Romain Grosjean will remain at Bahrain Defence Force Hospital to undergo treatment on burns to his hands after his extraordinary Formula One crash. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, eventually won by Lewis Hamilton, was red-flagged on the first lap after the Haas driver's car erupted in flames and split into two. 

Grosjean was able to climb out of the car despite the astonishing scene, which occurred after contact with Daniil Kvyat had led him to smashing through a barrier at high speed. 

No fractures have been detected in initial tests conducted on Grosjean, though he will stay in hospital on Sunday after the back of his hands were affected by the fire. 

After Haas' update, a smiling Grosjean posted a video thanking fans for their support, acknowledging he may not have been able to speak to them were it not for the halo in his car.

"Following medical evaluation by doctors at the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Hospital, Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean will remain in hospital overnight," read a statement from the Haas team. 

"[Grosjean is] to be treated for burns sustained on the back of both hands after his opening lap incident at the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

"All X-rays performed on Grosjean came back clear of fractures. Updates will be given when further information is available." 

Many drivers, race officials and analysts believe the halo device, combined with the swift reaction from marshals and staff in the medical vehicle, saved Grosjean's life. 

During the long delay before the race restart, seven-time world champion Hamilton tweeted to express his relief that Grosjean had walked away from the accident and reminded fans of the risks taken by drivers.

Following his victory – a fifth straight race win and 11th overall in 2020 – he elaborated further on a scene that stunned the other drivers.

"It was such a shocking image to see," said Hamilton. "When I get in the car I know I am taking risks. I respect the dangers that are in this sport. 

"I posted about it during the break because it is horrifying. The car, the cockpit. I don't know what Gs he pulled but I'm just so grateful the halo worked.

"It could have been so much worse, but I think it is a reminder to us and hopefully to the people that are watching that this is a dangerous sport.

"We are out there pushing to the limit and playing with the limit but you always have to respect it. 

"It shows what an amazing job Formula One has done, the FIA has done, for him to be able to walk away from something like that.

"But it will be investigated and they will do an awful lot of work to make sure something like that does not happen again."

Max Verstappen, who was second ahead of team-mate Alex Albon, added: "The crash was scary.

"We saw a red flag, which doesn't mean it's immediately a bad thing but I saw a lot of fire and [then knew] that is not a good thing. Luckily he is OK and hopefully he will recover quickly."

Pierre Gasly was sixth behind the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz. The Grosjean incident was central to his post-race thoughts.

"It was horrible," he said. "When I saw the images I was shocked. It was really scary but I had no idea a Formula One car could break that way. 

"The halo really proved to be working. I have text him to wish him a good recovery. I think he is fine but [it was] a really scary thing."

Formula One boss Ross Brawn hopes a "deep investigation" will uncover what caused Romain Grosjean's car to go through a barrier and burst into flames at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Haas driver Grosjean suffered minor burns and suspected broken ribs after an extraordinary first-lap crash before he was taken to hospital for further checks on Sunday.

Having made contact with Daniil Kvyat, the Frenchman's car was split into two and engulfed in flames after a high-speed impact with the barrier.

Grosjean managed to climb out with assistance from staff in the medical car, which was quickly on the scene.

Brawn believes the halo device saved Grosjean's life because a split in the barrier usually results in a fatality, with multiple current and former drivers since expressing relief and surprise the injuries were not more severe.

The barrier split and subsequent fire worry Brawn, but he was delighted with the safety of the car.

"It's shocking for everyone in F1 to see an accident of that severity," he said. "We are not used to fire being involved as well.

"But I think it's a tribute to the work that the FIA and the teams have done over the years. 

"We remember the controversy of the halo when it was introduced. And I have to give credit to [FIA president] Jean Todt, because he insisted that it should come through.

"The halo saved the day and it saved Romain. We might be looking at a different situation that we didn't have the halo. And for me, that's what prised, and managed to keep the barrier apart, when the car went through it.

