2017 Bahrain Grand Prix Star Performers

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg and Pascal Wehrlein were F1 Fanatic’s stars of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.


Sergio Perez

Having had his qualifying lap ruined by Carlos Sainz Jnr’s stoppage on Saturday, the Toro Rosso driver inadvertently helped Perez on Sunday when he crashed into Lance Stroll. The appearance of the Safety Car could hardly have worked out better for the Force India driver.

Perez had already made a rapid start, gaining five places, and passed Jolyon Palmer for good measure. Force India coolly put him on another set of super-softs when they brought him in during the Safety Car period, locking him into a two-stop strategy but giving him the grip to go on the attack.

This he did, passing Pascal Wehrlein and Nico Hulkenberg. That put Perez on course for an excellent seventh place.

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel took a fully-deserved second win
Third on the grid was as good as it was going to get for Ferrari as Mercedes had a little more pace in hand on Saturday. Still he had his team mate well handled as usual.

Crucially he got ahead of Lewis Hamilton at the start, then piled the pressure on Valtteri Bottas. Whether he could have made quick enough progress through traffic for his early pit stop to pay off is an intriguing question, because unlike in China a Safety Car appearance played into his hands this time.

He rebuffed Bottas at the restart, then ground out the quick laps he needed to win the race.

Nico Hulkenberg

Pipping Felipe Massa for seventh on the grid earned Hulkenberg ‘best of the rest’ honours in qualifying. The Renault’s race pace is weaker, however, and it was to be expected he would fall behind the Williams in the race.

Being on soft tyres after the restart meant he wasn’t able to contain Perez either, but the huge gap back to his team mate indicated Hulkenberg had got the maximum from his machinery.

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Pascal Wehrlein

A lot of people suspected the worst when Wehrlein sat out China, especially after Antonio Giovinazzi’s impressive showing in Melbourne. Then Giovinazzi binned the car twice in two days in Shanghai and Wehrlein came back.

He did a first-rate job. In qualifying he beat Marcus Ericsson to the tune of more than half a second, and in the race he patiently brought the car home on a one-stop strategy which nearly brought him a point. Keeping Esteban Ocon behind was probably too much to expect, however.


Jolyon Palmer

Palmer was over a second slower than Hulkenberg
Yes, he made it into Q3 for the first time. But look at the gaps to his quicker team mate: over a second on the grid and 36 seconds after 31 laps of green-flag running in the race.

Palmer slipped behind Daniil Kvyat and Fernando Alonso shortly before his final pit stop. That left him the last driver still running at the flag.

Carlos Sainz Jnr

Sainz’s weekend had already been compromised by two failures. The first occurred in second practice – the only session held in representative track conditions prior to qualifying. And the second came as he was about to grab a place in Q2.

But his clash with Stroll during the race was undoubtedly careless and spoiled what could have been another run into the points.

And the rest

Verstappen was out of luck
A fine debut pole position for Valtteri Bottas didn’t lead to a win due to a combination of wrong tyre pressures in the first stint, a lack of rear grip later in the race and slow Mercedes pit stops. The latter also compromised Hamilton’s race, though he made life difficult for himself too with a needless penalty.

It might have been a good race for Max Verstappen had a brake failure not put him out. Daniel Ricciardo out-qualified him but lacked pace on the soft tyre in the race.

Kimi Raikkonen blamed a poor start for his result, though the slow pace at the front of the field meant he actually lost little time in the opening laps. He was hauling Bottas in at the end.

The only Williams finisher was Felipe Massa, again, though Stroll was blameless for his retirement this time. Daniil Kvyat ended the race point-less after a poor start.

Ocon didn’t catch the same break behind the Safety Car as his team mate, then got stuck behind Romain Grosjean, who was unable to pass Hulkenberg. Grosjean took his first points of the season while Kevin Magnussen started last and retired.

