It was the perfect start to Max Verstappen’s title defence as he dominated the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver finished ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso who completed the podium positions.
Lance Stroll went off track momentarily off-track on the formation lap, but managed to take the race start.
It was a strong start for both the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers, with Sergio Perez dropping to third.
Lance Stroll then decided to use his team-mate Fernando Alonso as a brake, going straight into him early in the lap. Luckily, both cars escaped mostly undamaged and were able to continue.
Charles Leclerc’s qualifying gamble of not taking to the track at the end of the session to go for pole and save a pair of tyres for the start of the race paid off as he was able to climb to second.
Verstappen continued to build his lead by around 8.5 seconds by around lap 12, with Fernando Alonso and George Russell having a great battle for eighth.
McLaren didn’t have a good start of the race, with Oscar Piastri retiring with an ‘electronic issue’ according to Zak Brown. Lando Norris also struggled with an engine issue and had to make an unexpected trip into the pitlane.
The Stewarts also noted that a penalty which they gave Esteban Ocon was served incorrectly, for which Ocon was handed a further ten-second penalty.
The next minutes we filled with tyre management, car time and a severe lack of urgency, with the only real noteworthy moment being a battle between Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon for P18.
Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc for a battle for second place, with Perez getting ahead and creating a Red Bull 1-2, Aston Martin 3-4.
Lance Stroll managed to get past George Russell showing the true pace of the Aston Martin in comparison to the Mercedes, with Stroll moving up to seventh place.
Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso provided one of the most entertaining battles of the race so far as they traded places before Alonso dived down the inside of the Mercedes and claimed fifth place.
Charles Leclerc’s race ended on Lap 43 after he was forced to pull into the side of the track with an issue, bringing out the virtual safety car. However, a very swift recovery from the marshals and sensible parking from the Ferrari driver allowed the race to resume very quickly.
Alonso then went to battle with the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, managing to pass his fellow Spanish driver and climbed onto the final podium position.
As the checkered flag was flown, Max Verstappen won the opening race of the season, nearly 12 seconds ahead of his team-mate Perez in second. Fernado Alonso took the third and final podium position.
Here is how the top ten finished at the Bahrain International Circuit:
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