Hamilton Tops Crash-Filled Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton celebrates his victory at Bahrain Int'l Circuit on Sunday. (LAT Images photo)

SAKHIR, Bahrain – Lewis Hamilton became a four-time winner at Bahrain Int’l Circuit during an incident-filled Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton took his 11th win in 15 races this season with a relatively comfortable drive, outpacing the Red Bull Racing pair of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon in the end.

The recently-crowned seven-time F-1 driving champion beat Verstappen to the checkered flag by 1.254 seconds, ceding the point only for a brief moment when he pitted from the lead at lap 20.

Other than that, Hamilton was virtually unchallenged en route to his record-extending 95th F-1 grand prix victory.

The race was marred by a pair of wild incidents, none more harrowing than the opening-lap crash at turn three that saw Romain Grosjean’s Haas sheared in half after a horrific, head-on hit into the right-side guardrail.

Grosjean’s car burst into a fireball on impact before the Frenchman clambered out with help from medical workers and course officials. He was later taken to a local hospital for further evaluation, with minor burns and suspected broken ribs, per Haas F1 officials.

That was followed by contact between Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat on the ensuing restart, following an hour-long red flag stoppage, which led to Stroll’s Racing Point turning over.

Stroll was also uninjured in his shunt, but his day was over at that juncture.

From there, Hamilton’s drive to victory was smooth as can be, while Verstappen stalked him throughout the race before settling for the runner-up honors.

In parc ferme after the race, Hamilton’s focus was not on his victory, but rather on the safety of the modern F-1 cars and Grosjean’s health in the wake of the wild first-lap crash.

“Today is a reminder for all of us that this is a dangerous sport. It was shocking to see Romain’s accident, and I’m just so grateful that the Halo did its job, and credit to the FIA medical team who were straight on the scene. For Romain to be able to walk away from an accident like that just shows what an incredible job F-1 and the FIA have done in their quest for safety,” noted Hamilton. “Physically it was such a demanding race. Max pushed me all the way and he had a lot of speed today. I was struggling a little bit with the car sliding around, but I just had enough to be able to respond to Max’s quick laps when it mattered.

“I was a little cautious how it would play out at the end of the race once Max pitted, but I’m so thankful to my team because they made the right calls all day on the strategy. What a privilege it is to be able to get another result like this.”

Albon secured the final step on the podium after Sergio Perez, who looked to be set to run third for Racing Point, retired three laps from the finish with a power unit failure.

The McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz were fourth and fifth, respectively, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly crossing sixth.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh ahead of the sister Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who rallied from an early tire puncture to finish eighth.

The second Renault of Esteban Ocon and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc closed out the points-scoring positions in the top 10.

Formula One competitors will return to Bahrain Int’l Circuit on Dec. 6 for the Sakhir Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 17-race season.

The finish:

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Alexander Albon, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc, Daniil Kvyat, George Russell, Sebastian Vettel, Nicholas Latifi, Kimi Räikkönen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll, Romain Grosjean.