Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix Star Performers

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Here’s why – and whose weekend was less successful.


Charles Leclerc

After topping practice sessions one and three Leclerc added a dominant qualifying performance to his already impressive weekend. Even though he was in a car that was clearly superior to the rest of the field he was still three tenths ahead of his team mate, Sebastian Vettel, who is no slouch.

Leclerc’s start was one of few blemishes on his weekend. He fell to third, but it didn’t take the young Ferrari driver long to fight back as he got by the Mercedes on lap two and was already hunting down Vettel.

The team ordered him to stay behind Vettel for two laps, which he promptly ignored when he used DRS to blow by his team mate on the main straight. From this point onwards it was a straightforward race as he created a comfortable gap between second place and himself until lap 46 when he reported: “something strange with the engine.”

He began losing as much as six seconds a lap and both Mercedes drivers easily overtook him. The Safety Car brought out by the Renaults on lap 54 stemmed the loss since it enabled him to maintain third and finish on the podium albeit his first, much deserved, win was stripped from him.

Lando Norris

Lando Norris, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019
Norris was one of two first-time points-scorers
Norris was outqualified by his team mate, but still managed to advance to Q3 and started ninth after Romain Grosjean was penalised for holding up the McLaren driver in Q1. On lap one Norris lost several places, more due to his cautious approach than his performance away from the line. He was pushed off the track through turn six and claimed he got hit. After all this chaos he sat 14th at the end of the first lap.

For the remainder of the race the McLaren gradually climbed the order, picking off drivers one by one, including an eye-catching move when he put all four wheels up on the kerb and went around the outside of Pierre Gasly. His two-stop strategy saw him go from soft to medium and back to softs to finish the race in sixth for the first points of his F1 career.

Alexander Albon

Albon qualified three tenths ahead of his team mate, Kvyat (who was put on the wrong tyres in Q2), but missed out on Q3 after he made a mistake in the final corner and ran wide. In the race he lost a couple of spots on the opening laps but ran a strategy contrary to the rest of the grid which benefited him in the long run. His first two stints were on the soft tyre before switching over to the medium for the final 32 laps.

At the end of the race he got lucky with Renault’s double retirement that propelled him into ninth so he could claim his first points of the season.

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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019
Vettel couldn’t keep Leclerc behind
Vettel’s problems began in Q2 when he hit traffic on his first run and spectacularly flat spotted a set of softs. This forced him to do another run, leaving him with just one set of fresh tyres for Q3. Under pressure, he found himself three-tenths adrift from his team on the front row.

When Leclerc started poorly Vettel pounced, holding the lead for the first five laps. He was unable to resist Leclerc’s attack, however, and feel to second. He had a fairly quiet race until Hamilton caught him. The pair battled for a couple of laps and after Vettel lost out to the Mercedes driver at turn four he lost the rear on the exit and spun. On the back straight the severe vibrations caused the front wing to be ripped off.

He came in for fresh tyres and a new front wing and came out ninth but recovered to fifth by the end of the race.

Pierre Gasly

Gasly’s struggles continued in Bahrain as he failed to find the pace to get anywhere near his team mate as he hovered in and out of the top ten. He failed to make it to Q3 and saw a Toro Rosso qualify ahead of him.

For the majority of the race he was stuck in the midfield pack and was unable to make any significant progress through the midfield. Thanks to retirements ahead and long middle stint with strong pace Gasly found himself tenth before the Renault retirements that brought him up to eighth.

Lance Stroll

In Australia Lance Stroll had Grosjean to blame for failing to reach Q2 but this time it was all on him. The Racing Point driver only managed to outpace the two Williams drivers.

In the race he made an excellent start and was battling with Grosjean when he made contact with the Haas at the exit of turn two. Stroll damaged his front wing and was forced to stop at the end of the first lap. The accident was deemed a racing incident but of the two Stroll could have more easily avoided the contact. Despite making that early stop he only made two stops and finished a lap down in 14th.

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And the rest

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019
Hulkenberg almost rear-ended Raikkonen
Mercedes were clearly the second-best team throughout the weekend despite closing the gap to Ferrari significantly by the time they reached Q3. Hamilton out-qualified Bottas but the defending world champion lost out at the start and Bottas briefly ran in second.

