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F1: Max Verstappen wins F1 season-opener at Bahrain Grand Prix – as it happened

Which means that’s all from me; we’ll see you in a fortnight for the second race of the season, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – but in the meantime, thanks for your company and comments; enjoy the rest of the weekend.

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 25

  2. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) 18

  3. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) 15

  4. Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) 12

  5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 10

  6. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) 8

  7. George Russell (Mercedes) 6

  8. Valltteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) 4

  9. Pierre Gasly (Alpine) 2

  10. Alex Albon (Williams) 1

Jeddah, two weeks today, should be very different, a street circuit that might allow us greater bunching. But, if we’re honest, we can probably guess what’s going to happen … or can we?

The podium trophies are presented and the Red Bull drivers, after their double DNF of a year ago, douse each other in champagne after a dominant weekend.

Verstappen holds up his medal on the podium.

It’s long! The band seem to be doing all 15 verses, but without lyrics – it’s Tubular Bells, or something.

Verstappen ascends the top of the podium, waves to the crowd, and enjoys the Dutch national anthem.

Spare a thought for poor Sharl Leclerc, though, who was cruising in third until an engine issue ruined his day. But what a drive it took to capitalise, Fernando Alonso setting a standard for the season. I can’t wait to see how he and Aston Martin do from here.

Verstappen says he made his gap early on, and after that it was just about protecting his gap and tyres. He’d never won in Bahrain but now it’s over is looking forward to Jeddah. He knows his team have a good race package, thanking them for their work and race car, and generally looks pretty thrilled with life – as you might if you were him, which you’re not.

Race winner Verstappen celebrates.

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

  2. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull)

  3. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

  4. Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari)

  5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

  6. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

  7. George Russell (Mercedes)

  8. Valltteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)

  9. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

  10. Alex Albon (Williams)

  11. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

  12. Logan Sargeant (Williams)

  13. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

  14. Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri)

  15. Nico Hülkenberg (Haas)

  16. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)

  17. Lando Norris (McLaren)

    Did not finish:Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Oscar Piastri (McLaren), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

“Keep pushing. Serious work to do,” says Hamilton to his team; his fifth place is his worst finish here in some time.

“Exactly the start to the season we wanted and needed,” Verstappen tells his team. They concur.

Verstappen celebrates in parc ferme.

He leads from start to finish, with Sergio Perez of Red Bull second and Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin third.

Race winner Max Verstappen.

Lap 57/57 This has been a procession: Max Verstappen and Red Bull look – are – untouchable. A one-two in qualifying, a one-two in the race, and they are functioning almost perfectly.

Lap 56/57 Verstappen bousts a little further in front, now leading Perez by 12.164s, then we see Albon still ahead of Tsunoda with just one lap to go.

Verstappen out in the lead.

Lap 55/57 Tsunoda is now in DRS range but we focus on Verstappen, who will have fewer more serene evenings. He has absolutely smashed this weekend, and there’s no reason to think these aren’t words you’ll be reading again and again between now and November.

Lap 54/57 Tsunoda is 0.788 behind Albon, who’s 10th, chasing the final point. My sense is he won’t quite manage it, so let’s instead congratulate Gasly, who started last and is now ninth. Decernt debut for him in the Alpine.

Lap 53/57 Alonso, by the way, has 98 career podiums so far. You’d take it. He won’t just be thinking about today either, he’ll know that they way the cars are, he’s a decent chance of a decent season.

Lap 52/57 Russell skids off the track but Bottas, in eighth, isn’t close enough to take advantage. And in the other Aston, Alonso is loving this, in total control of his third place.

Lap 51/57 Hamilton hunts Sainz as we see a rare shot of Verstappen, 10.926 ahead of Perez.

