Hamilton wins 'incredible' Bahrain race, F1's 900th Grand Prix

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sunday saw Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton win the Bahrain Grand Prix after an "incredible" race he spent battling with teammate Nico Rosberg. It was F1's 900th ever World Championship Grand Prix.

The two Mercedes drivers were neck-and-neck throughout the race, with Hamilton usually in front. Rosberg started from pole position after Hamilton made a mistake in qualifying, going off-track and settling for second. After the race Hamilton said it was "an incredible day, a really tough day" and he wanted some relaxation time.

The race took place at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Image: Derek Morrison.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo had to start from thirteenth despite qualifying third after an incident in Malaysia last race saw him given a ten-place grid penalty. His car left the pits with a wheel loose, and stewards imposed the penalty after deeming it unacceptably dangerous. Ricciardo managed to finish fourth to score his first points of the season after a disqualification in the opening race in his native Australia.

Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel continued to struggle with technical problems, including his drag reduction system and gearbox. Starting from tenth ahead of teammate Ricciardo, he was able to reach sixth by the finish line. He missed much of the final practice session before qualifying after he spun off the track and beached his car. The closure of the night race was marked with a fireworks display.

Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado also saw his troubles continue. Having newly switched to Lotus, he failed to complete the opening two races this year and damaged his car with an accidental wheelie practicing for this one. Exiting the pit lane on the 41st lap Maldonado struck the side of Sauber racer Esteban Gutiérrez with sufficient force to send the Mexican's car onto its back before rolling back upright.

many things learned, and helpful for the future

—Daniil Kvyat

Gutiérrez received medical attention on-site and in hospital as a precaution, but was uninjured. "Wow!" Gutiérrez told his team via radio before leaving the car. "What was that?" Maldonado received a stop-and-go penalty and finished outside the points.

Stewards had further punishment for the Lotus driver after the race. He will have a five-place grid position penalty at the start of his race in China. He also had three points added to his racing driver's licence, a new system this year comparable to a normal motorist receiving points after traffic offences.

Maldonado seemed to imply the other driver played a roll in the collision. "We will need to have a look again at what happened," he said, "as Esteban seemed to be off his line coming into turn one — maybe he missed his braking point, I don't know — and by then I was in the corner with nowhere to go".

Wow! What was that?

—Gutiérrez after being flipped by Maldonado's car

Martini's distinctive stripes on a Williams car earlier this season. The design had to be changed slightly to comply with norms in the host nation, replacing the alcohol giant's name with the word 'racing'.
Image: J.H. Sohn.

Fan opinion is sharply against him, with some using the derogatory nickname Crashtor Maldonado. Others said his punishment was unfair compared to Ricciardo's ten-place grid position drop after his team's mistake in Malaysia. Gutiérrez thanked supportive fans via social media after the race in English and Mexican, and returned to the circuit yesterday as teams took to testing.

Maldonado was not alone in causing accidents. Jules Bianchi received a drive-through penalty after colliding with Adrian Sutil, leaving both cars sporting punctures. Sutil later retired from the race.

Other retirements included Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen, both rookies, who separately pulled up at the trackside. Fellow newcomer Daniil Kvyat of Russia, who claimed the title of F1's youngest-ever points scorer at the season opener, was placed just outside the points despite setting one of the fastest laps of the early part of the race. He had also scored in Malaysia.

An anti-race protestor at last year's event.
Image: Mohamed CJ.

"Not an easy race for us yesterday!" Kvyat tweeted on Monday. "But many things learned, and helpful for the future."

The podium was rounded out by Sergio Pérez in third, claiming Force India's second-ever podium finish off the back of a failure to even start in Malaysia with a gearbox malfunction. Nico Hulkenberg took fifth. Both he and ninth-place Fernando Alonso celebrated upon completing the race, arms in the air. Williams racers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas scored seventh and eight place respectively. Kimi Räikkönen claimed the final scoring position of tenth despite a minor collision with Magnussen at the race start.

Williams, who this year are using new bright white livery on their cars, where able to keep the coloured stripes of sponsor Martini. Constraints from the host nation meant the word Martini itself, however, was changed to 'racing' on the cars. Williams test driver Susie Wolff of Scotland started a competition during the race weekend to win one of her Martini-coloured caps for submitting pictures of designs using the Martini colours.

A further near miss was suffered by Bottas when he ran off-track after becoming caught in battling between Räikkönen and Ricciardo. His team radioed to promise a complaint would be made to race director Charlie Whiting.

Rosberg told his Twitter followers "Great fight with @LewisHamilton but I'm back in two weeks to take the win". Hamilton tweeted "What a race! Amazing to get my first win in Bahrain" and also paid tribute to his Mercedes team.

Anti-government protestors turned out in their thousands at the start of the race weekend. The peaceful rally at the capital, Manama, was marred by small groups throwing molotov cocktails at police. The protestors were opposed to the international attraction giving patronage to Bahrain. Events at the circuit were given heavy security.

The race has been the target of intense protesting for several years.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Some information contained in this article was obtained from television, radio, or live webcast sources. Reporter's notes and the broadcast source details are available at the collaboration page.