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Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix 2024

Verstappen matches two F1 legends with Bahrain blitz

The three-time world champion picked up where he left off to start his title defence in fine fashion at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Verstappen race Bahrain 2024
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen picked up exactly where he left off last season with victory at F1's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver led from lights to flag and picked up the fastest lap at the Bahrain International Circuit to secure his fifth Grand Chelem, moving him level with Alberto Ascari and Michael Schumacher on the all-time list.

Verstappen capped off a difficult weekend for Red Bull and finished 22.457secs ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, who rose from fifth to beat home Ferrari's Carlos Sainz as a number of rivals hit troubles in the first race of the new campaign.

Result Race - Bahrain

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Verstappen made the perfect getaway to lead the field down into the first corner as Perez attacked second-placed Charles Leclerc around the outside.

But the Mexican was forced to check up and slip into fourth, behind George Russell whilst further back, slow-starting Nico Hulkenberg lost his front wing to contact with Lance Stroll's Aston Martin - both drivers falling to the back and the Haas driver forced to pit.

Leclerc faced issues with his brakes from the very start, allowing Russell to attack into turn four on lap three and take second place.

Further lock-ups, especially at turns one and ten, allowed Perez to pounce into turn 11 four laps later - the Red Bull looking perfectly poised at every corner.

Sainz was next up and made the move on his teammate to great effect, running side-by-side through turns one and two before the Monégasque was forced to yield. The positions would revert with the Spaniard pitting second in sequence, only for a lunge at the first corner.

Perez, meanwhile, had overtaken Russell for second on the road as the race escaped a safety car - Williams driver Logan Sargeant overcoming a steering wheel issue that momentarily left the American stranded at turn four.

Mercedes and Ferrari issues

While Perez stretched his advantage in second, albeit over 10 seconds adrift of his three-time world champion teammate, Russell was slipping back into Ferrari's grasp.

His Mercedes was hit with cooling issues that forced him into heavy lifting and coasting in the second half of the race, allowing Sainz to overtake first and then for Leclerc to close in.

Leclerc's brakes led him to suggest the car was "pulling to the right" which was "f**king dangerous", yet the SF-24 had the upper hand over the Mercedes.

The Silver Arrows' issues didn't stop with Russell's gremlins. Lewis Hamilton was forced to deal with a broken seat whilst Alex Albon's pace in his Williams was hit by similar cooling issues to the lead Mercedes.

Russell eventually ran wide at turn 10 with 10 laps to go, with Leclerc taking full advantage to secure fourth position.

History made

Whilst his rivals dealt with a number of struggles, Verstappen was imperious at the front of the field.

Perez drove a fine race in second having started the race from fifth, picking up his best finish since last year's Italian Grand Prix, whilst Sainz underlined his talent with a podium in what will be an important first half of the season as he aims to secure his F1 future.

Leclerc held off Russell for fourth whilst Lando Norris wound up sixth for McLaren. Hamilton was seventh ahead of Norris' teammate Oscar Piastri - the Australian jumped by the Mercedes in the last round of pit stops.

Aston Martin rounded out the points-paying positions with Fernando Alonso ninth and Stroll recovering from his first lap incident to finish 10th.

Zhou Guanyu impressed to finish 11th for Stake F1, holding off Haas' Kevin Magnussen.

RB team orders dictated that Daniel Ricciardo moved ahead of Yuki Tsunoda late on as both hounded the Danish driver, triggering anger from the Japanese driver, whilst Albon nursed his Williams to the end in 15th having once run narrowly outside the top 10.

Esteban Ocon was the lead Alpine on a miserable weekend for the French manufacturer, finishing 17th, ahead of Pierre Gasly but behind Hulkenberg.

Valtteri Bottas was 19th after a pit stop issue kept the Finn stationary for over a minute, whilst Sargeant ensured all competitors finished the Bahrain Grand Prix for the first time in its 20-year history.

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