Verstappen starts the F1 season with a win in Bahrain

He looked even more dominant this year than last, when he beat Perez by 11.987 seconds but did not take the fastest lap

By REUTERS
March 03, 2024
Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen reacts as he exits his car after winning the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on March 5, 2023. — AFP

SAKHIR: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen started his bid for a fourth successive Formula One title with a commanding Bahrain Grand Prix win from pole position, plus fastest lap, ahead of team mate Sergio Perez.

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The Dutch driver led every lap and took the chequered flag a massive 22.457 seconds clear of Perez, as Red Bull repeated last year’s one-two and sent a clear message to rivals yearning for change.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz completed the podium under the floodlights at Sakhir with team mate Charles Leclerc finishing fourth.

The win was Red Bull’s 114th since they arrived in Formula One 20 years ago, lifting the team level with former champions Williams at fourth equal in the all-time lists. Verstappen now has 55 career wins.

Verstappen, 26, has led the championship for 40 successive races dating back to May 2022 and is on an eight-race winning streak going back to Japan last September.

He looked even more dominant this year than last, when he beat Perez by 11.987 seconds but did not take the fastest lap.

“That was simply lovely what a great race, great start to the year guys, One-two as well. Fantastic,” Verstappen, who ended up with 19 wins in 22 races last year, said over the team radio.

Verstappen led the entire race and claimed an extra point for setting the fastest lap as he finished 22 seconds clear of Perez, who delivered a strong drive from fifth on the grid.

Sainz outperformed and finished ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc, who struggled with brake issues as he dropped back from second on the grid before salvaging fourth by passing Mercedes’ George Russell 10 laps from the end.

Lando Norris held off the other Mercedes of Hamilton for sixth, with the Brit’s McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri finishing eighth.

Aston Martin rounded out the top 10 as Fernando Alonso led home team-mate Lance Stroll, with all 20 cars finishing the opening race in an impressive all-round show of reliability.

Mercedes’ George Russell was fifth with McLaren’s Lando Norris sixth.

Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton started ninth and finished seventh for Mercedes, with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri eighth, Fernando Alonso ninth for Aston Martin and team mate Lance Stroll 10th.

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