Hamilton puts on a show under the lights to win Bahrain GP

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Lewis Hamilton clinched his third race win of the 2015 Formula 1 season in style on Sunday by dominating proceedings at the Bahrain Grand Prix, leading home Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

The defending world champion only lost the lead through the pit stops and went unchallenged throughout the race to claim his third win of the season and extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship standings.

Ferrari was expected to put up a serious challenge to Mercedes in Bahrain, but despite getting Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel up into second and third place at the start, its pace soon faded, forcing the Italian team to settle for P2 and P5 at the flag.

The start saw Hamilton hold onto his lead from pole position as Rosberg looked to move down the inside of Vettel heading into the first corner. The Ferrari driver retained second place, whilst Rosberg lost out to Raikkonen through turn two, dropping down to fourth place by the end of the first lap. He soon set about recovering the lost place, though, passing Raikkonen on lap three with a fine move at the first corner.

While Hamilton was quietly opening up a gap to the rest of the field in first place, Rosberg was setting his sights on second place after Vettel made a mistake at turn one. After tailing the Ferrari driver for a lap, Rosberg dived down the inside at the end of the main straight, taking second place.

Further back, Felipe Massa found himself with a huge task in hand after stalling on the grid for the parade lap, leaving him with a pit lane start. He was soon on the fringes of the top ten though, setting himself up for another points finish in Bahrain. Pastor Maldonado was also on the back foot after taking the wrong position on the grid, and was given a five second time penalty by the stewards as a result, whilst Carlos Sainz Jr was also sanctioned for going too slowly on his reconnaissance lap before the race.

In a bid to catch Rosberg, Ferrari pitted Vettel for a fresh set of option tires on lap 12 of the race, hoping to use the undercut on Mercedes. Rosberg was pitted one lap later, but it proved to be too late as the four-time champion swept past at the end of the pit straight to recover the position. However, the Mercedes driver quickly fought back, storming past the Ferrari and to within striking distance of Hamilton, who had pitted one lap later than his teammate.

After going three laps longer than his rivals, Raikkonen pitted from the lead of the race and took on a set of the medium compound tires to put himself on an alternative strategy to the leading trio. The Finn dropped back as result of his longer first stint, though, falling back into the clutches of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Raikkonen soon managed to find his feet on the prime tire, though, and even began to catch the leading trio of Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel.

In the fight for the small points, a number of drivers were switching to three-stop strategies in a bid to get the jump on their two-stopping rivals. Maldonado was the big winner in his second stop, passing both Felipe Massa and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr in the pit lane, giving himself a chance of points in Bahrain.

The same could not be said of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr, though, who was forced to retire after 29 laps due to a problem on his car. His teammate, Max Verstappen, parked his car up in the garage just six laps later, continuing Toro Rosso’s record of never scoring a point in Bahrain.

A mistake from Vettel gave the Mercedes drivers some breathing space at the front of the field ahead of the second round of pit stops, forcing Ferrari to try and exercise the undercut once again. Vettel was the first driver to pit for prime tires, with Mercedes bringing Hamilton in from the lead just one lap later.

By extending his stint by two laps, Rosberg was vulnerable to Vettel once again, and dropped behind the Ferrari driver upon exiting the pits. For the third time in the race though, the Mercedes driver was able to pass Vettel, forcing him wide at the final corner before passing his compatriot into turn one.

Vettel’s hopes of scoring a fourth podium finish of the year were soon dashed though after he sustained some damage to his front wing, forcing him to pit just three laps into his stint. The German driver emerged down in fifth place behind Valtteri Bottas, and was now focusing on damage limitation in the final stages of the race.

The decision to keep Raikkonen out for a long second stint soon backfired, though, as the Finn lost time and dropped behind Hamilton on track. He was eventually pitted on lap 38, emerging in third place with 20 seconds to make up to Rosberg in P2.

At the front, Hamilton remained in control of the race, enjoying a buffer of around five seconds to his teammate in the lead of the race as the laps ticked down. He eventually crossed the line with an advantage of 3.3 seconds to clinch his second victory in Bahrain and his third of the season, extending his lead at the top of the world championship standings.

Coming under pressure from Raikkonen in the dying stages of the race, Rosberg failed to hold on to second place for Mercedes, making a mistake on the penultimate lap of the race to allow the flying Finn through. Second place marked Raikkonen’s best result since the 2013 Korean Grand Prix, and was a welcome result for Ferrari.

