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Bahrain analysis - Formula One racing at its finest 07 Apr 2014

(L to R): Toto Wolff (AUT) Mercedes AMG F1 Sporting Director; Dr. Thomas Weber (GER) Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AGGroup Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development; Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1; 2nd placed Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 and Paddy Lowe (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Executive Director (Technical).
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2014 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2014 Third placed Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India with his trophy on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2014 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F14 T and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10 battle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2014 Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW36.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2014 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F14 T.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 4 April 2014 Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2014 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E22 locks up.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2014 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2014 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren celebrates his 250th Grand Prix start.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2014 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C33 rolled and crashed out of the race after colliding with Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus E22.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 201

The third round of the 2014 season was outstanding in every sense, from Mercedes’ breathless intra-team battle for victory to Force India springing a surprise and surging onto the final step of the podium.

There were fights throughout the order: Daniel Ricciardo rescued fourth for Red Bull, despite starting from 13th, while Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas hounded four-time champion Sebastian Vettel - and each other - in the fight for sixth. McLaren were also in podium contention until late technical woes, while Esteban Gutierrez escaped unharmed from being pitched into a barrel roll at Turn 1. We take a team-by-team look back on Sunday’s action at Sakhir…

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, P1
Nico Rosberg, P2

Amid all the calls for changes to the new regulations, Mercedes made the best response they could by letting Hamilton and Rosberg run mano a mano in an epic fight for victory, producing the most exciting race yet of the new formula. The intervention of the safety car on lap 40 compromised Hamilton and favoured Rosberg, who’d opted to do his middle stint of medium tyress ready for a late-race charge on softs when Hamilton would be on the slower rubber. But in a tremendous duel the Englishman just fended off the German. Both described the race as one of the toughest they’d ever driven.

Force India
Sergio Perez, P3
Nico Hulkenberg, P5

Without the safety car Force India would probably have taken third and fourth places, such was the VJM07s excellent pace. As it was they got third and fifth, which was enough to elevate them to second place in the constructors’ points standings behind Mercedes and ahead of McLaren. And last year we were impressed when they were fifth for a while…

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo, P4
Sebastian Vettel, P6

The safety car threw a life line to Red Bull. Both Ricciardo, who overtook Vettel quite robustly, and the world champion were set up nicely on their soft rubber when Force India, Williams and Ferrari were heading to the finish on mediums. Ricciardo just failed to pass Perez for third, but Vettel lacked straight-line speed and couldn’t get by Hulkenberg for fifth.

Williams
Felipe Massa, P7
Valtteri Bottas, P8

Williams deserved a lot better than seventh and eighth places, after fighting hard with the Force Indias for the final podium slot for much of the race. But the safety car scuppered their three-stop strategy and favoured the two-stopping Red Bulls at the crucial point. Fourth, fifth or sixth would have been more reflective of their potential.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P9
Kimi Raikkonen, P10

Under the eyes of president Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari struggled throughout with their lack of aero grip and straight-line speed, and he had left for the airport long before they finished ninth and 10th.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat, P11
Jean-Eric Vergne, retired lap 19, accident damage

Toro Rosso lacked the pace to fight for points this time, but yet again rookie Kvyat drove like a veteran to take 11th. And yet again Vergne got involved in a first-lap clash - with one of the Lotuses - that ultimately led to his retirement.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, P12
Pastor Maldonado, P14

Grosjean said he struggled with his car’s handling as he battled a lack of rear-end grip, but that at times it was also quick. Maldonado received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for a spectacular incident when he drove into Gutierrez in Turn 1 just after leaving the pits; he’ll get a five-place grid drop in China, too.

Marussia
Max Chilton, P13
Jules Bianchi, P16

Chilton had a strong car and drove it well to beat Caterham and take 13th place, putting the Banbury squad back into 10th place overall. Bianchi was involved in a silly incident with Sutil which cut his left rear tyre and seriously delayed him.

Caterham
Kamui Kobayashi, P15
Marcus Ericsson, retired lap 34, oil leak

Caterham lacked the pace they had shown in Malaysia and couldn’t hold off Chilton’s Marussia. In the closing laps two-stopping Kobayashi had to back off to save fuel, while Ericsson was told to switch off his Renault V6 after it developed an oil leak.

McLaren
Jenson Button, P17
Kevin Magnussen, retired lap 41, clutch

Button was in strong contention for a top-six finish in his 250th race, but the chance slipped away after the safety car had gone in at the end of the 46th lap, when his MP4-29 suffered the same clutch problem that had accounted for team mate Magnussen six laps earlier. The Englishman was classified 17th.

Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez, retired lap 40, accident
Adrian Sutil, retired lap 18, accident

Sauber had a brutal race, with Sutil taken out in a silly incident with Bianchi, and Gutierrez out on his head when Maldonado simply ran into the side of him in Turn 1 just after the Lotus driver had exited the pits. Fortunately the Mexican was unharmed.

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