Bahrain always offers spectacular races and this particular edition was a wonderful season opener. Max Verstappen and Red Bull had dominated the weekend, but it was Lewis Hamilton who came out on top, thanks to an attacking strategy that forced Verstappen and Red Bull to change their plans.
Lewis Hamilton – 9.5
This is the first time he won the opening race of the season since 2015 and doing so when the car doesn’t appear dominant is great. All throughout the weekend, he was faster than his teammate, but Verstappen appeared to be quicker.
Hamilton still was on the attack, he minimised the gap on the first stint, allowing him to have an undercut on the race leader, which put him in front.
After undergoing immense pressure, he managed to hold on to a recovering Verstappen towards the end. It’s also to his merit the Red Bull went off the road to overtake, given Hamilton’s thorough defence.Embed from Getty Images
Max Verstappen – 9.5
On Sunday, Red Bull didn’t appear to be as quick as the other days. He conquered a strong pole position, which is only the fourth of his career, emphasising the development Verstappen and Red Bull have made.
After taking a commanding start, the Red Bull team was caught off guard by Hamilton’s pit stop and made Verstappen to go long. His charge at the end was brilliant, so was his overtake, before having to concede the place back.
His only defect was probably not being able to get back past with three more laps to go.Embed from Getty Images
Valtteri Bottas – 6
The truth is he may be condemned to the bottom step of the podium for large parts of the season coming, that is if he stays ahead of the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Although the massive gap is largely due to a bad second pit stop from his crew and a third one towards the end to claim the fastest lap, Bottas was never a threat.
He once again lost a place at the start, which made him drop five seconds behind the leaders. From then on, he contained the gap, but never appeared to be able to win.
Lando Norris – 9
On Saturday, he was pipped by Daniel Ricciardo after being ahead for most of the weekend. But on Sunday he appeared very determined and was on the charge.
He got the better of the Australian in a wheel-to-wheel fight on the opening lap, then he overtook Pierre Gasly on the restart, before also getting past Charles Leclerc.
He was quick from then on, settling in fourth and appearing very convincing on race pace.Embed from Getty Images
Sergio Perez – 7
His two predecessors in the Red Bull seat had finished eighth and sixth in Bahrain, so concluding the race in fifth place after having to start last isn’t bad at all.
This year the car appears more competitive, so Perez should be able to have a say in the races.
On Sunday he did nothing special, apart from a decent recovery drive, so the balance on Perez’s performance is postponed to the following Emilia Romagna’s GP.
Charles Leclerc – 7.5
He was special on Saturday, placing the Ferrari on the second row of the grid, before also gaining the place to Bottas at the start.
After a few laps, it appeared it may have been just like the previous year, where the Monegasque would quickly drop down the order, but it wasn’t to be.
He remained in fifth place until a few laps to the end, with a solid performance that can make him look with positivity towards the future
Daniel Ricciardo – 7
Starting the season by claiming six points when you still aren’t at your full potential is a positive note.
He stunned everyone in qualifying, by placing ahead of Lando Norris despite appearing to suffer more than the Briton during the weekend.
In the race he had more of a struggle than his teammate and wasn’t able to attack Leclerc, but he was never under threat from the cars behind.
Carlos Sainz – 6.5
He was very quick and looked comfortable all around, but made a crucial mistake in qualifying, which forced him to start behind the McLarens and four places adrift of Charles Leclerc.
In the race, he made several places back after a cautious start and concluded with some points. It was a shame, though, as he could have done better.
If he keeps the same approach to the weekend, then he will surely redeem himself in the following races.
Yuki Tsunoda – 7.5
After Q1’s second place, it was a huge disappointment not to see him go through into Q3. The team sent him out on medium tyres and the Japanese driver was knocked out.
Starting from 13th, he also lost a chunk of places at the start, which can be acceptable given he is a rookie. From then on he put the hammer down, charging back through the field and winning ninth place on the last lap.
