Hamilton Savors Fabulous Bahrain GP Win
Lewis Hamilton called his brilliant Bahrain GP win one of the best of his career after he just managed to outfox teammate Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton snuck past the pole man at the start, and survived a series of attacks from Rosberg, who was handed a second chance when the safety car cut the gap before the final sprint to the flag.
“This weekend started off well and then I seemed to lose pace while Nico picked up his pace,” said Hamilton. “Today, I knew I needed to get a good start and things generally went my way, except when the pace car came out.
“I think the last time I had a race like that would probably be Indianapolis, 2007. So, a long, long time. Nico drove fantastically well. When you’re with your teammate it’s very, very hard to make the right decisions of where to put your car, where to brake, all these different things, but yeah, it was great.”
Hamilton admitted it wasn’t easy to fend off Rosberg in the final stint, when the German had the advantage of the softer tire.
“It was incredibly tough. As I said, it was one of the toughest situations I’ve been in for a long time. The option tire, for us, we believe it is worth six-and-a-half tenths. To hold that behind, to keep him out of my gap, out of my slipstream and the DRS was very, very hard. To be pushing flat out for ten laps…
“It was an exceptional race, I think, to be able to have that. Me and Nico haven’t had a race like that since back in our karting days. I did think today, I was just saying to him today, there was a race we did years ago in… I don’t know what year it was, in karting, our first race together. He was leading the whole way and in the last lap I overtook him and won the race. I thought today for sure he’s going to do the same to me, and get me back. That’s what was going through my head.”
Regarding how close their fight was, he said: “A lot of times he was in my blind spot and I had no idea if he was there or not, so I tried to leave space. You don’t know whether he’s attacking or braking later into the next corner because you don’t even know where he is. That was very difficult.
“But for me it feels like a long time that I’ve been able to have a real racer’s race and really use whatever skills that I’ve acquired over the years as a youngster in karting. Being able to apply them in Formula 1 is a lot harder but to be able to pull them out of the bag and use them again… The time that I went round the outside or got back, just timing it right – you know, it’s a fantastic feeling to be able to do that. It’s one of the greatest feelings when you obviously come out on top.”
Mercedes Battle Good For The Sport, Says Rosberg
Nico Rosberg says that the battle between the two Mercedes drivers in Bahrain was good for the sport and will help to silence the critics.
From pole Rosberg lost the lead to Lewis Hamilton at the start, but he made repeated attempts to find a way past. The team split the strategies, giving him option tires for the final stint, when Hamilton was on the primes.
“I didn’t have the best of starts,” said Rosberg. “It was still good but Lewis had a little of a better one and that’s the way it went. And then, I was quicker today, which I was pleased about and gave it a run. I tried to overtake at the end of the first stint, couldn’t make it stick. And then we tried to invert the strategies, just to give me a shot at the end, again to overtake. That was the plan before the race, so that worked out well, and I tried to keep a good pace on the prime, knowing that I’ll have a shot again at the end with the option.
“It was a good battle again, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it happen today. Lewis did a good job defending but, you know, it was a massive fight out there, and that’s what I’m here for. For racing like that. I think it was a good day for the sport, which is important, because of recent little bits of criticism. I think they’re all going to be rather quiet tomorrow – which is a very good thing. It’s good that us as Silver Arrows, we made it happen – but of course I am very unhappy with second.”
Rosberg said everything possible was done to give him a chance to overtake: “The team makes the decision for strategies. We did exactly the plan we discussed before the race. Everything went exactly to plan in order to give me the best opportunity to have a shot at overtaking him at the end of the race.
“The team played it as fair as they possibly could today, let us race flat out. I don’t think you need more evidence than you saw that we’re here to race this year and there’s no team orders. We want to put on an amazing show for you guys out there, and you at home, and today we managed. Of course that’s the small positive, but as I said I really don’t like coming second.”
Intriguingly Rosberg acknowledged that watching fans might have interpreted the ‘bring it home’ radio messages as a sign to hold station.
“I was well aware that the whole world was thinking ‘huh, here we go, Silver Arrows team orders, finally they’re there.’ That was clear to me but it wasn’t that at all, it was just ‘guys, make sure that you get these cars to the finish. Don’t break them, don’t crash.’ The message was clear anyway, not really necessary to give such a message because we know that, we drive very hard but in the end with the necessary respect but we’re free to race all the way.
“In the end, I just got a bit more overheating on the tires in the last three laps because I was pushing so hard in the slipstream, you know, with less grip, sliding a lot and so the tires just overheated in the last three laps and I couldn’t get close enough any more. And also with the hybrid, at times you have more then you have less. It’s coming and going and it’s difficult to be there in the right moment when you do have it. It’s not that easy, so there was then a period when I didn’t have enough boost power either.”
Ferrari Must Forget Bahrain, Says Domenicali
Stefano Domenicali says that the Bahrain GP was a weekend to forget for Ferrari – and the Italian team will have to make the most of the upcoming test as it attempts to turn things around.
Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen could manage only ninth and 10th places as they struggled with a lack of straightline speed.
“This race provided an epilogue to a weekend which turned out to be as difficult as we had thought it would be, even before arriving in Bahrain,” said Domenicali. “This circuit is particularly tough for our car and Sakhir’s technical characteristics showed up the gaps in our performance. Now, we must forget this race and look ahead, because I don’t like seeing our drivers fighting hard everywhere and then being unable to attack or defend on the straights.
“We’ve got an important test ahead of us now, when I expect to see an initial step up in terms of quality. The team must not get downhearted, even if things have not turned out the way they should so far. They must continue to work in order to step up a gear as quickly as possible.”
“Today, we could not have asked more of our car and drivers,” said technical director Pat Fry, “because here our most limiting factor was a lack of top speed. That meant we had to run a defensive race and even if in the middle sector, the one with the most corners, the F14 T was competitive, it was not enough to allow Fernando and Kimi to attack our rivals.
“In Maranello, we are working on solutions to ensure better power delivery and better driveability. We are also trying to improve the efficiency of the car on the aerodynamic front. The data we acquired in today’s race will provide a baseline for the major checking program we have planned for the test, right here at Sakhir on Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Maldonado Lands Penalty After Gutierrez Clash
Pastor Maldonado will have a five-place grid penalty at the Chinese GP after his collision with Esteban Gutierrez in Bahrain.
The pair made contact at Turn One as Maldonado came out of his pit stop, and the Mexican’s car rolled over, bringing out a safety car.
Maldonado also received a stop and go penalty and picked up three points on his superlicense.
“We will need to have a look again at what happened as Esteban seemed to be off his line coming into Turn 1,” he said. “Maybe he missed his braking point, I don’t know. And by then I was in the corner with nowhere to go. For sure it’s difficult to understand and I was coming out from the pits and with cold tires. I think he was very unlucky and it’s good he jumped straight out of the car.
“First of all, the most important is that I am OK,” said Gutierrez. “They did all the checks at the hospital and everything is fine. Concerning the accident, I was completely surprised that Pastor, who came out of the pits, ran into me. I was clearly in front of him. I turned into the corner and I was suddenly hit and I rolled over. There was nothing much I could do.”