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Bahrain Grand Prix 2023

The 'curse' hanging over the winner of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Whoever wins the Bahrain Grand Prix will be looking to break a 'curse' that has stretched back to 2017.

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So the saying goes, that if you start a Formula 1 season well, you're more than likely to end up being a major championship player, and more often than not, bring the trophy home.

Indeed, all but one of Michael Schumacher's seven championships (2003 aside) were secured after the German won the opening round of the season.

However, in recent years, this has not been the case with the last driver to win both the opening Grand Prix and walk away with the World Championship trophy Nico Rosberg in 2016.

Since then, an unfortunate pattern developed with the winner of the opening round going onto finish second in the championship standings, meaning the winner of the Bahrain Grand Prix is unlikely to be tasting glory in 2023...

F1 winners of the opening race since 2017

Season Race Winner Championship standing World Champion
2017 Australia Sebastian Vettel 2nd Lewis Hamilton
2018 Australia Sebastian Vettel 2nd Lewis Hamilton
2019 Australia Valtteri Bottas 2nd Lewis Hamilton
2020 Austria Valtteri Bottas 2nd Lewis Hamilton
2021 Bahrain Lewis Hamilton 2nd Max Verstappen
2022 Bahrain Charles Leclerc 2nd Max Verstappen

P2 is the place to finish

Since Rosberg's win, the driver who finishes runner-up in the opening race has gone onto win the title in four of the six seasons.

Lewis Hamilton was runner-up in 2017-19, with Max Verstappen taking the second step on the podium after finishing behind the Mercedes at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.

In 2020, Charles Leclerc took second place in the delayed opener in Austria, after Hamilton copped a five-second time penalty which demoted him from second to fourth, while Carlos Sainz was runner-up at the '22 opener in Bahrain.

Also interesting:

Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth analyse where each of the F1 teams stands after pre-season testing.

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