"There was controversy in including it initially, but there can't be any doubt now - hats off to those pushed for its introduction.

"But I'm sure we'll have a deep investigation to understand what we can learn from it because seeing a barrier split like that is clearly not what we want to see.

"The fire was worrying, the barrier coming apart was worrying, but we can be happy with safety of the car. 

"We haven’t seen anything like that for a very long time, but the barrier splitting normally results in a fatality."

Brawn also pointed to the rapid response of medical car driver Andy van de Merwe, doctor Ian Roberts and local marshals, all of whom swiftly assisted Grosjean and tackled the blaze.

He added: "Credit to everyone. Clear thought, clear purpose. They didn't hesitate, they did exactly what they needed to do and you can't fault them.

"We are proud to have them all and it's very reassuring for the drivers to see that level of professionalism, and that response. From that respect, I think it was perfect.

"Obviously, we don't want to see an accident like that. But in terms of the response I can't really think there could have been anything more effectively done."

The race was red-flagged immediately after Grosjean's crash.

A long delay followed as the barrier was repaired, with Lewis Hamilton winning his fifth straight grand prix when the race eventually restarted.

Romain Grosjean is lucky to be alive after his sickening crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, according to 1996 Formula One world champion Damon Hill.

Haas driver Grosjean clipped Daniil Kvyat's front wing on the opening lap, before plunging into the barrier at high speed.

The impact cut Grosjean's car in half, with the wreckage engulfed in flames.

Remarkably, the Frenchman was able to walk away from the shocking scene with minor burns on his hands and ankles.

F1's ever-improving safety measures were praised in the aftermath of the accident and Hill marvelled at the 34-year-old's escape.

"This was particularly graphic, particularly shocking," Hill told Sky Sports.

"Nobody in their right mind could understand what Romain has been through. It's a miracle that he is alive."

Former driver and current Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle echoed his fellow Briton's sentiments.

"That's a miracle," Brundle said. "It pierced the barriers like a can opener.

"They're constantly trying to improve the structural stability of the chassis and that's just saved his life. That is extraordinary. Romain went with the front half of his chassis." 

Ex-Renault driver Jolyon Palmer credited the halo crash-protection system around Grosjean's cockpit with saving his life.

"I have never seen [anything like it] before - how the front of the car punctures straight through the Armco [barrier], the rear falls away completely, the car is split in two and Grosjean is left in the Armco," Palmer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"You have to say the halo may well have saved his life at this point.

"Then there are just flames, everywhere, in the cockpit where Grosjean is, in his survival cell.

"How he has walked away from it is just quite incredible. It is testament to the strength of Formula 1 cars. Just a crazy accident."

World champion Lewis Hamilton made it five consecutive Formula One wins in a Bahrain Grand Prix that will be remembered for an extraordinary crash involving Romain Grosjean.

Hamilton, who sealed his seventh title in Turkey last time out, equalled the best winning streak of his career with a comfortable victory at Sakhir on Sunday.

Max Verstappen was second and Red Bull got their other car on the podium when an engine failure for Sergio Perez with three laps to go meant Alex Albon moved up to third.

The race had earlier been halted on lap one after Grosjean was able to escape with minor burns from a scary crash that saw his Haas car erupt in flames and cut in half after smashing into a barrier.

Lewis Hamilton was relieved to see Romain Grosjean walk away from an extraordinary crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix which saw his Haas car burst into flames.

The seven-time world champion tweeted from the pit lane during a delay of almost 90 minutes in Sunday's race, which came about after Grosjean was involved in a dramatic first-lap incident that produced a red flag.

Hamilton said the crash, which saw Grosjean's car cut in half - after impact with a barrier that had to be repaired in full before a restart - was a reminder of the risks drivers take.

Grosjean hurtled into the barrier at huge speed after contact with Daniil Kvyat, suffering minor burns on his hands and ankles before being sent to hospital for further tests amid reports he has suspected broken ribs.

