Starting from P2 on the grid, Sebastian Vettel made a phenomenal getaway to lead into the first corner of the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix. But that was about as good as the four-time champion’s evening got, with Vettel going on to be overtaken by both team mate Charles Leclerc and later Lewis Hamilton, before a spin ended up dropping him down to fifth by the race’s end.
That spin occurred on lap 38 just after Lewis Hamilton had made it past Vettel following an intense scrap for second place. Worse, though, was that the spin appeared to cause vibrations on Vettel’s medium tyres which then led to a dramatic moment when his front wing submarined under his car down Bahrain’s back straight, forcing him to pit for a new nose.
READ MORE: Hamilton profits from Leclerc reliability heartbreak to win in Bahrain
Vettel used the stop to bolt on some used soft tyres which at least helped him back to fifth place by the end of the race. But after Ferrari also saw an engine issue cost Charles Leclerc his maiden victory – allowing Mercedes through to secure a one-two – all in all it was a night both Vettel, and the Scuderia, would rather forget.
BAHRAIN GP: Leclerc battles past Vettel for the lead
“I think it’s pretty clear that if you start at the front and don’t finish at the front you can’t be happy,” said Vettel.
“I really struggled at the beginning of the race. Then on the medium tyre, maybe it was a bit better, but overall not the pace that I wanted to have today, so not sure why. And then obviously on top of that, I had the mistake with the spin, so not a good evening.
“I just lost the car very suddenly and once I spun then it was obviously too late. Unfortunate that we had so much damage with the tyres that it caused the front wing to fail so yeah, not great.”
The good news for Ferrari was that, in Bahrain, they appeared to re-find the pace that saw them strike fear into the hearts of their rivals during pre-season testing. But with reliability worries and a potential recurrence of Vettel’s error-strewn 2018 form – not to mention a 39-point deficit to Mercedes in the constructors’ standings – to now mull over, there’s clearly some work still to do back in Maranello.