It was a great weekend for Bottas, with the Finn scoring his first win since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix back in April. He was able to outqualify his teammate Lewis Hamilton on Sunday morning, and then was unchallenged in the race on Sunday afternoon.
Vettel was undeniably the star of qualifying, with the Ferrari driver maintain the record of every time qualifying has taken place on a Sunday, a German driver has taken pole. Vettel beat Leclerc by two-tenths in qualifying, but a mistake at the start of the race arguably cost himself the race win.
Hamilton came into Japan off the back of an unexpected victory in Russia, but it was immediately clear that the Brit was not up to his usual form. This is not to say his performance was bad, but for the first time in many races he was well and truly outpaced by Bottas.
Albon appears to have settled in well at Red Bull, as the Anglo-Thai driver quite literally matched his teammate Max Verstappen in qualifying. Overall, he had a solid race on his way to a career best 4th place, but he had a bit of a clumsy incident with Lando Norris in the early stages of the race which cost himself some time and some bodywork.
There isn’t much to say about Sainz this weekend, other than the fact that he has been flawless. The Spaniard was running in P4 and managing to fend off the faster Red Bull of Albon until he was beaten on strategy, following a good qualifying session which meant that he started from P7.
Ricciardo had a awful qualifying session, with both himself and his Renault car struggling for pace. However, as is usually the way with Australian, he made some great overtakes coupled with a one-stop strategy to climb to sixth place.
Leclerc was not quite on the same level as his teammate and polesitter Sebastian Vettel in qualifying, but his lap was good enough for a front row start. However, at the start of the race he made a silly error and put Max Verstappen out of the race, earning himself a 5-second time penalty. It got worse for the Monegasque driver as he continued for several laps with a damaged car, netting another 10-second time penalty. His overtakes were impressive during the race as he fought his way through the field, even though his car was substantially faster than others.
Since re-joining Toro Rosso after the summer break, Gasly has been on very good form. He has been aggressive where he needed to be, something which was majorly lacking during his time at Red Bull. The Frenchman clearly had the edge over Kvyat all weekend, but he did make contact with Perez on the final lap (he escaped without penalty).
Perez did not have a good qualifying session by his standards, with the Mexican being out-qualified by his teammate Lance Stroll and was eliminated in Q1. However, as usual he was good on his tyres and made a one-stop work well to score points for Racing Point.
Hulkenberg was going well in qualifying until he suffered from a hydraulics issue which put an end to his session. He couldn’t quite match the pace of his teammate Ricciardo in the race, but nevertheless came home to score his fifth points finish in a row.
Stroll was pretty unlucky to miss out on points in Japan after a strong qualifying performance saw him out-qualify Sergio Perez for only the second time this season. Tried to get to the end on a one-stop strategy.
It was not the most memorable weekend for Kvyat, who was consistently out-performed by Gasly, despite having more time in the car during the weekend. Although he is set to remain at Toro Rosso next year, the Russian will be aiming to quickly bounce back.
What could have been for Norris and McLaren had it not been for some unfortunate placement of debris from rival cars, which caused his MCL34 to overheat and lose time. It marked his first non-points finish since Belgium, but the Briton still put in a decent shift for his first time at Suzuka.
It wasn't the most memorable weekend of Raikkonen's long career in F1, as the pace just didn't seem to be there. Although he managed to get the better of Antonio Giovinazzi in the race through a different strategy, Giovinazzi is starting to pull his own back against the veteran who held the upper hand earlier in the season.
Grosjean did well o find himself in Q3 on Sunday morning prior to the race - however the race itself was a bit more of a struggle. Points for Haas is something of a rarity these days, and the car just wasn't there over the long run to challenge the top ten.
Giovinazzi pitted late on in the race after attempting to take the hard tyre to the end of the grand prix. The Italian is surely inching closer to a deal for 2020, having displayed some positive speed in recent races, including in Japan, where he once again out-qualified Raikkonen.
Magnussen's weekend was ultimately compromised from the moment he crashed in qualifying on Sunday morning, which put him out of the session. From there, a strong race failed to formalise, as he struggled to get near the points.
Russell's Q1 effort was strong, ending up just one-tenth behind Perez. However, the Williams car simply can't compete, as has been the case since the start of the season. Still, a consistent performance from the rookie who will be hoping for a stronger sophomore year in 2020.
After crashing out early on in qualifying, Kubica was forced to take a pit lane start. Once more he seemed to lack pace compared to Russell as relations between himself and Williams appear to be breaking down as the season comes near its end.
I'm sure there was a bit of surprise in the Verstappen camp to see Albon so close in qualifying, as the pair set the exact same lap time in Q3. However in the race, the Dutchman was unable to prove anything, making contact with Leclerc at Turn 1, which ultimately caused the end of his race.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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