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2019 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief
Bahrain Grand Prix Discussion Thread .jpg

Welcome to the central discussion thread of the 2019 FIA Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix.

Round two of the championship sees the Formula One field head to the more traditional layout of the Bahrain International Circuit, following what was an enjoyable opening event on the streets of Melbourne just two weeks ago.

With Bahrain potentially offering a more representative configuration in which to test the relative strengths and weaknesses of the 2019 Formula One field, the coming weekend of action should give fans, teams and drivers alike a much more detailed look as to where the form books sits for the year ahead.

With hot temperatures expected throughout the event, and plenty of teams and drivers with a point to prove, the three DRS zones and ample overtaking opportunities of the Bahrain International Circuit looks well set to provide a spectacular weekend of racing action.

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Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief

DRIVERS – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes) Charles LECLERC (Ferrari), Pierre GASLY (Red Bull Racing), Daniil KVYAT (Toro Rosso), Lando NORRIS (McLaren)

Bahrain Grand Prix Press Conference.jpg

Lando if we could start with you please: two weeks on, how do you reflect on your grand prix debut in Melbourne?
Lando NORRIS: If I look back now on how the whole weekend went, it was better than I anticipated going into the whole. During it you obviously change how you think you can do and after qualifying eighth, which was awesome for my first quali, I ended up 12th in the race, which was a bit disappointing. But overall I don’t think there were many things I did wrong. Obviously there was a the start and a couple of bits in the middle of the race, but for my first weekend I don’t think I could have asked for much more.

Q: The car seemed more competitive over one lap in qualifying than it was in race conditions. Do you think that will play out this weekend as well? Is it a characteristic of the car?
LN: I don’t think so much. I don’t think out race pace overall, apart from the very end of the race, was too bad. I lost a couple of positions in Turn 1, so I was still P10 and I think my pace in the first stint on the softs was reasonably good, keeping up with the guys ahead. But I just got a bit unfortunate in the middle; I didn’t get past Antonio as quickly as the others did and that put me back in terms of results. I don’t think our pace was a problem. I don’t think it’s a lot worse than our quali pace, it’s just it didn’t go as cleanly as qualifying.

Q: And looking back to 12 months ago in Bahrain : a great victory for you in F2, a great weekend. What’s the goal this time around?
LN: Well, I’d love to do the same, but I don’t think that is a very realistic goal! Obviously it started the season off very well last year. As much as I would love to have a similar result to what I had last year I know that’s an unrealistic aim for this weekend. I think we have got to just take it one step at a time. First time in Formula 1 here, so it’s going to be a bit different. But hopefully we can have a weekend like we did in Australia, a good qualifying and that will set us up a bit better for the race and I can work on the things I didn’t get done so well.

Q: Good luck for this weekend. Thank you Lando. Daniil, you scored a point on your Formula 1 return in Australia. How satisfying was that?
Daniil KVYAT: I think it was a good race for us. All the weekend we were quite competitive. It was good to know that we are in the mix. The midfield is very tight this year, so we were definitely in the fighting mix. The race itself was very…. There was quite a lot of action, so in the end to score the point at the end of the first race of the season is always good and we just look ahead. Here it’s a different kind of circuit so we’ll see what we can achieve here now.

Q: Tell us a little bit more about the car. How competitive is it and what are its greatest strengths?
DK: It’s hard to say just one strength or weakness. Everyone seems to be very close in the midfield, so you have to have a really good weekend always. It seems like if you lose just a couple of tenths you can lose a few positions, so you always need to be working on putting everything together. Otherwise instead of entering into Q3 you can end up maybe P14, P15. It’s a tight midfield and it’s good to know that it is. It seems that there will be opportunities for everyone.

Q: It’s been a while since we had you in an FIA press conference, because last year you were working with Ferrari. Can you tell us a little bit about what you got up to in 2018 and what you learned?
DK: Obviously I wanted to race but it was very good to be a part of such a team as Ferrari. It was great to see Sebastian and Kimi working from very close. There was a lot of simulator work; they always kept me busy, it was very nice. Learning, I think it was best that I managed to stay close to the F1 world in a way and tried to do my jobs just as good as possible to help the team to achieve the best result possible. It was a very good experience.

