In his post-race column for Unibet, two-time Formula One world champion Mika Hakkinen comments on the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, highlighting the impressive performance by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, which unfortunately wasn’t capitalized with his first win. The former McLaren driver also previews the next round of the 2019 Formula One season:
“I was in Bahrain for the Grand Prix on Sunday, and what an interesting and exiting weekend it was. After Mercedes’ dominance in Australia everyone had been asking what had happened to Ferrari’s pre-season form, but in Bahrain everything turned around. The front row of the grid was locked out by Ferrari and Charles Leclerc really dominated the race before his engine started to run on only five cylinders, dropping him to third. In some ways it is amazing he even finished!
For this young guy from Monaco, in only his second season in Formula One and second race for Ferrari, it was a very tough moment. I have lost count of the number of times a race got away from me, but it is part of the sport and you have to learn to cope with extreme disappointment. Leclerc is very strong, quicker than team mate Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain, and this guy is going to add a lot to the season ahead. As Lewis Hamilton said to him after the race, he has a long career in front of him and the race victories will come.
Mercedes won the race, of course, with Lewis Hamilton inheriting the win and Valtteri Bottas finishing second, but still holding his World Championship lead by one point. If you remember Valtteri wanted to score the extra point for fastest lap in Melbourne, and now you see why. Every point counts, and this year could be very close indeed. While Mercedes’ reliability won the race, team boss Toto Wolff and his drivers know that they have a problem; Ferrari is fast, even if they are fragile. Melbourne didn’t suit them, probably due to the slower 90 degree corners on that track, but on the wide open, flowing race track in Bahrain the Ferrari was the car to have. There are more quick circuits than slow ones, so Mercedes will take the lucky win in Bahrain but go back to their factory knowing that they have work to do in order to catch up.
The next event in China is the 1000th Formula One World Championship race, an amazing milestone after 70 years of racing. Ferrari qualified on the front row of the grid in Shanghai last year, although the race was won by Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, and I suspect Leclerc and Vettel will be aiming to repeat that qualifying performance this year and convert it to a Ferrari victory in order to gain revenge for Bahrain. On the long back straight expect Ferrari’s straight line speed advantage to really show.”