Race Report: Vettel holds off Bottas for Bahrain GP victory

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

The Bahrain Grand Prix weekend started with a very impressive front-row qualifying effort by Ferrari and a penalized Lewis Hamilton who started the race from 9th due to a gearbox change. This set the stage for one of Hamilton’s comeback drives as well as his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, starting third, to possibly take the win.

While strategy played a big role in Ferrari’s win in Australia, strategy seemed to be reversing course and playing straight into the hands of Mercedes on Sunday as Bottas and Hamilton switched to one-stoppers on Medium tires to put Ferrari under pressure.

The Injury

The pressure worked but it manifest itself in a horrible result with Kimi Raikkonen being released too soon and a serious injury to one of his pit crew—that looked like a seriously broken leg—as well as a DNF for the Finn. Kimi exited his car and walked back to the garage and stopped prior to entering the garage to see a huddle of medical and team personnel around the injured mechanic before entering the garage.

This left the mobocracy on social media to berate the Finn for not rushing over to check on the injured man. From my perspective, it may have looked as if he didn’t care because he didn’t immediately rush to the side of the injured team member but the wider view was that the injured man had medical and team personnel all around him and was being attended to with a stretcher and with so many already attending to him, I assume there was little Kimi could do at that point. The counter argument is that he could have found more compassion and hovered over the injured man out of empathy and serious concern. Having met Kimi a few times, I am reasonably sure he is very concerned about his mechanic and is very worried about his wellbeing.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

With Kimi out and Seb all alone in his defense of the lead, plan B was initiated and this meant that Vettel had to run the balance of the race on soft tires he fitted on lap 18. That’s s39 laps on tires Pirelli said were only good for about 30 laps.

With Bottas and Hamilton closing in each lap, it came down to some very impressive tire management and driving from Sebastian to hold off the attempted pass by Bottas on the penultimate lap and securing his second win of the season and a win on his 200th grand prix start. Bottas and Hamilton completed the podium in that order.


A big win for Ferrari who managed to secure a victory despite a serious crew injury and a sister car DNF’d. Sebastian’s driving was immaculate, asking more from his tires than the team ever planned on. Running slower than Bottas in the final 10 laps and still managing to keep the car underneath him, Vettel drove a master class.

A win for Mercedes who used strategy to put serious pressure on Ferrari that demanded an outrageously good drive from Vettel if Ferrari were ever going to have a chance of holding off Bottas and Hamilton. Unfortunately for Mercedes, Vettel delivered but it very easily could have gone the other way and Mercedes applied surgical pressure through strategy that made this an exciting race. Hamilton had a terrific drive back to the podium through some dodgy radio comms and traffic.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A huge win for Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly who finished 4th in his Honda-powered car in only their second race together this year. I said it last year and I’ll say it again, Honda leaving McLaren and joining Toro Rosso is the right move for the Japanese engine maker and I said that it wouldn’t surprise me to see them come on song as soon as they leave McLaren and start being competitive. This is leading to an interesting combination for Red Bull in general as the big team could move over next year to Honda and STR will have worked out a lot of the niggles for them leaving Red Bull with a bespoke engine supplier.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A win for Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen who had a scrappy race up to 5th and he kept the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg behind him in the process meaning that Haas very well could be poised to be best of the rest if they keep this up and Romain Grosjean can sharpen his game. That’s huge for Haas.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A big win for Marcus Ericsson once again proving that you don’t F with the Swede! With many crowing about the ultimate final season and demise of Marcus due to the arrival of Charles Leclerc, the Swede proved his a hard dog to keep under the porch and his race to the points is a very big achievement for Sauber that could have very serious dollars attached to it in prize money.


A fail for McLaren who suffered all weekend with a mysterious “something” that the team didn’t disclose and while Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne finished nose-to-tail in 7th and 8th respectively, it does make one wonder if they aren’t still some way off the best of the rest moniker. Toro Rosso’s 4th place also makes you wonder if there aren’t bigger issues at McLaren than just the engine.

A fail for Red Bull who managed two DNF’s with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen (who Lewis labeled as a “dick”). Dan lost power and Max had a differential issue after coming together with Hamilton in a gutsy passing move.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A fail for Force India who looked resurgent in qualifying but couldn’t muster the pace needed to keep the Haas, Renault, McLaren or Toro Rosso behind them. The race was a ragged affair for them and Perez looked to be driving on a knife-edge for 57 laps.