Q: Thanks. Pierre, it was a tough weekend for you in Australia, but how much encouragement did you take from Max’s performance?
Pierre GASLY: I would say the overall performance during the weekend was good. A good start, looking at the practice, and also the Q1. I think the overall pace was looking promising and yeah, for sure, what happened in qualifying really put us on the back foot for the race and on a track like this made the final result pretty poor and clearly not what we wanted. It was a pretty tough weekend to accept because I think we deserved a better result on Sunday but things didn’t go as we would have liked. We just need to make sure we have a clean weekend. I think the performance from Max is really positive for everybody in the team, and for Honda. I’m really happy for Honda to get their first podium. It’s looking pretty positive for the coming races.

Q: It seemed like you got caught out by the track evolution in Q1 in Melbourne, so can we expect a different approach to qualifying this weekend from you and the team?
PG: I think we have a better idea of the performance of other teams and on the grid. I think we could see that basically all the teams got a bit closer compared to last year. I think we have a bit more information and we’ll probably be a bit more careful. But let’s see how the performance is from one track to another. It can be quite different. I think Bahrain is back to kind of a normal track and let’s see how the weekend goes.

Q: Well, it’s a normal track on which you went very well last year. What chance of a repeat this weekend or going better than fourth?
PG: We’ll go for the best we can. We saw in Australia we have a competitive car - in quali and also in the race. For sure Mercedes and Ferrari look really strong but I think the most important thing is that if we manage to put everything together we should have get a good shot at having a good result this weekend.

Q: Thank you. Charles, we’re getting used to seeing you in red but it was just your first race for Ferrari two weeks ago. How do you reflect on that and can you just talk about the emotions you felt back in Melbourne?
Charles LECLERC: To be completely honest, the emotions, I didn’t really feel them. Obviously when you are at a race you are focusing on the job you have to do in the car and that’s what I try to do as much as possible. It was not an easy weekend. Obviously after the Barcelona weekend we expected more, but on the other hand there were a lot of positives to take. Anyway, Melbourne is not such a representative track on car performance – even though that doesn’t mean we are as strong as we want to be. But yeah, there is a lot of work to do and I’m pretty confident in the team that we have done the right job in between Melbourne and here to try to improve. And on my side I think I did quite a lot of mistakes in qualifying and during the race and I will try to not repeat these mistakes.

Q: They weren’t totally obvious to us watching, those mistakes. Can you elaborate?
CL: In Q3 I didn’t put the lap in as I wanted to and then in the race I think you have seen the off on the TV. It didn’t have any consequences for the result because obviously I was fifth and there was nobody behind but in other situations it could have been a lot worse, so I need to work on this.

Q: Now you finished a minute back on the man who is on your left up on the podium. Was it a particular issue with the car in Melbourne? How did it feel? Did it feel well balanced or did you think it was just track specific and you expect to be more competitive this weekend?
CL: We expect to be more competitive. I think our package is strong. We have some answers to the lack of performance in Melbourne. I don’t think we have all of them but we definitely have some answers to it. Then we will only see here whether it was only track specific or if there is something else but I am pretty confident in the package we have.

Q: Valtteri, you’re the championship leader for the first time in your career, how does that feel?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, for sure it feels good – but it’s only one race of the season, and now the full focus is to this weekend.

Q: You said after the race in Melbourne that the car felt amazing. How confident are you of a repeat in Bahrain this weekend?
VB: Honestly, it is quite difficult to say. For sure, we were all positively surprised on the performance we had in Melbourne – but, like Charles said, it is a bit of a funny circuit, and I would say here this weekend and China, we’re going to get a much better picture of the real performance at this point of the year. Obviously it was very welcome for us to see that kind of pace and the feeling with the car was a lot better than in winter testing – so obviously the time spent between was very efficient. So, yeah, see how it feels here.

