F1: Leclerc and Sainz Jr. give Ferrari 1-2 win in Bahrain

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took the lead in Turn 1 from pole and controlled the race from the front to win the Bahrain GP over his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.

Despite a late safety car restart with 7 laps to go, Leclerc easily held off Verstappen, who lost his power steering and was struggling mightily, and eventually failed to the finish with engine problems.

A strong weekend for Ferrari saw them take two podium positions as Carlos Sainz Jr. took 2nd ahead of the 3rd Lewis Hamilton, who took the final podium position when the Red Bull of Sergio Perez spun out when his engine locked up on the penultimate lap.

“I lost the ***** engine,” says Perez, and he remained stuck, beached across the track at Turn 1 until the safety crews got him off.

George Russell was 4th in the 2nd Mercedes with Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top-5 for Haas.

Charles Leclerc got excellent service from Ferrari pit crew all day.

Valtteri Bottas was sixth for Alfa Romeo.

Esteban Ocon, Yuki Tsunoda, Fernando Alonso and Guanyu Zhou rounded out the points.

Spare a thought for Mick Schumacher – P11, losing out on the 1 point for 10th when rookie Zhou schooled him with 2 laps to go.

It was a total disaster for the Red Bull team, who lost both cars in the closing laps.

Another Honda blew its engine when Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri blew up, bringing out the race’s only Safety Car period. So, clearly they have some real issues.

Red Bull had looked so solid reliability-wise throughout testing, but it remains to be seen how big that issue was at the end that forced Verstappen to retire and caused Perez to spin with a stalled engine. Is it a one-off easy fix, or something that might prove troublesome moving forward?

Either way, it has cost them a whole lot of points today and with Ferrari getting the maximum and looking sharp both in race trim and over one lap.

“So happy. We knew this was a big opportunity for the team and the guys have done an incredible job building into amazing car,” said a happy Leclerc.

“One, two today with Carlos, we couldn’t hope for better. It’s incredible to be back at the top.”

“Ferrari’s back, and is properly back,” said Sainz Jr.  “The hard work is paying off, and we are there. I didn’t have the pace today, but I managed to hang in there and bring back the one – two for the team.”

“A big big congratulations to Ferrari, so good to see them doing well again,” said a happy Hamilton who never expected to be on the podium today.

“Such a difficult race, we’ve struggled throughout practice and this was the best result we could. We’re grateful for these points, the guys are working really hard back at the factory, there’s a long way to go.”

Podium 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday, L to R: Sainz Jr., Leclerc and Hamilton – LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Select Quotes

Charles Leclerc
“Coming into this season, we knew we would be in a better position than we have been for the past two years, but we didn’t know exactly where we would stand. To be back on top with a car that is capable of winning feels incredible. A huge thank you to our whole team, you’ve done an amazing job and this victory is for all of you. The race was tough and I gave it my all. Whenever I had a bit of margin behind me, I felt in control of the race and was managing the gap well. But after the first stop, things became more tricky. Max challenged me three times and I had to position myself in the right way to reclaim my position each time he passed me. Once the Safety Car came out, we lost the gap we had created and had to start again from zero. I knew I had to do the best restart possible and I am glad I got the job done well. Car development will be more significant than in previous years and we have to stay on top of our game. As for this weekend – we did everything right. Pole, fastest lap, the victory and second place for our team. Forza Ferrari!”

Carlos Sainz Jr.
“This is definitely a day to celebrate for the entire team. Starting the season with a 1-2 is the perfect reward for the tireless work they have done over the last two years and congrats to Charles on a solid win. We also want to share our joy with all our tifosi around the world because we always felt their support even when we were not fighting at the top. For me, I’m very happy with the result but I’m not particularly happy with my race. It was probably one of the hardest ones since I joined Ferrari. I wasn’t feeling at home with the car and we need to understand why. But today it’s time to celebrate this amazing result all together. The great effort to bring Ferrari back to the top, where it belongs, has paid off today and everyone deserves to enjoy it. We’ll keep pushing next week in Saudi. Forza Ferrari!”

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari Team Principal & Managing Director
“I am very happy with this result, as our race today shows how well this team has worked over the past two years in Maranello. Personally, I have always had faith in them. They have worked as a united group and reacted to the difficulties we encountered. It’s nice to see we are once again battling for first place, which is our goal for this season. To win in Formula 1, you have to do everything perfectly and today we did just that and that goes for everyone, the drivers, the F1-75, the engineers with the strategy and the mechanics,who were impeccable at the pit stops. Seeing the way the team was able to make the most of every opportunity fills me with pride. Tonight, I wanted to go up on the podium to collect the Constructors’ trophy because I felt it was the best way to represent the whole team, back home and here in Bahrain. I have to admit it was an emotional moment. I am also thinking of the fans who have always supported us, even when things were a bit tricky and I admit I can’t wait to get to Imola to race in front of them.”