But while Haas said Grosjean was "shaken", they added he was otherwise fine, a scarcely believable outcome after the severity of the incident.

"I'm so grateful Romain is safe," said Hamilton, after staff in the medical car were praised for reaching the scene promptly to assist Grosjean and tackle the flames.

"Wow... the risk we take is no joke.

"For those of you out there that forget... we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do.

"Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we have taken for Romain to walk away from that safely."

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz acknowledged the level of concern felt by everyone at the track in those initial moments of uncertainty after Grosjean's car was engulfed in flames.

"Yeah, it is tough," he said to Sky Sports. "Especially tough at the beginning when you see the flames of the car and not knowing what happened, that is a tough moment.

"Obviously as soon as I saw him jump out of the car it was really, really good news, I couldn't be more relieved. As you saw, the whole paddock were relieved.

"Happy to see him jump out. It just shows every time we step into these things we are putting our lives at risk. It is good [he is OK]."

Williams' George Russell added on Twitter: "Massive relief to see Romain is OK.

"Huge credit to all the teams, the FIA and F1 for all the safety measures we have in the sport today."

Formula One's safety measures helped make sure Romain Grosjean escaped following a huge crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, according to one of the first on the scene of the incident. 

The Haas driver hit a barrier on the opening lap of proceedings at the Sakhir circuit on Sunday, his car then splitting in two and bursting into flames. 

He thankfully emerged from his cockpit as the red flag came out to halt the race, with marshals then quickly on hand to deal with the situation.

Grosjean went to hospital for further checks having suffered minor burns to his hands and ankles, according to his team, though Alan van der Merwe – driver of the medical car – admitted the FIA's protocols avoided a "very different outcome" to the incident.

"It was a big surprise for us. I have never seen that much fire in 12 years," Van der Merwe told Sky Sports F1. 

"We had to process what was going on. Romain started to get out of the car himself, which is pretty amazing after an accident like that.  

"It was a relief when we finally got back to the medical centre and he was okay. 

"All the systems we have worked to develop, everything worked hand-in-hand: the halo, the barriers, the seat-belt. Everything worked. 

"Without just one of those things working, it could have been a very different outcome." 

Haas boss Guenther Steiner was quick to thank Van der Merwe, the circuit's medical team and the marshals for their "amazing" efforts in the immediate aftermath. 

Steiner told BBC Radio 5 live: "When you see something like this the only thing you think is, 'I hope we get lucky'. You don't think how it happened or whatever. 

"I would like to thank all the marshals. They did a fantastic job to get him away as quick as possible from the fire. It was amazing what they did."

The race was restarted in Bahrain after repair work was carried out on the barrier following the damage caused by Grosjean's car.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean was involved in a scary crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, as the race was halted after his car burst into flames and was cut in half following contact with a barrier. 

Grosjean suffered minor burns on his hands and ankles, his team confirmed on Sunday after the extraordinary incident on lap one led to an immediate red flag. 

The Frenchman had contact with Daniil Kvyat towards the back of the pack on the opening lap at Sakhir. 

His car then hurtled into the barrier and immediately became engulfed in flames. 

Replays showed the impact had caused his car to split into two, with Grosjean dramatically helped from the car by staff in the medical vehicle which follows drivers around the track.

In a further update, Haas said Grosjean was on his way to hospital for further checks. 

Team principal Guenther Steiner said his driver was "conscious" and appeared to be "fine", albeit he was also "shaken" by what had happened. 

Steiner added his thanks to rescue teams who had attended the scene so quickly to either help Grosjean or approach the car with fire extinguishers.

"[Grosjean] is doing okay," Steiner said to Sky Sports.  

"He has light burns on hands and ankles. Obviously he is shaken and going through all the checks, but he's fine. 

"He's seems to be okay and the rescue was very quick. The marshals and FIA did a great job.  It was very scary. He got away with it I think. 

"It looked like he went across the track with the front wheel and went full speed in the barrier. But I've only seen what you guys have seen." 

