VIDEO: The best onboard action from Bahrain
There was no shortage of on-track drama in Bahrain on Sunday - so sit back and enjoy the best fights, scrapes and moments from the driver's perspective in Sakhir...
When he came out the pits just as Williams' Lance Stroll flew by along the straight, it looked like Carlos Sainz would settle in behind the Canadian rookie and attempt a pass later in the lap. Sainz, though, had a different plan: on fresh supersoft tyres, his ability to brake later than Stroll persuaded him to try and claim the inside line into Turn 1. As the onboards show, however, Stroll wasn't factoring in an attack from the Spaniard, meaning he turned in as normal - and Sainz suddenly had nowhere to go. Both men retired as a result - although the stewards came down hardest on the Toro Rosso man, issuing him a three-place grid penalty for the next round in Russia.
Renault's Jolyon Palmer was on the unfortunate end of two fantastic overtaking moves in four corners mid-way through the Bahrain Grand Prix. Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat kicked things off, barrelling down the inside of Palmer under braking for Turn 1. As the onboards show, Palmer tries to fend the move off by flicking to the right just before braking - but Kvyat is not to be denied. The pair touch, which costs Palmer momentum - and suddenly brings Alonso into play from a long way back. The Spaniard positions his McLaren on the outside, and even when pushed onto the kerbs his timing is perfect as he executes a classic switchback. With driving like this, it's little wonder the two-time champion believes he is still at the top of his game.
Like Lewis Hamilton, who'd baulked him on the way into the pits, Daniel Ricciardo had soft tyres fitted to his Red Bull under the safety car. But while Hamilton exploded forwards as racing resumed, the Mercedes driver quickly repassing the Australian for P3, Ricciardo slid helplessly backwards as he struggled to get heat into the yellow-marked rubber. Over the course of the next 5.4km, Williams' Felipe Massa and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen would follow Hamilton through - the former with a brilliant pass around the outside through Turn 4, the latter with a classic switchback at Turn 11 - as Ricciardo's hopes of giving Red Bull a first podium in Sakhir since 2013 disappeared into the night sky.
Late yellow flags in qualifying consigned Force India's Sergio Perez to P18 on the grid, but in the race there was no stopping the all-action Mexican. On a frantic but brilliantly judged first lap Perez made his way past no fewer than five cars, including the man he collided with on the first lap in China, Williams' Lance Stroll [dispatched with aplomb around the outside through the tricky Turn 10], and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat, who slithered off the road after a lock-up at Turn 12. “The first lap was very important for my race,” Perez would later say. It certainly was - it provided him with the platform from which to score points - for a 13th race in a row, no less.
The start of any Grand Prix is always a careful balancing act for drivers, with a need to mix aggression and prudence in split second decisions. So when Kimi Raikkonen struggled slightly away from the line, losing position to the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, it was no surprise to see him fight back on the run down to Turn 4. Unfortunately for the Iceman, as he catches the slipstream of Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian does likewise with Verstappen - and as both men jink left, the trio are suddenly three-wide on the back straight. Sensing danger, Raikkonen cedes ground - only to then misjudge his braking point and run too deep into the corner. The mistake is fractional, but the result is costly - Williams' Felipe Massa has all the invitation he needs to sail up the inside of the Ferrari and push Raikkonen even further down the pack.
Lewis Hamilton versus Sebastian Vettel has been the dominant storyline so far in 2017 - but in Bahrain it was polesitter Valtteri Bottas who took the fight to Ferrari early on. A combination of speed and decisive strategy had put Vettel into the lead, but on lap 17, after the safety car had come in, Bottas mounted his attack - and as the onboard shows, he even nosed ahead. As previous races in Sakhir have illustrated, though, the inside line at Turn 4 is everything... and with Bottas on his outside, Vettel simply allows his SF70H to drift wide on the exit, squeezing Bottas until he abandons his attempted pass. It would be the closest either Mercedes driver came to denying Vettel all day...
Palmer was in the thick of another sensational battle in Bahrain - this time just after the lights went out. The Briton is initially on the defensive as he fends off an attempted around-the-outside pass from Williams' Lance Stroll at Turn 4 - but as the pack dice through the next sequence of bends, opportunities to attack suddenly open up. Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat is an easy victim - the Russian pushed wide after contact with Haas's Romain Grosjean - before Palmer then gets a run on Force India's Esteban Ocon into Turn 11. A lovely dummy gives the Renault driver the inside line, and the pair head out of the corner side by side, Palmer pulling ahead inch by inch - right until the rear of his Renault loses grip. Palmer reacts instantly, but the loss of momentum means he can only watch as Ocon shoots back up the inside to wrest the position back.
A case of anything one Force India can do, the other can do better? Sergio Perez may have staged a superb early charge in Bahrain (covered in detail above), but even he wouldn't have necessarily expected to be racing with former team mate Nico Hulkenberg by lap 17 - the pair had started seventh and 18th after all. But Perez was in no mood to simply hang around behind Hulkenberg's Renault. Turn 14 isn't renowned as an overtaking hotspot, but that works to the Mexican's advantage as he catches Hulkenberg unawares and duly sails into seventh - where he would ultimately end up finishing, two spots ahead of Hulkenberg.