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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B
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Analysis

The calls that decided Hamilton and Verstappen's Bahrain battle

Fastest in every session, all signs pointed towards Red Bull and Max Verstappen starting the 2021 F1 season with a victory. That it didn't pan out that way, and Lewis Hamilton scored a surprising win, owes much to an aggressive Mercedes strategy and a pre-race tyre selection that Verstappen would later question

Given the astounding levels of success Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have achieved in the past seven Formula 1 seasons, it’s somewhat surprising that their latest Bahrain Grand Prix victory – and Hamilton’s 96th F1 win – was something of an underdog tale.

Mercedes had ended pre-season testing seemingly well adrift of Red Bull on pure pace and with poor car balance. When the teams arrived back in Bahrain for the 2021 race, they knew most of the obscured elements from the testing picture would finally be revealed. And Max Verstappen’s near 0.4-second pole margin over Hamilton confirmed that Red Bull was indeed the team to beat.

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