Lewis Hamilton
A big, big congratulations to Ferrari, I’m so happy to see them doing well again, they are such a historic and epic team. It was a difficult race for us today, we’ve struggled throughout practice and this is really the best result we could have got. Of course it was unfortunate for the other two drivers but we did the best we could and we are grateful for these points. I know the guys are working really hard back at the factory and it is not going to be a quick turnaround but we’ve been the best unified team for so long, we all know to just keep your head down, keep working, there’s a long way to go. We’ve got to maximize our weekends and at some point, we’ll be back in the fight.

Lewis Hamilton 3rd, 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday -LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

George Russell
It was a positive race, I made a good start and then Lewis and I were on a race of our own, albeit on different strategies. We came home with a P3 and P4 for the team which we would have definitely taken prior to the weekend so in a long championship, we can be pleased with how today went. Considering we’re half a second behind in qualifying and probably the same, if not more, on race pace, it was a good damage limitation weekend. There’s a lot of potential in the car and we really need to dig down into the data and understand how to extract the performance. We recognize our rivals are a long way ahead of us, we know what the overall limitations of the car are, and we won’t settle until we have the chance of the win.

George Russell 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday – Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Toto Wolff
Today we were punching above our weight class, with the Red Bulls DNF-ing, but third and fourth is a fantastic result. I think with the Soft tire, on pure pace before the tire degrades, we are almost there – not where Leclerc is but with the others. Then degradation is too big and today we tried to do something different by putting the Hard on but it was a second slower every single lap so lesson learned. I think we were over winged today, we had too much drag and that is just because we are lacking parts at the moment but hopefully, we can remedy that, and make progress on the top two’s advantage. We really need to leave no stone unturned on the PU side and look for all performance gains, but the wing was the issue for us today on straight line speed. At the moment we are fifth and sixth on the track, and we are trying to recover ground, but it is not going to come from one day to the other – we’ll keep pushing.

Andrew Shovlin
We knew we weren’t quick enough coming into the weekend, so our goal for this weekend was one of damage limitation in the championship. In terms of pace we’re more or less on our own; we couldn’t realistically put any pressure on Red Bull and Ferrari, and we weren’t really under any pressure from behind. This allowed us to play a bit with the strategy, moving quite early to a three stop with Lewis. Our priority has to be to get on top of our current performance issues; we don’t have a car to fight for pole or race wins and that isn’t something that we can tolerate for long if we ambitions to win the championships. The balance was quite tricky, but the main issue is just a lack of grip, caused by the fact that we have to run the car so high to avoid the bottoming. However, the weekend hasn’t been without it’s positives. The gaps are pretty big but we can see so much performance that we can bring relatively quickly, the team has also worked well and the car has been reliable. We have a lot of ideas to explore to improve our pace and we’ll be working hard over the next few days and weeks to bring those to the track

“We were feeling quite competitive throughout the weekend so the result today was very unfortunate for us. The problems started initially with the brakes, they were overheating so I had to lift off and as a result I lost pace and had to let Charles go. After that, there were still a few issues with car balance and after my final pit stop my steering wheel was locked. That made it very difficult to drive so defending from Carlos at the re-start wasn’t easy. The final issue looked like a fuel system problem, which is why I had to retire, and it was extremely painful for both our cars to DNF. We don’t know exactly what went wrong yet but we’ll definitely analyze the data and make sure we learn from it. At the end of the day, motorsport is unpredictable and these things can happen, this is race one, we have plenty more ahead of us.”

“It was going to be a great start to the season but unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get the result we were hoping for. It is very disappointing to not be able to execute the result we wanted; we had the podium in our pocket until the last lap. A couple of laps before the end I could feel I was losing power, we knew there was an issue and we knew what had happened with Max. I had a similar issue to his car, at the moment we think it was a fuel system problem and basically the engine just stopped. It is tough to digest, but we are going to look for the positives and come back stronger next week in Jeddah. I am sure we will get to the bottom of the problem, we are a great Team and I really believe in them. Today is very disappointing and an unfortunate start to our season, but a year is a long time in Formula 1, and we’re only one race in.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Red Bull Team Principal and CEO
“Obviously we are hugely disappointed to lose the chance of podium finishes today, but congratulations to Ferrari on their one, two finish and a return to the front. We will need to conduct a full investigation into what happened, but it looks suspiciously like the failures are related to each other and it may be an issue with the fuel system. The positive side for us is that we clearly have a competitive car, I don’t think we quite had the pace today, but there was some great racing between Max and Charles. It’s an incredibly long season with 22 races remaining, so we need to get on top of whatever this issue was today and come back stronger next weekend.”