Marcus Ericsson also failed to see the chequered flag. That was at least better than Stoffel Vandoorne, who didn’t even get to see the starting lights. Fernando Alonso made sure no one was in any doubt about the nature of McLaren’s problems.

Who was the best driver of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend?

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2017 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “2017 Bahrain Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Keith, I think you’ve made a bit of mistake on the opening paragraph, it’s written Chinese Grand Prix which it should be Bahrain Grand Prix

  2. I really didn’t see to many stars (0) yesterday, but a lot of solid performances.
    Hulkenberg, Vettel, Perez, Ocon, Massa, Grosjean, Alonso, Wehrlein and Verstappen (for as long as it lasted): solid.
    Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas, Stroll, Kvyat: mwoah. (almost solid)
    Sainz: crappy.
    Ericsson and Palmer need to be replaced as soon as possible.
    Hamilton drove very well, but he really should have tried to overtake Bottas at least once before starting on the team radio and he made that (understandable, yet stupid) move on Ric: dubious.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      17th April 2017, 17:19


      I don’t understand why so many people judge Ericsson so soon against Wherlein. Everyone was so impressed by Gioviassi but there was no point where it was prooved that he was faster than Ericsson. Then, this has just been one race where Ericsson was clearly worse. Wherlien and Ericsson both had at leased 1 race that was good last year and I personally think they will be about equal this year. Anyway, not that this is to do with F1, but Wherlein’s accident looked very clumsy and he cost himself the first 2 races. So that wasn’t very impressive. But yes, his first race was good. But then Ericsson sometimes has good races too. Wherlien was quite lucky in this race that there was 1 non starter though as well as 6 retirements. That will have given him 3 places at leased I think.

      1. If Wherlein ends the season equal to Ericsson he can say goodbye for his Mercedes seat, even Williams will be hard for him, if Stroll doesn’t improve a lot Williams will keep Massa for one more year for sure. Ericsson wasn’t more than solid in 3 seasons, he was faster than Nasr last year but Sauber car was so slow that it’s difficult to judge. And when it mattered was Nasr that had an spectacular rain race overtaking 3 cars in 1 lap (Alonso among them), something that I don’t think Ericsson will ever do. He is a consistent pair of hands and nothing more, I would take Nasr in Ericsson\s place anytime, Nasr at least can do one or another spetacular race on the season and get some points, what is all a backmarker team like Sauber needs now.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          17th April 2017, 18:12

          That race was impressive Nasr did in Brazil, but it was partly the number of retirements that got him those points. I personally think Ericsson’s race in Mexico was better. Just one retirement (wherlein) and Ericsson got hit at the start, then did almost 70 laps on one set of tyres with a damaged car. Yet he still managed to finish 11th. I bet that if a few of the top 10 drivers had retired, people whole remember this much more than they do. Obviously it is points that matter, but it is so often the case that it is retirements that help lower teams get points and he was rather unlucky that he wasn’t helped out here. Ericsson may not have many stard out races, but overall last year, he was quite a bit stronger than Nasr and I don’t think many will disagree with that. But Nasr cas clearly better than him the year before. Other people think different to me but I also think Ericsson’s Mexico driver was better than Wherlein’s Austria drive. Wherlein made a stupid error at the start and then he did have a good race, but the single point only happened because of multiple retirements. Lots of the drivers who retired will have finished well ahead of him. If everybody had finished the race, hell have been 12th or lower. Even on the last lap, he was 20 seconds behind Perez who was 10th, and then Perez had a brake failure. That was one very lucky point. But it is obviously a great achievement still.