  1. Verstappen

  2. Perez

  3. Alonso

  4. Sainz

  5. Hamilton

  6. Stroll

  7. Russell

  8. Bottas

  9. Gasly

  10. Albon

Lap 50/57 Gasly closes in on Bottas in eighth place – he might just have enough road left to nab his spot, Hamilton, meanwhile, is 0.697s behind Sainz, so will hope to have a hack at fourth before we finish, but time is not his friend.

Lap 49/57 Verstappen’s lead has stayed around 10s for the last bit and I guess he’s no reason to push it. Meantime, we learn Leclerc and Ferrari’s issue was an engine one, so they may have now issues with that part of the car and the battery.

“I remember when I first started watching F1 Lewis and Alonso were teammates,” says Anne Williams. “Good to hear they’re still fighting it out!”

You can’t beat an OG.

Lap 48/57 We see Alonso’s overtake again, Sainz shutting the door in a way Hamilton didn’t, before conceding the inside line. Great stuff, and likely to get him P3. it’s so good to see proper driving rewarded.

Lap 47/57 Alonso looks so confident in his car, and I wonder if Aston Martin might be the surprise(ish) package of the season, because he’s made the Ferrari and the Merc look silly this evening.

Lap 46/57 Alonso consolidates, extending his lead over Sainz beyond a second; this is a gorgeous drive from him.

Lap 45/57 Alonso is right up Sainz’s tail now; he wants to get by through turn four, tries his outside/inside trick again … and Sainz does brilliantly to close the door! So Alonso goes again, Sainz shuts the door … BUT ALONSO FORCES IT OPEN AGAIN! Ah man, this is great to see, the old master showing he’s still got it, and I’ve not a clue how he does this without making contact with the Ferrari, but he does! What a man!

Lap 44/57 Verstappen leads by 10.058s and I can’t think of a race in which we’ve seen so little of the leader.

Lap 43/57 Tahe virtual safety car has gone while Gasly, who pitted when it was around, passes Albon and moves into ninth. He’ll fancy getting on the board here; Alonso is within 0.979s of Sainz, with Hamilton a further 1,790s behind him.

Lap 42/57 So Perez is now even further clear in second, 14.965s ahead of Sainz, who’s promoted to third, and Alonso is 2.451s behind him, so that final podium-place is up for grab. Poor old Sharl, though, who’s had it ripped from his clammy grasp.

Lap 41/57 We see the Ferrari easing to halt at the side, and might that be another battery issue? Remember they changed it earlier today…

Leclerc looks on after retiring from the race.

Lap 40/57 Alonso is pulling away a little, his lead over Hamilton now above 0.7s … and Norris, a lap behind Hamilton nearly runs into the back of him, but manages to avoid a collision.

Lap 39/57 Verstappen’s lead is down to a pathetic 11.759s following his stop, with Perez a further 12.629s in front of Leclerc. The venerable Alonso leads Hamilton by 06.s or so.

Lap 38/57 Alonso sets the fastest lap-time and goes at Hamilton again, first from the outside before ducking on the inside, he gets DRS, goes by, pulls away, and that is a brilliant move! Alonso is back in fifth, and does Hamilton have the power to respond?

Alonso leads Hamilton.

Lap 37/57 Verstappen comes in, so Perez gets a little go at leading. The gaps between the top four are significant, but Hamilton is 2.363s behind Sainz in fifth, with Alonso 0.596s behind him in sixth … and he attacks down the straight, nails Hamilton on the inside … but Hamilton comes back at him, taking a really good line, and hangs onto fifth … for now….

Lap 36/57 We’ve barely heard a peep out of Verstappen, so dominant is he. His lead is now 37.679, though he’s a stop behind, and this is a terrifyingly competent piece of smack-resting.

Lap 35/57 Perez pits, then Alonso, and Leclerc duly moves into third, then Alonso comes out behind Hamilton. This could be a decent little tussle.

Leclerc of Ferrari on track.

Lap 34/57 Ocon learns he’s another 15s penalty to serve, but sadly the director cuts after his team inform him. I daresay he used some language. Veratappen leads by 14.363s.

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