The driver of the medical car, Andy van der Merwe, and doctor Ian Roberts were among the first on the scene, while Grosjean's halo appears to have prevented more serious injuries from the impact. 

After the incident, the barrier will have to be fully repaired, with race organisers confirming the delay before the race restarts will be at least 45 minutes.

Lewis Hamilton looks primed to equal Sebastian Vettel's record for Bahrain Grand Prix wins after a sensational qualifying performance at Sakhir. 

Hamilton claimed pole position, the 98th of his incredible career, with a lap record on Saturday as he clocked a time of one minute and 27.264 seconds. 

Despite securing a record-tying seventh drivers' championship in Turkey last time out, Hamilton shows no sign of taking it easy in the final weeks of the season. 

Victory in Sunday's race would be his fourth in Bahrain and move him level with Vettel, who endured another chastening day as a miserable campaign for Ferrari continued. 

WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING

Hamilton beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.289 seconds, the Mercedes duo securing an 11th front-row lockout of the season. 

Max Verstappen rounded off the top three, claiming third ahead of Red Bull team-mate Alex Albon. 

The Silver Arrows dominated a Q3 session that was absent both Vettel and team-mate Charles Leclerc, who failed to make it out of Q2. 

Lance Stroll, the surprise pole-sitter in Turkey, also missed out on Q3 and had to settle for 13th behind Vettel and Leclerc after a second session that was red-flagged due to a car failure for McLaren's Carlos Sainz.

THE STARTING GRID

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 4. Alex Albon (Red Bull)
5. Sergio Perez (Racing Point), 6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
7. Esteban Ocon (Renault), 8. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
9. Lando Norris (McLaren), 10. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) 
11. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), 12. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
13. Lance Stroll (Racing Point), 14. George Russell (Williams)
15. Carlos Sainz (McLaren), 16. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
17. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo),18. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
19. Romain Grosjean (Haas), 20. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)

BAHRAIN TALKING POINTS

Hamilton has reason to keep pushing despite already having the title wrapped up; if he wins all three of the remaining races on the 2020 calendar, he will equal the record held by Michael Schumacher and Vettel for most wins in an F1 season (13). 

Albon may be nervously looking over his shoulder when he takes to the starting grid, given he finds himself in close proximity to Racing Point's Sergio Perez. 

Perez, who qualified fifth, is looking to secure fourth in the drivers' championship and enters this race 30 points ahead of Albon. 

Calls have grown for Red Bull to replace Albon with Perez, who does not have a drive for 2021, and those will only continue if the Mexican is able to out-perform his rival on Sunday.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID

Lewis Hamilton (pole): "This is a continuation of what we can do as a team. I just continue to be amazed by my guys [who] work so hard, weekend in, weekend out."

Valtteri Bottas (2nd): "It felt good, that's the problem, it feels good and you realise you're extracting everything out of the car and the lap time is not there," he said. "I need to find out but at least it's another front-row lockout for us." 

Max Verstappen (3rd): "My lap was pretty good, just lacking a bit of rear grip in the lower speed corners. I think they [Mercedes] picked up their pace today. It will be hard to beat them, I just hope it will be an exciting race."

Alex Albon (4th): "The car has been feeling good this weekend. Especially since today really, it's kind of clicked a bit more. Obviously, P4 is nice. Hopefully, we can be a thorn in Mercedes' strategy and see what we can do."

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 307
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 197
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 170
4. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) – 100
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 97

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 504
2. Red Bull – 240
3. Racing Point – 154 (after 15-point deduction)
4. McLaren – 149
5. Renault – 136

Lewis Hamilton continues to be amazed by Mercedes' achievements as a team after he claimed his 98th career pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday. 

Hamilton clinched a record-tying seventh drivers' championship last time out in Turkey. 

He broke the lap record in Bahrain, going fastest with a time of one minute and 27.264 seconds to close on an incredible century of poles. 

