2014 Bahrain Grand Prix
|2014 Bahrain Grand Prix|
|Race 3 of 19 in the 2014 Formula One World Championship|
Layout of the Bahrain International Circuit
|Date||6 April 2014|
|Official name||2014 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix|
|Location||Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||5.412 km (3.363 mi)|
|Distance||57 laps, 308.238 km (191.530 mi)|
|Attendance||85,000 (Weekend) 38,140 (Race Day)|
|Time||1:37.020 on lap 49|
The 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix (formally the 2014 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on 6 April at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. It was the third round of the 2014 Formula One season, the 900th Formula One World Championship event, and the eleventh running of the race. The 57-lap race was won by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton who started from second position. His teammate Nico Rosberg finished second and Force India driver Sergio Pérez came in third. It was Hamilton's second victory of the season, his first in Bahrain, and the 24th of his Formula One career.
Hamilton accelerated faster than Rosberg off the line and overtook him at the first corner. Both Mercedes drivers pulled away from the rest of the field and Rosberg conserved fuel which allowed him to attack Hamilton before the first round of pit stops on lap 19 with his teammate successfully defending the lead. He extended his advantage over Rosberg over the next 22 laps before an incident between Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutiérrez caused the safety car to be deployed and his lead was reduced to nothing. Following instructions to bring the cars safely to the finish, Rosberg immediately battled Hamilton for first place, but was unable to get ahead of him and Hamilton maintained a steady advantage when his teammate's soft compound tyres were worn out to win the race.
The result meant Rosberg's lead over Hamilton in the Drivers' Championship was reduced to 11 points. Nico Hülkenberg moved from sixth to third after finishing in fifth place, while Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button fell one place each to round out the top five. Mercedes increased their advantage in the Constructors' Championship to be 68 points ahead of second-placed Force India who moved from fifth to second because of their strong result. McLaren were third with Red Bull and Ferrari in positions fourth and fifth with 16 races left in the season.
The 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix was the third of 19 scheduled rounds of the 2014 Formula One season, the eleventh running of the event, as well as the 900th Formula One World Championship race. It was held on 6 April 2014 at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. Tyre supplier Pirelli brought two types of tyre to the race: two dry compounds (soft "options" and medium "primes"). The drag reduction system (DRS) had two activation zones for the race: one was on the straight between turns 10 and 11, and the second was on the start/finish straight from the final to the first corners.
Going into the race, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg led the Drivers' Championship with 43 points, ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton in second, and Fernando Alonso in third place. Jenson Button was fourth on 23 points, three ahead of his McLaren teammate Kevin Magnussen in fifth. Mercedes were leading the Constructors' Championship with 68 points, McLaren were in second on 43 points. Ferrari were third on 30 points, while Williams (20 points) and Force India (19) contended for fourth place.
With the potential of a title challenge between the two Mercedes drivers, Hamilton felt their relationship would be unaffected by the race, noting that the two had a healthy working association. Rosberg said that he recognised that his relationship with Hamilton could change as the season progressed, noting that the two drivers had battled for a championship when they were competing in go-karts. He was confident they would work through the circumstances. Hamilton aimed to secure his first victory at the circuit, while Rosberg stated that he enjoyed racing at the track and hoped to continue his recent momentum in the race. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner felt the power advantage of both Mercedes cars would possibly be greater because of the Bahrain International Circuit being a "power-dominated" track. He believed the country's hot climate would affect his team's chances, but said they would attempt to make progress during the race weekend.
In January 2014, an alliance of Bahraini human rights organisations including the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights wrote to Jean Todt, the president of the sport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), requesting that the Bahrain Grand Prix be suspended until the FIA's Ethics Committee could investigate the impact the race has on human rights in Bahrain. According to the BCHR no response was received from the FIA. Reports from the race meeting indicated that thousands of people attended a rally held on the Friday before the race itself outside the Bahraini capital of Manama protesting against the Grand Prix and the government. Clashes between protesters and police took place following the demonstration.