Bottas’ pace for the majority of the race was negatively affected by a piece of plastic in his front wing. Meanwhile, Hamilton caught Vettel after his final stop and then both drivers sailed by Leclerc to secure the one-two.

Verstappen didn’t have the pace in the car to fight Mercedes or Ferrari in qualifying and in the opening laps of the race he locked horns with his former team mate, Carlos Sainz. The McLaren driver came off worse when the pair made contact at turn four, damaging his front wing. He eventually retired when the Safety Car was deployed.

Kimi Raikkonen finished a strong seventh and was handily ahead of his team mate, Giovinazzi, who was eliminated in Q1 and failed to reach the top 10.

Renault suffered a double retirement on the same lap that brought out the Safety Car on lap 54. Both drivers were in the points when the technical failures occurred.

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Perez had a quiet weekend where he was clearly better than his team mate all weekend but didn’t have the pace in the car since Racing Point struggled to get out of the bottom half of the midfield.

Haas failed to score any points despite a strong showing in qualifying. Magnussen’s strategy failed to pay dividends as the team could not make their tyres work. Grosjean suffered damage in the incident with Stroll and retired for the second time this season on lap 16.

George Russell proved to be the faster Williams driver, though Robert Kubica pointed out the two FW42s were handling very differently, partly due to repair work owing to their parts shortage.

Video: How ever F1 driver performed in the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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45 comments on “2019 Bahrain Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Pérez posted on twitter that his race was affected by a tear-off stuck “in his brakes”.

    No mention of where it got stuck, though.

  2. Hulk should be considered as a star performer.

    1. I have no idea how Hulkenberg and Hamilton aren’t star performers either.

      Hulk went from 17th to 8th in a matter of 10 to 12 laps. He was set to finish best of the rest despite starting in P17 through no fault of his own.

      Even Hamilton’s performance is being seriously undervalued. He put in a stellar qualifying to finish 3 hundredths of a second down on a Ferrari, which seemed significantly quicker than them all weekend. He made an opportunistic pass on Bottas, and made a quicker Ferrari spin while getting overtaken. Hamilton had P2 on merit in Bahrain.

      I thought both drivers were better than Albon this weekend. Maybe it’s a young guns special on race performers this weekend.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        4th April 2019, 18:23

        If vettel was concidered slow or poor this weekend, it wasn’t that surprising for hamilton to catch him. The pass was certainly good though. What he did on Bottas was’t exactly impressive as Bottas had lost a lot of speed due to a mistake. Bottas also was really close to Ferrari in qualifying, so i think it was more down to Vettel being poor in qualifying and the race rather than Hamilton being that special. He was certainly good though. But to me, it wasn’t outstanding.

        1. Or maybe Vettel actually had a solid weekend, the Ferrari was only slightly faster than the Mercedes, but Leclerc is just a god ;)

          1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
            4th April 2019, 21:36

            I don’t like Vettel, but objectively, a 4-time champion and championship challenger during the past 2 years, not to mention the favored no.1 of the team, should be closer to a driver in only his 2nd year in F1 and first with the team.

            this was a pretty weak race from him, although, in terms of pace, he probably would’ve been in front of Bottas hadn’t he spun out

  3. Hulk should be a star, up there with the big boys all weekend, let down by the car in quali and then again up there, best of the rest untill the car let him down again

  4. I believe Raikkonen performed better than Albon. For sure Albon’s race was correct, but it looks more a case of good strategy and luck with 2 Renault’s retirements. But maybe the race was so eventful I might have forgotten to look at Albon performance closely enough. But overall for sure I’m impress by his maturity for a rookie.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      4th April 2019, 21:40

      Raikkonen is silently amassing points. He’s currently 6th in the standings and got sauber to 4th in the constructor standings.
      Of course, Hulkenberg would be ahead of him had the Renault been reliable, but he’s doing quite well. He’s ahead of Gasly of Magnussen, both of whom also finished both races and are deemed to have better cars

  5. Yeah , I forgot to add that Hulk for sure was stellar this weekend, let down by his team. But he was impressive! One of he’s best races.

