F1: Charles Leclerc wins Bahrain GP
Charles Leclerc ushered in the new era of Formula One with a one-two for a resurgent Ferrari in Sunday's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, leading teammate Carlos Sainz.
MANAMA: Charles Leclerc ushered in the new era of Formula One with a one-two for a resurgent Ferrari in Sunday's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, leading teammate Carlos Sainz.
The Monegasque, who started from pole, won by 5.5 seconds over Spaniard Sainz.
World champion Max Verstappen, who battled Leclerc for the lead numerous times, was on course for second but was forced to retire three laps from the finish, with teammate Sergio Perez following suit shortly after, as Red Bull left Bahrain with nothing.
The issues at Red Bull aided struggling Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton finishing third and rookie teammate George Russell earning a career-best fourth.
“Again, I keep repeating myself, but the past two years have been incredibly difficult for the team," said Leclerc, after ending a 45-race winless streak dating back to Singapore 2019 for the sport's most successful outfit.
"It was a huge opportunity for the team — we couldn't hope for better."
The victory on Sunday was Leclerc's third of his career.
He earned it by holding off a charging Verstappen during the first pit stop, with the pair swapping places over several laps, and then perfectly timed his restart after a safety car period.
It was also the Italian team's eighth victory at Sakhir and their first season-opening one-two since 2010 when Fernando Alonso led Felipe Massa to victory in Bahrain.
As a result, Leclerc, who also recorded the fastest lap and was elected driver of the day by fans, now leads the drivers' standings overall.
Ferrari, which won the first race of the 2017 and 2018 seasons but has not won a title since 2008, leads the constructors' standings ahead of Mercedes.
With a good fifth-place finish, F1 returnee Kevin Magnussen placed Haas back in the points.
The outcome placed the squad, who finished last and was the only team not to score a point in 2021, third in the overall standings.
Valtteri Bottas finished sixth in his maiden race for Alfa Romeo, ahead of Esteban Ocon of Alpine, who suffered a time penalty for shoving Mick Schumacher's Haas into a spin.
AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda finished seventh, ahead of Spain's twice world champion Fernando Alonso.
Guanyu Zhou, the first Chinese driver to compete in Formula One, finished tenth in his debut for Alfa Romeo.
Schumacher lost out on his first points, but he still finished 11th, his best result thus far.
Pierre Gasly was unable to complete his mission as his AlphaTauri exploded in a cloud of smoke and flame.
Edited - SportsAction / Inputs - Agency