In October 2013, it was revealed by former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh that the race would occur between the early part of the evening and nightfall saying he had observed plans for the idea. This was confirmed by the race organisers one month later as part of an effort to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the event's first running. Its floodlighting system was tested at the 2013 6 Hours of Bahrain. Following the success of the trial, it was later confirmed on 5 April by the chairperson of the Bahrain International Circuit, Zayed Al Zayani, that the Bahrain Grand Prix would remain a night race for future seasons. Sunday is a work day in Bahrain so scheduling the race in the evening resulted in sharply higher ticket sales. That, along with the investment in lighting, made it certain that all Grand Prix races in Bahrain would be evening events. Three drivers made their first appearances of the season in a Formula One car during the first practice session. Felipe Nasr drove in place of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, the Sauber of Esteban Gutiérrez was taken over by Giedo van der Garde, and Robin Frijns utilised Kamui Kobayashi's Caterham.
Three practice sessions—two on Friday and a third on Saturday—were held before the Sunday race. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions lasted ninety minutes each; the third, one-hour session was held on Saturday morning. Hamilton was fastest in the first practice session with a lap time of one minute and 37.502 seconds; Rosberg was second and Alonso third. Nico Hülkenberg was fourth-fastest, ahead of Button and Kimi Räikkönen. Magnussen, Daniil Kvyat, Sergio Pérez and Sebastian Vettel rounded out the session's top ten drivers. In the second practice session, held in cooler weather, Hamilton recorded the fastest lap of the day with a time of one minute and 34.325 seconds, with teammate Rosberg in second and Alonso third. Daniel Ricciardo was fourth-fastest, ahead of Felipe Massa and Button. Vettel, Magnussen, Pérez and Bottas followed in the top ten. Pastor Maldonado damaged his car after he drove over the turn four exit kerbs causing him to become airborne, and Max Chilton lost control of his Marussia braking for the same corner because of a front-left brake disc failure. Pérez swerved to avoid hitting Rosberg who had reduced his speed in the 13th and 14th turns. Rosberg was issued with a reprimand by the stewards, while Gutiérrez was not penalised for impeding Massa in the same area. The turn four kerb was removed by course officials following complaints from several drivers. The FIA's race director Charlie Whiting wrote to all teams warning that the track limits would be strictly enforced in the event any driver was shown to gain an advantage by going over this area. Several cars ran wide at the entry of turn 11 during the second session because of a breezy tail wind on the backstraight. Hamilton set the fastest lap with a time of one minute and 35.324 seconds, ahead of Rosberg and Pérez. Bottas was fourth-fastest; his teammate Massa was fifth and Button sixth. Alonso, Hülkenberg, Kvyat and Räikkönen completed the top ten. Vettel missed the session's final 20 minutes because he spun at the second turn's exit and beached his car in the corner's gravel trap.
Saturday evening's qualifying session was divided into three parts. The first part ran for 18 minutes, eliminating cars which finished the session 17th or below. The 107% rule was in effect, requiring drivers to reach a time within 107% of the quickest lap to qualify. The second part of qualifying session lasted 15 minutes, eliminating cars which finished 11th to 16th. The final part of qualifying session determined the positions from first to tenth, deciding the pole position. Cars in the final qualifying session were required to start the race with the same tyres they used when setting their quickest lap times. It was the first dry qualifying session of the season, and the track temperature cooled gradually as the one-hour period progressed. Rosberg set the fastest times in the second and third sessions to clinch his first pole position of the season, the fifth of his career, and his second in Bahrain, with a time of one minute and 33.185 seconds. He was joined on the grid's front row by Hamilton, who recorded a lap time nearly three-tenths of a second slower than his teammate. He locked his brakes going into the first turn on his final timed lap, flat-spotting his tyres and abandoning his attempt as a consequence. Ricciardo qualified in third, but was issued with a ten-place grid penalty for an unsafe pit stop release at the season's previous round in Malaysia. As a result, Bottas inherited the position and Pérez took fourth. Räikkönen did not feel comfortable with his Ferrari and struggled on the medium compound tyres which restricted him to fifth. Button—in his 250th Grand Prix start—took sixth while Massa struggled with oversteer to qualify seventh. Magnussen and Alonso took eighth and ninth respectively. Vettel rounded out the top ten qualifiers but had struggled with a lack of track running following his final practice session spin, and a downshifting issue.
