Verstappen fourth at Bahrain Grand Prix: 'Difficult weekend'

Published on 31 March 2019 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen managed to take home the fourth place at the action packed Bahrain Grand Prix. For quite some time it appeared that the Dutchman would be crossing the line in fifth, but as a result of Sebastian Vettel spinning, he moved up one spot, to fourth. In the closing stages of the race, Max appeared to even have the possibility to overtake the very unfortunate Charles Leclerc for the final podium spot. The Ferrari-driver’s car suffered battery problems. With three laps to go, both Renault halted trackside, which brought out the safety car. This meant that no overtaking was allowed, enabling Leclerc to maintain his third place. Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag while team mate Valtteri Bottas came in second.

‘If the safety car hadn’t been deployed, we would have overtaken Charles’, says Max after the race. ‘I am not disappointed at all, because, given our pace today, I don’t feel we deserved a podium. Our car was very sensitive for the cross winds and I was constantly oversteering, which made it a lot harder. The balance of the car was in any case not good.’

Verstappen did manage to rake in some valuable points: ‘The points I took home are good. To come in fourth after such a difficult weekend, is quite okay.’

Max shortly explains the incident regarding him and Carlos Sainz, where, as a result, the Spaniard suffered a damaged front wing: ‘We both braked late and Carlos wanted to go on the outside. I think that he didn’t expect me to be there, because it is very hard to see what is happening beside you in these cars. He turned in and then we hit. I expect it to be just an issue with the sight.’

There is a strong cross wind on the Bahrain International Circuit as the second race of the season gets underway. Charles Leclerc gets poorly off the starting line and is immediately passed by team mate Sebastian Vettel. The Monegasque even drops back to third when Valtteri Bottas also passes him. Max Verstappen makes it through the first corner unscathed and retains his fifth spot. At the back of the field things go south when Lance Stroll hits Romain Grosjean’s Haas. Both drivers report back to the pits on the double with their damaged cars.

Sebastian Vettel leads the pack after the first lap, with Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen trailing. Leclerc appears to have found his pace back again and overtakes Bottas entering the first corner, this puts him second. The Finn loses another position to his team mate Lewis Hamilton almost immediately. This drops the Australian Grand Prix winner down to fourth.

Verstappen keeps the gap to the front runners in check and is also able to slot in behind Bottas’ Mercedes. Trying to position himself for an attack in Turn ten, the Dutchman goes wide. This almost gave Carlos Sainz a chance to overtake him. But Max is able to fend off the attack. However, the Spaniard engages him, not much later, once more. And once again, Verstappen shows what he’s made of. The McLaren-driver suffers, as a result of the battle, a damaged front wing. Sainz drops way back and heads back to his team for a new front wing. The incident is subject to a brief looking into by the Stewards of the Race, but no further action was required.

After his poor start, Charles Leclerc appears to have regrouped himself. The Monegasque closes the gap to his team mate and manages to even overtake him on lap six. Vettel puts up a fight but Leclerc is not impressed.

After an action packed start of the race, Max Verstappen comes in on lap twelve for a new set of rubbers, this being the medium compound tyres. By then, the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers still have to do their stop. After they have done their stop, the top six are Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.

Halfway the race, Max is running alone. The gap to Bottas is increasing, but also the lead on Renault-driver Nico Hülkenberg is getting bigger every lap. On lap thirty-three, the Dutchman comes back in for a second time. He rejoins the pack on a new set of mediums and in seventh. He manages to outdo Kimi Raikkonen on the same lap and is now P6. After McLaren-driver Lando Norris has gone in for his pit stop, Max is fifth once again.

With twenty laps to go, Lewis Hamilton has taken the fight to Sebastian Vettel for second place. During a great battle, the German gives it all away as he is too quick on the throttle and spins exiting Turn four. Not much later the Ferrari-driver loses his front wing as a result of vibration. This drops him down to P8 as he is forced to head back in for an unscheduled pit stop. This means Verstappen is able to move up one spot.

In the closing stages of the race, Charles Leclerc is on course to wheel in his first ever victory for Ferrari, but a technical issue puts a spoke in his wheel. A cylinder failure inside the power unit causes the race pace of the Ferrari to plummet. The lead on Lewis Hamilton is slowly but surely decreasing, lap by lap. It doesn’t take too long for the Briton to assume the number one spot. Team mate Bottas follows suit shortly after.

The moment that Verstappen also is about to take away the final podium step from Leclerc, both Renaults come to stand still, which brings out the safety car. As there are only three more laps left, the race finishes behind the safety car. As a result, Verstappen sees a podium finish go up in smoke.

Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag, with Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc trailing. Sebastian Vettel manages to do some damage control by working his way back to fifth. Lando Norris, Kimi Raikkonen, Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon and Sergio Pérez round up the top ten.

Results Grand Prix Bahrain:

1Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes571:34:21.29525
2Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes57+2.980s18
3Charles LeclercLECFerrari57+6.131s16
4Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda57+6.408s12
5Sebastian VettelVETFerrari57+36.068s10
6Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault57+45.754s8
7Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari57+47.470s6
8Pierre GaslyGASRed Bull Racing Honda57+58.094s4
9Alexander AlbonALBScuderia Toro Rosso Honda57+62.697s2
10Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes57+63.696s1
11Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari57+64.599s0
12Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda56+1 lap0
13Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari56+1 lap0
14Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes56+1 lap0
15George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes56+1 lap0
16Robert KubicaKUBWilliams Mercedes55+2 laps0
17Nico HulkenbergHULRenault53DNF0
18Daniel RicciardoRICRenault53DNF0
19Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault53DNF0
0Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari16DNF0