“If anyone complains that this was boring, then he is an idiot.” – Niki Lauda
Rarely have truer words been spoken. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have marked Formula 1’s 900th Grand Prix in consummate style with back-to-back 1-2 finishes for Mercedes.
In what will be regarded as one of the finest displays of intra-team battles, Hamilton and Rosberg duelled throughout the race, Rosberg repeatedly tried to get back the lead he lost at the first corner, but was unable to get past the defences of his teammate, who claimed two wins on the trot.
The Silver Arrows battled wheel-to-wheel for almost the entire race, with hostilities kicking off after Hamilton managed to outdrag Rosberg off the line at the start of the race. The German tried to retaliate on the opening lap at Turn 4, but was unable to make the move stick.
That became the theme of the race as the pair staged one of the most exciting – and cleanest – intra-team battles fans will have witnessed on-track. While there was plenty of aggression – which even prompted a late radio plea from team boss Paddy Lowe – the two kept their racing clean and crossed the line just one second apart after 57 laps.
A mid-race split in tyre strategies allowed Hamilton to ease away into an eight-second lead ahead of the final pit stops, but the advantage came back in favour of Rosberg – shod with the gripper Soft compound tyres on his final stint – when a Safety Car was triggered after Pastor Maldonado tipped Esteban Gutiérrez into a frightening roll at Turn 1, fortunately without injury to the Sauber driver.
The restart brought Hamilton and Rosberg nose-to-tail once more, and Rosberg immediately tried to capitalise, twice attempting (and failing) with outbraking moves on his teammate at Turn 1 in the green flag laps that immediately followed.
Behind the leading duo, Force India delivered on its podium-threatening pace, with Sergio Pérez claiming the team’s first rostrum finish since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. The Mexican came out on top of an exciting Force India vs Williams battle mid-race, opportunistically passing his teammate Nico Hülkenberg along the way to claim the final podium spot.
He survived a late charge from Daniel Ricciardo, who drove brilliantly from his thirteenth-placed grid position to finish fourth, right under Pérez’s rear wing. Continuing the theme of great intra-team dices, the Australian overcame stern resistance from teammate Sebastian Vettel – who battled with inconsistent power and DRS functionality – to put a neat move on the four-time champion at Turn 1.
Hülkenberg cemented Force India’s excellent weekend with another fifth place, with Vettel giving chase in sixth ahead of the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Despite their strong qualifying pace, the Williams team’s decision to go with a three-stop strategy ultimately backfired and cost them a potential podium finish.
The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen cast rather forlorn figures as their F14Ts struggled for pace and balance, rounding out the points-paying positions. But their double-points finish – admittedly just three points – came only after the late race retirement of Jenson Button, whose 250th Grand Prix was curtailed by a mechanical failure. In what was a poor day for McLaren, Kevin Magussen tagged Räikkönen for the second race running, and retired just past three-quarters with a broken clutch.
Daniil Kvyat and Romain Grosjean finished just outside the points in their Renault-powered Toro Rosso and Lotus machines, respectively. Kvyat was in the mix for a third points finish on the trot for much of the race, but faded in the closing laps. Teammate Jean-Éric Vergne suffered back-to-back retirements, tangling with Pastor Maldonado on the opening lap and suffering a right-rear puncture.
Maldonado proved, as he has done on so many occasions, to be a rather central figure in the accidents and incidents during the race. After popping Vergne’s tyre early on, the wild Venezuelan did a more thorough job on the Sauber of Esteban Gutiérrez, tipping the Sauber driver into a roll at Turn 1 after a visit to the pits.
The rules are pretty clear: it’s the responsibility of the driver exiting the pits to do so in a safe manner, and a furious Gutiérrez certainly did not expect to find himself flipped upside-down as he turned into the apex of the right-hander. It was little surprise to see Maldonado handed a ten-second stop-go penalty for his troubles, and at the time of writing, one expects further sanctions from the FIA Stewards for the kind of driving that has long become entrenched with his reputation.
The steady but not particularly quick Max Chilton brought his Marussia to the finish line once again, claiming thirteenth place that allows the team to claim tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship back from Caterham. The latter team had Kamui Kobayashi make the finish once more, but teammate Marcus Ericsson retired mid-race with a loss of power.
Jules Bianchi was the last of the runners to see the chequered flag, after earning himself a stop-go penalty for an early race tangle with Adrian Sutil’s Sauber.
2014 Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (57 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||57||1:39:42.743|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||57||+ 1.085|
|3.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||57||+ 24.067|
|4.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||57||+ 24.489|
|5.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||57||+ 28.654|
|6.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||57||+ 29.879|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||57||+ 31.265|
|8.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||57||+ 31.876|
|9.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||57||+ 32.595|
|10.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||57||+ 33.462|
|11.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||57||+ 41.342|
|12.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||57||+ 43.143|
|13.||Max Chilton||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||57||+ 59.909|
|14.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||57||+ 1:02.803|
|15.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||57||+ 1:27.900|
|16.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||56||1 lap behind|
|17.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||55||Retired|
|DNF.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||42||Clutch|
|DNF.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||41||Collision|
|DNF.||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||35||Engine|
|DNF.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||20||Damage|
|DNF.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||19||Damage|
Images via FOM and Sutton Images