Charles Leclerc's Bahrain Grand Prix might have ended in heart-breaking fashion, when it looked like delivering his first victory, but it showed the Formula 1 world that the Monegasque is absolutely ready to take on the pressure of his full-time Ferrari drive.
While Leclerc took most of the headlines, it was Lewis Hamilton taking the most points, with Mercedes in place to capitalise on poor luck in one Ferrari, and poor judgement in the other - Sebastian Vettel once again spinning out of contention.
There were plenty more star turns in the field, as our Bahrain GP ratings will show!
Bahrain Grand Prix: Driver Ratings
Romain Grosjean (Qual 11th-Race DNF) 5/10
A hazardous weekend for Grosjean which eerily mirrors his 2018 season, with his second retirement of the year. A grid penalty issued for blocking Lando Norris put him further back from his Q3 achievement, but his race was over once he suffered contact in the first few contacts and sent him out of the race.
Carlos Sainz (Qual 7th-Race DNF) 8/10
In Sainz's hands McLaren could have been on for an excellent result, but going wheel-to-wheel with former teammate Max Verstappen while duelling for fifth in the opening exchanges led to damage which sent him plummeting down the order before exiting stage right with a gearbox problem.
Sainz claimed that he had more pace that the Red Bulls and even the Mercedes - where could he have finished if true?
Daniel Ricciardo (Qual 10th-Race DNF) 6/10
Not the ideal start for Ricciardo with his new team, as two DNFs is all he has to show so far.
A bold one-stopper could have paid off if he’d had a clean race, but contact with Hulkenberg
put paid to that. His Renault gave up mysteriously on the same lap as teammate to cause
the race-ending Safety Car
Nico Hulkenberg (Qual 17th-Race DNF) 8/10
We’ll never know how quick Hulkenberg could have been in Bahrain as his Renault suffered
problems when it mattered most. A Q1 exit wasn’t representative of his pace through
practice - which proposed a solid top 10 start - and the German’s heroics that should have
been rewarded with points meant nothing when his engine failed with a handful of laps
Robert Kubica (Qual 10th-Race 16th) 6/10
A lack of balance prevented any real show of relative pace from Kubica as he continues his
comeback to F1, including a damage free race, but the Williams doesn’t showcase his talent and George Russell had the upper hand for the whole weekend.
George Russell (Qual 19th-Race 15th) 7/10
The rookie Brit can only be compared to team-mate Kubica thanks to the woes at Williams, and again Russell came out on top in the inter-team battle. His season will be defined for what he achieves in the battle with Kubica and in this case it was another victory, as much as 15th place can be.
Lance Stroll (Qual 18th-Race 14th) 5/10
It only took a few corners for Stroll’s miserable Bahrain weekend to lose any hope of a good
result, clashing with Grosjean and suffering damage. After a difficult Saturday - he only had
the two Williams behind him after exiting in Q1 - there really was a distinct lack of pace in the
car and no chance of points.
Kevin Magnussen (Qual 6th-Race 13th) 6/10
No other driver had as two contrasting days as Magnussen. Qualifying sixth and being the best driver outside of the top three teams should have been a platform for big points, but come race day he ended up seven places further back in 13th and suffered the ignominy of being lapped.
Daniil Kvyat (Qual 15th-Race 12th) 6/10
The whole weekend seemed to be a struggle for Kvyat and the results speak for themselves. He more than made up for a team error putting him on used tyres in qualifying to run as high as eighth in the early running, only to be nudged into a spin by Giovinazzi when battling. Kvyat will hope China is a better hunting ground.
Antonio Giovinazzi (Qual 16th-Race 11th) 5/10
The gulf between Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen was plain to see in Bahrain - the former failed to get out of Q1 while the latter swept into Q3. The race wasn’t much better, as contact with Kvyat was the exclamation point to a scrappy start, leading to a finish just outside the points. A fairly anonymous weekend on the whole.
Sergio Perez (Qual 14th-Race 10th) 7/10
Another result skewed by Renault’s woes, taking a point home after a weekend of lacking pace might feel a bit embarrassing for Perez and Racing Point. An attempt to maximise the tyres for as long as possible after an early stop meant he finished higher than he started, but this was a wakeup call for the team.