Valtteri Bottas was second to secure the 11th Mercedes qualifying one-two during another dominant campaign, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen rounding out the top three. 

Asked about performing at such a level following his title celebrations, Hamilton replied: "I didn't really celebrate too much. I was training and trying to make sure I was ready for this and keeping my mind and eye on the ball. 

"This is a continuation of what we can do as a team. I just continue to be amazed by my guys [who] work so hard, weekend in, weekend out. 

"I know they are away from their families for three weeks and no matter what the season throws at us, it's always a tough year. I really appreciate them. 

"To be out here, in Bahrain, and be able to put a lap like that together - I came today and said, 'Let's just have fun and enjoy it'. That's the most important thing and with the pressure off, it's a bit of a release to drive like I did.

"I'm on the ragged edge and it's all about trying to find that perfect balance - you want your cake and eat it. 

"I thought the lap started really well. I can talk you through a lap but there's always just a little bit here and there. Otherwise, it was a clean lap. I was happy with it." 

Bottas seemed understandably downcast after finishing behind Hamilton, conceding there was little else he could have squeezed out of his car. 

"It felt good, that's the problem, it feels good and you realise you're extracting everything out of the car and the lap time is not there," he said. "I need to find out but at least it's another front-row lockout for us." 

On his chances of catching the Mercedes duo in the race, Verstappen said: "It's always a bit difficult to say, I think they picked up their pace today. 

"It will be hard to beat them, I just hope it will be an exciting race."

Lewis Hamilton further underlined his and Mercedes' dominance of Formula One by clinching his 10th pole of another title-winning campaign. 

Hamilton sealed his seventh drivers' championship in Turkey last time out, tying Michael Schumacher's record. 

The Briton sent the lap record at Sakhir tumbling on Saturday with a time of one minute and 27.264 seconds to secure the 98th pole of his remarkable career. 

His team-mate Valtteri Bottas was second, ensuring an 11th front-row lockout of the season for the Silver Arrows.

Additional illustration of the gap between them and Ferrari, their closest challengers in the constructors' championship in 2019, was provided by both Scuderia drivers - Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc - failing to make it out of Q2. 

Max Verstappen was third in the Red Bull, ahead of his team-mate Alexander Albon. 

Sergio Perez, who still does not have a race seat for 2021, qualified an excellent fifth, ahead of Renault duo Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon. The top 10 was rounded out by Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris and Daniil Kvyat. 

Lance Stroll, the surprise pole-sitter in Turkey, could only manage 13th after he joined Vettel and Leclerc in missing out on Q3, the second session having been red-flagged after the McLaren of Carlos Sainz stopped on track.


PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:27.264s
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.289s
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.414s
4. Alex Albon (Red Bull) +1.010s
5. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +1.058s
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1.153s
7. Esteban Ocon (Renault) +1.155s
8. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1.184s
9. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.278s
10. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) +1.354s

Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton showed no signs of slowing on his return to the track in Bahrain.

Hamilton wrapped up his record-equalling title with a stunning victory at the Turkish Grand Prix two weeks ago.

But rather than take his foot off the pedal for the rest of the season with the job done, it was full speed ahead in the first two practice sessions on Thursday.

The Mercedes superstar, who can tie the best winning streak of his career with a fifth straight victory, topped the charts in both FP1 and FP2 as a Bahrain double-header got under way.

Hamilton led a Silver Arrows one-two with an initial fastest time of one minute and 29.03 seconds, 0.45 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas, before following that up with a second result of one minute and 28.97 seconds under the floodlights.

It was a positive start to a weekend where Hamilton said he would be utilising the first of three "test races" ahead of next year.

"We're coming into three races where the pressure is different," the Briton had said on Thursday.

"The focus now is, yes, getting the best performances out of these weekends but how can we extract a little bit more, how can we learn more from these weekends?

"Almost use them as test races, so that we can apply what we learn in these three particularly, and what we've learned this year, into next year's car."