Hülkenberg was the fastest driver not advancing into the final session; his best lap time of one minute and 35.116 seconds was 1.2 seconds off Rosberg's pace in the second session. Hülkenberg went wide at the turn eleven exit kerb which cost him time. Kvyat's fastest time was achieved in the track's first sector which meant he was only able to qualify 12th. After Ricciardo's penalty was applied, Kvyat was separated by teammate Jean-Éric Vergne who had to make an engine adjustment after feeling he was low on power. Gutiérrez took 15th ahead of the two Lotus cars of Romain Grosjean and Maldonado who both struggled for pace. Adrian Sutil failed to advance beyond the first session when he had slower cars on his final timed lap and aborted the attempt. However, he was issued with a five-place grid penalty after he was judged by the stewards to have forced Grosjean wide between turns 13 and 14 and was handed two penalty points on his super licence and started from the back of the field. Kobayashi and Jules Bianchi started from 18th and 19th; Kobayashi did one timed lap on the soft compound tyres before entering the pit lane and rejoined the track with three minutes remaining for one further lap time. Bianchi lost three-tenths of a second on the straights which he felt prevented him from qualifying ahead of Kobayashi. Marcus Ericsson used a new set of soft compound tyres but locked his brakes which cost him time along with an energy recovery system issue. He made a pit stop for a new set of soft compound tyres and qualified in 20th, ahead of teammate Max Chilton in 21st.
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.220||1:34.592||1:34.051||131|
|5||11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.998||1:34.747||1:34.346||4|
|11||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:35.549||1:34.985||10|
|12||27||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.874||1:35.116||11|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:35.395||1:35.145||12|
|14||25||Jean-Éric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:35.815||1:35.286||14|
|107% time: 1:41.515|
- ^1 — Daniel Ricciardo was given a ten-place grid penalty for an unsafe pit release during the Malaysian Grand Prix.
- ^2 — Adrian Sutil was given a five-place grid penalty for impeding Romain Grosjean during qualifying.
The race began at 18:00 Arabia Standard Time (UTC+03:00). Weather conditions at the start were dry and hot with the air temperature between 23 to 26 °C (73 to 79 °F) and a track temperature ranging from 26 to 30 °C (79 to 86 °F). The cooler temperatures reduced the advantage of the medium compound tyres over the soft compound to less than the two seconds observed during daylight conditions. Approximately 38,140 people attended the event.
When the race started, Hamilton accelerated faster than teammate Rosberg off the line, moving ahead of him by using the space between the pit wall heading into the first corner. Hamilton oversteered after leaving turn three and moved to the outside of the track. Rosberg attempted to retake the lead by going around the outside at the fourth turn, but Hamilton defended the position. Alonso overtook teammate Raikkönen around the inside at the first turn and then made contact with Magnussen. Alonso continued with minor bodywork damage. Vergne was squeezed by Maldonado at the turn eight entry and attempted to pass him. Maldonado drove defensively and both made contact. Vergne had a punctured right-rear tyre, along with rear wing and floor damage, and drove to the pit lane for repairs.
Massa made the best start of the field, moving from seventh to third by the end of the first lap, while Vergne lost eight positions over the same distance because of the Maldonado collision. At the end of the first lap, Hamilton led Rosberg by one second followed by: Massa, Pérez, Bottas, Button, Alonso, Hülkenberg, Räikkönen and Vettel. Having been unsuccessful in his attempts to retake the lead, Rosberg started to conserve fuel to prepare for an attack later in the race. Both he and Hamilton pulled away from the rest of the field. Hülkenberg passed Alonso by braking later than him at the first turn on lap four to move into seventh. The Williams cars were harder on their tyres than the surrounding cars, and third-placed Massa came under pressure from Pérez while Button closed the gap to Bottas. Ricciardo went to the outside of Magnussen on the ninth lap and overtook him for eleventh driving into turn one. Ricciardo went off into the corner's run-off area onto the exit kerbs, and defended his position from Kvyat who went to the inside of him going into turn four. Button battled Bottas around the inside heading towards the first turn on the following lap. The two drivers drove alongside each other through the following corner until Button moved in front of Bottas.
