For years, we’ve been waiting for the Hamilton v Verstappen championship fight to kick off with a vengeance. If the Bahrain Grand Prix was any indication, that battle is finally here. In a show-stopping opening to the F1 season, it came down to the last laps of the circuit to determine who would win the race. Hamilton managed to hold Verstappen off in the crucial last lap in a race that also saw him break the record for most lap leads. Here are the main takeaways from the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix.
Hamilton v Verstappen
Luck wasn’t on the side of Red Bull’s Verstappen, who came within spitting distance of winning the race. After starting in pole position, Hamilton overtook him during a pit stop on lap 13. Verstappen was forced to give back a momentary lead in lap 53 after all four wheels of his car left the track. After giving back the lead to Hamilton, Verstappen’s tyres couldn’t push it to overtake the seven-time world champion. The race between the pair has set up for what’s expected to be an explosive season. While Verstappen missed out on the first title of the season, the race showed that the 23-year-old has a car that can put pressure on the Mercedes duo. The fight for the championship title between Hamilton and Verstappen seems to have finally arrived.
Bottas finished in third, getting the fastest lap of the race in at the last minute while Verstappen was chasing Hamilton. Lando Norris flew into fourth position, setting McLaren up for a fight for the third position in the constructors’ championship. After issues in the formation lap meant he started at the back, Perez chased through the pack to finish in fifth. While much has been said about the curse of Red Bull’s second seat, it’s clear Perez is already able to push his car to its limits.
One driver who had a less than productive Bahrain Grand Prix was Sebastian Vettel on his debut at Aston Martin. He finished with the weekend with one crash, two penalties, and five penalty points. Vettel finished the race in 15th position after a 10-second penalty following a collision with Esteban Ocon. Vettel’s teammate Lance Stroll finished in 10th to bring home some points for Aston Martin.
Rookies and Comebacks
Bahrain was the first race for the three rookies on the board. Mick Schumacher took an early spin in the race before finishing in 16th position. His fellow rookie teammate at Haas, Mazepin, was out at turn three on the first lap within a matter of seconds. One rookie who had an excellent start to the season was AlphaTauri’s Tsunoda, who came in at 9th. The rookie said he was only “50 per cent” happy with his performance after losing positions in his first lap. Fernando Alonso made his return to F1 with Alpine after a two-year break from the sport but was forced to retire on lap 34 after brake issues.
After the nail-biting finish at Bahrain, we’re counting down the days till the next race weekend for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 18th.