Hamilton leads fortuitous Mercedes 1-2 as brilliant Leclerc suffers failure
Lewis Hamilton led a fortuitous Mercedes 1-2 at the Bahrain Grand Prix after race leader Charles Leclerc suffered a cruel turbo failure 10 laps from the end. After becoming the second-youngest Formula 1 pole-sitter, Leclerc led the majority of the race but was ultimately lucky to salvage third.
Leclerc had a slow getaway and lost a place to both team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas at the start, but the Monegasque kept his cool and was able to re-pass Bottas on lap two.
Leclerc followed Vettel in the opening laps as the Ferrari pair began to pull away from Hamilton and Bottas behind. On lap seven, Leclerc used DRS to pass Vettel into Turn 1.
On lap 10, Max Verstappen became the first of the frontrunners to pit from fifth and this triggered Mercedes to bring Hamilton in for a pitstop with Ferrari stopping Leclerc a lap later.
Race leader Vettel then stopped a lap later but lost track position to Hamilton who had increased his pace on fresh tyres. Despite moving up to second place, Hamilton was unable to keep pace with new leader Leclerc who began pulling away.
After struggling for pace in the middle part of the race after swapping to the medium tyre, Hamilton stopped again for the soft tyre with around 20 laps to go and began gaining on Vettel who also stopped a lap later.
A few laps later, Hamilton had reeled Vettel in and passed him around the outside of Turn 4, but Vettel, in defending the move, spun his car around and badly flat-spotted one of his tyres. Upon recovering to the pits, Vettel then lost more time as the vibrations from his damaged tyre shattered his front wing.
After falling to eighth following his stop, Vettel's podium hopes were over and Leclerc was left with a 10 second lead over Hamilton with around 15 laps remaining.
It looked as though Leclerc was on course to become Ferrari's youngest ever race winner before cruelly being afflicted with a turbo failure 10 laps from the end.
Leclerc's pace dropped significantly as a result of his car trouble, allowing Hamilton to close the Ferrari driver's lead and snatch victory away in the closing laps.
It looked as though Leclerc might not even make the podium when Bottas caught and passed him for second place, but his luck was in when the Renault pair of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo stopped on track with three laps to go, bringing out the safety car.
The race ended under the safety car with Hamilton leading home a Mercedes 1-2 ahead of Australian Grand Prix winner Bottas, with Leclerc surviving to take third and his first ever podium finish in F1.
Verstappen survived contact with Sainz on lap one to take fourth place, but the Red Bull driver was never in serious contention for the win. The Dutchman would, however, have taken third from Leclerc had it not been for a safety car being called in the closing stages.
Vettel finished fifth in the end following his spin and forced pitstop for a new front wing. Vettel led the opening stages of the race but it was a race to forget for the German as he was passed by both his team-mate and race winner Hamilton.
Lando Norris delivered a superb drive to take sixth for McLaren in only his second ever race, passing both Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo along the way.
Raikkonen finished in seventh to deliver more points for Alfa Romeo ahead of Red Bull's Pierre Gasly who could only recover as far as eighth from 13th on the grid.
There were four retirements in all, with Romain Grosjean forced to retire with floor damage following contact with Lance Stroll on lap one. Carlos Sainz was forced to stop with damage resulting from early contact with Verstappen, and both Renaults bizarrely stopped on track within a minute of each other with a few laps to go.
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