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Verstappen: Bahrain F1 GP "couldn't have gone better"

Max Verstappen says the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix “couldn’t have gone better” and that he was ‘at one with’ the Red Bull as he dominated the Formula 1 season opener.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, celebrates on arrival in Parc Ferme

Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The reigning three-time world champion kick-started his title defence with a maximum score. He led from lights to flag plus earned the bonus point for recording the fastest lap of the race.

Beating team-mate Sergio Perez by 22.4 seconds, with Carlos Sainz a further 2.5s adrift to finish third, Verstappen reckoned the GP surpassed his expectations as he felt ‘at one’ with the RB20.

Verstappen’s assessment was: “Unbelievable. I think today went even better than expected.

“I think the car was really nice to drive on every compound. We had a lot of pace.

“It was just super enjoyable to drive today; we really stayed out of trouble. Great start to the year. I mean, it couldn't have been better.

He continued: “It was a lot of fun. I felt really good in the car. It's always very special to have these kinds of days because they don't happen that often it just all goes perfect, and you're just one with the car and everything just feels great.”

 

Verstappen launched well from pole position to shut down the threat from fellow front-row starter Charles Leclerc into Turn 1, before the Monegasque’s charge was severely blunted by persistent braking maladies as he slid to fourth.

“The start was good,” said Verstappen. “Of course, the first corner is a very tight hairpin so naturally, you want to defend the inside just to be safe. That's what we did.

“Basically, from there onwards, we just focused on our own race."

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Perez, who complained about excessive sliding across the Pirelli tyre compounds in addition to driving around an engine braking issue, reckoned second was the best possible return on his side of the garage.

The Mexican said: “Well, I think it was the maximum we could have achieved.

“It was quite a tricky race with the management of the tyres. I think there's plenty we will learn from tonight's race, which will be important for the championship.

“But overall, I think it's a great way to start the season.”

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