          I don’t think Ericsson has done badly so far anyway. He beat Giovinazzi when he had the chance and didn’t make a double mistake like Giovinazzi did in China. Ericsson also managed to get through to Q2 twice already in a car that many thought would be by far the worst this season.
          To me, it is mainly Palmer who really needs to show us more. Wherlien has maneged this once, and yes it was clearly much quicker than both of Ericsson’s decent qualifying attempts this year. But we have yet to see if he can keep this up. He was obviously clumsy enough to crash out of ROC and cost himself 2 races so that wasn’t a great start. But yes, he first race was certainly a good comeback. It is way to soon to start comparing him against Ericsson though as they have only been team mates for one race weekend. And if people say he dominated Ericsson all weekend, that isn’t quite true. Ericsson was quicker in 1 of the practice sessions. I still think there will be plenty of occasions when Ericsson will be the better of the 2. Remember Wherlien got out qualified by Haryanto quite a few times. Many said Haryanto was the worst driver F1 had had in ages too.

          1. Let’s put some facts on the table. 16 cars finished Brazil’s race. 4 of the 6 cars that abandoned the race 1. Ericsson 2. Palmer 3. Massa 4. Gutierrez were been overtaken by Nasr. All they were behind him and doesn’t matter at all if they crashed or not. And Grojean doesn’t even started. If Raikonen finished the race he would still be 10th (dropping Alonso out of the points). Ahead of other drivers like Button, with a lot better car. So if all 22 cars had finished the race he would probably be still 10th.

            So stop saying that was a lucky race. That’s a lie and a shame. Watch the video below and you will see something that Ericsson will never do, never.


            When Sauber delivered a good car in 2015, Nasr showed who can go far and who is limited. What I think is that 2016 Sauber’s car was slow and problematic and Nasr didn’t managed to be 100% with it. I would prefer to see it in Ericsson/Palmer/Magnussen place.

          2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            17th April 2017, 21:21

            I’m not saying it wasn’t a good race at all. It was really strong. Ok, Grosjean didn’t retire, but he would have started 7th. So that very likely would have cost Nasr another place wouldn’t it? So if Kimi didn’t retire, He would very likely have been 11th. I still think it was at leased slightly lucky that he got points. The crashes caused all the cars to have to bunch up. If none of that happened, I think it will have been very unlikely that he would have got points. But yes, he did have a very good drive and overtook many cars that you wouldn’t think that car would be capable of.

            We obviously have different views on this. But you saying something that Ericsson will never do is pointless as you can’t predict the future. But I do think it is very unlikely that Ericsson will do as well as this as he normally is very weak in the wet. I agree Nasr is a lot better in these conditions. But I still do think that overall, Ericsson was quite clearly the better of the two in 2016.

          3. @miane , Felipe, is that you ?

    2. I would love to see Buemi/Di Grassi in Palmer and Ericsson’s place. It’s interesting to see how they are above the level in Formula E.

      1. I always thought Buemi was a solid driver.. and I was pretty surprised when Toro Rosso said they were not impressed and let him go. A shame, because I think he could have developed in to a driver that could battle the likes of Hulk, Perez and Grosjean.

        1. @todfod You just answered exactly why they shouldn’t have kept him. He was going to be a driver that would battle the likes of Hulk, Perez and Grosjean, and not the likes of Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso. And considering the drivers they have produced from the academy after that, I would say that Buemi didn’t deserve to stay at Toro Rosso. Moreover, Alguersari was better than him. Buemi was mediocre in my opinion. Another Sutil.

    3. Turnleftatgreenlight
      17th April 2017, 21:01

      Actually, Wehrlein gained 19 seconds on Ericsson because of the Safety Car. When Ericsson retired, he was 11 seconds behind Wehrlein. At least in my world, that is less than 19… And yet, Wehrlein drove a solid race and Ericsson should be replaced? If anyone, Ericssons pitboard should be replaced for not bringing him in for a new set of supersofts during the Safety Car.

      But agreed that Ericssons qualy was poor.

    4. I agree about Ericsson and Palmer. Surely there’s better than that waiting in the wings. The Brits are exaggerating his talents because, well, he’s one of only two Brits. Sainz? A driver may be talented but not have much computing power inside the helmet.

      Someone please get Alonso in a Ferrari. Or a Merc.