Q: You said after the race that it was the best race of your career. Why do you think that was? Is it because this year’s Mercedes suits you better than either of the previous two?
VB: It must be the beard! No, honestly, it really felt after the race that it was one of the best, or my best race. Obviously the start of the race was key to getting the lead – but after that, I did no mistakes and everything was very much under control. And when you feel you are performing at your best is a beautiful feeling. I now just need to keep the momentum and feel that again soon.

Q: Do you feel more comfortable in this Mercedes than anything else you’ve driven?
VB: For sure, every car is always a bit different and in the end you, as a driver, need to be the one that compensates yourself to the car to get the most out of the package but yeah, I would say in testing, in Melbourne, everything started on the right foot. I never felt anything odd with the car. For sure there are things we can still improve, but yeah, I feel comfortable in the car
Q: (Erik Bielderman – l’Equipe) Question to Pierre and Charles, how did you manage to deal with frustration after the first race. What I mean by frustration is that, for Charles, you couldn’t go to have a proper fight with your team-mate, and to Pierre, that you were expected with the Red Bull to make points and that was not the case.
CL: Yeah. There was no frustration on my side. Obviously it is the first race but on the team side I don’t think there was anything to gain, whether I was fourth and Seb fifth, or me fifth and Seb fourth. It was exactly the same amount of points for the team, so it’s understandable that they didn’t want to take the risk for us to fight each other and lose even more points. So yeah, it was like this and I understand the decision.

PG: Yeah, as I say, it was quite tough to end up with that result after the promising free practice. We showed some good pace in FP2 and FP3 and yeah, at the end of the weekend, not to score points with the package we had, for sure was difficult. But we know the reasons and we’ll try to do our best to make sure we have clean weekends – because the package is working well.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – AP) Question for Valtteri. There’s been a lot of talk about how you’re much more determined this year and come back much stronger, much more focussed than you perhaps were last year. That question was posed to Lewis and he says he sees no difference because he always considered you to be competitive and a strong driver – but would you say there definitely has been a change in mindset from you this year, and that Melbourne was a proof of that – or is it too early to say?
VB: For sure, if you look at the results, it’s obviously very early in the season. It’s one race – but I can for sure say that something in my mindset has changed for the year. The preparation over the winter and just the way of how I feel and think about things has changed. It’s quite difficult to explain in detail but I feel different to years before.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, how would you rank this circuit? Is it in the same group with Russia and Austria in your mind?
VB: It’s normally been quite a strong race for me but obviously every year it’s a new race, and you still need to go off quite well. I think racing here, this year, might be a bit better in terms of overtaking with the new DRS zone so I think still, ultimately, the race pace is going to be important but it’s been a strong race for me personally in the past and yeah, I can rate it quite well on my list but obviously the aim is to approach every weekend knowing and aiming to be on top of your game and not to have any bad races anyway.

Q: (Kate Walker – New York Times) To Charles and Valtteri: the next Grand Prix weekend in China is going to be our 1000th round of the F1 World Championship. I was wondering if you can tell me, of those 1000 races, whether you were racing or whether you were watching as a fan, what’s your favourite memory?
VB: If I have to choose one now, I feel the happiness at home, looking at the TV, of the driver: it was Mika’s first win in 1997 and the last race of the year and obviously he went and won a couple of titles so I would say that was my favourite.

CL: My side, I will probably be a bit selfish and maybe Monaco is my best memory because it was my first ever Formula One Grand Prix last year so it was something special and to be completely honest, I haven’t watched that many Grands Prix on TV because I was always out racing in karting so yeah, Monaco last year was my best memory.