  6. Ops , damn autocorrect “his best”

  7. I usually don’t comment on Hulk’s absence from the star performers list when I think he deserves to be there, but he was seriously very good in the race. Outstanding start, followed by constant and quick progress through the rest of the race. I mean, last year Verstappen was being praised to the moon and back when he started at the back and finished 4th or 5th. Hulkenberg managed 17th to 6th in a midfield car…that is worthy of praise. He was competing against and overtook drivers with cars not too much slower than his Renault.

    I have previously sees such lists with four star performers…why not include the Hulk as well? It doesn’t have to be limited to just three. If multiple drivers perform at a very high level, then all of them deserve high praise.

    1. Totally agree, first of all let’s point out that keith almost never rewards drivers who recover from bottom to 4th etc. with top cars, it must’ve been the time in austin where he started from the back and ended 2nd, fighting with raikkonen and hamilton for the last 10 laps or so, which was actually impressive.

      Hulkenberg from 17th to 6th is pretty good indeed in a midfield car, maybe he considers renault to be above the others now, not sure.

      Definitely I’d take albon out, didn’t seem that impressive and put hulk, apart from that I guessed every single struggler before reading and 2 of the 3 star performers, so I think it was an above average star performer article.

      1. @esploratore Just to clarify, Josh Holland does the star performers articles now, not Keith.

  8. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    4th April 2019, 18:18

    Sorry to say, but the description for albon’s race hardly justifies him as a star performer at all. It seems he was just put there because he got his first points.

    The first thing mentioned was him beating Kvyat by 3 tenths. But clearly mentioning that something possibly prevented Kvyat improving in Q1. Then mentioning a mistake in Q2. Then, in the race, mentioning that he lost 2 places. and that it was a different strategy that sort of implies he was helped by it. Then even mentioning that he got lucky by a double retirement of the renaults?

    Really, how much of this writing actually looks like Albon’s performance was anythig special? Toro rosso are good here. Gasly sort of showed that last year. Kvyat was a bit unlucky, but it was only luck that got Albon in the points. I think the reasoning for Albon being a star performer has to be about the most strange i have seen on this site.

    1. Totally agree, he doesn’t seem worthy of star performer, the only one I disagree with in this article, within both lists.

  9. Disagree on Albon. While he outpaced his team mate in Qualy (mostly because of a team error), he had a quiet race and wasn’t as impressive as, say, Hulkenberg. And Hamilton picked up a “lucky” win (if you can call it that) but he was there all along, he managed to put serious pressure on Vettel and beated him eventually, and put himself in a position to be the first one to benefit from LeClerc’s problems.

  10. Hulkenberg had pretty much a better race than anyone in the field with the possible exception of LeClerc, who also suffered issues with his car. Evidently the only way he may get to be a “Star Performer” here is to start dead last, lap the entire field twice including all Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes cars.

    1. @bullmello in that case he would’ve been out-qualified by his teammate, so not a star performer.

    2. Mmm, I’m sure hulk has been star performer before!

  11. As others have said, Hulkenberg should have been considered a star performer.

  12. Stars: Leclerc, Norris, Hulkenberg, Albon.
    Strugglers: Vettel, Mercedes, Ricciardo, Gasly, Kvyat, Haas, RacingPoint.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      4th April 2019, 19:41

      rather harsh to say kvyat is a struggler no? team at fault for qualifying and giovinassi ruined his tyres by spinning him. speeding in the pitlane, his fault yes. but his team mates weekend wasn’t exactly much better.

    2. ALB a star. Strugglers cover half of the grid.
      But the funniest is having MERC as strugglers. After a 1-2. Should they have had FLAP too??

      1. Hamilton had an off week for some reason, titles “he is beaten by a rookie, bottas is now rosberg level if not better, ham lost wdc already”
        Bottas next week has an off for whatever reason, “titles, hamilton was lucky”

  13. “Bottas’ pace for the majority of the race was negatively affected by a piece of plastic in his front wing” – why didn’t the team take it out at the pit stop?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      4th April 2019, 20:30

      If it wasn’t visible until the end, then it would have waisted a fair amount of time for them to get it out. Seems strange if it moved further out later in the race, but it was mentioned that it was only visible towards the end.