Ricciardo caught up to Magnussen while Hülkenberg overtook Bottas for seventh position shortly afterwards. Ricciardo moved to the outside of Magnuseen on the backstraight and passed him after the McLaren slid while defending eleventh place on lap eleven. Pérez attacked Massa going into the fourth turn and overtook him for third place on the next lap through turns five and six. Massa attempted to reclaim the position driving into the turn seven hairpin, but locked his tyres and temporarily bowed out of the battle. Both Williams cars - as well as both Ferrari drivers - had to change from a two-stop to a three-stop strategy as a result of high tyre wear. Magnussen also converted to a three-stop strategy due to high tyre wear, but teammate Button was able to conserve his tyres well enough to continue with doing just two stops. Sutil and Bianchi twice impacted each other at the first turn with the second collision causing Sutil to stop at the corner with a puncture, and debris was littered on the track. Bianchi's right-rear tyre was punctured and he went to the pit lane for a replacement wheel, but his car's floor was damaged, causing a loss in downforce which meant he had difficulty driving his car for the remainder of the race.
Vettel's DRS stopped working and he was quickly caught by teammate Ricciardo by the 15th lap. Ricciardo told his team by radio that the two cars were losing time and Red Bull ordered Vettel to cede sixth place to Ricciardo which he did immediately. Hülkenberg made a pit stop on the same lap and overtook Räikkonen and Kvyat on his out-lap shortly afterwards. Having saved more fuel, Rosberg had more horsepower available for an attack. After using DRS down the pit straight he managed to briefly get past Hamilton by out-braking on the inside into turn one. However, Rosberg's late braking forced him slightly wide, and Hamilton switched to the inside to immediately retake the position from Rosberg. On the following lap, Rosberg attempted the same move into the first turn again, and this time managed to stay ahead through the turn. However, Hamilton managed to come back at his teammate to claim the inside for turn two, with the two coming perilously close to contact as Hamilton cut across to retake first from Rosberg. This overtake was critical because as the lead Mercedes car, it meant that Hamilton was called into the pit lane first - diving into the pit lane at the end of the lap to be fitted with the soft compound tyre - while Rosberg would make a pit stop on lap 21 and take on the harder medium tyre.
Ricciardo and Button made pit stops on lap 20 while Bianchi was issued with a drive-through penalty because he was judged to have caused the incident between himself and Sutil. Button caught Räikkönen and used DRS to overtake him heading into the first corner. Sutil retired his Sauber after several slow laps on the track allowed him to gain more track experience. Vettel moved in front of Räikkönen by going around the inside without using the DRS system between the fourth and fifth turns, while Massa defended third position from teammate Bottas at the first turn. Three laps later, Massa came under pressure from Hülkenberg who attacked Massa by going around the inside heading towards the fourth turn and moved out of his slipstream, but Massa defended the place. Pérez took advantage to attack before entering turn five and moved in front of Hülkenberg. Ricciardo locked his tyres going into turn one and narrowly avoided impacting Räikkönen, but caught him on the backstraight. Bottas quickly caught up to the battle between Räikkönen and Ricciardo. He passed Ricciardo around the outside at turn one on the 30th lap and swerved left off onto the run-off area to avoid striking Räikkönen. Ricciardo retook the position.