However, Sebastian Vettel was less fortunate in the sister Ferrar. The German driver failed to catch Bottas for fourth place, with his extra stop for a nose change proving costly. Daniel Ricciardo came home in sixth place behind his former teammate, with Romain Grosjean finishing an excellent seventh for Lotus.

Sergio Perez’s love affair with the Bahrain International Circuit continued on Sunday as he finished the race in eighth place for Force India. Daniil Kvyat rallied from P17 on the grid to finish ninth, whilst Felipe Massa’s fight back yielded a solitary point for tenth place.

Fernando Alonso matched McLaren’s best result of the season so far in 11th place, finishing ahead of Felipe Nasr in P12 and Nico Hulkenberg in 13th. Marcus Ericsson came home P14 for Sauber, whilst Pastor Maldonado recovered from an engine problem to finish the race in 15th ahead of Manor drivers Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

Once again though, it was Hamilton who shined the brightest under the lights in Bahrain, controlling the race from start to finish. With Rosberg finishing down in third, the gap between the two Mercedes drivers only grows at the top of the championship standings, giving Hamilton a healthy lead heading to the start of the European season in three weeks’ time.

IndyCar Preseason, Day 1: Simon Pagenaud on why he likes teasing Josef Newgarden

Newgarden Pagenaud feud
Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment
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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — A roundup of nuggets from the opening day of preseason IndyCar Content Days for media that lead into two days of preseason testing Thursday and Friday at The Thermal Club, starting with a playful “feud” between former teammates Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud:

After making a point to needle Newgarden during the Rolex 24 at Daytona (when he was warned for being deemed to have caused a spin by the car driven by Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), Pagenaud laughed about why he likes poking at his ex-teammate at Team Penske.

“I just love to press the button with Josef,” Pagenaud said. “I just love it. I’m being very open about it. I think he knows it, too. It’s funny to see him unsettled a little bit. I like when he gets aggressive. I don’t know why. It’s funny.”

They scrapped a few times as Penske teammates. Pagenaud notably was hot after a 2017 incident at Gateway during Newgarden’s first season with the team, but he later backtracked and blamed it on his French blood.

Pagenaud says all is good between now – though he also admits with a devilish grin that he’s taking advantage of the freedom from leaving Penske last year.

“Absolutely, yeah. I couldn’t do that before,” he said with a laugh about teasing Newgarden. “I would get in trouble.

“Yeah, I can be myself. I can say what I want to say. Nobody is upset about it. I love Josef. Don’t get me wrong. I love the guy.

“Do I love the driver? Not always, but I enjoy pressing the button with him because he seems like such a confident person. Yeah, I like to just go press it a little bit.”

When he was informed of the sardonic comments (Pagenaud asked reporters to make sure they relayed that he enjoyed passing Newgarden in the race) after his first stint at Daytona last weekend, Newgarden took a shot back.

“He doesn’t get many opportunities these days, so I’m sure he enjoyed that,” Newgarden said. “Take them when you can get them. There’s so much happening I don’t even remember half the stuff that happened when I was out there. Hey, he’s a big note-keeper, that guy.”

Pagenaud, who is winless since 2020, conceded that point Tuesday at IndyCar’s media session.

“I will do better this year,” he said. “But I got to build my team up, put myself in that situation. We were not there yet. I hope we can be there this year.

“But certainly not being teammates, you race differently. Now, the driver that he is, I have a huge amount of respect for him. He’s tremendous. I mean, he’s one of the best at what he does. So beating him is even a better reward. But I like my résumé better than his.”

For the record, Newgarden has one more IndyCar championship than Pagenaud but is empty in the Indy 500 win column compared to the 2019 winner at the Brickyard.

During his Rolex 24 availability, Pagenaud also took playful aim at the “Bus Bros,” the branded social and digital content that Newgarden and teammate and buddy Scott McLaughlin have been producing for nearly a year.

“Apparently they hang out together all the time,” Pagenaud cracked. “They’re ‘Bus Bros.’ Do you guys know what this is, the ‘Bus Bros’ thing? Have you watched it? I should start watching it.”

