The starting stage of the new Formula 1 season has finished in Bahrain. The victory was won by the reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, who was faster at the finish than Max Verstappen. Third place was taken by another Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. Russian Nikita Mazepin in his debut race retired on the first lap after colliding with a bump stop. And his Haas partner Mick Schumacher, son of the legendary Michael Schumacher, finished 16th.
Friday free practices turned out to be incredibly interesting and brought a lot of surprises to the fans. So, the best time in both races (1: 30.847) was shown by Mars Verstappen from Red Bull. Moreover, the Dutch driver was twice the fastest, including his teammate Sergio Perez.
The results of Lando Norris (McLaren), who were literally two hundredths of a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the morning, were also quite surprising. In the evening, the 21-year-old Briton moved to second place. A little more modest was Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who first showed the second time, and then only the fifth. At the same time, the Finn was not very pleased with the work of his own car and even said in a conversation with the engineers that it was “impossible to drive”.
The evening was not very successful for another representative of Suomi Kimi Raikkonen. An experienced driver unwittingly took part in the first accident of the season. In the third turn, he lost control and crashed into a bump stop. Despite this? the Finn returned to the track closer to the end of the session and showed the 16th result. Another ex-world champion Fernando Alonso, now defending the colors of Alpine, also did not perform well, showing 16th and 15th times, respectively.
Domestic motorsport fans were waiting with particular interest for the debut of Nikita Mazepin, who moved to Haas in December last year, but it turned out to be quite modest. Both in the first and in the second practice, the Russian closed the final protocol (1: 34.975 and 1: 33.449). His teammate Mick Schumacher did not look much better – 19th and 18th places, respectively.
The third practice on Saturday brought new surprises. Pierre Gasly from AlphaTauri managed to climb to third place. On the eve he was seventh and ninth and showed a good time.
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But Verstappen not only did not give the first place to anyone, but also improved his result – 1: 30.577. This time he managed to get ahead of the reigning champion Hamilton by more than 0.7 seconds – a serious claim for the representative of the Netherlands. Bottas is on the fourth line, and Perez climbed to the top five.
Unfortunately, Mazepin managed to achieve only minimal progress. For the first time in Bahrain, he took not the last place, but the penultimate, 19th, ahead of Nicholas Latifi of Williams with a score of 1: 33.622. The son of Michael Schumacher is located one line above.
The first qualification in his career in the framework of Formula 1 was also unsuccessful for Nikita. Mazepin was among the first to enter the track, but in one of the turns his car turned around. The Russian managed to return to the distance, but the tires became unusable.
Despite this, he showed better time than Schumacher. But Mazepin’s troubles did not end there. In the warm-up line before the last fast lap, he, contrary to the unspoken rules, overtook several rivals, including Sebastian Vettel, and turned again in the first corner. As a result, he not only deprived himself of the chances to break into the second segment, although they were already low, but also prevented the German from going through the fast lap.
“I am the pilot of the team. We have radio communication, and I have to follow the instructions. I crossed the start and finish line two seconds before the end of time. There was no time to wait. I, of course, was in line, like everyone else, but I was told that if I did not go now, the session would end. What was I supposed to do? I have to follow what the team tells me, because that’s my job. I’m sorry if someone is dissatisfied with this, but I followed the instructions of my engineer ”, – quotes Mazepin RaceFans.
In addition to the Russian, Vettel, Schumacher, Latifi and Esteban Ocon did not qualify for the second segment. As a result, Verstappen turned out to be the fastest again, who was simply unstoppable. In the last segment, the Dutchman showed a time of 1: 28.997 and improved Hamilton’s result by 0.388 seconds. The third was another Mercedes pilot Bottas (+0.589). Charles Leclair from Ferrari (+ 0.681) unexpectedly took off to fourth place, and Gasly closed the top five (+0.812). Mazepin with the worst result (1: 33.273) had to start on Sunday from the last position of the starting grid.
The last place on the starting grid was eventually taken not by Mazepin, but by Vettel for ignoring the yellow flags in qualifying. The race turned out to be rich in events already from the warm-up lap. Perez’s engine suddenly stopped working, and there was a possibility that the problems would not be solved, but Sergio and the engineers still managed to quickly solve them, although the Mexican fell back to the last line.
And on the very first lap, evil fate again overtook Mazepin. Nikita started his debut race in Formula 1 well and even passed Schumacher, but then his car suddenly turned around and threw it into the bump stop by inertia. The Russian could not continue the competition.
“It’s very simple: I made a mistake. The tires were cold, I ran over the curb, stepped on the gas too hard and turned me around. This is completely my fault. I apologize wildly to the team, they deserved so much more. I am very angry with myself. Still, there are some positive aspects. I had very few days on the track driving a race car, so I gained experience. You learn a lot, but there are ups and downs, and today one of the biggest falls happened ”, – quotes Mazepin RaceFans.
Further, Gasley faced serious difficulties. The Frenchman, who finished fifth in the qualification, broke his wing. He managed to continue the race, but he could no longer show a serious result.
Schumacher’s car turned around, but he, unlike his Haas partner, remained at a distance, although he was hopelessly behind all rivals. Nevertheless, the son of Michael Schumacher at least finished in his debut Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, at the top of the protocol, everything remained the same. Verstappen won about 1.5 seconds against Hamilton and about 6-7 – against Bottas. The tactics of Red Bull turned out to be very curious. If the Briton left for the first pit stop on the 14th lap, then the representative of the Netherlands – only on the 17th. At the same time, the reigning champion “changed” into “hard”, and the leader – into the set of “medium”.
As a result, in the middle of the race, Verstappen, as expected, bypassed Hamilton. The second series of pit stops turned out to be even more interesting. Lewis again did not wait for the main rival and chose “hard”. The Dutchman later followed suit.
Max returned to the distance eight seconds behind the leader and quickly began to close the gap. Shortly before the finish, there were five seconds left between them. And on the 49th, the Red Bull pilot almost got the leader.
Overtaking took place on lap 52 when Fertsappen passed Hamilton in the fourth outside radius. But Max immediately let the Briton go back, as he drove along the side of the road.
It seemed that it would not be difficult for a young athlete to get ahead of the reigning champion again, but this did not happen, because the tires of the qualifying winner were no longer in such good condition. On the last lap, the more experienced Hamilton calmly kept the onslaught of the pursuer and retained the lead. Bottas took the third place with a big advantage over Lando Norris.
It is also worth noting the incredible rise of Perez, who moved from the last position to the fifth line. Finally, another debutant of the “royal races” 20-year-old Yuki Tsunoda took ninth place and got into the points zone. Leclerc, Daniel Riccardo, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lance Stroll also scored credit points.
Veterans Raikkonen and Vettel, on the other hand, remained outside the top ten, although the German did everything possible to improve the situation, but the collision with Okon deprived him of the opportunity to fight for points. Alonso altogether retired on lap 33 due to brake problems.
Source site russian.rt.com