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Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20
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Analysis

The laps that underpinned Verstappen’s crushing Bahrain GP victory

That the 22.457s winning margin that Max Verstappen enjoyed in the 2024 Formula 1 season-opener was the biggest ever seen in the Bahrain Grand Prix says much about Red Bull's current level of superiority. Hopes the opposition had of posing a stiffer challenge than in 2023 were rapidly snuffed out as Verstappen set about dominating from the front

“We're expecting probably a half-second deficit [per lap],” George Russell mused, moments after putting his Mercedes third on the Bahrain Grand Prix grid. Asked to estimate the advantage Red Bull would have in the race, Russell reckoned that it would be slightly larger than the 0.3s difference seen on the timing boards between he and Verstappen on Friday night.

Max Verstappen looked slightly surprised by Russell’s assertion. “Half a second?!” he exclaimed with feigned indignance. “I think that's way too big. But if you say that now, then if it's better tomorrow, then you can say, ‘Oh, it's unbelievable, the car is unbelievable’.”

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