Bahrain Grand Prix 2015 Recap

Lewis Hamilton grabbed his third title in four races this year after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix. It was a result which many have expected, but what really surprised everybody here is Kimi Raikonnen of Ferrari who finished second ahead of Rosberg and denying Mercedes another one-two. Let’s have a recap of what happened on the first Grand Prix in the Middle East this year.

Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton again dominated the qualifying sessions for this race clocking the fastest time of 1 min 32.571 sec. This is more than two seconds faster than Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari who finished second in qualifying at 1 min 32.982 sec. This result also illustrates the gap between Hamilton and the other drivers right now. The Briton is simply way ahead of everybody even in the pre-race sessions. Jenson Button of McLaren was unable to participate in the qualifying due to an electrical problem in his car. He’ll also not participate in the race proper.

Racing Conditions

The Bahrain GP is the first night race of the season. But unlike the Singapore GP which begins in the middle of the night, this one starts after the sun had just set. The track here is well-lit so the time of the race doesn’t really matter. The temperature here is also cool unlike in Malaysia. The main concern for the drivers here is the track which has a high grip but is also very rough. Tyre management is very important in this race.

The Grid

The Race

With Jenson Button out only 19 drivers will compete here. Felipe Massa of Williams was forced to begin the race from the pit lane after his car encountered a mechanical problem just before the race. Carlos Sainz was also forced to start at the back after a five second penalty was imposed to him after he exceeded the maximum time allowed for a reconnaissance lap.

At the start of the race, Hamilton again takes the lead early on. The two Ferraris, Vettel and Raikkonen followed him while his teammate Nico Rosberg is on fourth place. On lap 4, Rosberg overtakes Raikkonen and took the third spot. Rosberg then continues to push forward piling the pressure on Vettel. On lap 9, he was able to finally steal the second place from his fellow German. It looks like we’ll have another Mercedes one-two here.

Some of the drivers make their first stop on lap 11. Teams usually employ a two stop strategy in this race. But the others like Alonso and Vettel make their first stop either on lap 14 or lap 16. Hamilton makes his first on lap 16 and came back second on the race. He was able to reclaim the lead on lap 28 after Raikkonen decided to finally pit.

On lap 21, Hamilton leads by only 1.9 seconds from Rosberg. The two Ferraris, Vettel and Raikkonen are behind them. During lap 31, we have the first retirement for this race after Carlos Sainz of Torro Rosso pulled over after sparks were seen coming out from his car’s left wheel.

Hamilton and Vettel make their second stop on lap 34. They both changed to medium compounds. Raikkonen is once again the temporary race leader. Torro Rosso is now out of the race after Max Verstappen was forced to retire during lap 36 due to a mechanical problem. Vettel was forced to make a third stop on lap 37 to change his front wing after it got damaged during lap 36.

Hamilton reclaims the lead on lap 40 after Raikkonen makes his second stop. The Finn will have soft tyres for the rest of the race. On lap 41, Hamilton was able to establish a five second lead over Rosberg. Raikkonen is on third and Bottas is now on fourth place.

Raikkonen is slowly catching up on Rosberg. On lap 51, he’s just 4.5 seconds behind the German. This gap continued to narrow down as the race reaches its end. On lap 53, it was down to just 2.2 seconds and on lap 54 it went down further to only 1.1 second. Finally on the penultimate lap of the race, Raikkonen was able to overtake Rosberg and claim the second place.

Hamilton was already in cruise control up front while the battle between Rosberg and Raikkonen was happening. He finished this race way ahead of everybody again. Raikkonen took the second place while Rosberg finished third.

After Thoughts

Although Mercedes are still on top of the drivers and constructors standings after this race, Ferrari have now emerged as a serious contender this season. After four races, Hamilton now has 93 points while Rosberg who has 66 points is just a point ahead of Vettel who has 65 points. Raikkonen is on fourth place with 42 points. The teams have plenty of time to prepare for next race in Spain which is on May 10. Let’s see what adjustments the teams will make for that race.