Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton dominated the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix to claim victory after Haas’ Romain Grosjean survived a horrific crash, which ripped his Haas in half.
Hamilton made a clean getaway at the original race start but a violent accident saw Grosjean smash at 140mph into metal barriers on the exit of turn three, ripping his Haas in two as a huge fireball suddenly erupted as a result of impact although Grosjean miraculously walked away with minor burns and a reported rib injury.
On the second race start, Hamilton got away in the lead which he controlled to the flag for all but one lap ahead of Verstappen whilst Sergio Perez controlled third until his Racing Point’s Mercedes power unit failed on lap 55 to cause a Safety Car finish, after his teammate – Lance Stroll was flipped out of the race on lap three by Daniil Kvyat.
Alex Albon proceeded to finish third after Perez’s sudden retirement with McLaren’s Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz rounding out the top five, as Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Charles Leclerc rounded out the points.
With Hamilton already crowned champion, Bottas now leads Verstappen by just 12 points in the battle for the vice-champion position after Verstappen picked up 15 more points than the Finnish driver, including fastest lap after setting a 1m 32.014 in the closing stages.
Racing Point’s double retirement meant that a 22 point haul saw McLaren climb above the Pink Panthers into third in the constructors’ battle, whilst Mercedes and Red Bull are already confirmed as the top two teams respectively.
Hamilton made a clean getaway on the first race start to lead from Verstappen, Perez, Albon and Ricciardo after Bottas got bogged down to sixth, unaware that several drivers further back tangled with Grosjean diving towards the right when his front right tyre was hit by a piece of debris.
Grosjean’s Haas proceeded to violently veer towards the right whilst clipping Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri en route before snapping in half and exploding into a fireball, as the front smashed through the barriers with Grosjean miraculously leaping out of the car around 20 seconds after impact.
Race control swiftly red flagged the race to allow marshals to focus on extinguishing the inferno and replacing the destroyed metal barrier section with attached concrete blocks.
Post-race, Haas released a statement in which confirmed that Grosjean ‘sustained burns on the back of both hands’ and that further updates would be made when ‘further information is available.’
Racing eventually resumed 81 minutes later with cars heading out for a second standing start which Hamilton aced to lead Verstappen and Perez, whilst Bottas suffered a puncture from debris at Turn Four to ruin his race as he found himself fighting back from a sudden pit stop to finish eighth.
Further down the order, Stroll was scrapping for position when Kvyat tried an inside move at turn eight and clipped the Canadian to send his Racing Point flipping over, landing upside down as the Safety Car was deployed for five laps before Hamilton led the field back racing on lap nine.
Leclerc took full advantage of the Safety Car restart to challenge Ocon into turn one, effectively forcing the Frenchman towards running off track but Ocon kept his foot to the pedal and fended off Leclerc’s push for sixth.
Sainz meanwhile passed Ricciardo into turn 11 after the Australian driver locked up but a few laps later, Leclerc fell from seventh to ninth as Kvyat received a ten second time penalty for causing Stroll’s retirement.
Several drivers including Hamilton then proceeded to make their first of two stops with the order eventually coming out as it was with Hamilton leading Verstappen, Perez and Albon and again once second stops were completed.
Gasly meanwhile was on a one-stop strategy as he pitted on lap 26 before making his tyres last to the flag in sixth despite losing positions to Norris and Sainz.
Leclerc and Vettel meanwhile struggled with their Ferrari cars as the latter described his car as “undrivable” whilst Verstappen moaned that his Red Bull was “jumping around like a kangaroo.”
Hamilton on lap 43 set a new personal record for most laps led by himself within a single season after leading his 600th lap of the campaign, whilst Norris passed Gasly a lap later for fifth with Sainz following through one lap later.
Perez meanwhile was rattled by little communication from his Racing Point and queried the silence over team radio, saying; “Are you falling asleep? Wake up. Wake up.”, just moments before his Mercedes power unit failed to send smoke bellowing out of the rear until he pulled over on the exit of turn 10.
Race control deployed the safety car to the flag to enable marshals to safely clear the Racing Point despite a marshal running across the track as Norris entered the back straight, which left the Brit unimpressed as the race finished under safety car conditions.
Speaking post-race on his victory, Hamilton described the drive as “physically very demanding”, saying; “It’s physical, this track has always been physical. We’ve got lots of high-speed corners so I was definitely feeling it.”
Grosjean meanwhile was voted driver of the day following his extraordinary escape from what could of been a fatal accident if not for all of continuous and ongoing safety improvements made in recent decades.
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||57||2h 59m 47.515|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||57||+ 1.254|
|3||Alex Albon||Red Bull||57||+ 8.005|
|4||Lando Norris||McLaren||57||+ 11.337|
|5||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||57||+ 11.787|
|6||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||57||+ 11.942|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||57||+ 19.368|
|8||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||57||+ 19.680|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Renault||57||+ 22.803|
|10||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||56||+ 1 Lap|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||56||+ 1 Lap|
|12||George Russell||Williams||56||+ 1 Lap|
|13||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||56||+ 1 Lap|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||56||+ 1 Lap|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||56||+ 1 Lap|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||56||+ 1 Lap|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||56||+ 1 Lap|
|Sergio Perez||Racing Point||54||Power Unit|
|Lance Stroll||Racing Point||2||Collision|