Q: (Oubay Autosportme.com) My question is to Charles: how could you describe the atmosphere at Ferrari after the first race? And also, is there a fundamental issue with the car or just a matter of finding the perfect balance?
CL: I think the mentality is the right one and we need to keep this one throughout the whole year. The mentality is very positive. Obviously we are aware there is a lot of work to do but I’m pretty confident, as I said, in the team, that they will do everything to improve the car. I don’t think there’s any fundamental issues in the car concept. I’m pretty confident in that too. It’s just about fine-tuning. Obviously, as I said before, what we showed in Australia I don’t think was the real performance of the car and I think we are all quite confident that we can be better already from here in Bahrain but as I said, the mentality is very good in the team and we need to keep this spirit. We are all working as a team and all working together and this is a good thing to see.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Valtteri already mentioned that overtaking is probably fairly easy this weekend. There are three DRS zones. Is that going to affect the strategy you’re going to have for the race and is this the way you want racing to go with more DRS zones?
LN: I think it will affect us slightly. You obviously have more chances of overtaking so you would say a two-stop strategy could be a better chance than trying to do that in Australia, say. I think and hopefully it will cause teams to chose more different strategies, basically, which can hopefully lead to more overtaking, more action, which is always a nice thing for a driver. It’s hard to say. I didn’t drive last year so I don’t know much better or worse this aero package is compared to last year. Some people have said it’s better, some people have said it’s the same or worse – not worse but the same as previous years. I think we have to have overtaking and I think Bahrain, as a track, is definitely better than Australia to overtake anyway, even without DRS zones. But I think nowadays it’s so difficult to overtake in general. DRS is one of the few ways to be able to lead to action and overtaking so I think you’re going to have to have it. Three DRS zones is quite a bit so I’m sure you’re going to see a lot of overtaking and action this weekend. It’s not the most natural and the best way to do it but it’s probably what we’ve got to do, I guess.

CL: Yeah, well you can afford to drop back in the standings for an extra stop and have the chance to overtake after again easier. Already in the past I think it was quite an easy track to overtake on with two DRS zones, so with one more it can only be easier. So yeah, it will change the strategy a little bit. That’s it.

VB: Nothing to add really. I think that’s it. It’s going to be a bit easier.

PG: I think they’ve summed it pretty well. Probably you can go with a more aggressive strategy with that extra DRS zone if it’s easier to overtake but I think the more action it can give us the better it is. After all there are other ways to overtake; without DRS would be nice as well if we are able to follow each other and there is more action thanks to that and that will be the best way but I think immediately that’s the only thing we can change, the DRS zones, so if it brings some more show, I think everybody’s going to be happier.

DK: I think there is always good racing in Bahrain so we just wait and see for the race.

Q: (Masahiro Owari – Formula Owari) Question to Pierre and Daniil: you had a problem at the start at Melbourne, you couldn’t see the starting lights. Could you please explain more details; which signal did you see or did you request anything from the FIA?
PG: Basically it was a pretty messy start because maybe it was my position but I think also Russell behind me had the same problem and Kubica as well but basically the lights were right behind Daniil’s rear wing so I couldn’t see the red lights. On the formation lap, they pulled the car back so I could see them and then as I got in my position for the race start, basically I was looking for them and also the lights on the side are really forward on the grid. Basically I had no idea so I just started to release the clutch when I saw the others moving but actually it wasn’t ideal and I think they are planning to raise the starting lights a bit because I think it’s probably going to be an issue on other tracks as well.

DK: I could see everything so maybe he should try to look up.

PG: Maybe because you’re taller. I think it’s better (not) to start in this position any more and that will be the easiest thing.

Q: (Abdulrahman Al-Saud – University College Bahrain) Valtteri, what advice would you give to an aspiring F1 driver?
VB: Never give up. It’s obviously not one of the easiest sports to get into but it’s possible. As a kid, obviously there were many people who say when your goal is to get into Formula One and be successful in Formula One, they tell you that it’s impossible but seeing the possibility in things, that can be their strength. Obviously there’s many factors to being a driver but you never know. I guess the main thing as a kid, when you’re doing it, is to enjoy it and then normally the rest will sort itself out one way or another.

Q: Could we just open this question to Lando as well? You’re a rookie. Anything you can add?
LN: I would agree with what Valtteri says, to be honest. It’s obviously a long journey, it’s not quick. You can’t just change from… and I’m sure very few can change from one sport to another but I think a lot of hard work and dedication is what I think all drivers here and all drivers on the grid have put into racing but a similar comment in terms of never giving up, because sometimes it can seem quite far out of reach and then all of a sudden you can be in Formula One, you can have a contract with a team. Similar comments: determination, hard work and not giving up. Many other people have done it, although it’s a very tough sport to get into. There’s only twenty in the world who can do it. I think never giving up is probably one of the best ways to describe it.

