend. For Grosjean – who has also finished on the Bahrain podium – it will be an opportunity to maintain the momentum from last weekend when he got his first points of the season. McLaren will be hoping to build on the progress they made by getting both cars to the finish and they are set to turn their engines up a bit more for this weekend ahead of further updates in Spain. Red Bull and Toro Rosso both had engine problems in China while Maldonado retired following rear brake failure and an accident with Button who collided with the Lotus driver.

2015: The Chinese Grand Prix in Numbers

Statistics from the Chinese Grand Prix weekend

Total number of laps completed (by driver)

Kimi Raikkonen 151
Max Verstappen 145
Marcus Ericsson 145
Nico Rosberg 140
Sebastian Vettel 138
Carlos Sainz 137
Valtteri Bottas 136
Lewis Hamilton 135
Felipe Nasr 135
Pastor Maldonado 131
Sergio Perez 128
Daniel Ricciardo 127
Jenson Button 125
Romain Grosjean 122
Roberto Merhi 118
Felipe Massa 112
Fernando Alonso 111
Will Stevens 101
Daniil Kvyat 76
Nico Hulkenberg 76
Jolyon Palmer 25

Total number of laps completed (by team)

Ferrari 289
Toro Rosso 282
Sauber 280
Lotus 278
Mercedes 275
Williams 248
McLaren 236
Manor 219
Force India 204
Red Bull 203

Total number of laps completed (by engine manufacturer)

Mercedes (4 teams) 1005
Ferrari (3 teams) 788
Renault (2 teams) 485
Honda (1 team) 236

Number of race laps: 56
Number of safety cars: 1
Number of race starters: 20
Number of times race lead changed hands (includes pole sitter): 4
Number of different race leaders (excludes pole sitter if lead changes off the line): 3
Number of classified drivers: 17
Number of retirements: 4
Number of drivers on lead lap at chequered flag: 9
Number of teams scoring points: 6
Most places gained: Fernando Alonso 6 (18th – 12th)
Number of visits to pit-lane: 39
…of which were pit-stops: 38
Stop/go penalties (added to pit-stop): 0
Drive through penalties: 0
Retirements in pit-lane: 1
Fastest lap: Lewis Hamilton 1:42.208

Lewis Hamilton continues at top in China as Ferrari close the gap

Following his dominant FP1 performance in China, Lewis Hamilton continued at the top of the times in FP2 but Ferrari managed to reduce the gap. It was Kimi Raikkonen who ended the session second just four tenths down on the Silver Arrow.

Roberto Merhi was first out on track for Manor as the team continued to get more running under their belt. They will be hoping to get both cars onto the starting grid on Sunday following Will Stevens’ failure to start the Malaysia Grand Prix due to a fuel pump problem. He was quickly joined by team-mate Stevens and Raikkonen in the Ferrari. Romain Grosjean also got his first running of the weekend having given his car to Jolyon Palmer for FP1.

Raikkonen reported to his team that he was struggling with brakes in the early phases of FP2. Team-mate Sebastian Vettel suffered a spin but continued on his way. Force India driver Sergio Perez encountered rear brake issues during the session. Another team experiencing brake problems were Red Bull who returned to Brembo brakes this week following issues in Malaysia. Daniil Kvyat was asked to return the car slowly to the pits following a smoking rear brake, however he did not make it to the pit-lane following complete brake failure. He made light contact with a wall and brought out a yellow flag. Another driver whose running was brought to an early end was Stevens, following just six laps, due to a power unit problem.

After the initial early running it was Nico Rosberg who led the order ahead of Raikkonen, Vettel and Grosjean. Hamilton soon headed the times, however, going a tenth faster than his team-mate. When the soft tyres went on the cars Raikkonen was the first to set a flying lap. Rosberg and Vettel could not better his time but Hamilton could. There was a brief red flag period following an off by the Williams of Felipe Massa. It hampered Daniel Ricciardo’s first run of the session but his eventual first flyer was enough to see him go seventh fastest. Following the soft tyre flurry attention turned to longer runs.

