Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

Hamilton inherits win as Leclerc’s Ferrari fails him

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix summary

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix after an MGU-H failure robbed Charles Leclerc of what looked certain to be a breakthrough victory.

Leclerc lost his advantage from pole position at the start as he was passed by Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. But within a few laps he’d passed the pair of them and was building up a lead.

Hamilton also fell behind Bottas at the start. But when Leclerc passed the other Mercedes Hamilton followed him by, and closed on Vettel during the rest of the first stint.

An early pit stop for Max Verstappen prompted most of the drivers to respond. Mercedes took full advantage with Hamilton, bringing him quickly and allowing him to take advantage of Vettel when he pitted.

Hamilton didn’t have the pace in the second stint to keep Vettel behind. But once the pair pitted for the second time he was right on Vettel’s tail, and pressured the Ferrari driver into the mistake which ruined his race.

When Hamilton attacked on the outside of turn four, Vettel spun off. Making matters worse Vettel damaged his front wing on the way back, and was forced to pit, ending his hopes of a podium finish.

A final twist came when both Renaults broke down within a few laps of the finish. Daniel Ricciardo’s RS19 shut down completely and the marshals were unable to move it before the race finished. This spared Leclerc losing further places to Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel.

The demise of the Renaults elevated Lando Norris to his first points finish in sixth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Pierre Gasly. Alexander Albon also took his first points with ninth and Serigo Perez took the final point for 10th.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix reaction

    Check back shortly for more race reaction

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

80 comments on “Hamilton inherits win as Leclerc’s Ferrari fails him”

  1. As a fan primarily of Hulk and secondarily of Leclerc, I’m absolute heartbroken and furious. So so unfair, both drove masterful races, Leclerc getting bullied a bit of lap 1 but not letting it affect him and making 2 good overtakes before taking a commanding lead, and Hulk having an excellent start and then having a fantastic race to go from 17th to best of the rest. And then 2 issues 100% out of their control. Sigh. Sport is cruel.
    I suppose I can take some solace that my 3rd favourite (Norris) got 6th, but. Sighhh…

    1. @hugh11 I agree. Both are also high on the list of my favorite drivers and or drivers I hope to get good results.

    2. @hugh11 This was one of Hulkenberg’s more memorable drives in dry conditions. Excellent pace and a lot of overtakes as well.

    3. @hugh11 calm down mate. If you need someone to talk to I’m here.

      1. <3 thank you

    4. Well poor results indeed, but as a fan I am satisfied by their driving performance. It is less easy to be satisfied by Vettels performance.

    5. Prarag Chopra
      31st March 2019, 21:34

      Hulkenberg drove like a champion. P17 to 11 in first lap was stellar. He just blew away Ricciardo. Stellar performance by the Hulk only to end with a very familiar bad luck. One positive thing for Hulk I noticed this year is, he has worked on race starts apparently. He made up 3 places in Melbourne and now 6 places here on lap 1. Also his pace was astonishing throughout the race. Hope he has a normal race in China and secures a good result.

      Excellent race for Leclerc as well, unfortunately not ending in a well-deserved victory for him though.

      1. Michael Ward
        1st April 2019, 0:44

        In fairness it wasn’t hard for anyone to beat Ricciardo today, Renault had him on a (literally) pointless one stop strategy. Just looking at the laptimes the two stoppers could do verses him should have woken the team out of their stupor. Renault could have had a 5th 6th finish today but they threw it away, even without their technical problems their strategy meant Ricciardo would struggle to get a point.

    6. Yeah, I feel the same way. I can’t remember feeling so deflated after a race in a long time. Not Adelaide 94 deflated, but still pretty rubbish.

  2. petebaldwin (@)
    31st March 2019, 18:25

    It’ll be a tough one for Leclerc to take today but hopefully he wakes up tomorrow realising that he drove an incredible race, seems to have the edge on Seb and potentially, has a faster car than Lewis. He really could be World Champion this year.

  3. Gasly still had some difficulties in getting past drivers with slower-cars despite this circuit being more overtaking-friendly than the Albert Park venue, but at least he got into the points this time around.

  4. Great drivers make their own luck. Lewis could have settled for 3rd behind Vettel, instead he brought the hammer, and so Vettel once again showed his skills under preasure, handing over another advantage.

    1. Vettel is done as an elite f1 driver. He gets rattled too easily and is always at the losing end of a coming together

      1. He is like 2015 Nico Rosberg, brilliant in every way, but lacking a bit to Lewis.

        1. @jureo

          Better starts than Lewis. Seb needs a better car to feel comfortable.

        2. jureo……..Lewis was a beast in the way that he passed Vettel.