While Hamilton's Friday subsequently went to plan, surely learning little from further smooth success, there was a harsh lesson for Alex Albon.

Red Bull have yet to confirm Albon's seat for next year and, while team-mate Max Verstappen trailed only Hamilton in FP2, the under-pressure star saw his drive cut short.

Albon hit the wall after running wide at Turn 15 to give the Red Bull mechanics plenty to do before qualifying on Saturday.

The Austrian outfit are aiming to finish runners-up to Mercedes for a fourth time and may need more from Albon given Verstappen's past woes at this event.

He has retired three times in Bahrain, more than any other grand prix in his F1 career. 

Sergio Perez accepts his last hope of driving in Formula One next season rests on Red Bull's decision about their 2021 line-up - but vowed his best years are ahead of him.

Mexican Perez sits fourth in the driver standings this season, after a second-placed finish last time out in Turkey, but he will lose his Racing Point seat to Sebastian Vettel at the end of the campaign.

The future of Alex Albon at Red Bull is unclear, with speculation that he could be replaced.

Red Bull are still assessing their options, with three races remaining in 2020 and third-placed Max Verstappen having scored 170 points this season to ninth-placed Albon's haul of just 70 so far.

Perez, who has 100 points, said in a news conference on Thursday, ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix: "Right now, we're just waiting on the decision, what they decide to do, so that's out of my hands.

"I'm just approaching these three races as usual, trying to focus on the job, keep delivering and the rest is out of my hands."

Quoted on the official F1 website, Perez said: "There's only one option. I've said it before, but I've been here so many years, I want to keep going.

"I think I'm at the peak of my career, but I also want to keep going with a reason, with a plan, with a good project, so I think if there's not a good project to keep my motivation to give 100 per cent, I'd rather not take it."

The former Sauber, McLaren and Force India driver is only 30 years old and looks set to achieve his highest career finish in the championship.

Perez had been linked with Williams until they confirmed George Russell would retain his seat yet could soon find himself with nowhere to turn.

Should he run out of options for next year, Perez indicated he would not look to race outside Formula One, with his focus likely to switch to securing the best possible drive for the 2022 season.

"There are options out there already for 2022 but obviously it's early to commit to them or think about them," Perez told Sky Sports.

"The short-term plan is I want to continue in the sport. I'm 30 years old and I think I have my best years ahead of me.

"If I'm not here next year, I'll be at home taking a year out, seeing if I really miss this life and really miss the racing and take a decision on what I'm going to do next."

Red Bull must cope without sporting director Jonathan Wheatley for this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix after he tested positive for COVID-19.

The 53-year-old Briton has not travelled to Bahrain and has begun a 10-day period in isolation.

Red Bull sit second in the constructors' championship this season, with Max Verstappen accounting for 170 of their 240 points and Alexander Albon contributing the rest.

Wheatley joined Red Bull from Renault in 2006 and has been a pivotal figure in the team's rise.

It remains to be seen whether he can return for next week's Ssakhir Grand Prix, which also takes place in Bahrain.

Red Bull said in a statement: "We can confirm that during mandatory pre-race testing in the UK, sporting director Jonathan Wheatley tested positive for COVID-19.

"In accordance with official protocols he will continue to isolate for the 10-day period and not attend the Bahrain GP.

"Jonathan's duties will be shared by a number of team personnel at this weekend's Bahrain GP.

"The positive test has not resulted in any other team members needing to isolate following contact tracing and will not affect the team's trackside operations."

Lewis Hamilton will match his best tally for wins in a Formula One season if he takes the chequered flag at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton matched Michael Schumacher's record of winning seven F1 world titles in style with victory in Turkey last time out.

The Brit has been in a league of his own this year, taking the top step of the podium in 10 of 14 races to retain his crown with three races to spare.

Another success at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir this weekend will keep him in with a chance of matching Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel's record of 13 wins in a season.

