Hamilton Outduels Rosberg To Win In Bahrain

Hamilton Outduels Rosberg To Win In Bahrain

by April 6, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG F1

SAKHIR, Bahrain — After surviving an epic of a battle with teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton stood on the top step of the podium for the second time this season as he won the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton put in a stellar drive throughout the entire weekend, posting the quickest times in all three practice sessions and leading 54 of the 57 completed laps on his way to the victory. A late race safety car period following a major collision between the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado and the Sauber of Esteban Gutiérrez set up a late-race sprint to the finish; what followed was a battle between Hamilton and Rosberg that will be remembered for years to come. Despite Rosberg being able to make several lunging attempts at snagging the lead from last week’s Malaysian Grand Prix winner, Hamilton was able to successfully defend every challenge for the lead by his teammate to go on to win by one full second.

“It’s great to see that we have such a great crowd,” Hamilton said on the podium immediately after winning. It’s the first time we’ve had a night race here. I’m so grateful to the team for working so hard to get us up here. It’s my first time winning here in Bahrain, it’s taken me a long, long time, so I’m really proud.”

Despite a valiant effort by Rosberg, the Australian Grand Prix winner could not manage to successfully pass his teammate even with a tire advantage in the late stages of the race. After having his points lead of 18 points shrink to 11 points at the conclusion of the grand prix, Rosberg vowed to flip today’s top-two finishing positions at the next grand prix in Shanghai.

“I strongly dislike coming second to Lewis, that’s really not something I enjoy doing but on the other hand it was definitely the most exciting race I’ve ever done in my whole career,” Rosberg said. “I hope we were able to give all of you fantastic racing in front of the TV. Today was a day for the sport. We put on a massive show as team Silver Arrows so I hope you had a lot of fun in front of the TV and I’ll be back next race to take the win.”

Sergio Pérez put in a phenomenal drive for Sahara Force India, delivering the team their first podium finish since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix – the third-place result was also Pérez’s first podium since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix.

“This podium is an amazing achievement and one of the most special results in my whole career,” Pérez said in the paddock. “This is a massive confidence boost, especially after the very hard season I had last year, and it was the hardest-fought podium I ever had. It was an amazing feeling to cross the line because the last few laps were very difficult. I had to keep up the pace and I knew the Red Bulls were coming. In the end we managed to stay ahead and score this very special result in only my third race with the team.”

Sahara Force India Team Principal, Vijay Mallya, echoed Pérez’s sentiments after the race.

“It is a very special moment,” Mallya said. “My job was always to make this team climb up the ladder – steadily. I always believed that 2014 – with all the new regulations – gave us a new opportunity. And so far what a good season it has been! We finished sixth in Australia, we improved to fifth in Malaysia – and I think I hinted in Malaysia that I hoped that we could improve further, and there you have it: the podium in Bahrain!”

Fellow Force India driver, Nico Hülkenberg, recovered nicely from a hiccup in qualifying that relegated him to an 11th-place grid position – going on to finish in fifth-place. Around a quarter of the way into the race, Hülkenberg blew past the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso with such pace Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo would end up leaving the Bahrain International Circuit early, shaking his head in disgust.

Scuderia Ferrari managed to have both of their cars finish in the points for the first time this season, Alonso finished in the ninth-position while Kimi Räikkönen brought his car home nine tenths of a second behind his teammate in 10th-place. Ferrari Team Principal, Stefano Domenicali, is looking to put the team’s Bahrain performance behind them as the series looks ahead to China.

“This race provided an epilogue to a weekend which turned out to be as difficult as we had thought it would be, even before arriving in Bahrain,” Domenicali said. This circuit is particularly tough for our car and Sakhir’s technical characteristics showed up the gaps in our performance. Now, we must forget this race and look ahead, because I don’t like seeing our drivers fighting hard everywhere and then being unable to attack or defend on the straights.”

Infiniti Red Bull Racing had a successful race in Bahrain, although neither Sebastian Vettel or Daniel Ricciardo finished on the podium, both drivers finished in the top-six – Ricciardo in fourth and Vettel in sixth. For a track that has generally favored cars with the highest top speed, Red Bull Racing did very well with a Renault engine that is still not on level with the Mercedes power units. Team Principal Christian Horner is encouraged that the team can build off of their performance in Bahrain to begin to challenge the Mercedes AMG Petronas

“A very interesting race today and great entertainment; I think we got everything out of it that we could,” Horner said. “The drivers worked together as a team earlier in the race when they were on different tyre strategies and then raced each other hard at the end of the race. Daniel put in a great drive and, with another lap, possibly could have made it to the podium. It was good to see them both racing each other cleanly and fairly. Sebastian reported a problem in a straight line, which we need to investigate because he didn’t manage to overtake anyone at the end of the straight all afternoon, so there’s plenty of work to do. We got a good haul of points today and we now have a couple of days testing to try and further close that gap to Mercedes.”

While the Williams-Martini Racing crew may have fallen off of their early pace they held in the Friday and Saturday leading up to the race, the team of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were still able to return in respectable finishes of seventh and eight, respectively. Fellow Mercedes-powered team, McLaren, were unable to have either of their cars complete the fully-scheduled distance. Both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen would retire with clutch issues in the late stages of the race.

The Formula One season takes a week off as the teams begin to prepare for the UBS Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai that will take place on April 20th.

Top-10 Finishers of the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix

  1. GBR – Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
  2. GER – Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
  3. MEX – Sergio Pérez – Force India-Mercedes
  4. AUS – Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault
  5. GER – Nico Hülkenberg – Force India-Mercedes
  6. GER – Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault
  7. BRA – Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes
  8. FIN – Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes
  9. ESP – Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
  10. FIN – Kimi Räikkönen – Ferrari

Driver’s Championships Standings after Round 3 of 19

  1. GER – Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 61 | Leader | –
  2. GBR – Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 50 | -11 | –
  3. GER – Nico Hülkenberg – Force India – 28 | -33 | +3
  4. ESP – Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 26 | -35 | -1
  5. GBR – Jenson Button – McLaren – 23 | -38 | -1
  6. GER – Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull – 23 | -38 | +1
  7. DEN – Kevin Magnussen – McLaren – 20 | -41 | -2
  8. FIN – Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 18 | -43 | –
  9. MEX – Sergio Pérez – Force India – 16 | -45 | +4
  10. AUS – Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 12 | -49 | New
  11. BRA – Felipe Massa – Williams – 12 | -49 | -1
  12. FIN – Kimi Räikkönen – Ferrari – 7 | -54 | -3
  13. FRA – Jean-Éric Vergne – Toro Rosso – 4 | -57 | -2
  14. RUS – Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 3 | -58 | -2

Constructors’ Standings after Round 3 of 19

  1. GER – Mercedes – 111 | Leader | –
  2. IND – Force India-Mercedes – 44 | -67 | +3
  3. GBR – McLaren-Mercedes – 43 | -68 | -1
  4. AUT – Red Bull-Renault – 35 | -76 | +2
  5. ITA – Ferrari – 33 | -78 | -2
  6. GBR – Williams-Mercedes – 30 | -81 | -2
  7. ITA – Toro Rosso-Renault – 7 | -104 | –
Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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