until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Verstappen dominates F1’s Bahrain GP opener, podium for Alonso

by Matt Beer
3 min read

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen completely dominated a Bahrain Grand Prix that proved disastrous for Ferrari and was enlivened by a ferocious podium charge from Fernando Alonso.

Verstappen was unchallenged all race, keeping the lead from pole and pulling away by six-to-eight tenths of a second from his pursuers at first.

His Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez was jumped off the line by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari but overtook it during the second stint when the Red Bull had taken soft tyres again while Ferrari had swapped to hards and then completed an easy Red Bull 1-2.

Leclerc then retired 16 laps from the end with what Ferrari said was an engine problem – which was particularly ominous as pre-race Leclerc’s car had already been put onto its second of the year’s two permitted energy stores.

Alonso lost ground on lap one when tapped by Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll, falling behind both Mercedes. He got ahead of George Russell at the first pitstops, then hunted down and passed Lewis Hamilton in a superb final stint battle that featured a wild slide at the first overtaking attempt and then a sublime move into Turn 10.

Leclerc’s retirement meant Alonso’s subsequent pursuit of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari – which was off the leaders’ pace all race – became a podium chase.

Another spectacular battle ensued, including minor contact, before Alonso made sure of a podium and an epic start to his Aston Martin career.

Sainz resisted some pressure from Hamilton for a very disappointing fourth for Ferrari.

Stroll overtook Russell on the Mercedes’ second stop out-lap to take sixth despite his recent injuries.

Valtteri Bottas got among the Aston Martins and Mercedes thanks to a punchy first lap and excellent out-lap pace following an early first stop, but fell back to eighth for Alfa Romeo.

He had to handle late pressure from Pierre Gasly, who rescued Alpine’s weekend by coming from last on the grid to ninth.

His team-mate Esteban Ocon picked up penalties for not parking in his grid slot correctly, his mechanics starting to change a damaged front wing too soon during a pitstop that also featured his first time penalty, and then for pitlane speeding too, before eventually retiring.

McLaren had an even worse race: Oscar Piastri retiring with electrical problems and Lando Norris finishing last after having to make six pitstops to top up his car’s pneumatic system.

It was a poor race for top-10 qualifier Haas too as its Saturday hero Nico Hulkenberg picked up first-lap front wing damage against Ocon’s Alpine and ended up 15th.

But Williams had plenty to be proud of as Alex Albon scored a point in 10th, having run high up the midfield all race, only losing out to Gasly late on.

Race Results

Pos Name Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 57 54 1h33m56.736s 1m36.236s 2 25
2 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 57 3 +11.987s 1m36.344s 2 18
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 57 0 +38.637s 1m36.156s 2 15
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 57 0 +48.052s 1m37.13s 2 12
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 57 0 +50.977s 1m36.546s 2 10
6 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 57 0 +54.502s 1m36.546s 2 8
7 George Russell Mercedes 57 0 +55.873s 1m37.221s 2 6
8 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 57 0 +1m12.647s 1m37.379s 2 4
9 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 57 0 +1m13.753s 1m35.068s 3 2
10 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 57 0 +1m29.774s 1m37.144s 3 1
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 57 0 +1m30.87s 1m36.637s 3 0
12 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 56 0 +1 lap 1m36.037s 3 0
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 56 0 +1 lap 1m36.471s 3 0
14 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 56 0 +1 lap 1m37.707s 3 0
15 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 56 0 +1 lap 1m36.616s 3 0
16 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 56 0 +1 lap 1m33.396s 3 0
17 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 55 0 +2 laps 1m35.822s 6 0
Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 41 0 DNF 1m36.797s 4 0
Charles Leclerc Ferrari 39 0 DNF 1m37.17s 2 0
Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 13 0 DNF 1m40.691s 1 0
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