Formula 1: Verstappen Wins Season Opener In Bahrain As Red bull Takes 1-2 Podium Finish, Alonso Takes Final podium place in style


Red Bull’s Max Verstappen started the new season as he ended the last, with a dominant victory in the Middle East. The drive, Verstappen’s 36th victory, underlined his status as favorite for a third consecutive world title. Sergio Perez made it a Red Bull one-two ahead of an inspired drive by Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in third.

“It was very, very good first stint where I made my gap,” said Verstappen. “From there, it was all about looking after tires. You never know what’s going to happen later on the race. We just wanted to make sure we have the right tires and in good condition as well. We have a good race package. We can definitely fight with this car and also big thank you to the team; over the winter, to get us a quick race car again.”

Perez had won a fight with Charles Leclerc over second place before the Ferrari driver retired from third with 16 laps to go when he lost drive. But the big excitement in the race was created by Alonso; who dropped from fifth on the grid to seventh behind the two Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on the opening lap, but fought back to take the final podium place. The 41-year-old Spaniard, a two-time world champion who took a two-year break from Formula One before returning in 2021, made it a spectacular 99th podium finish of his career.

“To finish on the podium first race of the year is just amazing,” said Alonso. “What Aston Martin did over the winter, to have the second best car on race one, is just unreal. We had not the best start and had to pass on track – it made it more exciting but we enjoyed it.”

Alonso’s pass left Sainz holding off Hamilton for fourth. The seven-time champion initially looked as if he might also pass the Ferrari, but he was unable to close in, as both suffered with tyres and had to settle for fifth.

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