It was a great recovery drive that should warn all the midfield runners about Tsunoda’s and the AlphaTauri’s potential.Embed from Getty Images
Lance Stroll – 6.5
In Bahrain, the Aston Martin was nowhere near last year’s level, where they came a lap close to the podium before Perez’s engine blew up.
Stroll was still the frontrunner for his team, entering Q3 and appearing in the mix during the first part of the race. He dropped at distance, but still got a point and was always ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Kimi Raikkonen – 7.5
The fighting spirit of the Finnish was admirable on Sunday. The Alfa Romeo did look much quicker compared to last season, but Raikkonen only qualified in 14th, almost six tenths down on Antonio Giovinazzi.
However, Raikkonen was active during the race, charging back towards the top 10 by making use of opportunities. He was very close to Stroll and only lost out to Tsunoda, who drives in a better performing car.
Considering he will turn 42 by the end of the year, he was a joy to watch.
Antonio Giovinazzi – 6.5
It’s unknown if he could have done better than Raikkonen, but in qualifying, he was faster and he was in front of the Finn and in the top 10 before his stop.
He was the unfortunate victim of a pit stop error, in which the team was about to fit a medium tyre along with three hard ones.
This cost him precious time and meant the fight for points was lost, but he conserved the gap, only concluding 12 seconds adrift after being lapped. A positive start to the season.
Esteban Ocon – 5
The Frenchman was disappointing, even though the Alpine didn’t look competitive in the race. Yellow flags through his qualifying lap meant he couldn’t get out of Q1, but Fernando Alonso put his car in ninth, while he was 16th.
He was never able to recover and spent most of the race trailing behind the top 10. A disappointing weekend, which began on the same line as last year’s negative season.
George Russell – 7
Not bad from George Russell, who finds between his hand a slightly more competitive car. He was great in qualifying, entering Q2, before also featuring in the mix for the points, despite often being yet to stop.
Russell was solid and error-free, hoping there will be more tracks where the Williams can have a serious attempt at getting points.
Sebastian Vettel – 4
He was combative in the first part of the race and appeared as determined as ever to remain in the top 10. The problem was that he was yet to stop and the team left him out on a strategy that was clear it wouldn’t pay off.
Aside from his fighting spirit, the rest of the weekend was close to abysmal. Never in the top 10 and rarely ahead of Stroll during practice, he was knocked out in Q1, before being penalised for ignoring the yellow flags.
He started last and was the antagonist of an incident, driving into the back of Ocon with a very silly error.Embed from Getty Images
Mick Schumacher – 5.5
It’s hard to stand out when driving such an under-performing car. Mick Schumacher’s merit is to rather keep error-free, despite spinning out on the restart.
Compared to his teammate Nikita Mazepin, he appeared more ready for Formula One, out-qualifying the Russian and driving to the flag, but it will be a very tough year for the German.
Pierre Gasly – 5
Spectacular in qualifying and fast all weekend. But, he binned all his chances by colliding with Ricciardo on the safety car restart, which is an unforced and costly error, considering there were the chances to score great points.Embed from Getty Images
Nicholas Latifi – 5
Always trailing behind Russell, Nicholas Latifi could only keep in front of the Haas cars.
It was once again disappointing to see him so far behind rather than racing wheel-to-wheel with his teammate.
Fernando Alonso – 7.5
He proved he still has the speed on Saturday, qualifying the Alpine in ninth place, with the French team probably having the sixth or seventh best car on the grid.
Alonso was spectacular and offered some fun in the race with great battles, but probably overused his tyres, which caused him to drop out of the top 10, before suffering a mechanical failure.
Nikita Mazepin – 3
It’s true he is a rookie and driving a troubled car like the Haas doesn’t help for making good progress. However, he spun numerous times during the weekend, including twice in qualifying and in the race after a few hundred metres.
From next week it would probably be better to be safer and run distance in order to get more comfortable with the car, as his score says: two formation laps completed, one qualifying lap and zero race laps.Embed from Getty Images
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