A WTH for Romain Grosjean, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz who all languished near the back while their teammates forged ahead and well into the points. Some compassion could be given the Romain as his car seemed to be delaminating lap-by-lap but his thwarting teammate Kevin Magnussen was completely uncalled for and ruined K-Mags race as he may have been set for a 4th place finish had Romain not held him up.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A WTH for Williams who finished last and judging by the cars, it looked as if the drivers had ran over just about every ounce of asphalt on that track such was the skittish nature of their car. Williams have Mercedes power but it makes you wonder if this Paddy Lowe inspired car is two steps backwards.

I also have to give a WTH for the penalty to Brendon Hartley. That was a racing incident in my mind and not worthy of a penalty. I think the Toro Rosso driver may have had a shot at 10th or 11th had that not happened.

Vettel noticed the old F1 logo on Bernie’s shirt too. Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

Bahrain GP results

1Sebastian VettelScuderia FerrariFerrari57
2Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG Petronas MotorsportMercedes57
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas MotorsportMercedes57
4Pierre GaslyRed Bull Toro Rosso HondaToro Rosso/Honda57
5Kevin MagnussenHaas F1 TeamHaas/Ferrari57
6Nico HulkenbergRenault Sport Formula One TeamRenault57
7Fernando AlonsoMcLaren F1 TeamMcLaren/Renault56
8Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren F1 TeamMcLaren/Renault56
9Marcus EricssonAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 TeamSauber/Ferrari56
10Esteban OconSahara Force India F1 TeamForce India/Mercedes56
11Carlos SainzRenault Sport Formula One TeamRenault56
12Sergio PerezSahara Force India F1 TeamForce India/Mercedes56
13Brendon HartleyRed Bull Toro Rosso HondaToro Rosso/Honda56
14Charles LeclercAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 TeamSauber/Ferrari56
15Romain GrosjeanHaas F1 TeamHaas/Ferrari56
16Lance StrollWilliams Martini RacingWilliams/Mercedes56
17Sergey SirotkinWilliams Martini RacingWilliams/Mercedes56
Kimi RaikkonenScuderia FerrariFerrari35
Max VerstappenAston Martin Red Bull RacingRed Bull/Renault3
Daniel RicciardoAston Martin Red Bull RacingRed Bull/Renault1

Driver’s Championship

1Sebastian Vettel50
2Lewis Hamilton33
3Valtteri Bottas22
4Fernando Alonso16
5Kimi Raikkonen15
6Nico Hulkenberg14
7Daniel Ricciardo12
7Pierre Gasly12
9Kevin Magnussen10
10Max Verstappen8
11Stoffel Vandoorne6
12Marcus Ericsson2
13Carlos Sainz1
14Esteban Ocon1
15Sergio Perez0
16Charles Leclerc0
17Brendon Hartley0
18Lance Stroll0
19Romain Grosjean0
20Sergey Sirotkin0

Constructor’s Championship

4Red Bull/Renault20
6Toro Rosso/Honda12
9Force India/Mercedes1
Overall Race
race-report-vettel-holds-off-bottas-for-bahrain-gp-victoryA good race and fun to watch as Mercedes looked to reverse the strategy game and put Ferrari under a lot of pressure. It led to a terrific race with Vettel, on dodgy tires, holding off a charging Bottas and Hamilton.
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Was a good race, very entertaining.


I reckon it was worth more than 4 stars in comparison to the races that were judged 3.5 last year. What do you reckon Andrea?


Ok. Sure I have a man-crush on Alonso, but he gained 6 places, that’s amazing if you are driving around with the wrong tires. He started with softs and had to race against others with super-softs, and didn’t maximize them because they pitted him early. Then they put Mediums and he had to race with others around who were on soft or super-soft. They’re supposed to go to the end of the race to save the pit stop. Then they pit him again to put on Super-softs. And he still finished 7th. The strategy was a mess. He could have… Read more »


And all the criticism of McLaren from everyone is unfair. They had the biggest gain on lap time of any team compared to last year – 1.8 sec. is tremendous. And in Australia they had the 2nd biggest gain of any team, and that was on a completely different type of track. Sure they didn’t show great in qualifying, but the data shows they are very good.


I would agree with you that the criticism appears to be misplaced. You’d think Toro Rosso were beating them in the drivers and constructors championships (they are not, 22 vs 12 in the constructors, 4th and 11th vs 8th and 17th in the drivers). If thats putting a whooping on McLaren, I’ll take a few more servings please! To boot, McLaren scored a total of 30 points last year for a 9th place finish in the constructors, they are only 8 points from last years total points haul. Seems to me the stats are showing a huge improvement already over… Read more »


Agree, but a lot of commentary, yours not being one of them, seems to imply McLaren would have been better off with Honda this year… I don’t buy that narrative.
McLaren have definitely been on lady lucks side so far and are just slightly ahead of Red Bull. But as the season goes the cream will slowly rise to the top and I’m sure they will fall down the pecking order. They have actually done a lot to be this competitive in the short amount of time they have had to get the ‘system’ working together.

