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


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 champion Will Power completes ‘Victory Lap’ at ceremony in Indianapolis

Will Power Victory Lap
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power went on his “Victory Lap” last week to celebrate his second career championship as the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series champion.

It began with several media interviews in Monterey, California, the day after he won the championship with a third-place finish in the Sept. 11 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

From there, it was off to Los Angeles for more interviews and personal appearances that included a VIP Tour at the Petersen Automotive Museum, several appearances on SiriusXM and lunch at The Ivy, where the Team Penske IndyCar Series driver was treated to Wagyu Beef.

“It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in my life,” Power told NBCSports.com.

From L.A. back to Power’s North Carolina home, near Team Penske’s home base of Mooresville, there was one stop left on Sept. 17 — the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, an invitation-only banquet where Power and his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet crew at Team Penske were honored for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

They didn’t even have to check into a hotel and spend another night on the road. Power and his team left on a Team Penske plane from the Statesville, N.C., airport at 4 p.m. ET Saturday to fly to Indianapolis. On arrival an hour later, a limo bus took the team to IMS.

Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season for the fifth time in his career. Power also made history with his 68th career pole, breaking the all-time mark held by the legendary Mario Andretti.

Power and Scott Dixon also became just two of only five drivers to complete every lap of every race in IndyCar Series history.

“What a year,” Power said as he was awarded his personal Astor Cup trophy (the second in his collection after the 2014 championship. “What a phenomenal year coming off one of my worst seasons personally. We came back with a vengeance.

“I want to thank Roger and Kathy Penske for everything they have done for me over the years. I wouldn’t be standing here and have the numbers I have without what Roger has done for me. I’m given a car every week that is capable of winning the pole, races, championships, and Indianapolis 500s. I’m so grateful for that.

“Also, to Greg Penske, you are there every week now at every event and I know we will be in good hands moving forward with the Penske Family.”

There are many on Power’s team and at home, that helped support Power throughout his career. None is bigger than Power’s wife, Liz, who told Power before the season that he would win the championship and break Andretti’s record.

“I must thank my wife. I’m so lucky to have a wife with that crystal ball that can tell me what is going to happen,” Power said. “I can’t think you enough, babe. I love you so much and you have been a big support to me my whole career. We’ve been together 17 years, and I’ve been in the series 17 years. She has been such a huge support to me. The mother of our child and she is a fantastic mother.

“She can’t tell the future. She just had faith in me.”

Liz Power’s premonition came true and that allowed Power and his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet team to celebrate Penske’s 17th IndyCar championship and 42nd title in the racing team’s history.

“The 12 crew this year, I’ve never had such a great group of guys,” Power said. “Trevor Lacasse (chief mechanic) is such a calm guy, but he does such a meticulous job on the preparation of the car. He is very, very good at keeping the whole crew happy. It feels as if there is no pressure on us. That’s a huge part in getting the most out of people. It was our first year together with you as a crew chief. What a great year to start our relationship.

“Dave Faustino (Power’s longtime engineer), we’ve worked together for 15 years. He’s almost like a wife to me, a partner … apart from sleeping together. We have a very good working relationship. Sorry Dave, I’m an awkward person and you are not.

“The things we have been through in our years together, it’s crazy that we continually improve and get better. We are standing on the podium after winning the championship and we are talking about the car, the race, and the tires. We weren’t talking about the championship.

“We never stop. The other boys were laughing at us, but I’m already thinking about next year.

“Ron Ruzewski (Team Penske IndyCar Managing Director and strategist) on the radio, always calm. He has actually made me a calm person. I rarely get upset on the radio anymore.”

Power also recognized the fans who helped boost attendance at many venues on the schedule this season as NBC Sports enjoyed its largest IndyCar audience yet.

“This series is growing,” Power said. “With open wheel racing now so popular because of Formula One, it’s really our time to push and put money behind it and go now and take IndyCar to another level because we have the best racing product in the world.

“I have to thank my teammates and (Team Penske president) Tim Cindric. I can’t tell you how hard we push each other. We are ultracompetitive and love each other and push each other hard, so thank you.”

Power won the championship by 16 points over hard-charging teammate Josef Newgarden, who finished second in the standings for the third year in a row.

