Front to back: the Bahrain Grand Prix

How every team and every driver fared under night skies at Sakhir.


Lewis Hamilton:
qualified 1st, finished 3rd
Nico Rosberg: qualified 2nd, finished 1st
Rosberg felt being second on the grid wasn’t as much of a disadvantage at Sakhir as most other circuits, and proved it on the run to turn one. A devastating start set up a lead that was barely challenged across the 57 laps, the championship leader easing to a 10-second victory. Hamilton’s slow getaway by contrast saw him susceptible to first-corner contact, and any chance of a win went out the window when he was hit by the Williams of Valtteri Bottas. Third on a day when his teammate was untouchable was a case of damage limitation for Hamilton, while the German has won all five Grands Prix since Hamilton was crowned as champion in Austin last year.

Sebastian Vettel:
qualified 3rd, did not finish
Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 4th, finished 2nd
Vettel’s chances of muscling in on the Mercedes party as he’s regularly done since joining the Prancing Horse went up in smoke – literally – when his Ferrari engine expired on the warm-up lap, the first time in his career that he’s seen the dreaded ‘DNS’ next to his name in the race classification. Raikkonen kept Rosberg honest without ever managing to fight for the lead after a tardy start, but an eighth podium at one of his strongest circuits partially made up for his non-finish in Australia.

Front to back: what happened in Australia?

Felipe Massa:
qualified 7th, finished 8th
Valtteri Bottas: qualified 6th, finished 9th
Both Williams drivers got off the line like scalded cats on Sunday, but that was as good as it got on a night to forget in the desert. Bottas’ race unravelled when he was assessed a drive-through penalty for his clash with Hamilton at turn one, while Massa steadily dropped backwards after finishing lap one in second place, and was demoted to eighth on the final lap by a charging Daniil Kvyat. Long stints on the slower medium tyre didn’t pay dividends, and both Williams cars were lapped by the finish.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo:
qualified 5th, finished 4th
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 15th, finished 7th
There were hearts in mouths at Red Bull when Ricciardo’s front wing was damaged as he took avoiding action from the Hamilton-Bottas clash at the first corner, but the ‘Honey Badger’ is a persistent type, and a final stint on the medium tyres secured a second fourth place in as many races to start 2016 for the smiling Australian, who has quietly risen to third in the drivers’ standings. Kvyat was furious and admitted some embarrassment after qualifying 15th on Saturday (“I’m just f**king tired from all this s**t” was his colourful assessment), and made some feisty overtakes late in the race to finish seventh after all looked lost in the first half.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg:
qualified 8th, finished 15th
Sergio Perez: qualified 18th, finished 16th
A race best consigned to the dustbin of history for last year’s overachievers. Third-last and second-last respectively for Hulkenberg and Perez of the 17 finishers, little pace, and a scruffy race in particular for Perez, who damaged his front wing in a clash with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz in the early stages after qualifying a lowly 18th. China can’t come soon enough.

Jolyon Palmer: qualified 20th, did not finish
Kevin Magnussen: qualified 19th, finished 11th
Englishman Palmer was disconsolate after qualifying 20th on Saturday, and his mood only worsened after hydraulics issues brought him back into the pits after the warm-up lap, meaning his second race was over before it started. Magnussen also saw the race start from the pits courtesy of a penalty for a weighbridge infringement in Friday practice, and while the Dane did an admirable job to climb back to 11th, points remain elusive for Renault so far this season.

Toro Rosso
Max Verstappen:
qualified 10th, finished 6th
Carlos Sainz: qualified 11th, did not finish
The Toro Rosso tyros qualified next to one another after their race-long battle in Australia, but the wheel-to-wheel action that raged at Albert Park never really eventuated under the night skies of Sakhir. Sainz was deprived a chance of making his opening stint on soft tyres work when he was hit by Perez, and he eventually retired on lap 29. Verstappen was the final car not lapped by Rosberg as he finished 80 seconds behind the race-winner, and while a long stint on medium tyres didn’t pay off, he’s well placed inside the top 10 in the drivers’ standings after two races.

Felipe Nasr:
qualified 22nd, finished 14th
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 17th, finished 12th
A tough weekend for Sauber, with stories of financial struggles swirling around the Swiss squad, and team principal Monisha Kaltenborn not in Bahrain to keep an eye on proceedings. Ericsson and Nasr spent much of the race fighting – and with some feistiness – amongst themselves, and it was the Swede who came out on top. Being split by the Manor of Pascal Wehrlein wouldn’t have improved the mood at Hinwil.

Jenson Button:
qualified 14th, did not finish
Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 12th, finished 10th
Points – well, a point – on debut for the impressive Vandoorne, the Belgian deputising for Fernando Alonso after the two-time world champion was ruled out with rib and lung injuries after his monster crash in Australia a fortnight previously. Vandoorne made a superb start and showed that he deserves a permanent place on the grid in the future, while Button’s race lasted all of six laps before he was forced to park his car with an energy recovery system failure. Hands up who had neither Alonso nor Button scoring McLaren’s first points of the season? Us neither.

Pascal Wehrlein:
qualified 16th, finished 13th
Rio Haryanto: qualified 21st, finished 17th
Wehrlein was outstanding in qualifying and even better in the race, the German keeping his cool in the desert heat to run on the fringes of the top 10 for much of the race, and showing that the hype that greeted his arrival in F1 from winning the DTM series was entirely justified. Haryanto’s weekend by contrast was much quieter, but the Indonesian finished a race for the first time as Manor showed its progress from last season to this one.

Romain Grosjean:
qualified 9th, finished 5th
Esteban Gutierrez: qualified 13th, did not finish
Sixth on debut in Melbourne for Grosjean and new team Haas was something; out-doing that with fifth on Sunday was, as Grosjean’s pass of Massa late in the race was surmised on team radio, “awesome”. Grosjean didn’t put a foot wrong with an aggressive supersoft tyre-led strategy, and after two races, he’s a remarkable fifth in the drivers’ standings. The team’s joy was tempered somewhat by a disappointing DNF for Gutierrez, who was running inside the points just behind his teammate after a great start before technical gremlins ended his day on lap 10.


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