Hamilton created a gap on the faster tyre over the next phase of the race and by lap 32 he was 8.5 seconds ahead of Rosberg. Ricciardo was able to pass Räikkönen and Bottas attempted to move in front of Räikkönen going into the downhill turn eight and passed him on the backstraight. Bottas closed up to Ricciardo while Massa passed Räikkönen on the backstraight for ninth. Pérez made a pit stop on lap 35 and rejoined behind Alonso before immediately passing Alonso. Ricciardo lost seventh position when Massa passed him. Ericsson pulled over to the side of the track to retire with an oil leak which followed a loss of engine power on the 37th lap. Ricciardo overtook Räikkönen around the outside on the following lap and moved in front of Magnuseen shortly afterwards. Hamilton was around 10 seconds ahead of Rosberg with 17 laps remaining. However, with the soft compound tyre estimated to be as much as a second a lap faster than the medium compound, Rosberg still had a very good chance of catching up to his teammate in the remaining laps, as they were scheduled to be put on the opposite tyres for the final stint - Hamilton on medium tyres and Rosberg on the soft compound option.
After rejoining the track following a pit stop on lap 41, Maldonado was unable to react to Gutiérrez steering right into the first corner and hit his right-rear corner. Gutiérrez rolled over twice in the air before landing upright on the track. The ensuing debris resulted in the deployment of the safety car. Gutiérrez remained in his car for some time before climbing out to be transported to the local hospital for examination. Magnussen retired with clutch problems on the 42nd lap. Both Mercedes drivers made pit stops during the safety car period, but its deployment meant Hamilton's lead of over 10 seconds over Rosberg was reduced to nothing. With no gap between them, Hamilton would be at a big disadvantage on medium tyres that were estimated to be around a second a lap slower as the two Mercedes cars scrapped for the lead. As the safety car circulated, the team's technical director Paddy Lowe spoke to both Mercedes drivers on the radio to remind them that both cars needed to finish the race. With ten laps to go, the safety car drove into the pit lane and racing resumed. Hamilton defended from Rosberg heading into turn one, but Rosberg got the better line through the corner and through turns two and three, and he attempted to overtake again on the outside of turn four. Hamilton defended again, holding his teammate out wide and managed to maintain the lead.
Pérez fended off a challenge from teammate Hülkenberg for third. Button fell to seventh after being passed by Vettel on the backstraight and Ricciardo around the outside, while Maldonado was issued with a ten-second stop-and-go penalty for causing the incident between himself and Gutiérrez on lap 49 which he took immediately. With their drivers fighting hard for the lead, and with fuel no longer being a concern due to the safety car period, the Mercedes cars were being driven flat-out and the extent of their superiority was revealed for the first time; within three laps the two Mercedes had created a six-second gap over Pérez. Rosberg recorded the race's fastest lap on the 49th lap, completing a circuit of one minute and 37.020 seconds. Ricciardo passed teammate Vettel for fifth going on lap 50 into the first turn. Vettel attacked going up the hill heading towards turn four but Ricciardo defended the position. On lap 52, Rosberg again attempted a late braking move into turn one, but Hamilton managed to stay ahead by waiting for Rosberg to run wide from his late braking manoeuvre and turned in to switch to the inside and maintain his lead. Rosberg continued his assault by attempting the move again on the following lap, and again Hamilton drove defensively heading towards turn four and managed to hold on to the lead.
Hülkenberg made a mistake, allowing Ricciardo to take advantage and passed him at the turn eleven exit to move into fourth place on lap 53. Massa battled Vettel for sixth driving into the first corner and overtook him at the fourth turn, but Vettel retook the position. Button slowed with a clutch problem and drove into his garage to become the race's final retirement on the 56th lap. With the two Mercedes drivers having repeatedly duelled for position over the closing laps, Rosberg had taken the best from his tyres by the start of the final lap. Hamilton maintained his advantage over the rest of the lap to win the race. Rosberg finished second, and Pérez narrowly held off a closing Ricciardo over the event's final few laps to clinch third. It was Pérez's first podium since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix and Force India's first since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. Hülkenberg finished fifth, ahead of Vettel and Massa in sixth and seventh. Bottas, Alonso and Räikkönen rounded out the top ten points-scoring finishers. Kvyat, Grosjean, Chilton, Maldonado and Kobayashi filled the next five positions, while Bianchi (one lap down) was the last of the classified finishers. There were two lead changes in the race; two drivers reached the front of the field. Hamilton's total of 54 laps led was the most of any competitor. It was Hamilton's second consecutive victory of the season, his first in Bahrain, and the 24th of his career, equalling the number of victories achieved by five-time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio.
At the podium interviews, conducted by singer Brian Johnson, Hamilton said he was "really, really proud" to have secured his first victory at the track and was grateful for his team for working hard to achieve the result. He praised Rosberg for his race performance and described the battle between the two drivers as "very fair". Rosberg stated that he strongly disliked finishing behind Hamilton, and it was something he did not particularly enjoy, but felt the event was "the most exciting race I’ve ever done in my whole career". Pérez said his third-place result was "very special" to him as it was his third race with the Force India team. He said it had been easier for him until the deployment of the safety car, and revealed he would not have been able to fend off Ricciardo for another lap. In the later press conference, Hamilton said it was difficult to defend against Rosberg with the medium compound tyres, and that he had not driven as hard against him since they competed against each other early in their careers. Rosberg stated he was pushing hard and revealed his strategy was planned by Mercedes and would undertake a similar move in the future. Pérez felt his podium position was important to him having never achieved the feat while driving for McLaren in 2013; finishing the race in third gave him "a great feeling".
Gutiérrez was surprised at the force of Maldonado's impact which forced him to retire from the race, arguing that he was in front of the driver and there was nothing that he could do to prevent the crash from occurring. Maldonado claimed he was unable to avoid making contact with Gutiérrez, but stated he would watch the incident again as he believed Gutiérrez missed his braking point and was off the racing line going into the first turn. Maldonado was issued with a five-place grid penalty for the next round of the season in China, and was handed three penalty points on his super licence. The two drivers spoke to each other about the crash and Maldonado told him that he did not expect to steer into Gutiérrez, but maintained that he did not cause the incident. Sutil felt Bianchi was driving aggressively having forced him wide at the race's start and was unable to prevent the crash from occurring. Bianchi said he was "really disappointed" describing it as "another tough race for me; the third one in a row". He argued that he was in front of Sutil driving into the first corner, but had enjoyed battling with the driver earlier in the race.
Media reactions to the race were positive, with David Tremayne of The Independent writing, "Thank the Lord that so many of Formula 1's detractors were present in Bahrain, where the 900th grand prix since the world championship was inaugurated turned out to be a humdinger that was easily the best held so far under the new regulations." With the amount of battling across the field, it was not "taxi driving" as Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo earlier claimed would be the outcome of Formula One's adoption of greener technology. Writing for The Sunday Telegraph, Daniel Johnson stated the day's racing was "some of the finest seen in years," and the discussion over how Formula One's "new rules had stifled competition, leaving little more than a series of fuel economy run" was premature. Kevin Eason of The Times wrote, "It took team-mates of raw courage and epic skill to drag Formula One from the round of squalid infighting that polluted the cool night air of Bahrain yesterday." The Guardian's motor racing correspondent Paul Weaver spoke of "an absolute thriller from lights to flag with more overtaking moves than you could shake your DRS at", and, "the fireworks that exploded into the night sky were a worthy celebration of the best race for years".
The race result meant Rosberg remained the leader of the Drivers' Championship but his advantage over Hamilton had been reduced from 18 to 11 points. Hülkenberg's fifth-place finish allowed him to move from sixth to third on 28 points, while Alonso and Button's results fell one position from third and fourth places respectively. Mercedes increased their advantage at the top of the Constructors' Championship to be 67 points in front. Force India's strong result allowed them to move from fifth to fourth, one point ahead of McLaren in third place. Red Bull were in fourth on 35 points after moving from sixth, with Ferrari dropping two positions to be a further two behind them in fifth with 16 races left in the season.
Championship standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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