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F1 Bahrain GP: Verstappen dominates in Red Bull 1-2

Max Verstappen picked up from where he left off in 2023 with a commanding Bahrain Grand Prix victory, leading Formula 1 team-mate Sergio Perez home for a Red Bull 1-2.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The reigning world champion crossed the line with a 22.4-second gap over Perez to clinch his eighth successive F1 win, stretching back to his Suzuka win last year.

Verstappen faced little in the way of competition, only having to contend with a brief play for the lead from Charles Leclerc into the first corner as the Ferrari driver attempted to make a pass around the outside.

But the Red Bull driver held the racing line and kept Leclerc at arm's length.

Although Leclerc may have hoped for some early assistance from the revised DRS regulations, which allows the overtaking aid to be activated from the second lap, Verstappen had already galloped to a one-second advantage to ensure there were no challenges on the next lap.

Early battles for second gave Verstappen more breathing space and, after George Russell had mounted a pass on Leclerc, the Mercedes was not able to make further inroads and the Dutchman extended his lead to three seconds by the end of lap four.

It was a typical Verstappen drive, with relentless consistency and excellent tyre management as Red Bull arguably took a less conservative strategy relative to the other runners; having saved a set of softs from earlier in the weekend, Verstappen and Perez both ran to a soft-hard-soft two-stopper while the others elected to stick to a soft-hard-hard strategy.

Verstappen managed to take his opening stint as far as the end of lap 17 as he became the last driver to pit, but was far enough ahead of Perez - who had since passed Russell for second on lap 14 with an up-and-under overtake into Turn 4 - to maintain a five-second lead.

This grew as Perez faced challenges from Russell and Carlos Sainz behind him, ensuring that Verstappen could focus on maintaining a consistent pace at the head of the field.

He made his final stop on lap 37, switching from his sole set of hard tyres back to the softs, which he was able to press into service for a statement 1m32.608s lap before easing back into a strong race pace.

Perez had to spend the race's second half keeping Sainz at bay, as the Spaniard proved the quicker of the Ferrari drivers throughout the course of the race.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Sainz had earlier reeled off impressive overtakes on team-mate Leclerc and Russell to provisionally occupy a podium position and, although he sometimes had Perez within two seconds, he was unable to make any further inroads towards the Mexican.

Told on the 44th lap that his hard tyres should start to perform more strongly compared to Perez's softs, Sainz had to settle for third amid an impressive drive; his inch-perfect racecraft had offered at least some action in the battle for third place.

Leclerc struggled early on in the race with a series of front lock-ups, notably struggling at Turn 10 as he complained of his car pulling to the right under braking.

His later switch to the hard tyres seemed to quell some of those issues, and managed to dispatch Russell on lap 46 with a move into Turn 11 - Russell had echoed Leclerc's earlier travails with an off in the previous corner.

Russell's impressive start to the race could not be carried forward having had to nurse a suspected power unit issue, which left him having to opt for a lift-and-coast approach through the race, but the Briton nonetheless beat his countryman Lando Norris into sixth.

Lewis Hamilton could not enjoy the same heroics as Russell early on as he was largely stuck in lock-step behind Fernando Alonso in the early stages, while fighting the discomfort of a broken seat, but was able to clear Alonso and jump Oscar Piastri in the final round of stops to finish seventh.

Piastri ensured McLaren had both cars in the top eight, while Alonso slipped backwards throughout the race to finish ninth.

Lance Stroll recovered from Nico Hulkenberg's rear-end contact into the first corner to finish 10th thanks to canny strategy from Aston Martin, which brought him back into the race.

Stroll had been nudged into a spin by Hulkenberg among the Turn 1 contact, which also caught Valtteri Bottas off-guard, but this was the only major moment of note in an incident-free race.

Zhou Guanyu was in with a shout of the final point having made his first stop early, but could not stop the Astons from making their way through and thus the Chinese driver had to be content with 11th.

Improved race pace ensured that Kevin Magnussen could hold 12th from the chasing RB duo, despite team orders between the Italian squad's drivers; Yuki Tsunoda was asked to move over for Daniel Ricciardo, much to the Japanese driver's chagrin, but Ricciardo could not make any further gains on the Dane.

Alex Albon had to coax an overheating car into 15th, ahead of the recovering (and three-stopping) Hulkenberg, while Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were cemented towards the bottom in 17th and 18th.

A damaged Bottas beat Logan Sargeant to 20th, as the American appeared to suffer from a braking issue that forced an off-track excursion at Turn 4 on lap 10.

F1 Bahrain GP race results

   
1
 - 
5
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval km/h Pits Points Retirement Chassis Engine
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 57

-

    2 26   Red Bull Red Bull
2 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 57

+22.457

22.457

22.457   2 18   Red Bull Red Bull
3 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 57

+25.110

25.110

2.653   2 15   Ferrari Ferrari
4 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 57

+39.669

39.669

14.559   2 12   Ferrari Ferrari
5 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 57

+46.788

46.788

7.119   2 10   Mercedes Mercedes
6 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 57

+48.458

48.458

1.670   2 8   McLaren Mercedes
7 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 57

+50.324

50.324

1.866   2 6   Mercedes Mercedes
8 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 57

+56.082

56.082

5.758   2 4   McLaren Mercedes
9 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 57

+1'14.887

1'14.887

18.805   2 2   Aston Martin Mercedes
10 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 57

+1'33.216

1'33.216

18.329   2 1   Aston Martin Mercedes
11 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 56

1 lap

    2     Sauber Ferrari
12 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 56

1 lap

    2     Haas Ferrari
13 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 56

1 lap

    2     RB Red Bull
14 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 56

1 lap

    2     RB Red Bull
15 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 56

1 lap

    2     Williams Mercedes
16 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 56

1 lap

    3     Haas Ferrari
17 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 56

1 lap

    2     Alpine Renault
18 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 56

1 lap

    3     Alpine Renault
19 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 56

1 lap

    2     Sauber Ferrari
20 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 55

2 laps

    3     Williams Mercedes

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