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Formula 1

F1 2024 starts with crushing Verstappen win in Bahrain

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

Max Verstappen made a crushingly dominant start to the 2024 Formula 1 season by obliterating the opposition in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen nicked pole position by a couple of tenths in qualifying but it was a pole fight Ferrari and Charles Leclerc could have won in slightly different circumstances.

There was no doubt in Saturday's grand prix over the victor with Verstappen holding his lead down to Turn 1 and never once relinquishing it across the 57-lap affair.

He was able to leave his first pitstop later than anybody else having built a sizeable safety cushion of a lead in the opening 17 laps.

Verstappen incrementally increased his lead, seemingly at ease with his Red Bull RB20 and likely with pace in hand with no sight of a challenge behind him.

He ultimately won by 22.4 seconds, took the fastest lap bonus point and extended his grand prix winning streak to eight.

Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez couldn't threaten Verstappen but he did a perfect job of completing the Red Bull 1-2.

Having qualified fifth, Perez picked off Carlos Sainz into Turn 1 on the first lap before pouncing on the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc on lap seven after Leclerc locked up at the tricky Turn 9-10 left-hander. 

George Russell had already passed Leclerc, who was struggling with his Ferrari SF-24 under braking, particularly in the early stages of the race. He was running second but found Perez right on his tail after the first pitstops.

Perez executed the classic Bahrain Turn 4 switchback to perfection to move into second place behind runaway race leader Verstappen.

Perez was able to break clear of Russell whose early race charge past Leclerc proved to be his peak. He fell into the clutches of Sainz a few laps after losing second to Perez and dropped to fourth.

Sainz had pulled off a feisty overtake on Leclerc earlier in the race and hoped Perez being forced to use soft tyres (with no hards available) in his final stint would bring second place into his reach.

That proved not to be the case with Perez actually extending his advantage in the final stint to secure second place.

Sainz instead settled for a clear third-best ahead of Leclerc who pressured Russell into locking up and running wide at Turn 10, allowing Leclerc to move into fourth. 

Russell ultimately rounded out the top five, having reported engine overheating issues earlier in the race. He was followed by the lead McLaren of Lando Norris and his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. who struggled to make progress from his disappointing ninth in qualifying, and endured a tricky race that included Hamilton suggesting his seat was 'broken'.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri lost eighth to Hamilton when he had a squirrelly moment out of Turn 1 shortly after exiting the pitlane for his final pitstop, one that allowed Hamilton to blast past him well before the Turn 4 right-hander.

Fernando Alonso called his sixth place in qualifying a "massive surprise" for Aston Martin but couldn't replicate that pace in the race. Instead finishing ninth, over 20 seconds adrift of Piastri.

Team-mate Lance Stroll completed the top 10 with a solid recovery drive, having been spun by Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas at Turn 1 on the opening lap, an incident the stewards dismissed as needing no further action. 

There was team order angst just outside the points with RB instructing Yuki Tsunoda to allow team-mate Daniel Ricciardo with just a handful of laps to go, much to Tsunoda's fury. 

That swap was to allow a soft-shod Ricciardo to have a go at Magnussen's 12th-place Haas, something he was unable to do on the final lap.

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