Max Verstappen secured an impressive victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, setting the tone for the rest of the season in the opening race.
Mos race wins in season
The Dutchman, who won his second consecutive world championship in October 2022 with four races to spare and set a record for the most race wins in a season, began the weekend as the clear favorite. Verstappen led from start to finish, dominating the race to win the Bahrain Grand Prix for the first time in his career.
Red Bull had a perfect evening, with Sergio Perez finishing second behind his teammate, while 41-year-old Fernando Alonso secured third place for Aston Martin, marking the 99th podium of his career. Charles Leclerc, who had been sitting in third with 16 laps remaining, was forced out of the race due to a mechanical issue, causing a virtual safety car to be deployed.
Mercedes continued to struggle, with Lewis Hamilton finishing in fifth place and teammate George Russell in seventh. Verstappen attributed his win to a good first stint, where he was able to make a gap and then looked after his tires to ensure he had the right ones in good condition.
From the start, Verstappen pulled away from the rest of the field, while Leclerc managed to overtake Perez to move into second place and split the two Red Bull cars. After just 10 laps, Verstappen had built a significant lead, which only continued to grow through the first wave of pit stops. Red Bull’s evening improved further when Perez reclaimed second place from Leclerc just before the race’s halfway point.
Mercedes and Aston Martin battled for places in the lower half of the top 10, with Russell, Hamilton, Alonso, and Lance Stroll all exchanging places throughout the race. Alonso emerged from the tussle in the best position, eventually overtaking his compatriot Carlos Sainz to secure a podium place, which had seemed unlikely before this week.
Alonso said, “We know in Formula One, it’s very difficult to overcome the gap to the top teams only in one winter. So let’s see if slowly during the season, we can make the car faster and faster. Let’s start with being in the points. Every race try to lead this midfield and get closer to the top three teams. And if eventually we can be in the podium, if we can fight for wins or whatever it comes, you know, that will be a plus.”