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief

Ferrari Back on Form
Bahrain GP FP1.jpg

Charles Leclerc heads Ferrari 1-2 in open Bahrain practice.

Showing signs that the surprisingly low-key Australian Grand Prix weekend was something of a one off performance from the Prancing Horse, Ferrari came back strongly during the opening running of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend – locking out the front two positions by a healthy nine tenths of a second over rivals Mercedes.

Run under unrepresentative conditions thanks to the early start time of opening practice, it is perhaps still too early in the weekend to make any kind of judgements from the opening track action for Formula One cars. With both qualifying and the race set be run in the substantially cooler evening hours, times this morning may well not represent the true order of competitiveness, however it is certainly the confidence boosting start of running that Ferrari needed following Melbourne, an event where the pre-season testing favourites found themselves comprehensively out-performed by both Mercedes and Red Bull during the race.

Behind the two Ferrari and Mercedes cars would be Red Bull, the newly Honda powered team line astern in P5 and P6, with Verstappen taking inter-team honours with a time just under a tenth shy of Lewis Hamilton in his fourth place finishing Mercedes.

It would be a low key day for the Silver Arrows, with both cars never quite looking to have the match of Ferrari this morning, however many suspect the team are keeping their powder dry ready for the more representative conditions of FP2 later this afternoon.

Further down the field Racing Point would be in the wars, Lance Stroll having a light brush with the wall following a spin early on. The Canadian would recover to the pitlane despite light damage, eventually going on to cap a disappointing start to the day with just 18th fastest time – confirming that Racing Point have work to do before reaching the heady heights of their Force India heydays.

Other drivers to struggle this morning would be Williams pair George Russell and Robert Kubica, both drivers having to be conservative with their car and avoid damage and the need to dip into their low spares pool back in the garage, eventually winding up once again at the foot of the field.

Provisional FP1 Results:

  1. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari - 1:30.354
  2. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari - 1:30.617 +0.263s
  3. Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes - 1:31.328 +0.974s
  4. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes - 1:31.601 +1.247s
  5. Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing Honda - 1:31.673 +1.319s
  6. Pierre Gasly - Red Bull Racing Honda - 1:31.815 +1.461s
  7. Carlos Sainz - McLaren Renault - 1:31.952 +1.598s
  8. Nico Hulkenberg – Renault - 1:32.040 +1.686s
  9. Daniil Kvyat - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:32.339 +1.985s
  10. Kimi Räikkönen - Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari - 1:32.385 +2.031s
  11. Daniel Ricciardo – Renault - 1:32.401 +2.047s
  12. Kevin Magnussen - Haas Ferrari - 1:32.602 +2.248s
  13. Alexander Albon - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:32.874 +2.520s
  14. Sergio Perez - Racing Point BWT Mercedes - 1:32.885 +2.531s
  15. Lando Norris - McLaren Renault - 1:32.945 +2.591s
  16. Antonio Giovinazzi - Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari - 1:32.949 +2.595s
  17. Romain Grosjean - Haas Ferrari - 1:32.994 +2.640s
  18. Lance Stroll - Racing Point BWT Mercedes - 1:33.518 +3.164s
  19. George Russell - Williams Mercedes - 1:34.188 +3.834s
  20. Robert Kubica - Williams Mercedes - 1:34.253 +3.899s
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Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief

Vettel Tops FP2 as Ferrari Pace Continues
Bahrain Grand Prix - FP2 Report.jpg

Sebastian Vettel continued an impressive start to the Bahrain Grand Prix for Ferrari in second practice, leading a Ferrari 1-2 under lights at the BIC.

With conditions decidedly cooler under lights at the Bahrain International Circuit, Ferrari continued their impressive start to the weekend with another 1-2 result, this time with Sebastian Vettel reversing the order from FP1.

