The 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix saw an immense display of talent with wheel-to-wheel battles all around the field. Drivers battling it out in similar machinery provided much of the thrill, while at the same time, teams like Force India with half the budget of likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull were able to breeze past their rivals with such an apparent ease, that the top guns felt they were in class of their own. Eventually, Lewis Hamilton fended off the challenge from somewhat disappointed Nico Rosberg to secure back-to-back Grand Prix victories. Sergio Perez took a superb third place finish while Daniel Ricciardo just missed out on the podium after another great drive. Honourable mention also goes to Nico Hulkenberg for another strong drive.
Lewis Hamilton got a better start off the line that enabled him to overtake pole sitter Nico Rosberg for lead of the race. He managed to hold on to the first place during the opening stint, despite coming under intense pressure from Rosberg who tried his level best to regain lead. Mercedes then switched their strategy at the first round of pit stops, which meant the 2008 world champion had to make a massive gap over his German teammate, who was going to be fitted with faster option tyre for the final stint. Hamilton managed to build a 10 second gap but the Safety Car that was deployed following Maldonado-Gutierrez crash brought that lead to nil. At that moment, Hamilton felt Rosberg might find a way past but the tenacity of the 29 year old bore fruit and he managed to hold on to first place when the chequered flag was waved at the end of lap 57.
Nico Rosberg ticked all boxes at the right time in qualifying to end Hamilton’s pole streak in Bahrain. It was a statement of intent following Hamilton’s dominant victory in Malaysia a week ago. Come race day, Hamilton managed to find a way past Rosberg on the opening lap of the race, pushing the German back to second. Rosberg passed Hamilton multiple times but never managed to make the move stick. After the Safety Car vanished Hamilton’s lead, Rosberg attacked him again with the faster soft tyres, but was disappointed not to find a way past. He eventually finished the race in second place with a one-second gap over his former karting teammate.
Having being axed by a top team like McLaren after just one-season, Perez returned to the mid-field with Force India, eager to prove a point. After a less than average result in Melbourne and a mechanical problem in Malaysia that prevented him from starting the race, the Bahrain desert provided Perez with the best opportunity to prove his worth. The Mexican qualified his car in fourth place, overtook his highly rated teammate and the Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa and held off a late charge by Daniel Ricciardo to finish the race in third place, thus securing Force India’s second ever podium finish in Formula 1. But Perez has to be consistent throughout the season and he needs to look no further than other side of the garage to find motivation.
Daniel Ricciardo had already proved that he was worthy of an elusive Red Bull seat with an epic drive in the season opener in Australia. But the subsequent disqualification on technical grounds and a botched pit stop in Malaysia meant that the Australian arrived in Bahrain with no points on board. That all changed at the end of the weekend with Ricciardo doing a stellar job from 13th on the grid to finish the race in fourth place, less than a second behind the Force India of Sergio Perez.
Hulkenberg made a costly mistake on his final flying lap in qualifying which meant that he couldn’t grab a spot in the top 10 showdown in qualifying. But with a good car underneath him in the race, he was again able to show his skills. He breezed through the field in the opening stint of the race, moving fromk 11th on the grid to seventh by the end of lap 1. He undercut his teammate Sergio Perez, but eventually lost out to the Mexican while he was trying to get past the Williams in front. On slower prime tyres, he lost out to the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo but managed to hold on to fifth place, thus adding 10 more points to his tally. The result takes him third in the drivers standings, behind the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.