Two Sundays ago he left mathematically sentenced the World Cup from Formula One. And this weekend, after equal the all-time record of seven titles from German Michael Schumacher, English Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) enters triumphantly and seven times crowned in the kingdom of Bahrain, site of the fifteenth Grand Prix of the season.
The Grand Prize will be held at the Sakhir circuit, on the outskirts of Manama, the capital of the archipelago of the Arabian Peninsula. A track that will repeat next week, hosting the penultimate race of a course that will close one Sunday later, in Abu Dhabi. In the last ‘triple program’ of the pandemic contest.
The 35-year-old Hamilton equaled the Kaiser’s last major record at the last Turkish Grand Prix, where he celebrated his tenth win of the year. In a career in which the Mexican Sergio Perez (Racing point) signed his ninth podium since running in the F1, after finishing second; and in which Spanish also shone Carlos Sainz (Mclaren), what climbed ten places on the slippery track from Istanbul Park before finishing fifth.
In Turkey, the quadruple German world champion finished third Sebastian Vettel, which thus achieved its first podium in his senior year in Ferrari, in low hours despite being the most successful team in F1; and in which Sainz will replace him.
No one equals the four victories of Vettel – leader of Red Bull’s glorious four-year term (2010-13) – in Bahrain. Where it was raced for the first time in 2004 and that this weekend hosts the sixteenth edition of a race that debuted on the calendar on ’04 of 04 of 04 ‘. That since then it was played uninterruptedly; except in 2011, when, because of the internal revolts, the kingdom of the Persian Gulf resigned to organize the first test of that year.
Only Hamilton himself and the double Spanish world champion are approaching the victories of ‘Seb’ Fernando Alonso (2005 and 2006), which celebrated its first two triumphs in the financial heart of the Arabian Peninsula in the years of its titles, with Renault –team with which he will return to the premier class next year-; and the third in 2010. Year in which the Asturian genius became the fourth driver to win in his Ferrari debut, after the American Mario Andretti, the Englishman Nigel Mansell and the Finnish Kimi Raikkonen.
The cars will circulate again this weekend at Sakhir, a circuit of 5,412 meters; with 15 curves -nine to the right and six to the left- which is scheduled to go 57 laps on Sunday to complete a 308.2 kilometer route.
This Friday free practice starts on a track where it will be rolled with tires of the intermediate range compounds: C2 (hard, recognizable by the white stripe), C3 (medium, yellow stripe) and C4 (soft, red).
A Sunday later, in the so-called ‘Sakhir Grand Prix’ will turn on the ‘outer’ track. The one that connects sectors 1 and 3. At 3,543 meters, which is only a little longer than Monaco and much faster. But that’s another story for now.
Confirmed the seventh World Championships in Hamilton and that of Mercedes -which had mathematically secured its seventh (followed) constructors crown on November 1, in Imola-, not a few will wonder what’s at stake in the last three races of the World Cup.
Valtteri Bottas, English companion, intends to secure the runner-up with the second of the ‘silver arrows’ – in black this year, against racism. The Finn leads the Dutchman by 27 points Max verstappen (Red Bull), who lost the chance to become the youngest champion in history this year – an honor that Vettel will continue to hold.
The German will replace next year at Racing Point – which will be renamed Aston Martin – to Mexican Sergio Pérez, whose future is yet to be known – and who, at 70 points, is difficult to reach third place. But, after his brilliant performance in Turkey, ‘Checo’ (who missed the two races in England, due to positive in covid-19 and the only one with Hamilton who has added in all the races he played) is already fourth in the World Cup, with 100 units.
Well attached to the brave pilot from Guadalajara are the Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) -fifth, with 97 points- and the Australian Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) -6, 96-. That he will ‘give up’ his car next year to Alonso and sit in the one that Sainz occupies at McLaren. The talented driver from Madrid is seventh, with 75, but with three brilliant races he could also dream, even with the fourth final position.
Sainz, who improves English by a single point Lando norris, has a shot, along with his partner in McLaren, the third place in the Constructors’ World Championship. In which it seems difficult for Red Bull to miss the second. And in which those of Woking are only five points behind the team of ‘Checo’; but they have Renault at 13 and Ferrari at 19. In a category in which, apart from places and points, a lot of money is at stake.
And, being an insatiable champion, Hamilton will not give up on building his own historical records of victories (94) and ‘poles’ (97) in F1. In case it wasn’t clear yet, the consternation over the death of the Argentine genius Diego Armando Maradona will make it easier for the English star to understand what immortality is.