Alexander Albon (Qual 12th-Race 9th) 8/10
Albon deserves more recognition for his first points scoring result than was actually given - his race was frenetic from start to finish, with the main highlight being a pass on senior Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly. Considering Albon hadn’t even driven an F1 car until last month, bringing home a top 10 finish in his second attempt is an impressive feat.
Pierre Gasly (Qual 13th-Race 8th) 5/10
The Frenchman continues to struggle after being promoted to the main Red Bull team, and starting behind both his predecessor at Red Bull, Ricciardo, and replacement at Toro Rosso, Albon, must have stung. In previous years being out of the top 10 wouldn’t have been a problem for previous drivers in his position but with the gap to the midfield being smaller this year it was hard to escape, only earning points when both Renaults dropped out.
Kimi Raikkonen (Qual 9th-Race 7th) 8/10
A solid weekend for Kimi, who rarely looked like dropping out of the top 10 on both days, picking off both Toro Rossos smartly in the race. His transition into the midfield has almost been seamless and is going to be Alfa Romeo’s biggest asset as the seasons wears on.
Lando Norris (Qual 10th-Race 6th) 9/10
While it’s still too early to tell where McLaren and Norris sit in the pecking order, there’s definitely a talent starting to shine. Two straight Q3 appearances and the best result for McLaren for just over a year means both team and driver are starting to establish themselves in the midfield.
Despite being outqualified by teammate Sainz, and losing places at the start thanks to an excursion, Norris’s defence from the more experienced Raikkonen showed exceptional skill and racecraft. Arguably the stand out driver of the weekend after Leclerc.
Sebastian Vettel (Qual: 2nd-Race: 4th) 4/10
Vettel’s championship challenge began in earnest last year in Bahrain and the Ferrari pace was clear for all to see this year - only it wasn’t the German’s car leading the way.
Sunday was a race to forget for Vettel, firstly losing out to Hamilton in wheel-to-wheel combat and then spinning in frustration. That’s the fourth time in ten races that’s happened now. Coupled with a spectacular front wing failure, it felt like an afternoon to forget for Vettel.
Max Verstappen (Qual 5th-Race 4th) 7/10
Only denied a second straight podium visit thanks to the late Safety Car, it was another glut of points for the new Red Bull-Honda partnership. Being the third best team was the best they could hope as Ferrari and Mercedes were a class apart. It may have been undeserved to finish ahead of at least one of the four faster cars but give Verstappen a sniff of result and he’ll duly take it.
Charles Leclerc (Qual: 1st- Race: 3rd) 10/10
Not many drivers get an introduction to the front end of F1 in quite the way Leclerc did in Bahrain. After dominating for most of the weekend to put himself in a race-winning position, it was cruel to see his dream of a maiden win snatched from him due to Ferrari unreliability.
This raw talent paired with the humility and grace in which he dealt with defeat, especially in the heat of the moment will gain Leclerc many more fans, and the late race Safety Car for Renault’s double DNF meant he could soak up the applause. A learning experience that will only make him stronger.
Valtteri Bottas (Qual: 4th-Race: 2nd) 7/10
The change of luck for the Finn continues as he leaves Bahrain still in the championship lead, but minus the gusto and strong performance we saw in Melbourne.
Losing out to team-mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying again, Bottas got the jump into second behind Vettel before making an error to let Leclerc through and then be slightly bullied by Hamilton and losing another place. Holding of Verstappen was the only thing left to do through the afternoon but lady luck shone thanks to the woes of Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton (Qual: 3rd-Race: 1st) 9/10
Mercedes did enough to keep within arm’s reach of Ferrari for the whole weekend and it paid dividends when the Prancing Horse went lame - Hamilton was the prime beneficiary of both red cars hitting problems.
The overtakes on teammate Bottas and main rival Vettel put him in the perfect position, showing his racecraft is sharp as ever. Was it as much as a surprise as it was made out? Perhaps, but you this wasn’t a fluke victory.
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