“Overall, I’m filled with a lot of pride for our team and what we were able to do this year,” Newgarden said in his banquet address. “Any year that you step in the championship, you can easily see the challenges it presents everybody.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for the teams and drivers. To be a part of it, make it through it and for us at Team Penske, to topple it, is a very big deal. We’re all competitive.

“The tough thing about being in a championship fight, especially with teammates is we all want to be the best. That’s how it should be. We are competitive people and want to be the best. But it’s a team sport.

“Will, tremendous season, great, great job. I think the world of everybody on our team. It’s a big group. I’m so happy for all of you on the 12-car crew. There is so much we can take into next year.”

Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was unable to attend the banquet because of the Goodwood Festival in England but sent congratulations to Power via a video message.

“I really want to congratulate Will Power,” Dixon said. “You drove a tremendous season this year. Even with some of the lows that you had, some of the mistakes with qualifying, you bounced back tremendously. I know how tough these championships are and to see you do it in the style that you did it in the last race of the season, massive congratulations.”

Power’s championship formula included one victory, nine podiums and 12 top-five finishes. Teammate Josef Newgarden was second in the championship with five wins but only six podiums.

Cindric saluted Power’s season in accepting the championship team owner award.

“Will, you took it to another level this year,” Cindric said. “You are the complete package. You completed every lap, had nine podiums, finished out of the top 10 just four times, broke Mario Andretti’s record, and you did it all without cussing at the officials on national TV.

“One complaint I do has is while most of us think you might be from another planet, you never told us your wife was a fortune teller.”

Cindric also honored the seasons of Penske drivers Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who won three times in his second full season (“You are one of only two full-time IndyCar drivers that has driven for us in the past 23 years that hasn’t won an Indy 500 or an IndyCar championship. Your time is coming.”).

Kyle Moyer was named team manager of the year (his fifth time and Penske’s sixth). Pennzoil presented Lacasse with the chief mechanic of the year for the first time, the sixth time for Team Penske. The No. 12 crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for the most pit stop performance award points in 2022.

Power, Newgarden and McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team.

Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT IndyCar rookie of the year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.

Christian Lundgaard (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

“It’s been a tough season and looking at how it panned out, we struggled so much at the beginning of the season and how we were able to turn it around means so much to me and the team,” Lundgaard said. “It’s the one thing that you only get one shot at. I’m happy to have it.

“Being the first Dane at the Indy 500 certainly helps. Competing here for me is quite important and also special. To win this award and to be here in future years means so much to me. I have a chance to compete for wins and championships.

“This team gave me this opportunity at this track one year ago. We came back and got redemption. We got our first podium here. This year was 40 years ago that Bobby Rahal won the same award. It’s pretty special to keep it among the team.”

Sweden’s Linus Lundqvist was honored as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb. HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and Daiva Malukas accepted the team championship.

“I’m very proud of that,” Lundqvist said. “It’s cool to see. We are starting to look to the future, and this might not be doing too bad. It’s been great. As most of you can guess with Henry and Daiva Malukas (team owners), it’s been an incredible journey. So much fun that we’ve had. To be on the grid this year was so much of a struggle for us. I didn’t even know I would be doing this until January.

“To be able to pull out the season that we had, I cannot thank this team enough. We will celebrate this for a long time. I’m so happy and proud about that.”

Outgoing IndyCar Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Geoffrey Billows also was honored as he is leaving that role while battling cancer.

“When I think of Dr. Billows, I think of two words,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “One is selfless and the other is tough. He’s gone through a lot these last couple of years, and he didn’t want anybody to know. He’s an amazing man, and we are very grateful for what you have done.”

Dr. Geoffrey Billows with IndyCar president Jay Frye (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

Billows was presented with a framed checkered flag signed by all drivers in the series as well as other IndyCar officials and dignitaries.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Billows said. “This means so much for me to be part of this family for the past 30 years. I’ve been presented with opportunities I never thought I would ever have. I can’t tell you how much I love all of you guys and care for all of you guys.

“Thank you so much. I want to also thank my wife, Tammy, who has been a pillar of strength as I continue on this journey with cancer for the past two years as well. You will still see me as a consultant because I love this too much to quit altogether.”

When the evening concluded, Team Penske boarded a bus to the airport for the short return flight to Statesville. They were home by midnight.

Power’s Victory Lap was complete.

“The best thing about this is I get to sleep in my own bed tonight,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500