News : Formula 1 in Bahrain – Hamilton wins the start of the season – Sport
Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 nightmare continues on the night of Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton beats Max Verstappen in a breathless duel – and Mick Schumacher drives a lonely first Grand Prix at the end of the field: with a wild race under floodlights, the premier class is in theirs started the new season and has already answered important questions.
The hero of the day in the desert was world champion Hamilton, who impressively fended off the attack of his rebellious challenger. The Mercedes driver won the race ahead of Verstappen and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Vettel, on the other hand, disappointed in the highly anticipated debut for Aston Martin. After a poor performance, the Hesse landed 15th far away from the points and brought back memories of the bitter last months at Ferrari.
Schumacher gained important experience over 56 laps in the visibly inferior Haas racing car and was almost always stable. After his promotion to the premier class, the Formula 2 champion made exactly one mistake over the entire weekend – but the spin in the initial phase threw him back a long way. In the end there was 16th and last place, much more would not have been possible in the Haas otherwise.
Right at the front, the result was a hint for the rest of the season. The test drives two weeks earlier had indicated a change at the top, in qualifying on Saturday this impression was reinforced: Red Bull, actually known for weak season starts and strong final sprints, was there right away, Verstappen took the first opening pole of the Racing teams since 2013. “I think”, said the Dutchman, “we as a team have never started a season so well prepared.”
Verstappen attacks until the end
The opposite was probably thought at Mercedes. It was second place on the grid for Hamilton, but the gap to Verstappen was huge. After the start, however, Mercedes was up to par, and everything in the front initially remained as it was. A lot happened far back in the field. Vettel was slowed down in qualifying by a yellow phase on his fast lap and retired early, a penalty even allowed him to slide to the end of the grid. For the race he was planning to catch up: “I want to come forward and enjoy the whole thing a bit.”
But that only succeeded in the first lap, Vettel made up six places. It should go on in a sobering way. As a result, Vettel got stuck and couldn’t keep up with the lap times of his much better placed team-mate Lance Stroll (at the end of tenth place).
At first, however, it became clear how difficult the task for Schumacher will be this year. Much had been said about how weak and difficult to control the Haas car is – the first race proved it. At first, team-mate Nikita Masepin lost control of the car, but Schumacher himself was hit a little later. Unlike the Russian, however, he was able to continue – and at least achieved many kilometers in his first Grand Prix.
Vettel waited a long time for his first pit stop and was the slowest driver in the field for several laps, significantly slower than Schumacher. After the tire change things didn’t go much better, a collision with Esteban Ocon in the Alpine threw him back further.
At the front, Verstappen and Hamilton fought back and forth, and the lead changed after each pit stop phase. The world champion was ahead on the final laps, but his challenger had the much fresher tires. The Mercedes command post wanted to help with tips, Hamilton wanted his peace and quiet: “Leave that to me,” he radioed and won the one on one with all his experience.