Although Vettel would come out on top of the times, it would be another exceptionally impressive performance from his team mate Charles Leclerc that caught the eye, the youngster looking like he has pace to spare on the way to shadowing Vettel's times, eventually missing out by a scant 0.035s as the two red cars continued atop the times in the dessert. Encouragingly for the team, it would be another sizable gap to the rest of the field at the end of the day, with Lewis Hamilton placing best of the rest some six tenths behind the two Ferrari cars.

Vettel: Ferrari practice pace misleading - read more HERE.

Behind the big teams, Nico Hulkenberg would raise many an eyebrow in the Renault car, the German taking a best time just over a tenth behind Mercedes in P5, giving evidence to the bold Renault predictions that Melbourne wasn't a true indication of the performance gains made by the French car manufacturer during the off season.

Sadly it wouldn't be quite so successful of a weekend for new team mate Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian former Red Bull driver having a hard time once again with his new mount - 1.179s behind his team mate in a disappointed 15th overall. Expect more from the man with the biggest smile in Formula One when qualifying comes around tomorrow afternoon.

It would be a difficult time for Alfa Romeo in FP2, with both Räikkönen and Giovinazzi spending much of the session stuck in the garage as the team dealt with various issues on the two cars, with Räikkönen only managing six laps of the circuit on his way to 16th, compounding the poor form of the day by spinning his car early in the session.

Provisional FP2 Results:
  1. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari 1:28.846
  2. Charles Leclerc - Ferrari 1:28.881 +0.035s
  3. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes 1:29.449 +0.603s
  4. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes 1:29.557 +0.711s
  5. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault 1:29.669 +0.823s
  6. Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing Honda 1:29.725 +0.879s
  7. Kevin Magnussen - Haas Ferrari 1:30.000 +1.154s
  8. Lando Norris - McLaren Renault 1:30.017 +1.171s
  9. Romain Grosjean - Haas Ferrari 1:30.068 +1.222s
  10. Daniil Kvyat - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:30.093 +1.247s
  11. Carlos Sainz - McLaren Renault 1:30.192 +1.346s
  12. Pierre Gasly - Red Bull Racing Honda 1:30.429 +1.583s
  13. Alexander Albon - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:30.458 +1.612s
  14. Sergio Perez - Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:30.716 +1.870s
  15. Daniel Ricciardo - Renault 1:30.848 +2.002s
  16. Kimi Räikkönen - Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:31.088 +2.242s
  17. Lance Stroll - Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:31.129 +2.283s
  18. Antonio Giovinazzi - Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:31.144 +2.298s
  19. George Russell - Williams Mercedes 1:31.904 +3.058s
  20. Robert Kubica - Williams Mercedes 1:32.932 +4.086s
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Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief

Ferrari Ramp Up Pace in FP3
Bahrain Grand Prix FP3 Results.jpg

Charles Leclerc shows incredible pace during final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix would once again be a Ferrari affair, Charles Leclerc having the honour of taking top spot in front of team mate Sebastian Vettel before the heat ramps up ahead of qualifying this afternoon.

The pace was incredible from Ferrari once again, with over seven tenths advantage from Mercedes displayed by pace setter Leclerc as the teams concentrated on qualifying simulations under fading light in the desert of Bahrain.

Behind the top two teams would be Haas and Renault once again, although McLaren would be on strong form with Lando Norris keeping the works outfit honest in P7, again showing an impressive upturn in form for the British squad during the Grand Prix weekend so far.

Provisional FP3 Results:
  1. Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari 1:29.569 15
  2. Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 1:29.738 +0.169s 16
  3. Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:30.334 +0.765s 10
  4. Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes 1:30.389 +0.820s 12
  5. Romain Grosjean GRO Haas Ferrari 1:30.818 +1.249s 14
  6. Nico Hulkenberg HUL Renault 1:30.910 +1.341s 12
  7. Lando Norris NOR McLaren Renault 1:30.955 +1.386s 15
  8. Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing Honda 1:30.959 +1.390s 10
  9. Carlos Sainz SAI McLaren Renault 1:30.965 +1.396s 14
  10. Daniil Kvyat KVY Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:31.173 +1.604s 17
  11. Kimi Räikkönen RAI Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:31.333 +1.764s 21
  12. Pierre Gasly GAS Red Bull Racing Honda 1:31.392 +1.823s 13
  13. Kevin Magnussen MAG Haas Ferrari 1:31.540 +1.971s 13
  14. Lance Stroll STR Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:31.618 +2.049s 16
  15. Sergio Perez PER Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:31.638 +2.069s 9
  16. Daniel Ricciardo RIC Renault 1:31.643 +2.074s 11
  17. Alexander Albon ALB Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:31.679 +2.110s 17
  18. Antonio Giovinazzi GIO Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:32.132 +2.563s 21
  19. George Russell RUS Williams Mercedes 1:33.387 +3.818s 14
  20. Robert Kubica KUB Williams Mercedes 1:33.525 +3.956s 13
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Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief

Majestic Leclerc Takes Career First Pole Position
Charles Leclerc Bahrain Pole.jpg

Charles Leclerc powers to Pole Position during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Continuing what has to be considered an incredible start to life in Ferrari red, 21-year-old Charles Leclerc secured an impressive first career Pole Position during a composed performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying session this afternoon.

Leclerc has been something of the form man for much of the weekend, trading fastest times with team mate Sebastian Vettel for most of Free Practice, and when the chips were down and things really mattered, the young Monegasque proved to be more than up for the challenge - crossing the line just over two tenths ahead of his four time World Champion team mate to become the second youngest pole sitter in the history of the sport - behind Vettel of all people!

With the top spots looking pretty much guaranteed for Ferrari, it would be left to Mercedes pick up the fight for the rest of the field, Lewis Hamilton making the best fist of it in third, only fractions behind the second Ferrari, and interesting himself only just in front of the still in form Valtteri Bottas, with just four 0.06 covering the two Silver Arrows.

Red Bull would hang on to the coat tails of the top two teams in fifth, with Max Verstappen again the better of the two drivers as Pierre Gasly continues a difficult start to life in the big leagues. Whilst Verstappen would remain solid up front, Gasly struggled in comparison to his team mate and again failed to make Q3, complaining of a difficult handling car on the way to a disappointing thirteenth place finish.

Grosjean handed three place penalty: Read about it HERE.

Despite the difficult post race penalty awarded Romain Grosjean for blocking Lando Norris in Q1, Bahrain qualifying would be a good one for the Haas team. Ending the session with sixth and eighth place times, the American outfit would again be best of 'Formula 1.5', recovering from what has been a difficult start to the weekend over the opening practice sessions.

Provisional Qualifying Results:

  1. Charles Leclerc - Ferrari 1:28.495 1:28.046 1:27.866​
  2. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari 1:28.733 1:28.356 1:28.160​
  3. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes 1:29.262 1:28.578 1:28.190​
  4. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes 1:29.498 1:28.830 1:28.256​
  5. Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing Honda 1:29.579 1:29.109 1:28.752​
  6. Kevin Magnussen - Haas Ferrari 1:29.532 1:29.017 1:28.757​
  7. Carlos Sainz - McLaren Renault 1:29.528 1:29.055 1:28.813​
  8. Romain Grosjean - Haas Ferrari 1:29.688 1:29.249 1:29.015​
  9. Kimi Räikkönen - Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:29.959 1:29.471 1:29.022​
  10. Lando Norris - McLaren Renault 1:29.381 1:29.258 1:29.043​
  11. Daniel Ricciardo - Renault 1:29.859 1:29.488​
  12. Alexander Albon - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:29.514 1:29.513​
  13. Pierre Gasly - Red Bull Racing Honda 1:29.900 1:29.526​
  14. Sergio Perez - Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:29.893 1:29.756​
  15. Daniil Kvyat - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:29.876 1:29.854​
  16. Antonio Giovinazzi - Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:30.026​
  17. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault 1:30.034​
  18. Lance Stroll - Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:30.217​
  19. George Russell - Williams Mercedes 1:31.759​
  20. Robert Kubica - Williams Mercedes 1:31.799​
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Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief

Heartbreak For Leclerc as Hamilton Lucks Into Bahrain Win
Bahrain Grand Prix Race Report.jpg

Charles Leclerc found himself robbed of near certain victory during an intense Bahrain Grand Prix.