Hamilton could also equal Vettel's record of four victories in Bahrain in what has been another incredible year for the Mercedes driver.

LAST TIME OUT

Brit Hamilton finished off the job by winning an enthralling Turkish Grand Prix.

He started sixth and needed to avoid surrendering eight points to Valtteri Bottas in order to wrap up the title and the Finn, who spun on the first corner, could only finish 14th.

Racing Point's decision to pit pole-sitter Lance Stroll for fresh intermediate tyres on a drying track proved costly and they had to settle for a podium via Sergio Perez, who was second ahead of Vettel.

Hamilton's Mercedes struggled on the wet tyres and a lock-up into turn 10 saw him let Vettel, Max Verstappen and Alex Albon through and slip to sixth by the end of a thrilling opening lap.

Stroll was given a set new set of intermediates when leading on lap 37 despite initially protesting and it proved to be the wrong decision with the track continuing to dry.

Hamilton and Perez stayed out and the Mercedes driver used DRS to overtake the Racing Point into turn 11 and his tyres held out by effectively deteriorating into slicks.

Mercedes wanted to pit Hamilton with two laps remaining amid the threat of rain but he opted to stay out and was able to wrap up yet another title by winning an enthralling race.

 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SAKHIR

Hamilton has won the past four races and it is difficult to look beyond him making that five in the first of three consecutive races in the Middle East to end the season.

He produced another masterful drive to win in Turkey, with team-mate Bottas enduring a miserable race.

The Silver Arrows will be even tougher to beat back in much warmer conditions at a track where Ferrari have started on pole for the past two years.

Hamilton won this race last year and will certainly be in no mood to wind down after it was mission accomplished last time out.

 

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Chance to end Hamilton dominance - Ferrari have won six races in Bahrain, more than any other team. They have also secured pole five times, registered 14 podiums and set five fastest laps.

Ferrari enjoying Bahrain - The last two poles in Sakhir were taken by Ferrari (Vettel in 2018 and Charles Leclerc last year), their best current run in a single GP alongside Canada.

Runners-up again? - If at least one Racing Point driver fails to get on the podium or set the fastest lap, Red Bull would be runner-up to Mercedes for the fourth time if they earn 35 points.

Hamilton eyes personal best - Hamilton has won the past four races and is one victory away from equalling the best winning streak in his F1 career (between races in Italy and the United States in 2014).

Verstappen's woe - Max Verstappen has retired three times in Bahrain, more than any other GP in his F1 career. 

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 307
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 197
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 170
4. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) – 100
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 97

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 504
2. Red Bull – 240
3. Racing Point – 154
4. McLaren – 149
5. Renault – 136

Andy Murray believes the time is right for seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton to be knighted.

Britain's two-time Wimbledon champion was given the honour at the height of his career, with the announcement made in December 2016.

And although Murray feels sport stars should perhaps not be at the front of the queue for such recognition, Murray sees Hamilton as an outstanding candidate based on his driving prowess.

The 35-year-old Mercedes superstar has just wrapped up another championship, matching Michael Schumacher's record haul of titles and overtaking the German great for the most race wins in F1.

Reports have claimed Hamilton will be made a knight in the New Year Honours, following in the footsteps of fellow British motorsport greats Jackie Stewart and the late Stirling Moss.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Murray said: "I'm not necessarily all for sportspeople being given knighthoods for what we do.

"But in terms of what he's achieved as an athlete, of course he deserves it. As a sportsperson, he's one of the most successful sportspeople in the history of the country.

"He's an amazing, amazing driver, he supports some great causes as well, away from the racing track.

"So yeah, I would say he definitely deserves it in terms of his achievements."

Speaking to presenter Piers Morgan on the ITV breakfast show, Murray was reminded that Hamilton is also a fan of Premier League football club Arsenal.

Murray and Morgan are also supporters of the Gunners, and the Scot joked that Hamilton's choice of team also justified royal recognition.

"That's a good reason to give him one as well," said Murray.

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