After Valtteri Bottas stormed to a maiden career pole position over Lewis Hamilton on Saturday, it looked as though Mercedes might have the Bahrain Grand Prix already in the bag.
But on Sunday, Sebastian Vettel used a stunningly quick Ferrari to prove that this year won’t be smooth sailing to a fourth consecutive World Constructors title for the Silver Arrows
In a race that proved extremely exciting up the front, what actually happened for all the other drivers? We break down the each drivers performance in a Bahrain Grand Prix that somewhat rivals 2014’s ‘Duel in the Desert’ for action and excitement.
Lewis Hamilton – 6/10
Hamilton drove brilliantly for 99.9% of his race on Sunday. However, it was his decision to back Daniel Ricciardo up when entering the pits that ultimately damages what easily could’ve been a 10/10 rating. Hamilton was duly punished for his actions with a 5 second time penalty, which he served during his second and final pitstop. In the end, he finished 6 seconds off Vettel, making one wonder what could’ve been possible if he had just entered the pits properly.
Valtteri Bottas – 8/10
I admired Bottas’ immediate decision to let through Lewis Hamilton when asked by Mercedes to do so. Although he did have a tire pressure problem, Bottas still obeyed a team order that directly affected his championship challenge – a move which has earned my respect. Also, because of the issue, Bottas bringing the car home in third was a decent performance.
Sebastian Vettel – 10/10
When Sebastian Vettel seizes the lead of a race, it’s pretty damn hard to get it back off him. The moment Ferrari undercut the Mercedes of Bottas, Vettel then drove exactly how he needed too, and even a safety car two laps later couldn’t save the doomed Mercedes. From this point onward, Vettel was literally unchallenged in a victory he and Ferrari thoroughly deserved.
Kimi Raikkonen – 8/10
For the third race in a row, Kimi Raikkonen failed to make the podium. As the criticism mounts, it must be remembered that Raikkonen’s race was severely hampered by the safety car on lap 13. After negotiating Felipe Massa and putting pressure on Daniel Ricciardo in the opening laps, both drivers got back ahead of Raikkonen when they got a free pitstop under the safety car. By the time Raikkonen re-overtook the drivers, the top three had bolted off into the sunset, making P4 the best possible result for the Finn.
Max Verstappen – 8.5/10
Verstappen’s race ended before it really begun with a brake failure on lap 12. After he saw Vettel pit early to put the pressure on Bottas, Verstappen, then in an effective P4, decided to try and pressure Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes by also boxing. Sadly, his subsequent retirement robbed everyone of the chance to see if his risk paid off. Tops for his quick thinking when under pressure, though.
Daniel Ricciardo – 7/10
Staying out of trouble has again awarded Daniel Ricciardo with a fighting P5. Red Bull’s overall pace in Bahrain is encouraging for the future; Ricciardo even split the two Ferrari’s in qualifying. However, his race pace couldn’t match his Saturday antics; a bad start, which saw him drop to 6th, and an awful restart on lap 16, where he dropped three positions, were hallmarks of an unimpressive race. Had it not been for these factors, more was undeniably possible for Ricciardo.
Sergio Perez – 9/10
18th wasn’t the ideal place for Sergio Perez to start Sunday’s race. However, by the end of lap 1, he had made up five positions to find himself in P13, places he described as “very important.” Yet, Checo wasn’t done yet. The safety car on lap 12 would aid him in eventually reaching a phenomenal P7.
Esteban Ocon – 8/10
It seems Esteban Ocon just can’t stop finishing in P10. For the third race running, the young Frenchman kept himself relatively out of trouble to come home for the final points paying place. Unlike his team mate, Ocon admitted lap 12’s safety car “cost me three positions,” which limited what was achievable for him today.
Felipe Massa – 10/10
Felipe Massa was brilliant during the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Brazilian finished in P6 but fought as hard as he could to hold back the superior cars of Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo. In the end, he drove like he used to in his prime Ferrari days. I hope results like this continue for an extremely fast Massa.
