Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain GP under caution after an incident with three laps remaining saw a 17 second lead over Max Verstappen evaporate. It was an anticlimactic ending to a race that began with two major incidents in the opening laps.
Romain Grosjean crashed heavily on the first lap of the race while trying to overtake Daniil Kvyat. His car impacted a barrier head on and burst into flames. Grosjean survived the fiery crash with reportedly minor injuries that included burns on his hands and ankles as well as possibly broken ribs.
“At first I was angry that he had turned across me in the way he did, but that changed as soon as I saw the flames and what happened in my mirrors,” Kvyat told BBC Sky Sports. “I was really worried. It was a scary moment.”
After a complete restart, Kvyat made contact with Lance Stroll, who landed upside down to bring out a second red flag. (Watch Here.)
Once the Bahrain GP returned to green it featured a dominant win for Hamilton, who led all 57 laps. This was the first time a Bahrain GP has been led flag to flag.
But the win was not as easy at it appeared.
“It was physically very demanding,” Hamilton said of the win. “With the break that we had at the beginning, you get into a mindset, you have a good start. And then with the wait that we had it’s so easy to step out of the zone. That was tricky. But then getting back in, [Red Bull] had a lot of speed today, so I was flat out the whole way trying to keep them at bay.”
Second-place Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race with nine circuits remaining. He posted a speed of 211.741 kilometers per hour on Lap 48, which was almost two kilometers per hour faster than Hamilton’s 209.803.
The Bahrain GP victory was Hamilton’s fifth consecutive win and his 11th of the season. With 11 wins Hamilton tied his most in a season. He won 11 times previously in 2014, 2018 and 2019. Hamilton has two more chances to achieve a new personal record.
On Lap 31, Hamilton set a new best with 588 laps led in a season. He ended the race with 614 laps led. His previous best was set in 2015 during which he won his third of seven drivers’ championships.
⚠️ SAFETY CAR ⚠️
Stroll has crashed
The Canadian has radioed the team to say he is ok and he's out of car #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #F1 pic.twitter.com/C6fRGPjBL3
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 29, 2020
Sergio “Checo” Perez was on his way to a second consecutive podium finish for the first time in his career before his Mercedes burst into flame with engine failure.
“It was a great race today by [Perez],” said Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal of the Racing Point F1 team. “Never put a foot wrong. It’s just unfortunate. Bad luck today for both Lance and Checo.
“We’ve got two races to go. We just have to regroup and it’s not over. We have a quick car.”
Perez’s late race retirement allowed Alex Albon to take the final podium position in third. That completed a comeback from a Practice 2 crash that forced the team to roll out a new chassis for the race.
McLaren grabbed the next two spots with Lando Norris finishing fourth and Carlos Sainz fifth.
Hamilton’s win extends his points lead in the drivers championship to 131 over Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton clinched his seventh championship in the Turkish Grand Prix.
As Hamilton won the Bahrain GP, teammate Bottas had a difficult race.
He fell back dramatically on the opening lap, which contributed to the traffic jam that eventually ensnared Grosjean. During the race he had multiple tire punctures requiring pit stops to replace the deflated rubber. His eighth-place finish earned four points and places Bottas only 12 ahead of Verstappen with two races remaining. Verstappen earned 19 points with his second-place finish.