Free practice two times:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:37.219 – 32 laps
  2. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.662 – 35 laps
  3. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.311 – 24 laps
  4. Sebastian Vettel – 1:38.339 – 30 laps
  5. Nico Rosberg – 1:38.399 – 35 laps
  6. Daniil Kvyat – 1:38.737 – 10 laps
  7. Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.850 – 27 laps
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:39.032 – 26 laps
  9. Romain Grosjean – 1:39.142 – 32 laps
  10. Jenson Button – 1:39.275 – 29 laps
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:39.444 – 30 laps
  12. Fernando Alonso – 1:39.743 – 27 laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson – 1:39.751 – 33 laps
  14. Max Verstappen – 1:39.894 – 32 laps
  15. Carlos Sainz – 1:39.971 – 28 laps
  16. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:40.151 – 28 laps
  17. Felipe Massa – 1:40.423 – 7 laps
  18. Sergio Perez – 1:40.868 – 24 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:42.973 – 27 laps
  20. Will Stevens – 1:44.564 – 8 laps

Lewis Hamilton signals intent with fastest time in FP1 in Shanghai

After losing the top step of the podium to Ferrari in Malaysia, Mercedes returned to the top of the pile in the first free practice session in China. Lewis Hamilton’s best time was half a second faster than his nearest challenger team-mate Nico Rosberg.

At the start of the session a number of cars instantly took to the track for installation laps, leaving Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and both Mercedes in the garage. The first time of the day came from Rosberg and it was a 1:41.052. He improved to a 1:39.574 by the end of the session. Following a brief lull in action after the first half an hour, when drivers have an additional set of tyres which they must return at this stage, Rosberg had a lock-up and ran wide. Other drivers had their own moments including Jenson Button in the McLaren, Hamilton, and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat.

Carlos Sainz complained of having no power on the straights but an earlier time was enough to see him fourth in the times with an hour of the session complete. He eventually finished in eighth place, two seconds down on the Mercedes pace. Up at the top it was last race’s winner Sebastian Vettel who got closest to the Mercedes, albeit six tenths off Rosberg’s time. Raikkonen ended up fourth, ahead of Felipe Nasr, Ricciardo, Kvyat, and the aforementioned Sainz. Valtteri Bottas was the lead Williams in ninth just a thousandth of a second ahead of Felipe Massa.

The session saw Jolyon Palmer get his first Friday running of the year for Lotus, taking over Romain Grosean’s car for the session. He finished a respectable 15th place just six tenths off Pastor Maldonado’s time in eleventh. Both drivers had ‘moments’ during the session as Palmer had a spin and Maldonado ran wide but both were able to continue. Max Verstappen was twelfth in the session ahead of Button, Marcus Ericsson, Palmer, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, and the Manor duo of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

Times from the first practice session:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:39.033 – 21 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:39.574 – 21 laps
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:40.157 – 18 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:40.661 – 27 laps
  5. Felipe Nasr – 1:41.012 – 18 laps
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:41.029 – 21 laps
  7. Daniil Kvyat – 1:41.097 – 24 laps
  8. Carlos Sainz – 1:41.112 – 23 laps
  9. Valtteri Bottas – 1:41.303 – 23 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:41.304 – 17 laps
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:41.335 – 23 laps
  12. Max Verstappen – 1:41.575 – 28 laps
  13. Jenson Button – 1:41.845 – 19 laps
  14. Marcus Ericsson – 1:41.918 – 24 laps
  15. Jolyon Palmer – 1:41.967 – 25 laps
  16. Sergio Perez – 1:42.141 – 22 laps
  17. Fernando Alonso – 1:42.161 – 20 laps
  18. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:42.184 – 19 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:45.379 – 18 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:46.443 – 20 laps