(Update: Adds info on Hamilton win, updates Grosjean’s status)
Sports Desk, Nov 29 (efe-epa).- Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, driving for Mercedes, who had mathematically equaled the historic record of seven Formula 1 world championships set by Germany’s Michael Schumacher, on Sunday won the Bahrain Grand Prix on the Sakhir circuit.
Hamilton, starting the race in the coveted pole position, notched his 11th victory of the year, finishing the race with a time of 1 hour 34 minutes 1.829 seconds and hiking to an historic 95 his career string of triumphs, beating out two Red Bull drivers – Holland’s Max Verstappen (1.254 seconds back) and Thailand’s Alexander Albon (8.005 seconds back), who came in second and third, respectively.
Mexico’s Sergio Perez lost his third-place position three laps before the end, when his Racing Point vehicle’s engine caught fire, an incident that brought out the safety car after all drivers had finished a race marked by a fiery and horrendous crash in the first moments of the action.
Romain Grosjean survived that crash on the opening lap when he veered off the track and smashed into the barriers just three turns into the race, his Haas vehicle engulfed in a fireball when it split in half on impact and its fuel ignited.
Grosjean miraculously made it out of the burning wreckage and clambered over what remained of the barrier on the right hand side of the circuit in Sakhir.
Just before the crash, he had steered right and clipped the front left wheel of Daniil Kvyat’s Alpha Tauri, and the accident resulted in an immediate red flag and brought the race to a lengthy halt.
Grosjean was first transported to the racetrack’s medical center by ambulance but then airlifted to Bahrain’s military hospital for further evaluation, while his team initially said that he has suffered minor burns on his hands and ankles, later saying that he might have suffered broken ribs but then amending his status after X-rays showed no fractures.
After the race, Hamilton wrote on Instagram: “I’m so grateful Romain is safe,” adding “Wow… The risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there who forget that we put our life on the line in this sport and for what we love to do. Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we’ve taken for Romain to walk away from that safely.”
McLaren was the other big winner on the day, with the fourth-place finish of Briton Lando Norris and another sensational comeback by Spain’s Carlos Sainz – who rocketed from 15th to fifth before the final flag – moving it up to the third-ranked team, a title that Mercedes had garnered four weeks ago, edging out Red Bull.
Frenchman Pierre Gasly, with Alpha Tauri, came in sixth, ahead of Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Renault.
Finland’s Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who had started out in second place, ended the race in eighth and saw his ranking advantage cut by 12 points over Verstappen, who – with two races yet to go – can still snatch the runner-up honors.
France’s Esteban Ocon, with Renault, and Monaco driver Charles Leclerc, with Ferrari, were ninth and 10th, respectively on the day.