A enthralling Bahrain Grand Prix came to a close as Lewis Hamilton claimed his ninety fifth career victory however the mood around the paddock was that of relief as at the beginning of the race Romain Grosjean was the victim of a horrific accident.
The first lap began with Lewis Hamilton on pole getting an excellent start but the case wasn’t the same for his Mercedes teammate as he lost several places dropping down the order. Max Verstappen also got an excellent start jumping into second place but not more than Sergio Perez who moved from fifth to third where as Alex Albon who was ahead of the Mexican simultaneously lost and gained places to remain a net fourth. The action wasn’t exclusive to the front end of the grid as drivers throughout the order traded places but those battles didn’t last long either as the red flag was brought out.
Romain Grosjean whilst in the midst of a scrap with Daniil Kvyat at the exit of turn three had the rear of his car clipped by the front wing of the Alpha Tauri as the Frenchman cut across in front of the Russian thus sending his Haas into the Barriers and almost instantaneously his car exploded into a huge ball of flames. It took a few seconds as marshals rushed onto the scene for Grosjean to climb out of the inferno but thankfully he seemed to be relatively fine all things considered. The wreckage left behind bore testament to the extent of the crash as one half of Grosjean’s car lay to the side the other which he was in had gone through the barrier and was engulfed in flames which the marshals worked to put out.
Grosjean was then taken by medical staff to a hospital and reports since then have confirmed that his only injuries were burns to his hands.
After a lengthy stoppage during which marshals worked to repair the damaged barrier racing resumed with a standing start. Lewis Hamilton once again got a good start and so did several other drivers but that only lasted several corners as well as Lance Stroll who was in a battle with Carlos Sainz that had them trading positions for a while was hit by Daniil Kvyat as the Russian tried to sneak an overtake on the Canadian subsequently flipping the Racing Point upside down. This meant that Stroll was effectively eliminated from the race and Kvyat was handed a ten second penalty for causing a collision.
The collision resulted in a safety car during which Sebastian Vettel made clear to his team his frustration with Charles Leclerc not giving him enough space, Valtteri Bottas had picked up debris resulting in a puncture thus compounding the Finn’s problems as he further dropped down the order from having to do a unscheduled pitstop. Up until this point with all the chaos that had ensued not a single lap of racing had been completed.
Racing once again resumed with Lewis Hamilton carving out a commanding lead from nearest competitor Verstappen who did the same to Perez with mexican seeming to enjoy running in third place, with his teammate out of the race a third place finish would help Racing Point maintain third place in the Constructor’s Championship Championship ahead of Renault and McLaren. Renault were having a less than desirable race as they both battled Charles Leclerc then each other seemingly losing time in doing so and were further made to feel the consequence of doing so as Pierre Gasly was able to pull away and Carlos Sainz who started fifteenth, was able to catch up to both of them then pass them both as he carved his way up the field.
Bottas wasn’t having an easy time replicating the Spaniard as he struggled to get past traffic in the midfield perhaps due to the fact that the Mercedes car is primarily designed to lead from the front and not follow through the pack.
As the race approached the final laps it seemed Perez was on course to claim two consecutive podiums but misfortune would befall the Mexican as engine failure led to his car catching on fire on the rear thus retiring him from the race. This also meant Racing Point suffered a double DNF and did not score any points. They dropped from third to fourth in the Constructor’s Championship and with the two McLaren drivers finishing in fourth and fifth, they now have a seventeen point lead from Racing Point which they only need to hold on to for the next two races.
Alex Albon inherited the final step on the podium to claim his second podium of the season and his career, whilst it may have been down to good luck on his behalf such performances may very well convince Red Bull to retain the Thai for next season.
The race came to an end under the safety car, a somewhat anti-climactic end to a race that served as a reminder to the dangers of motorsport and a testament to the effectiveness of the steps taken to ensure driver safety.