sunny stivala

Agree that McLaren wouldn’t be any better this year if they stuck with Honda. Honda needed a change as much as McLaren needed the change. and again, if McLaren wasn’t on lady luck neither was Honda, both are in “work-in-progress” mode.

sunny stivala

Agree, the battle isn’t between STR and McLaren, nobody in his right mind would have or is expecting such. but to lump Renault, McLaren and RBR as being in a battle between themselves, I don’t agree, in my opinion RBR is not in that battle, as I don’t see a chance at present for either Renault or McLaren to battle a RBR, they are simply not yet at RBR level. As to Criticism aimed mclaren way, it’s all forced on them by themselves, a lot of people got sick by their constant shit handling of Honda and their bragging about… Read more »


That was a very good race. Too bad for Kimi, I would like to see him stay in the hunt for the WDC this year. As bad of a year as McLaren are having Alonso is ahead of Kimi!

I’d give a partial win to ESPN for a full 180 on their F1 coverage. I’d give a full win if we could see the post race drivers press conference. I’m also hoping ESPN keep up the commercial free F1 for the rest of the year.


The only issue I have with ESPN/Sky is Paul di Resta english is difficult for my older ears to understand, especially when in pit road. That maybe true of most commentators, but it seemed that the voice volume was a bit low. Still a great race. Hope Kimi’s mechanic is doing well.


Di Resta speaks with a Scottish accent. That’s what English sounds like when spoken properly ;-)

The Captain

Here’s to hoping the mechanic can make a quick recovery.

Pretty good race. Favorite moment was defiantly Vettel’s look towards the camera when Hamilton called max the name.

Huge props to ESPN too! Now that’s how you show a race. Really hope this is permanent and not something Liberty had to pay them to do for a few races.


Up vote for your positive hopes for the mechanic.
100% agree on that, I don’t want anyone getting hurt for ‘entertainment’.

sunny stivala

Number 7 was actually given the green light to drive off on his pit stop. Number 44 was actually lucky to inherit third place. The two Mercedes cars went to the starting grid with split strategy intended, one stopper for 44 and a two stopper for 77. So according to NC the only driver on the grid to have been labeled a “dick-head” labels an other driver a “dick”. a dick-head for sure knows a dick when it sees one. I don’t know what happened to the claim by McLaren when still mchonda of having the best chassis on the… Read more »


here a dick, there a dick, everywhere a dick dick….

sunny stivala

FERRARI have been handed a Euro 50k bill for their Kimi pit stop FU.


Glad it wasn’t the standard 5 or 10k fines that have been handed out but it still seems like chump change to almost all F1 teams when you have a 100M+ budget, or in the case of Ferrari 500M. Same as last race weekend with wheel nuts netting 10K fine.
It would be sort of like giving me a $1 speeding ticket and telling me to slow down….


I’d like to know why Kimi wasn’t quicker on the soft tyres than Bottas was on medium. I don’t see the point in having different compound tyres when there’s no difference in lap time. And before anyone suggests that he was looking after them, that would defeat the purpose because I’m sure the plan at that time was to pit again so he should have been making the most of the “quicker” tyre.

sunny stivala

Both #7 and @5 were quicker than @77 and @44 all weekend and be assured that senza @7 pitstop FU @ 7 would have been on the podium.

Tim C

A “win” for ESPN for showing the entire race commercial free. I kept waiting for the commercials to come and they never did. The only problem I have is trying to understand the commentary team for Sky. I guess I just got too used for the voices of Hobbs, Matchett, and Diffey.

Chuck C

Two things:

1) As stated elsewhere, props to ESPN for going commercial-free. Thankfully, I watch a ton of rugby and other British shows, so the accents are no issue for me.

2) Not that it had a huge effect on this race, but I have the solution to grid penalties. It’s so obvious, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. Instead of saying that Lewis got a 5-place grid penalty, the drivers below him got a 5-place grid bonus. I mean, everyone loves a bonus, right?


One of the most interesting F1 races I’ve seen in years. Different tyre strategies in play, plenty of overtaking & wheel to wheel action, Mercedes once again foxing Ferrari onto a sub-optimal strategy, but Vettel somehow making it work when it looked certain he’d be caught and passed. Gasly performing way beyond expectations, Magnussen putting in another delightfully punchy performance, and Ericsson actually involved in the race rather than trailing the field! Only negatives were the Red Bulls exiting (I nearly switched off at that point, so glad I didn’t) and of course the Ferrari pit incident. With all the… Read more »