F1 is back and it started with an incredible season opener at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Red Bull’s seemed dominant around the track in qualifying and Max Verstappen managed to set the fastest time giving him the fourth pole position of his F1 career. The Mercedes drivers were left in second and third place on the grid with 2020 World Champion Lewis Hamilton in the second spot.
Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who left Ferrari last season to drive with new team Aston Martin, didn’t have a great start to the season after being given a five-place grid penalty putting him at the back of the grid.
Sergio Perez in his first race for Red Bull faced problems at the start after a formation lap issue that forced him to start from the pit lane. However, he managed to finish in fifth on his debut for Red Bull, ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo.
There was drama on the first lap for the Haas team with their new line-up. Nikita Mazepin crashed on his debut race in F1 with a spin coming out of Turn 3 and smashed into the wall, the team’s problem didn’t stop there as Mick Schumacher spun on the second lap coming into turn 6 which left him at the back of the pack for most of the race.
Mazepin’s crash caused the safety to deploy but by lap 4 the race was back on and the battle continued at the front of the pack between Verstappen and Hamilton. By Lap 53 of 56, after closing the gap and with Hamilton on older tyres, Verstappen lunged for the overtake, but having run too wide and making the move off the track he had to give the position back to Hamilton with three laps to go. In the end, the Red Bull driver couldn’t make another move and Lewis Hamilton won the race, his first opening race victory since 2015 in Melbourne.
“It was difficult and Max was right all over me right at the end and I just about managed to hold him off. It was one of the hardest races I’ve had for a while.”
– Lewis Hamilton, on his race win.
Fernando Alonso’s return to the sport was met with disappointment when he was forced to retire on lap 33 with a brake issue, dropping the Spaniard out of 10th place. An unfortunate pitstop with right-front tyre issues for Valtteri Bottas meant he had to sit in the pits for 10.9s, bringing him out in P5 behind Norris and Leclerc. This didn’t stop the Finn as he made his way back up the pack to finish in third place. One to watch is Yuki Tsunoda, driving for AlphaTauri, who became the first driver to score points in their debut race since Stoffel Vandoorne in 2016.