The young Pole sitting Ferrari man had a difficult start and finish to his Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, sandwiching a phenomenal performance as he gave the lie to his young age and inexperience in Formula One racing - outclassing the whole field and hardly putting a foot wrong for what could, and should have been his first Grand Prix victory.

With an ailing car towards the end of the race, Leclerc looked in danger of dropping further down the field and outside of the podium positions until a late race safety car paused the action to the end - at least giving the youngster his first podium finish in the top flight of motorsport. As an added consolation, Leclerc took fastest lap and the point that comes with it, which will go a little way towards giving back some satisfaction to the obviously talented second year driver.

With Leclerc in all sorts of trouble, one would normally expect his team mate Sebastian Vettel to pick up the pieces, however the German would have a nightmare of his own down in fifth, having to spend much of the final portion of the race recovering from a mistake that saw the German spin his Ferrari when racing hard with Lewis Hamilton. Not the kind of Grand Prix Vettel is looking too have in 2019, that's for sure.

Further down the field it would be an exceptional day for McLaren and Lando Norris, the young British driver having a faultless performance in the orange car on his way to an exceptional sixth place finish - giving much encouragement that McLaren are finally starting to turn a corner with their new Grand Prix car.

Sadly that would be the end of the happy times for Renault, with the works outfit having a double DNF within the same corner, first Hulkenberg and then Daniel Ricciardo stopping at the side of the circuit with mechanical difficulties in the yellow cars.

Those retirements would promote Alex Albon into the points with a very solid P9, another impressive display from the 2019 rookie and a just reward for what has been a very solid weekend for the Thai driver.

Provisional Race Results:
  1. Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 57 1:34:21.295 0
  2. Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes 57 +2.980s 0
  3. Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari 57 +6.131s 0
  4. Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing Honda 57 +6.408s 0
  5. Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 57 +36.068s 0
  6. Lando Norris NOR McLaren Renault 57 +45.754s 0
  7. Kimi Räikkönen RAI Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 57 +47.470s 0
  8. Pierre Gasly GAS Red Bull Racing Honda 57 +58.094s 0
  9. Alexander Albon ALB Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 57 +62.697s 0
  10. Sergio Perez PER Racing Point BWT Mercedes 57 +63.696s 0
  11. Antonio Giovinazzi GIO Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 57 +64.599s 0
  12. Daniil Kvyat KVY Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 56 +1 lap 0
  13. Kevin Magnussen MAG Haas Ferrari 56 +1 lap 0
  14. Lance Stroll STR Racing Point BWT Mercedes 56 +1 lap 0
  15. George Russell RUS Williams Mercedes 56 +1 lap 0
  16. Robert Kubica KUB Williams Mercedes 55 +2 laps 0

DNF - Nico Hulkenberg HUL Renault 53 DNF 0
DNF - Daniel Ricciardo RIC Renault 53 DNF 0
DNF - Carlos Sainz SAI McLaren Renault 53 DNF 0
DNF - Romain Grosjean GRO Haas Ferrari 16 DNF 0
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Nick Hill

Head says Hamilton is about to put on a dominating show and win this one going away.

Heart says Vettel because I really want a title battle this year.

Voted with my heart, not my head...rarely ends well for my heart but I did it anyways! :roflmao:
Quick pace from the Ferrai's but it took quite a few goes (and on softs) before they beat the Mercs. On mediums the Merc seems to be the quicker car.

Bottas genuinely seems more comfortable in this years car compared to Lewis which I find interesting. Every time Lewis went quicker, Bottas went faster again. It's only a few tenths but fun for us watching all the same.
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Don't forget that for Bahrain (same as Singapore), FP1 and 3 don't worth much. Since conditions are quite different in race and qualy. ;)
I know. Scuderia was very very fast with posting the #1 & #2 times in FP1. So they obviously need some early 'succes' to celebrate with the fans :) PR...
Terrible place and a dreadful track to be quite honest.
Far better alternatives are available, such as a second british grand prix at brands hatch :thumbsup: