A GIANT fireball, just 33 seconds after the start, was the first of a series of mishaps that hit the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean had a miraculous escape from the inferno, which happened at Turn 3 after his car was tagged by the Alpha Tauri of Daniil Kvyat.

But it was not the only drama.

In other incidents, the Racing Point of Lance Stroll ended upside down, also after a brush with Kvyat, and another fire stopped Racing Point teammate Sergio Perez three laps from the end — after the Mexican seemed certain of claiming third place.

After two red flags, a long delay while the barrier destroyed in the Grosjean crash was replaced, the chaotic race over 57 laps of the 5.4km circuit ended with Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes taking the honours from the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon.

The Frenchman’s Haas was torn in half by the first lap impact, with its full fuel tank igniting and the nose of the car piercing the barrier.

Grosjean somehow got himself out of the fiercely burning wreckage, leapt over the barrier and landed straight into the arms of the track doctor who was following the pack on the opening lap.

He was taken to hospital and treated for minor burns and broken ribs.

Tres fortunate!

The race restarted with Hamilton on pole again ahead of Verstappen and Perez, with Bottas fourth. 

But it was suspended again when Stroll and Kvyat came together at the Turn 8 hairpin, with Stroll’s car flipping.

 

Behind, Sebastien Vettel braked hard to avoid the upside down Racing Point, and was hit from behind by  Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

After the restart on lap nine, Hamilton and Verstappen led from Perez, Albon and the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.

Next came Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri while Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon spent some time scrapping for seventh.

Then, the order changed once more and the safety car came out again, after Perez’ car erupted in flames.

 So Albon inherited third place, thanks to the hapless Perez, who had again put in a sterling drive, with Norris and Sainz moving up to fourth and fifth for McLaren.

Sixth was Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo took seventh, Valtteri Bottas had two punctures in his nightmare race to finish eighth for Mercedes, just ahead of Ocon’s Renault while Charles Leclerc took the final championship point for Ferrari.

Ricciardo, like most of the other drivers, was amazed by Grosjean’s escape from the inferno on the opening lap. 

“Firstly, I’m glad Romain is okay,” he said.

 “To see him escape and walk away was a relief and I wish him the best in his recovery. That’s the main thing from today. 

“In terms of our race, it certainly wasn’t what we wanted but we gave it our best and we still managed to score points. 

“We’ll focus on next week when it comes, it’s still to play for in the championship and we’ll come back stronger.”

Next week’s race is the is the Sakhir GP, under the floodlights on the 3.5km Outer circuit at the same venue in Bahrain. 

It’s just 200m longer than Monaco, which is the shortest circuit on the calendar.

Results

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES572:59:47.51525
233Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA57+1.254s19
323Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA57+8.005s15
44Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT57+11.337s12
555Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT57+11.787s10
610Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA57+11.942s8
73Daniel RicciardoRENAULT57+19.368s6
877Valtteri BottasMERCEDES57+19.680s4
931Esteban OconRENAULT57+22.803s2
1016Charles LeclercFERRARI56+1 lap1
1126Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA56+1 lap0
1263George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES56+1 lap0
135Sebastian VettelFERRARI56+1 lap0
146Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES56+1 lap0
157Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI56+1 lap0
1699Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI56+1 lap0
1720Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI56+1 lap0
1811Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES53DNF0
NC18Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES2DNF0
NC8Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI0DNF0

Note – Verstappen scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

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Headshot Buys 96x96 - That crash . . . Fiery end to Bahrain for lucky Romain

Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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