    2. joe pineapples
      31st March 2019, 20:01

      He didn’t hand it over. Hamilton yanked it from him.

  5. Leclerc had the race pace on Vettel, for two races now… Hamilton and Bottas looked like the same old story, I wonder if Bottas can re-channel that “2.0”, Hamilton looked very happy at the end.
    What’s up with Gasly? They say he can’t get used to the set-up but that was just horrible, barely faster than the Torro Rosso’s. Maybe Hartley was just flattering him last year?
    Renault hit that “best of the rest” goal until the spectacular failure. To think people were talking about Honda’s potential poor reliability. Wouldn’t want to be Abiteboul this week.

    Props to Norris. Quietly over-performing. Not too dissimilar to Alonso from the last couple years, which says a lot for his experience.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      31st March 2019, 18:45

      Sainz was equally impressive early in the race, until some contact with Verstappen ruined his race…

      1. Both of Sainz’s poor performances have been due to external factors. Props to Lando, he has shrugged off his F2 difficulties and he is doing better than I expected, but I think Sainz will catch up to him soon.

    2. What’s up with Gasly? They say he can’t get used to the set-up but that was just horrible, barely faster than the Torro Rosso’s.

      @skipgamer – yeah, I’m not buying that excuse of Gasly not adapting to the setup. The RBR is a better car than the TR. We saw Ricciardo shine upon his promotion. If Gasly continues to feel the RBR’s setup is lacking, maybe they should move him back to TR where he’s more comfortable.

      That said, it’s a bit of both – nice guy Hartley flattered Gasly last year, and this year Max is making Gasly look bad because Max is propelling himself off how he ended 2018.

      Renault hit that “best of the rest” goal until the spectacular failure. To think people were talking about Honda’s potential poor reliability.

      Earlier today, I got jumped in an article when I suggested that maybe Honda had overtaken Renault on some parameters, but my question does seem vindicated. I’m sure Marko and Horner will be rubbing their hands with glee, and looking for an opportunity to rub Abiteboul’s nose in the failures as well.

      1. @skipgamer @phylyp

        Gasly already made a statement to the media that he’s going to work with his engineers to make the car more captive to his style. He’s mentioned the car wasn’t designed keeping his driving style in mind.. blah blah. He’s already started with the excuses this year.. kind of how I expected Gasly to respond to getting thrashed by Max. Regardless of how performance gap to Max, he’s still getting beaten by much slower cars, so he’d really need to come up with a better excuse.

        1. @coldfly @todfod – and I’m particularly concerned about the F1.5 lineup, if an F1 driver keeps ending up between other F1.5 drivers ;)

          1. RBR has been confirmed as F1 already based on their podium in Melbourne.

            Renault however seems to be determined to make F1.5 and won’t stop for anything (or better: will stop if needed) to stay out of the top 3 until Barcelona ;)

        2. Seems legitimate issue to me.

      2. Marko and Horner would still be bragging about what they’re friends have, while Renault can brag or put their head down about their own work.

        I’d rather have a slow engine at the moment, knowing you have the means and ability to fix it, opposed to having a fast (at the moment) engine, and not having any controls in place to develop it.

        1. Daniel? Is that you?

  6. Leclerc was even better than in qualifying. Clearly he has to learn how to start from the front, but his chasing down Vettel so soon really astonished me. Obviously you feel sorry for him but I expect he’ll win various times this season. I also to be honest feel sorry for Vettel, being passed by Leclerc and then pushed into an error by Hamilton, not a good day. The end was a dissapointment, two Renaults out simultaneously? That was weird.

    1. Don’t feel bad for Vettel, he left Leclerc in the dust at the start!

  7. I’d hate to hear the mind chatter of VET tonight. He should have won that race — at the very least when LEC’s car failed.

  8. Picked up the fastest lap too…

    1. ^ ‘point’

    2. Nobody wants to talk about it. Not even the fact that Charles had his first F1 podium ever.

      1. Charles had his first f1 podium ever and his first f1 pole and his first experience with Italian technology.
        That sums it up I guess.

        1. You do realize italian technology is some of the most advanced in the world right? Go check how often italian components failed on space missions, vs german, for instance.

          Same goes with F1 really. Ferrari might not Always be the best, but it selom is brittle.

          1. As someone who has owned an Alfa Romeo, I strongly disagree.

          2. Go check how often italian components failed on space missions

            Interesting indeed, never expected a wood fired oven on the ISS ;)

  9. I think if Lewis had gone Soft-medium-medium he might have been very close to Lec and ahead of vet. The soft he put for second stint wasn’t the right tyre and he lost too much time and lost touch with Lec.
    But great job by Lewis in the last stint coming back at Vet and that amazing overtake. Also gutted for Lec, hopefully soon he will get his win back.