      A very good race but it still looks like it will be Vettel against Merc again this year. Maybe Red Bull will pull a 2016 and start messing things up a little soon.

  3. SC didn’t do any favors to Vettel. Without it he would be several seconds in front of Bottas instead o having to defend until turn 4. What it didn’t do was to destroy his race as in China but he was not helped at all by it.

    1. True. With a normal stop Bottas would have been in front. The drivers who pitted during the safety car all gained like 12 seconds or so. However, without the safety car Vettel might have lost more time in traffic, so maybe he wasn’t so unlucky after all. It’s almost as if Mercedes relies on safety cars to make their strategies work.

      1. Vettel was 2 seconds faster in the middle sector alone compared to Bottas. He would have had no problem passing anyone after his stop and without the SC he would have had a much bigger lead over Bottas.

    2. @philby Exactly. Everyone in media has got that wrong, Coulthard on the podium, everyone on doing post race interviews, even sky were a bit on the edge, CNN this morning, local news, it’s incredible. Only fans do understand f1. Mercedes has been very good on strategy, only a couple questionable decisions in years, I think your comment @f1infigures is pretty accurate.

  4. Season Star Performers:
    +3: Vettel
    +2: Alonso, Perez
    +1: Verstappen, Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Wehrlein
    0: Giovinazzi, Bottas, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Massa, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Vandoorne, Kvyat, Ericsson, Sainz
    -1: Stroll, Magnussen
    -2: Raikkonen, Palmer

    1. Why is Giovinazzi in this list? And why is Hülkenberg twice in the list?

      1. Hulkenberg is at +1 (oops, thanks)

        PS Giovinazzi raced twice this season
        PPS Sainz was one up last week.

        1. Perez really shouldn’t be that high. He was nothing special in the 1st 2 races. I would actually think the Hulk has been more impressive with his performances so far.. especially in qualifying, where he has punched way above his weight.

          1. @todfod

            This is the average of all the major publications ratings (Autosport, AMUS and Sky Sports)

            1. Vettel 9.39
            2. Alonso 9.06
            3. Hamilton 8.61
            4. Verstappen 8.56
            5. Perez 8.11
            6. Grosjean 7.72
            7. Massa 7.33
            = Sainz 7.33
            9. Ocon 7.11
            10. Bottas 7.06
            11. Hulkenberg 7.00
            12. Kvyat 6.56
            = Ricciardo 6.56
            14. Raikkonen 6.11
            15. Giovinazzi 5.92
            16. Stroll 5.72
            = Magnussen 5.72
            18. Ericsson 5.50
            19. Vandoorne 4.89
            20. Palmer 4.44

            NR – Wehrlein (one race only) 8.67

          2. @lolzerbob

            Surprised! Ricciardo should have been a 7. Sainz should have been level with Kvyat. Vandoorne was definitely better than Palmer, Stroll and Ericsson.

            Also, Hamilton and Alonso should be level at 9 each. It’s hard to say that Alonso has been better than Hamilton over the past 3 races.

    2. Sainz should have -1

      1. Ex Ocon. It just shows how difficult F1 is. U need about 3-5 seasons before your in the top

  5. Outstanding job by Perez. Vettel and Perez at Ferrari would be a dream team if you ask me.

    1. I would be torn between Perez and Grosjean for the 2nd Ferrari seat.

      1. I don’t believe Grosjean will ever drive in a Ferrari (or any other top team). Just not good enough.

        1. You could say the same .. probably with more conviction for Perez after his Mclaren stint. I think Grosjean needs to work on his consistency, but I think both the Hulk and him deserve a shot in a top team at some point in their career. Perez had his shot and blew it.

  6. Ferrari, Seb fan
    17th April 2017, 22:45

    Perez vs Grosjean vs Sainz (possibly?) vs Hulkumberg(very unlikely. Still, who knows?) for Ferrari seat. So far all have been good (excluding Sainz’s Stroll collision). I would add Massa to the peformers (beat Hulk, had duel with Kimi).