Lance Stroll
“It is a shame we were not able to fight for points today, but we will benefit from completing our first race and understanding more about these new regulations. It is early days and there is lots to learn about how we can extract more performance in time for the race in Saudi Arabia next weekend. My initial impression is that it could be an exciting season of racing because it appears that you can follow cars more closely and today I had some great battles with [Alex] Albon and [Mick] Schumacher. It was challenging to keep temperatures cool and manage these new tyres, too, but we now have some useful data to work with over the next few days.”

Nico Hülkenberg
“It was interesting to be back in a Formula One car for a Grand Prix again, especially in such a busy race with lots going on around me. It was not easy to manage the tires and drive with a changing fuel load. The car balance was changing a lot too, and it is not easy to prepare for this until you start racing. We knew that today was likely going to be the most difficult day in the car for that reason, which proved to be the case. I think I put together a good race, all things considered, with only the one mistake when I outbraked myself into Turn One. It was a more challenging race after that. I will be on standby should the team need me again and I am hoping that Sebastian makes a speedy return to racing.”

Mike Krack – Team Principal
“Both our drivers were required to lift and coast at various points during today’s race, but they did it proficiently and we were therefore able to bring both cars to the finish. A P12/P17 result is not what we wanted, of course not, but it was always going to be hard to achieve a strong finish from our starting positions. Nonetheless, Lance drove well to convert his P19 grid slot to P12 at flag-fall, and, having not raced in Formula One since November 2020 [the Eifel Grand Prix at Nürburgring], Nico also did a good job today. Our car currently lacks pace – clearly – but we will endeavor to put up a better show in Saudi Arabia in a few days’ time.”

Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo Team Principal: “Coming home with two cars in the points in the first race is the perfect way to start the season. The team has demonstrated skill but also resilience as we came back from a poor start, but stuck to our plan and made a lot of progress through the field. In a sense, this is an even more promising sign as we were able to mount a comeback, which means our car is genuinely competitive. We are aware the season ahead is going to be a long one and that our rivals will challenge us already next week, but we have a very good result on day one and that’s a big boost for everyone at the team. In particular, I am very happy for both Valtteri and Zhou: to have such a result on their first race with the team is the best way to start our relationship. We will aim to build on this night as we keep developing our car and keep fighting at this level.”

Valtteri Bottas 
“I am very happy about tonight’s result: for me, but most importantly for the team, with two cars in the points, and for Zhou who got points in his first race. The race went really well, with the exception of the start: I got a lot of wheelspin and was basically a sitting duck for the first lap, just trying to avoid contact. When that stabilized, however, we had really good pace: we didn’t give up, executed a really good strategy and, in the end, completed a good recovery. We took it lap by lap as we knew we had the car to get back in the top 10. It is a great way to start the season: there are still things to improve, of course, but we’re just at the first race of the year. Our priority was reliability and I am happy we could finish with both cars as the speed is there. Everyone did a good job and we are going in the right direction.”

Zhou Guanyu 
“I am so happy, I am speechless. There are so many emotions tonight but my first thought is for the team: seeing how everyone worked so hard to go from where we were at the end of last year to where we are today is so incredible. My biggest dream was to race in F1, then to score points and tonight we did both: being on the grid before the race, with the other 19 drivers, was crazy enough, but the race itself was so intense. It wasn’t so physically, but rather mentally: I had an issue at the start, the car went into anti-stall at turn one and then I knew I would have to do something special to recover to the top 10. I pushed a lot, caught up with Valtteri and then lost track position again when the Safety Car came out, before climbing back to P10 – such a rollercoaster. I tried to give everything I had tonight as this meant so much to me and all those who supported me. The cool-down lap was quite emotional: I am so proud of my team and of my team-mate, for all the work we did together to bring home this reward. It is a day I will never forget and I will enjoy the moment for a while, but then it’s all attention to Jeddah: there is a lot more we want to achieve.”

Race Results

1 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 57 +0.000s
2 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 57 +5.598s
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 57 +9.675s
4 63 George Russell Mercedes 57 +11.211s
5 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 57 +14.754s
6 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 57 +16.119s
7 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 57 +19.423s
8 22 Yuki Tsunoda Alphatauri RBPT 57 +20.386s
9 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 57 +22.390s
10 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 57 +23.064s
11 47 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 57 +32.574s
12 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 57 +45.873s
13 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 57 +53.932s
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo Mclaren Mercedes 57 +54.975s
15 4 Lando Norris Mclaren Mercedes 57 +56.335s
16 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 57 +61.795s
17 27 Nico Hulkenberg Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 57 +63.829s
18 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing RBPT 56 DNF
19 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RBPT 54 DNF
NC 10 Pierre Gasly Alphatauri RBPT 44 DNF


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