Lewis Hamilton. The Racing Knight of Arabian night.
In one of the greatest grand prix finishes in recent memory, Lewis Hamilton held-off Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to win the Bahrain Grand Prix under bright lights in the Arabian night.
The wind and win were blowing in the way of Mercedes team from practice to qualifying, where Rosberg surprised Hamilton by grabbing pole position. Hamilton took the lead on the opening lap going into turn one.
The 2008 World Champion was challenged hard by his teammate. Hamilton had established a lead of over eight seconds over Rosberg before their final pit stop and looked set for his second win of the season. Then Esteban Gutierrez was Pastorized, the Mexican’s Sauber was flipped by the Lotus of the Venezuelan driver who was coming out of the pits. Gutierrez got out of the car on his own and was unhurt. Maldonado was given a 10-second stop and go penalty.
The final sprint was going to be exciting as pole sitter Roberg had softer tires than Hamilton. Their boss Paddy Lowe got on the team radio and requested his drivers to bring both cars home.
The remaining laps and the dicing between the two drivers will long be remembered in F1 folklore, much like Nürburgring ’57, Dijon ’79 and Donington ’93. Racing was intense but fair.
Rosberg admitted he was ‘very disappointed, despite being faster and not winning.’
The Mercedes package is much like the Red Bull package last year. Hamilton and Rosberg were teammates in their karting days, and their rivalry promises a great 2014 season.
Sooner or later the competition will catch up, especially when Adrian Newey and Sebastian Vettel get their mojo moving at top speed. The four time world champion must be thinking, probably for the first time in his F1 career, about competition from within his own camp. Aussie mate, Daniel Ricciardo, has been very impressive and earned his first F1 points in Bahrain with his fourth place.
Sergio Perez was third in his third race for Force India. This is the first podium finish for the team since Giancarlo Fisichella’s second place finish from pole at Spa in 2009.
Nico Hülkenberg put in his usual good performance and was fifth, ahead of his compatriot Vettel.
The Martini men, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, were seventh and eighth respectively for the much improved Williams team, now powered by Mercedes-Benz.
Ferrari, with Luca di Montezemolo in attendance,could only manage the last two point paying places. Fernando Alonso finished ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, the last man to win the world championship for Maranello in 2007.
Rosberg, winner of season opener in Australia, still leads the championship with 61 points. Second successive win for Hamilton puts him only 11 points behind. Hülkenberg is third with 28 points, two ahead of fourth place Alonso. Button completes the top five on 23 points.
The 2014 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix was 900th F1 race and saw the 250th start for Jenson Button and 150th for Toro Rosso. Victory at the Sakhir circuit was the 24th for Hamilton, same as the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio.
Round four is on April 20, the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai.
— Nasir Hameed
Racing regards from ABQ.