Verstappen dominates, Piastri retires from Bahrain GP

Max Verstappen dominated the Bahrain Grand Prix

Max Verstappen dominated the Bahrain Grand Prix

Max Verstappen dominated the Bahrain Grand Prix to head a Red Bull one-two in the opening round of the F1 season.

Fernando Alonso raced his way to third while Oscar Piastri and Charles Leclerc were both retirements.

Piastri suffered an apparent electrical problem just short of half distance while, more worrying for Ferrari, the team admitted it had ‘lost the engine’.

A sluggish start from Perez saw the Red Bull driver swamped by both Ferraris in the run to the opening corner.

He ended up between the pair, Leclerc second and Carlos Sainz fourth, then came Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, and Alonso who was shuffled back in the opening corners – the Spaniard tagged by team-mate Lance Stroll at Turn 4 who arrived tight to the inside of the track and far too fast.

Piastri made up two places on the opening lap to sit 16th while race leader Verstappen held a 1s advantage.

After four laps, Verstappen had sprinted clear to a more than three-second advantage, the gap between those behind ensuring none of the leading players had DRS available.

Further back, Norris appeared to be something of a cork in the bottle, leading a train of seven cars within a second of that in front.

Running 19th, the last car in train behind Norris, Pierre Gasly stopped after nine laps, swapping onto the hard tyres after starting on a set of softs.

That tempted McLaren into pitting Norris while up the road Alonso had latched on to Russell in the battle for sixth.

The Mercedes driver was struggling with his tyres, Alonso making his way through at Turn 4 on Lap 13.

Russell didn’t give up easily, going wheel to wheel through Turn 5 before finally having to concede at the next corner.

The race then settled a pattern until the opening round of stops began.

It saw Ferrari double-stack its cars on Lap 13, with race leader Verstappen taking to the lane next time by.

Perez stayed on track for a further five laps before he boxed, a move that would pay dividends later.

Piastri’s race came to an early end on the same lap with the team suspecting a steering wheel issue.

It proved rather more terminal and the Australian became the first retirement.

It was a difficult evening for McLaren, with Norris in the pits regularly to have his MCL60 topped up with air.

On track, Perez had chased down Leclerc, passing the Ferrari driver into Turn 1 as they started Lap 26.

If McLaren was having a difficult day, Alpine was having a nightmare with Esteban Ocon picking up three separate penalties.

The first was for being in an inaccurate starting position, which cost him five seconds at his first stop.

However, that was not served correctly and he was slapped with a further 10s for that infraction.

Rubbing salt into the wound, he picked up another five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Ultimately, he retired on Lap 42.

He was the third driver to exit the race, the second having been Leclerc who lost power and rolled to a halt exiting Turn 12 on Lap 39.

Once clear of Leclerc, Perez had extended a gap and ran a comfortable second to Verstappen out front.

With Leclerc out of the race, third fell to Carlos Sainz, who came under attack from a relentless Fernando Alonso with 12 laps remaining.

The Aston Martin driver harried the rear of the Ferrari, who was considering his tyres to reach the finish and was ultimately powerless to hold the two-time world champion at bay.

Sainz then came under the attention of Hamilton, though he was unable to make the rapid progress of Alonso, the Spaniard holding sway until the chequered flag.

Verstappen, therefore, won the opening round at a canter from team-mate Perez in a commanding performance from Red Bull.

Aston Martin picked up the scraps after Ferrari struck trouble, both in terms of reliability and then with tyre degradation, while Hamilton offered a ray of hope for Mercedes in fifth.

Completing the top 10 were Stroll, Russell, Valtteri Bottas, Gasly after a strong drive from the rear of the grid, and Alex Albon.

Results: Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix

Pos Num Driver Team Laps/Diff
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 57
2 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 11.9
3 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 38.6
4 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 48
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 50.9
6 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 54.5
7 63 George Russell Mercedes 55.8
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Sauber 72.6
9 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 73.7
10 23 Alex Albon Williams 89.7
11 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 90.8
12 2 Logan Sargeant Williams 1L
13 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1L
14 21 Nyck de Vries Scuderia AlphaTauri 1L
15 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1L
16 24 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Sauber 1L
17 4 Lando Norris McLaren 2L
31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 16L
16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 18L
81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 44L

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