Formula 1: Hamilton holds off Verstappen to win Bahrain GP
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Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix, triumphing over the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in a fantastic duel in the desert on Sunday
The season opener went down to the very last lap of the race, while the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas completed the podium.
Starting from the fourth pole position of his career, Verstappen looked to have taken control of the race early on, but lost his advantage when reigning world champions Hamilton was able to undercut him into the lead in the first round of pit stops.
After a second stop for both drivers, Verstappen’s coming ten laps after Hamilton’s, a thrilling finale was set up.
The Dutchman ate into Hamilton’s lead before attempting a bold pass on Lap 53 but he ran too wide and surrendered the place right back.
That would be Verstappen’s last opportunity, with Hamilton able to hold on until the flag to take his 96th career win by less than a second.
Hamilton also passed Michael Schumacher’s record of 5,111 for the most laps led in F1 history during the race.
Behind the duelling lead pair, Bottas finished a distant third after a late stop to successfully gain the fastest lap bonus point, while Lando Norris equalled his result from the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix with a fantastic drive to fourth for McLaren.
After a formation lap issue that forced him to start from the pit lane, Sergio Perez recovered to fifth on his debut for Red Bull, ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo.
It was the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz who took eighth, ahead of rookie Yuki Tsunoda in ninth, while Lance Stroll gave Aston Martin points on their return to F1 with P10.
So, it was disappointment for Verstappen and glory for reigning champion Hamilton at round one – but after a thrilling battle, it looks like we’ve definitely got a tight struggle for supremacy in 2021 between Red Bull and Mercedes on our hands.
Bahrain Grand Prix results
|2||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||56||+0.745s||18|
|4||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||56||+46.466s||12|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA||56||+52.047s||10|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||MCLAREN MERCEDES||56||+66.004s||6|
|9||22||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA||56||+85.692s||2|
|10||18||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||56||+86.713s||1|
|11||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||56||+88.864s|
|12||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||55||+1 lap|
|13||31||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||55||+1 lap|
|14||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||55||+1 lap|
|15||5||Sebastian Vettel||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||55||+1 lap|
|16||47||Mick Schumacher||HAAS FERRARI||55||+1 lap|
|17||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||52||DNF|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||51||DNF|
|NC||14||Fernando Alonso||ALPINE RENAULT||32||DNF|
|NC||9||Nikita Mazepin||HAAS FERRARI||DNF|
* Provisional results. Note – Bottas scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.