Max Verstappen converted pole position into the race win with a controlled drive in Saturday night’s Bahrain Grand Prix, leading home Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez and Ferrari rival Carlos Sainz to start his latest title defence in perfect fashion.

Verstappen maintained his advantage as the encounter got under way and never looked back over the 57 laps that followed, ultimately crossing the line 22 seconds clear of Perez, who made up for his low-key qualifying effort to complete a Red Bull one-two.

Carlos Sainz rounded out the podium places for Ferrari after a thrilling exchange with team mate Charles Leclerc, who struggled with tyre degradation and suffered multiple lock-ups en route to fourth, having cleared the lead Mercedes of George Russell late on.

Russell and team mate Lewis Hamilton encountered issues with their batteries across the race, with the seven-time world champion – who also reported a broken seat – having to settle for seventh position behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.


Race results



Oscar Piastri made it two McLarens in the top 10 with a run to eighth, while Aston Martin also scored a double points finish thanks to Fernando Alonso crossing the line ninth and Lance Stroll taking 10th, despite being punted to the back of the field in a Turn 1 incident.

Zhou Guanyu just missed out on points in 11th with his alternate tyre strategy, which involved a longer final stint, followed by Kevin Magnussen in the first of the Haas cars and the two RB machines of Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda.

RB sparked some late drama by asking Tsunoda to move aside for Ricciardo, given his alternate soft-tyre run to the finish, prompting the Japanese racer to shout “are you kidding me over the radio?”, only to eventually adhere to the instruction.

Williams endured a difficult opening race to 2024, with Alex Albon having to cool his car mid-race on his way to a lowly 15th, while team mate Logan Sargeant brought up the rear after running off the track due to a reported steering wheel problem.


Verstappen led the field away for the first race of the 2024 season

Sitting between them was Nico Hulkenberg in the other Haas, after he tagged the aforementioned Stroll into a spin at the first corner and had to pit for a new front wing at the end of the first lap, leaving the German down in 16th at the conclusion of the race.

Alpine’s challenging weekend continued as Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly experienced anonymous races, the pair collecting 17th and 18th respectively, with Valtteri Bottas the penultimate finisher – ahead of Sargeant – after a painfully long pit stop down at Kick Sauber due to wheel nut dramas.

Back in parc ferme, Verstappen hopped out of the winning RB20 to collect the 55th victory of his F1 career, the driver and his Red Bull team sending a clear message to the rest of the field as he looks to make it four world championships on the bounce.

Those rivals will now have a few days to dig through the data and think about a response as the F1 paddock moves straight from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia for the second round of the campaign at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

F1 (R)

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