Newgarden and McLaughlin are scheduled to appear together on the second day of the preseason media event at the Palm Springs Convention Center, so stay tuned for the next round of snark.


Pagenaud is among many drivers enthused to get acclimated to The Thermal Club, which is a $275 million motorsports country club of sorts.

But for the Frenchman, Thermal represents more than just a chance to tune up for the 2023 season. Pagenaud, who made his first visit to the desert track three years ago after winning the Indy 500, is thinking about his long-term future.

“It’s actually something I’m really interested in for my future but in another life,” he said. “I love the concept. Actually before my IndyCar career, I was on a project like that myself in France. I was going to build something similar. I had the backing, I had everything going on, but my career took off. I had to give up on the project.

“But it is something I’ve always been interested in. My dad used to run my home racetrack. I had access to it, so I could see how that was going.

“I always had a passion for it because it’s a way to allow the fans to get closer to the car, allow the sport to be more known to the general public. There’s so many things that you can do with a racetrack, not only for races, but so many people that can come to bicycle races, you can have runners do a marathon. It doesn’t have to be just racing. It can be events. I’m into that. I’ve always been. Certainly when it’s time to stop driving, it will be something that I’m interested in, yes. That’s maybe 20 years from now.”


Felix Rosenqvist returns for his third consecutive season at McLaren, the longest stint with one team for the Swede since 2014 in F3.

But he finds himself somewhat in a similar position to last season when his return was uncertain for months during the Alex Palou-Chip Ganassi Racing saga. Palou is back with Ganassi but still expected to join the team in 2024, and with Rossi and O’Ward on long-term deals, Rosenqvist would be unable to stay unless the team added a fourth car.

He is taking it all in stride with the same grace in which he managed last season’s uncertainty.

“I think I handled it probably as good as I could,” Rosenqvist said of last year. “That’s probably a reason why I’m here this year. I think it’s a massive opportunity for me to be back for a third year. I feel like I have all the tools I need to perform, feeling very good with everyone at the car. As I said, there’s so many things happening last year on and off the track. I think as a team, we just really learned a lot from that that we can bring into this season.

“I think we’ll be tough this year. We have a lot of things in the bag to try early this season. A couple of things here at Thermal we want to try. Going into the season, we have pinpointed some areas where we feel we were lacking a little bit, like the short ovals, for example. I feel like we’ve done the best we can to attack all those areas and bring the best possible package we can.”

Rosenqvist is winless since his breakthrough victory over O’Ward at Road America in 2020. Ending that skid certainly would improve his prospects, but he isn’t worried.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” he said. “That’s a long time until next year. I think it’s a great opportunity for me. I’m in a good spot. I’m in a well-performing team. I feel well with everyone around me. I feel like I have a good support from the team. I don’t really think too much about that stuff. I just try to do what I can do, which is go fast forward and try to win races.”


After being frozen out of remote access to team data last year, Palou said his working relationship at Ganassi is “back to 100% like it was before from both sides.” The 2021 series champion said he had full privileges restored after he closed the season by winning the finale at Laguna Seca Raceway and then settled on staying with Ganassi a day later.

He is allowed to continue his F1 testing with McLaren, too, though IndyCar will be the priority in-season.

“It was a tough year,” said Palou, whose contract dispute lasted for two months. “Could have been a lot worse, for sure, than what we had but also could have been a little bit better if we didn’t have anything around in our minds. It’s a part of racing.

“I’m just happy that now we know that even with things in our minds, we were able to be successful. Hopefully, we can be back to 2021 things during this season. Yeah, obviously there’s always some moments (in 2022) where you’re like, ‘Oh, no, my God, this is not going the direction I wanted.’ But there was things that were out of my control, obviously. Some things that I could control, as well. But at the end of the day I had all the information from my side, from other sides. I knew that everything could be settled, and it did.”


Pato O’Ward unplugged from the racing world for six weeks during the offseason, ensuring he was fully recharged when the new year arrived.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to do it in the past few years,” said O’Ward, who tested an F1 car in 2021 and then went right into preparing and racing (then winning) the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona. “I said, ‘I want at least six weeks. Don’t talk to me, don’t text me, I don’t want to hear anything.’ It’s healing. It’s very healing.