    And Max….this guy just doesn’t allow anyone to overtake him no matter what. What he did with Saiz was cruel

    1. Sainz shoudnt have tried that on Max. If you overtake Max it has to be an obvious move that will stick or you will pay.

    2. @amg44 I agree about S-M-M, they had much better pace on the mediums and they had trouble with the softs the whole weekend.

      I have to disagree on Max though. Sainz simply did not give enough room on the inside for the Red Bull and when Max hit the curb, it was inevitable that it would kick him out toward Sainz. He took the apex as if Max wasn’t there.

      1. I dare say that if you are jumping the ballon curb, you havent left enough room for yourself.

      2. Yes it can be argued. But it has become a pattern now. Any driver who is overtaking Max is regularly coming off worse and majority of the time there is a contact (no clean pass).
        Max is too accident prone especially if somebody dares to pass him.

        1. @amg44, It worked for A. Senna, who believed he had God on his side, so it has become standard operating procedure for fast but vulnerable pretenders to the throne.

        2. @amg44 It’s a bit of a pattern with Sainz too. He did pretty much the same thing to GRO at Silverstone last year, and at Bahrain he plowed right into Stroll at the same corner.

          Max defends a bit too hard at times; sometimes it bites him and sometimes it bites others. I’m not a fan, I don’t like his attitude, and I don’t like how shady he is with moving around at high speed to break the tow, and multiple moves in the braking zones (Baku on RIC was definitely more his fault than Riccardo’s). That said, credit where it is due, compared to the first 5 races last season, he has improved his judgement quite a bit. This was not one of those incidents of defending too hard.

          On this occasion , he was still even with Sainz at the apex and Sainz gave him only about a wheel width rather than a car width, forcing him over the apex of the corner. He created his own problem.

  10. The Renault team forgot to extend the License on the MGU-K SW and it expired during the race today.

  11. Charles Leclerc took his first victory in a Formula 1 race in commanding fashion

    I love the excerpt of this article!

    1. It ia to throw evil copycats onto the wrong way ;)

    2. It goes to tell you how predictable F1 is nowadays

      1. Sarcasm? Wouldnt it mean just the opposite?

        1. when you see a pink helmet on the comment section, always go for sarcasm first

  12. Hamilton put himself in the place to inherit the win.

    Where was Bottas in an identical car?

    1. Had floor damage

      1. so, did Merc finally figure out that it is easier to only swap the drivers instead of everything and everyone else in the garage? :^)

        1. @mrboerns after analysing all the data they concluded that was the case

      2. @johnmilk

        I thought Bottas version 2.1 wasn’t that great of an update.

        1. @todfod maybe he shaved

    2. Bottas 2.0 was shipped too early, and still has a few performance issues.

      Honestly, he kept a gap between himself and Verstappen, couldn’t catch Hamilton, and would have settled for third. Turned out he didn’t need to.

  13. Kudos to Lewis for acknowledging Leclerc on the radio, and then for what he said to him in the cool down room. He doesn’t have to do that. I think he’s grown enormously over his racing career and now it’s like he’s a wiser, older statesman of F1. He’s got nothing to prove to anyone but himself and the chip on his shoulder he used to have is gone. He can compete hard against his opponents and still celebrate them when they do well and commiserate when they catch a bad break. I may not cheer for him to win on Sundays, but he has made me a fan.

    1. SAme, he has found a maturity that has seen him come a long way. He’s a different man to what he was 10years ago. I still can’t get over what happened but Charles put a marker down against his team mate.

    2. I think he’s grown enormously over his racing career and now it’s like he’s a wiser, older statesman of F1.

      Lewis was like that in Junior series. He’s from a well spoken middle class family. He changed his image in F1 for whatever reason, possibly the weight of being in the limelight. Now Leclerc has the limelight Lewis can be himself.

    3. If you all think this is to big up Leclerc you’ve lost your minds. I love how Leclerc is doing but these comments are for an audience of one. The most likely challenger over the course of a season, a certain Sebastian Vettel. Aimed to inflict maximum mind damage.

      1. Cynic ….. mind game are not needed with Seb, he can screw up his races all by himself which he proved again yesterday. If Leclerc continues like this Seb will very quickly become yesterday’s man unless he up’s his game and stops making mistakes like we saw yesterday.

      2. @anonymouscoward Your comment probably says more about your mindset than it does about Hamilton’s.

