Verstappen reigns supreme in Bahrain GP

Max Verstappen took victory in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of teammate Sergio Perez.

The Dutchman led every lap of the race after taking pole position and set the fastest lap of the race for the fifth Grand Slam of his career. His controlled margin of 22.457s equated to a lead of 0.39s per lap over the field.

“Incredible,” he said. “I think today was even better than expected.

“We had a lot of rhythm. It's a lot of fun to drive today. A great start to the year. It could not have been better.

“It's always very special to have these kinds of days, because they don't happen often when everything is perfect and you feel at one with the car.”

His teammate Pérez moved quickly from fifth on the grid, gaining a place on Carlos Sainz at the start and overtaking Charles Leclerc and George Russell on lap 14, the latter with a brave move into Turn 4 after the first stops.

Second place is Pérez's best result since the Italian Grand Prix last September.

“I think it was the most we could have achieved,” Perez said. “It's a good boost from the team. We have to continue like this for next weekend.”

Carlos Sainz completed the podium after taking advantage of the problems of both his teammate Charles Leclerc and Mercedes' George Russell.

Sainz had to fight twice to overtake his Ferrari brother, before and after the first pit stop, with a couple of robust moves into the first corner, while Leclerc suffered an imbalance in brake temperature between the front wheels. , leaving him weak on the brakes.

Russell was an easier choice, with both Mercedes drivers paralyzed by the cars overheating.

Sainz was quick enough to keep Perez honest mid-race, but the Spaniard did not have a set of soft tires to accompany the Red Bull Racing driver in the final stint, leaving him confined to third place.

“I felt really good today,” he said. “It's still not enough, not where we want to be, but a good step forward from where we were last year and a solid start to the season.”

Leclerc followed Sainz home in fourth after limping past Russell with 10 laps to go, the Brit making a mistake and going off the road at Turn 10 to easily pass.

Lando Norris survived a late chase from Lewis Hamilton to retain sixth place. His teammate Oscar Piastri finished eighth after being passed by Hamilton in the stops.

Fernando Alonso took two points to take ninth after a second late stop forced him to pass Zhou Guanyu and then team-mate Lance Stroll, the Canadian backing him into tenth in a remarkable recovery from the back of the peloton after suffering a spin in the first corner. .

Zhou finished a solid 11th for Sauber, ahead of Kevin Magnussen and his RB teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda.

Ricciardo was ordered to overtake Tsunoda in the final five laps, much to the frustration of the Japanese driver, who was a second behind Magnussen and trying to assess an overtake at the time of the instruction. Verstappen lapped all three of them shortly after, breaking the chase, and the Australian ran out of laps to try to break the Dane's defenses, leaving the order fixed.

Alex Albon finished ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, whose top 10 start was undone in the first corner, where he damaged his front wing, causing Stroll to spin at the apex. He forced the German into an unscheduled stop on the first lap, from which his career never recovered.

The unhappy Alpine pair of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly came home in 17th and 18th place, and were spared the embarrassment of finishing last only by misfortune for the others.

Valtteri Bottas worked hard in the lower reaches of midfield, but his race was ruined by a stuck left front wheel at his second stop that kept him stationary in his box for almost 60 seconds.

Logan Sargeant finished two laps down after a steering wheel problem sent him off the road in Turn 4 on Lap 10. He limped back to pit lane for an unplanned stop and wheel change and then spent a lonely afternoon in the back. end of the group.

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