The 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix has been run and won by Sebastian Vettel, and it was more exciting than the usual blast in the desert of previous seasons.
It was his second win of the season, and with it takes the Championship lead again. But it could have been closer, had Lewis Hamilton not been given a 5 second penalty for driving slow in the pitlane to avoid the dreaded double stack behind the safety car.
It could have been better for Daniel Ricciardo had he not been held up by it. Or probably not given the gap between them in the end.
It could have been better for pole sitter Valtteri Bottas, who did a good job all weekend, but now there’s talk of team orders after just three races. Pfffft.
The Vettel-Hamilton result sets the season up nicely with a genuine head to head battle between two of the best modern day drivers in different teams.
But who was the weekend’s best and blurst?
The following was originally published at the Fox Sports Academy and used here for the purposes of compiling the scores for 2017.
Took an early pit stop, and combined with the timing of the Safety Car grabbed the lead from Valtteri Bottas. He held off the Finn immediately after the Safety Car disappeared, and cruised to the win, only losing the lead when pitting for tyres. Looked to have everything under control throughout the race despite a late charge from Hamilton. A dangerous thing for the rest of the field given his ability to win championships.
Took a storming pole position to make up for last weekend’s less than stellar race, which put Lewis Hamilton on notice that he won’t have it all his way at Mercedes. Converted it into a lead at the first corner and held off a determined Sebastian Vettel early. Played the good team mate too twice when Lewis Hamilton needed to get past after he earned himself a five second penalty for going too slow in the pit lane under the Safety Car, and with 9 laps to go when Hamilton looked the more likely of the two Mercedes drivers to catch Vettel.
Won the title of Best of the Rest for the second time this season. The Brazilian’s return to F1 has been impressive as it could have gone pear shaped badly in 2017 coming out of retirement. Ran as high as fourth during the race and raced with the top three teams in the first half of the race.
No one takes advantage of uncertainty in a race like Sergio Perez. After qualifying 18th after being caught out with Yellow flags, after the dust settled from the pit stops and Safety Car he was well inside the top 10 and ran as high as 6th. By the end of the race another haul of points was his. As he so often does.
A reasonable effort in a Sauber as he qualified 13th on his return to F1 racing for 2017 after sitting out the first two races due to injury. Did nothing wrong in the race and ultimately finished just outside of the points.
STOFFEL VANDOORNE + McLAREN
Didn’t even get to make the start before car failure, with Honda Power Unit problems stopping the Belgian from starting the race. That is after having engine problems in both Practice sessions on Friday. The silver lining is that it may have saved him from a longer walk in the race once his McLaren-Honda inevitably broke down out on the circuit rather than in the pits.
Not much better for his team mate either, who no doubt will be dreaming of an oval at Indianapolis where he may get a front running car for the only time this year.
His car broke down in Qualifying, leaving him in the bottom five after the first part of qualifying. Wasn’t his finest hour crashing into Lance Stroll at the first corner after exiting the pit lane after a stop for tyres.
The William driver was taken out for the second race running. Had every right to be upset for his Bahrain exit. Doesn’t help with gaining experience though when you exit the races as early as he is.
Comfortably outqualified by Vettel again, and he even fell behind the Red Bull of Ricciardo. Instead of spending the race at the front like his team mate, he was stuck behind Felipe Massa for longer than he would have hoped for after the Safety Car. Running out of time to be taken seriously as a title contender at Ferrari.
Not another great race for either Red Bull driver. There was some promise as Daniel Ricciardo qualified fourth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, and Max Verstappen looked very sharp in the race. But ultimately they had a brake failure which caused Verstappen’s retirement, and the way the Mercedes and Ferrari powered cars go past the Red Bull on the straights in worrying. Although it could be worse, they could have a Honda engine instead of their current Renault unit.
His good and bad cancels each other out. Qualified 2nd (Good), beaten by new team mate who took Pole (bad).
Good late race comeback (Good), Lost Five seconds for pitlane infringement (bad).
Like most sports, second tier does not always mean second best. The new revamped F1 feeder category is now called Formula 2, but is certainly hasn’t dropped off from the quality racing and excitement that GP2 was famous for.
It saw a rarely seen in F1 dice for first position, including a spectacular pass from Norman Nato around the outside after the pit stops. The late race charge of Markelov to storm from third to first was the exciting finish we didn’t quite get in the F1 race as he had the best tyres at the end.
Formula 2 is highly recommended and worth seeking out if you get the chance. Getting to know new drivers and usually seeing some real on track action. Worth watching is Charles Leclerc who is a Ferrari prospect, and Sergio Canamasas who is wild and feisty on track.
ULTIMATE WINNERS AND LOSERS
Here’s where an extra bonus point is added and subtracted for the very best and very worst. Plus a valuable one point for the Free Practice hero of the weekend, to the driver that got a chance to shine where they normally never get the chance to in big sessions.
WINNER – Sebastian Vettel – made it look easy again.
LOSER – McLaren – One Driver didn’t start, the other probably wishes he didn’t.
FP HERO – Lance Stroll for P1 and Jolyon Palmer for making it into Q3, giving him a positive point for a change.
2017 MARTINI-CHAVES MEDAL FOR GURGLER BEST/WORST OF THE YEAR
5 Points – Sebastian Vettel
1.5 Points – Lewis Hamilton
1.5 Points Max Verstappen
2 Point – Felipe Massa
1 Point – Fernando Alonso
1 Point – Sergio Perez
1 Point – Pascal Wehrlein
0.5 Point – Valtteri Bottas
0 Point – Carlos Sainz
-0.5 Point Lance Stroll
-1 Point – Antonio Giovanazzi
-1.5 Point – Kimi Raikkonen
-1.5 Points – Jolyon Palmer
-2.5 Points – Dan Ricciardo
1 Point – Ferrari
1 Point – Toro Rosso
1 Point – Force India
-1 Points – Haas
-1 Point – Renault
-1.5 Point – Red Bull
-4 Points – McLaren