Charles Leclerc led -from pole- a fantastic 1-2 for Ferrari at the Sakhir Circuit for the Bahrain F1 GP 2022 followed by teammate Carlos Sainz. Blessed with the luck of champions, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) finished third following the withdrawal of Max Verstappen (Red Bull).
The opening round of the Formula One World Championship also saw George Russell finish one place below his British teammate to complete a sensational day for the team of the star. Aware of the technical issues of their W13, the German team arrived in Bahrein with the only goal of minimising the damage, but in the end, they accrued a few more points than expected.
Their Austrian rivals, on the other hand, suffered a complete debacle, leaving Bahrain with no points after being forced to withdraw during some three terrible final laps.
This great result brings La Scuderia back into play with the champions after almost three years of struggles in the midfield. This is Ferrari’s first win since Italy 2019, the year in which they had their last 1-2.
What a nightmare for McLaren. Daniel Ricciardo was 14th & Lando Norris,15th, The Woking-based team needs to solve brake issues… as soon as possible.
Leclerc keeps the pole and Hamilton makes his way up
Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz managed to hang on to their first three starting positions. Hamilton took fourth after passing Pérez, who fell to sixth. Meanwhile the Monegasque opened a 3-second gap at the top with Verstappen.
In third place, Sainz was running in no man’s land, five seconds behind Max and three ahead of Pérez. A fast-degrading soft tyre forced Hamilton to go to boxes and change to hard compounds on lap 12.
Leclerc and Verstappen battle it out for the lead
Three laps on (15) and Max was making his first pit-stop to mount softs, a move copied by Leclerc, who went to boxes in that same lap to change to the same compounds. On re-joining the track, the Monegasque was able to contain the attack of the ‘flying Dutchman’ by a mere few millimetres, delivering a masterful defence despite his cold tires.
Next on the finish-line straight, however, Max devoured Charles in a brutal braking manoeuvr on 17. The exchange of blows had only just begun. The Monegasque would overtake the #33. But the Dutchman overtook again Leclerc, who finally regain the lead again on 18. ‘Mad Mad’ stroke again, but did not pass Leclerc again on 19.
Halfway point, Hamilton’s second pit stop
Nearing the halfway point of the Bahrain GP (28 lap) Hamilton made his second pit stop (3.9 seconds) to mount medium compounds on his W13. At the head of the race and just three laps after that (31), the two leaders would play the strategic game in the garages.
The race stabilised on lap 42 with Leclerc keeping a comfortable 4.1s lead over Max. Sainz remained in third, 14s behind the Dutchman and 2.7s ahead of Checo, in fourth. In fifth and sixth places run both the Mercedes of Hamilton and Russell.
Safety car and devastation at Red Bull
Alarmed by his car’s drop in performance, Max changed his compounds to soft for the third time on lap 44. The race, however, was about to get a lot more interesting. On lap 46 Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri caught fire triggering a virtual safety car, to be replaced moments later by a real safety car. To better defend himself from a threatening Verstappen, and taking advantage of the situation, Leclerc went through pits once more (2.8s).
With the safety car on the track, Max continued to report problems with the power steering of his RB16. Six laps later (51) the battle resumed with seven men embroiled in the action. Leclerc, heading a pack followed by Max, Sainz, Pérez, Hamilton and Russell, surprised Max Dutchman by resuming racing in the middle of the curve.
Max’s problems were more and more apparent after he lost 2.7s to the Monegasque leader. Verstappen was then forced to retire on the penultimate lap. Two turns later and Pérez would complete Red Bull’s fiasco by withdrawing on the final lap. Ahead, Leclerc and Sainz were flying towards their 1-2 with Hamilton in third.
Images of Bahrain F1 GP 2022: Scuderia Ferrari.