Scuderia Ferrari had a disappointing end to the Bahrain Grand Prix after a strong performance all weekend. The Ferrari drivers locked out the front row in qualification. This was the perfect result on Saturday after they topped all three practice sessions.
Sebastian Vettel got the jump on pole-sitter Charles Leclerc into Turn 1 at the start of the race after Leclerc made a bad start and fell to third position, but the young Monégasque driver kept his cool and fought his way back into first position.
Leclerc took a commanding lead over Vettel and after the second pit stops, Vettel came under strong pressure from Lewis Hamilton. As the two drivers engaged in fierce wheel-to-wheel racing, Vettel was overtaken by Hamilton.
The German suffered a spin that flat-spotted his tyres and the strong vibrations broke his front wing. Vettel pitted for a fresh set of tyres and a front wing and rejoined in ninth position, before the German fought his way back to end in fifth position in the race.
Leclerc had built a comfortable ten second lead over Hamilton at the front. But with 15 laps to go, a power unit problem caused Leclerc to lose five seconds a lap to his rivals. Soon Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas passed Leclerc.
Max Verstappen was also closing in and was set to overtake Leclerc; Only a Safety Car on lap 54 saved the day for the Monegasque driver.
The race ended behind the Safety Car and Leclerc was able to clinch the first podium of his Formula 1 career.
Binotto hopes to build on the positives
On a day when a comfortable Ferrari 1-2 was possible, the team ended with a third and fifth position. Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto said: “It was a shame for Charles. He was in the lead for much of the race and showed that he was particularly comfortable here in Bahrain, also setting the race fastest lap.”
“He deserved to win and it was only the reliability problem, which we must now investigate, which prevented him from doing so. That is something unacceptable from us and it shows how important it is to get every last detail right in order to win.”
Binotto took Vettel’s misfortunes in his stride and said: “With regards to Sebastian, these things can happen in racing when you are on the limit, therefore it is more important to consider the car, which today performed well.
“The team also did an excellent job, producing some really good pit stops. We head home with many positives on which to build for the rest of the season, such as our performance level and the way the team reacted.
“Clearly there are still various things that we have to learn and we will continue to work on them.”
The Italian team has another two weeks to study the data and build on this performance before the next race at the Chinese Grand Prix.