“As much as you love what you do, you need to find a balance of just doing something else. I always tell people, there’s a huge difference between relaxing and recharging. How I recharge is doing things I don’t normally do during the year. Just being at the beach to me is my favorite thing to do after driving race cars. I made sure that I had that kind of time to just enjoy my loved ones. After I was finished with that, I was like, ‘OK, race cars now.’ ”


Marcus Ericsson is planning on a long future with Chip Ganassi Racing, and the 2022 Indy 500 winner seems well-positioned to become the team’s anchor driver if he can maintain last season’s consistency.

Jimmie Johnson has been replaced by the Marcus Armstrong-Takuma Sato combination, and Alex Palou is leaving after this year.

Six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, 42, is Ganassi’s unquestioned dean until his retirement, but Ericsson clearly is interested in the mantle after that.

“I’m feeling very much at home in the team,” said Ericsson, the Formula One who is entering his fourth season with CGR. “I’m super happy about that. I wish to stay for a very long time, as well. There is some uncertainty with other places maybe in the future, but Dixon seems to be just getting better and better. He might be here for another 10 years or so, who knows.

“But that’s great. Me and Scott, we work really well together. I can still learn a lot from him. I want to be here for a long time and win races and championships together.”

The Swede had a droll response when asked if no longer being the only Marcus will get confusing in Ganassi debriefs. “Yeah, it is; I’m angry,” Ericsson deadpanned. “I think we’re OK. He seems like a good kid. He has a good name.”


Following in the footsteps of Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard from F2 to IndyCar, Armstrong is OK with deferring his F1 dreams to run road and street courses as a rookie in 2023. The New Zealander grew up as an IndyCar fan rooting for Dixon, his boyhood idol and fellow countryman.

“I’ve been watching him on TV since I was a kid,” Armstrong, 22, said. “It’s cool because IndyCar is massive where I’m from because of him. I’ve always been so attracted to this championship. Of course, I spent my entire life chasing F1. You can never say ‘never.’ If I’m honest with you, I’m happy where I am now. It’s a dream come true.”

Armstrong hopes to move to full time in 2024 and believes being aligned with a powerhouse such as Ganassi will give him an opportunity to post strong results immediately (just as Ilott and Lundgaard had flashes as rookies last year).

“I’ve been genuinely impressed by the organization, just the strategic point of view that Chip Ganassi Racing has, it’s really quite remarkable,” he said. “I can understand why they’ve had so much success. I think fundamentally I need to get on it straightaway. I have all the information in the world, really. I just need to hit the ground running, do well immediately.”


In among the wildest stories of the offseason, rookie Sting Ray Robb revealed he landed his ride at Dale Coyne Racing because he ran into Indy Lights champion Linus Lundqvist at PitFit Training, a physical fitness and performance center used by many drivers in Indianapolis.

Lundqvist was the presumptive favorite for the DCR No. 51 Dallara-Honda, which was the last open seat heading into the 2022 season. Because of his Indy Lights title (since rebranded as “IndyNXT”) with HMD Motorsports, Lundqvist had a six-figure sponsorship to bring to an IndyCar team, and DCR is partnered with HMD.

“There was a few teams that we were talking to, and Dale’s team was not the one that was at the top of the list because we thought they already had a driver,” Robb said. “Obviously with Linus winning the championship, we assumed with the HMD association there that there would be a straight shoe-in for him.

“But I actually was at PitFit Training one day with Linus and discovered that was not the case. That created an opportunity for us that allowed me to call up my manager, Pieter Rossi, and get him on the phone, and he immediately called Dale and said, ‘Hey, we’re available.’ I think there was a mutual understanding of what availability was for either one of us. That’s when conversations began. Then we had a really good test in 2023 right at the beginning of January, and I think that was kind of the one that set the tone that allowed me to get in the seat.

“I think there’s been some opportunities that were miraculously created that we couldn’t have done on our own.”

Robb, who finished second in last year’s Indy Lights standings, hasn’t talked to Lundqvist since their PitFit meeting.

“Linus does deserve a seat” in IndyCar, Robb said. “His on-track performance was incredible. But it takes more than just a driver to get into IndyCar. You’ve got to have a village around you that supports you, and so I think that that is where my group made a difference. It wasn’t just in my performance, but it was the people around me.

“I feel bad for Linus because as a driver I can feel that way towards him because I could be in that seat if I didn’t have those same people around me. So there you go.”