  14. Alex McFarlane
    31st March 2019, 19:15


    It would be fascinating to see an analysis of what happened around the 2nd pit stops, Hamilton was around 8 seconds behind Vettel just prior to stopping and despite Vettel pitting shortly afterwards Hamilton was able to show Vettel a clean pair of heels. Seb made another error but he surely must’ve been caught off guard by how quickly Lewis caught him as I certainly was.

    1. that’s exactly what puzzles me the most: why was Vettel so slow after the 2nd pitstops? He managed to stay in front just after the tire change and with (slightly) fresher tires and better pace that a healthy Ferrari had over Mercedes he should have sailed away slowly but surely. Yet, he just didnt have the pace anymore and got bamboozled, even though he was on the same Medium tire as the previous stint (which worked great as he passed Lewis on track).

      My only guess is that the Merc was performing better on Mediums than on Softs.

      1. Lewis really just romped away on this mediums. You could see the pace even before they warmed up. The 2nd stint choice was just a poor one, so who knows? Maybe Vet had similar issues.

    First time I see a headline like that for a victory.
    And there’s been many resulting from mechanical failures of the leader.

    1. Not just the leader. In the good ol days half the field could retire. Mansell had one of the worst DNf rates, he could have been 5 x WDC with Lewis’ luck. Look at the standings.

      First time I see a headline like that for a victory.

      It’s been used before, but typically when the initial winner gets a post race penalty like 3 weeks ago in Formula E.

  16. LOL @ commentary guy reporting that Lewis said on team radio ‘Bottas acted very Cocky’ instead of ‘downshifts are very clunky’

    Even a non english speaker like me could make out that Lewis said something about downshifts on his team radio.

    Also i must add and appreciate what a great track Bahrain is turning out to be. Lots of overtaking and consistently producing exciting races. Another good one is Baku.
    More tracks like these please FIA.

    1. Welcome to the weird world of David Croft. TBF I didn’t make out the message either, but where he got ‘Bottas acted very Cocky’ given what was going on at this stage in the race….I…just…dunno.

      1. The Sky team are pretty terrible. I counted over a dozen mistakes. Bottas takes the lead on the pit stop! Oh wait that was another silver car. Vettel passes his team mate! Oh wait, that was another red dot on the timing screen. Completely missed the 6 second pit stop that Redbull made.

        Bring back the NBCSN crew! Hobbs and Matchett were fantastic!

    2. I liked it when Croft starting laughing and carrying on about his own mistake (or more likely bad joke?), but Brundle didn’t indulge him.

      1. Funny thing. I heard it like ‘Charles is very unlucky.. very unlucky’ myself.

  17. Unacceptable double DNF from Renault! Im afraid but 4th last year will be their peak and this season will be a disappointment and then they’ll leave F1 because of no budget-cap (and then Team Enstone will be fighting for survival)…

    This race was for Leclerc. Still a good result (1st pole, 1st podium and 1st fastest lap) but it should have been the perfect weekend.

    And Lewis has that champion’s luck. He will bag wins when others throw them out plus will win others on his own merit so unlikely he will not be crowned champion again.

    And finally Moustache Vettel is same as Regular Vettel and Botas 2.0 does not seem to be such a big upgrade after all…

  18. Love it. Who is the cucumber now?

  19. As race fans.net has sponsored articles now, it might be an idea to get Renault to sponsor the PU component usage updates.
    I guess they will be mentioned a lot :P

  20. Nothing special ..a young man hit the pedal too much!
    Kimi 1st pole converted into engine blow when he was on a cruise to dominant win ..and cost him youngest WDC at that time.
    I consider Leclrec a lucky man that being saved by the bell (safety car).

  21. With this double DNF, and seemingly for two completely different reasons, we will not hear the end of Horner’s and Marko’s neighing, and breying in conferences and interviews.

    The flood of “Ofcourse we chose correctly, we are RedBull, Honda is the 2nd coming of Motorsports” will only stop after the summer break, when Honda will run into an inevitable reliability wall as their allotted engines start exploding and they have to start taking penalties. After this it will be a back and forth, between Horner’s foot and Abitebouls gigantig nose, pointing game of who has the most penalties.

    Also, I’d give Gasly until the mid point of the season until Marko’s Eye of Dismissal finds him as it’s new target.

    I can’t wait.

  22. I’m just so exasperated over Ferrari’s usual tactic blunders. In reality it means this year is a given they will lose the championship.

    Constantly giving away the undercut advantage to others is simply painful to watch and I don’t even have a dog in this fight. Last race it was the fastest lap point, and you just know next race will be something stupid again.

    The team use incredible resources to find 1/100 second, then they just leave their beyond-poor tactical department unchanged for year after year to throw away points. Exasperated is really the word.

Comments are closed.