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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 56 1:32:03.897 25
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 56 +0.745s 18
3 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 56 +37.383s 16
4 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 56 +46.466s 12
5 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA 56 +52.047s 10
6 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 56 +59.090s 8
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES 56 +66.004s 6
8 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 56 +67.100s 4
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.

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