Lance Stroll – 5/10
Lance Stroll may not have caused the accident that ended his day on lap 12, but he certainly did nothing to avoid it either. As Carlos Sainz exited the pit lane, he dived up the inside of the unsuspecting Canadian, who, surprisingly for me, did absolutely nothing to avoid Sainz’s stupid lunge. In fairness, he wouldn’t have expected Sainz to do what he did, but Stroll has said he saw the Toro Rosso was there. Results need to come fast for the Canadian, before he becomes another Pastor Maldonado.
Carlos Sainz – 2/10
As just mentioned, Carlos Sainz wrecked his own race with a stupidly dangerous lunge up the inside of Lance Stroll when exiting the pits on lap 12. Unfortunately, this move ended the race for both drivers. Sainz has since been punished by the FIA with a three-place grid drop for the next round in Russia.
Daniil Kvyat – 5/10
Even if Dany Kvyat did reach the end of the Grand Prix, he didn’t do all that much better than Sainz. His first lap was disastrous, after botching an overtake in the final sector, Kvyat found himself in P18, only just ahead of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber. The race never improved for Kvyat, and he finished in a lowly P12, just ahead of Jolyon Palmer. Hopefully his home race in two weeks will bring better fortunes.
Stoffel Vandoorne – No rating
Vandoorne doesn’t get a rating this week because he didn’t even start the race because of a water pressure issue. This DNS has only added to McLaren-Honda’s woes in 2017.
Fernando Alonso – 8/10
Alonso couldn’t really entertain us with his racing on Sunday, so he used his radio skills instead. He even remarked that he’s ‘never raced with less power in his life’ – which is especially shocking when he started his career with Minardi… Eventually, his day came to an end with what McLaren have officially called an “undiagnosed issue” on lap 54. This is now McLaren’s 2nd race in a row where both cars have failed to reach the flag.
Nico Hulkenberg – 7/10
The RS17 appears to be able to do the business on Saturday, but not so much on Sunday. After another strong qualifying performance, Hulkenberg only just managed to keep himself in the points on Sunday, coming home in P9 for his (and Renault’s) first points in 2017. He said post race he had to “wrestle” with the car, also admitting that P9 was the best result available to the team.
Jolyon Palmer – 5/10
Like his team mate, Palmer struggled for race pace during Sunday’s race. Even on lap 17’s safety car restart, he failed to make his way up the field, taking 10 laps to pass the dreadfully slow McLaren of Fernando Alonso. In the end, Palmer’s lack of progress meant he could only finish in P13, last of the classified runners. He blamed a poor car with poor degradation for Bahrain’s woes, which could be fair, but look at his team mate I guess.
Romain Grosjean – 8/10
Grosjean scored his first points for 2017 in what became a very rewarding Bahrain Grand Prix. Even if he finished 5th here in 2016, he’ll still be happy with a P8 to open his point scoring account in 2017. An incident-free start meant that Grosjean was already in an effective P9 when the safety car restart occurred on lap 16. He then cruised gracefully to a deserved P8.
Kevin Magnussen – No rating
Despite Magnussen getting running, I’ve decided to not give him a rating because he only contested a meager five laps in Bahrain. He had an electrical power issue which forced him to stop his car at Turn 8. Sadly, it’s his second retirement in three races.
Marcus Ericsson – 7/10
Ericsson didn’t have an especially significant race, retiring just 8 laps from the finish with a gearbox failure. At the time, however, he was only running in P14 with only Jolyon Palmer behind. His day was somewhat ruined by the safety car because he started on the soft tires. He opted not to pit under it, a decision which would see him fall many places on lap 16’s restart.
Pascal Wehrlein – 10/10
In his first Formula 1 race of 2017, Pascal Wehrlein managed to bring home a brilliant P11 for Sauber, just one place off points. He reportedly was still suffering back pain during the race, making his result all the more remarkable. Such a result was achieved mostly due to a brilliant strategy from Sauber which saw him take a set of soft tires from lap 11 to Lap 57. Their car may not be quick, but it was certainly kinder on its tires than most.
Be sure to tell us in the comments whether or not you agree with our ratings!