  14. Kimi should be a star performer on his overtakes of both STRs alone.

    He must be forgotten on the back of a racefans’ drawer together with Hulk

  15. F1oSaurus (@)
    4th April 2019, 20:49

    Albon’s list of “merits” is a summation of things he did wrong or where he was lucky to benefit.

    Hulkenberg has pretty much the race of his life, going from the back of the field to driving behind a Ferrari in P6 and he only gets mentioned for almost rear ending Raikkonen.

    Hamilton wins yet another race he shouldn’t have been able to win (with his team mate about 30 seconds back). Hamilton performed at least on the same level as Leclerc did. I’d say better since Hamilton was in the slower car and still managed to stay close enough to take Vettel.

    Of course Leclerc gets the praise since it’s new that he’s on the podium. Surprise always trumps actual performance, but still.

    1. There’s no way to say leclerc wasn’t better than hamilton, leclerc had no one to overtake after vettel.

      1. Hamilton wins another race based on pure luck just it was like in 2018 Brazil GP.

  16. GtisBetter (@)
    4th April 2019, 21:14

    Stroll always has very aggressive starts and with Williams that all or nothing approach was not a bad tactic, but now all the points are needed and I wonder if he will adjust.

  17. Definitely think the Hulk deserves a * for the weekend , while his team mate shows he has not hit the ground running with his new team.

  18. Neil (@neilosjames)
    4th April 2019, 22:19

    Gasly is surprising me. I knew he’d be nowhere near Verstappen, but didn’t expect his personal nowhere to be quite as far back as it has been.

    1. @neilosjames – agreed. Gasly’s making the field look like there’s 1 RBR and 3 Toro Rossos racing.

    2. I think it shows how good Max is as well.

      1. What it shows, is that you can’t assume a driver new to a team can perform at 100% from the get go. Max was beaten by RIC all three years, and he too isn’t up to speed yet at REN.

  19. Lewis performance is severally underrated by calling it a lucky win. There was luck but he he did the best what the car could achieve and even more. In a clearly second best car he beat one fastest car on merit and beat his team mate convincingly.
    Had Lewis gone soft-med-med instead of soft for second stint which clearly didnt work and he lost ground to Lec, he very well would have been close to Lec and even fighting for the win without Lec’s engine trouble.
    Another impressive performer was Hulk.

    Strugglers were Redbull drivers, Vettel, Williams drivers, Stroll, Giovinazi, Haas drivers.

    1. I don’t see how you can call verstappen a struggle, red bull was nowhere in the race; gasly I agree, I didn’t think I’d have said it but getting kvyat back might be better, but even he is a 2nd tier choice, get alonso!

      Williams drivers once again, how can you say that? The car is nowhere, and literally this time, for all we know they’re doing the max that is possible.

      Haas also was nowhere in the race, they said it themselves, they had 1-lap pace but not race-pace.

      1. Max wasnt at his usual best and he almost crashed out like last year in Bahrain. Could have been game over for him as it was for Sainz.
        Williams car is just a big struggle.
        Haas drivers too performed nothing special. Mag qualified P6.

        1. When the car is best (and a VSC disrupting the top), like austin’18 he says it was ver (after blunder in quali and RICs mech-DNF) in his post above, and now when the package struggles, he says “red bull was nowhere in the race” (while coming in 4th, just missing out on the podium). VER also almost crashed into GAS and went off track on another occasion just before the race, had the SAI-getaway in the race, and spun on the inlap after the race.

        2. Leclerc was the fastest man in every part of the race. How do you dream Lewis would have catch him, is just strange.

  20. Hamilton and Hulk were star performers. Albon to be there is ludicrous.

  21. I like Lando Norris, I think he had a strong weekend and brought home the bacon, but you can’t have a star performance if half your review is negative.

    Lewis did a great job all weekend, he thrives being an underdog. Nobody really makes much of Vettel passing him because he was struggling with the tyres and Vettel made an easy DRS pass, but his move in turn 4 will make the end-of-season highlight reel.

    For more of what I think, here’s my write up

  22. Leclerc & Hulk were stars of the race.

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