  7. I wonder when Renault will make the enviable decision and drop Palmer. Whilst his one lap pace was ok towards the rear end of last year, his race pace and also race craft is poor evidenced by his many mistakes. He couldn’t even keep up with Alonso’s power deficient Mclaren whilst his teammate was miles down the road.

    I think Gasley deserves a crack pretty soon

    1. I have a feeling we might see Palmer dropped by Renault for Alonso sometime this season. Honestly, Renault have a better car than Mclaren, and they have some big engine updates planned during the year. If their engine shows enough promise, they should be battling for 4th place in the WCC really soon. It would make sense for Alonso to jump out of a car battling Sauber to battle in the upper midfield for the rest of the season.

  8. Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg and Pascal Wehrlein . I couldn’t pick one myself, I named all of them on the rate the driver thread.

  9. FakeSamurai_Alonso
    18th April 2017, 9:42

    why Max kicking his car? in the above top pic.

    1. He was just getting out.

  10. SC didn’t helped Seb race at all he was some 4 sec to 6 sec up the road and with out that he would have pulled even more gap. The SC played into Merc’s Hands perfectly and then they blew it with Slow Tyre change and Ham getting unnecessary penalty. Vettel was P6 i think before the SC made its appearance.

    1. Also Vettel did not get the full benefit of ss tyres as was vehind safety car for a few laps with Hamilton in a tyres not far back. When they were at full speed again he had less laps to pull a bigger gap on Hamilton before tyres started to go. The penalty however probably balanced this out.

  11. Fukobayashi (@)
    18th April 2017, 11:41

    Count me in as a Bottas fan after this weekend. That pole lap was sensational and although it may have been down to a setup less kind to tyres he still delivered under massive pressure. Added to that, his behaviour during and after the race was that of an absolute gent, he genuinely seems like a very nice guy and i’m looking forward to his first win.

    1. @offdutyrockstar

      Spot on and apart from VER, BOT was the most unfortunate driver on race day at Sakhir. He made a clean getaway and deserved his first win. His application and drive to improve in his mastery of a new car is impressive and he is reaping tangible benefits by bedding in as fast as he has. A pole against HAM 3 races in is far more than I expected and I see him going on to great things. I am less inclined to believe he erred on setup and would sooner point the finger at incompetence on the team’s part. How on earth do they overpressurise rears on a rear-limited circuit in the first stint. He will come good and HAM and Merc will need to give him the respect he deserves.

  12. What does Massa need to do to get some love here? He has been solid since returning and yet he spoken as if he’s just “there”.

    Ok, Stroll’s performance may be hiding the car’s true potential, by that standard (drivers performance relative to his teammate) we should stop praising Vettel or Hulkenberg (aka the best driver to have never scored a podium) as well.

    1. @eduardogigante We can’t really judge how good Massa is doing. For all we know, he could be doing exactly what he was last year, and had Bottas been next to him in the car, would be the slower of the two.

  13. I was never a question of whether vettel could’ve made quick enough progress after the first stop. He already reduced his gap by seven seconds on bottas. The safety negated that and put the Merc right behind. So the safety car didn’t help him in anyway.

  14. My Performers:

    Vettel – ⅘
    Perez – ⅘
    Wehrlein – ⅘
    Massa – ⅘
    Grosjean – ⅘

    The Rest:

    Hamilton – ⅘
    Verstappen – ⅘
    Ricciardo – ⅘
    Ocon – ⅗
    Bottas – ⅗
    Alonso – ⅗
    Hulkenberg – ⅗
    Palmer – ⅗
    Kvyat – ⅗
    Raikkonen – ⅖

    The Strugglers:

    Stroll – ⅖
    Ericsson – ⅖
    Magnussen – ⅕
    Vandoorne – ⅕
    Sainz- ⅕

    I will offer explanations for my rankings.

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