SPORTS F1 Bahrain GP: Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two, Zhou takes the fastest lap


F1 Bahrain GP: Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two, Zhou takes the fastest lap


11:13, March 06, 2023

Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing hoists his trophy after winning the F1 Bahrain GP in Sakhir, Bahrain, March 5, 2023. (Photo: CFP)

Max Verstappen and Red Bull made a dream start to the Formula One season with a dominant one-two in Bahrain on Sunday while Fernando Alonso joined the party with a podium on his Aston Martin debut.

Mexican Sergio Perez finished runner-up, a distant 11.9 seconds behind his double world champion teammate, as Red Bull celebrated their 10th win in 12 races stretching back to last July.

"Very lovely that, really good result. We had good race pace," Verstappen told the team on his slowing down lap. "Very happy with that. Thank you guys."

"That's exactly the start to the season we wanted and needed. A perfect one-two."

Members of Team Red Bull Racing celebrate their one-two finish during the F1 Bahrain GP in Sakhir, Bahrain, March 5, 2023. (Photo: CFP)

As they celebrated and the night sky filled with fireworks, Ferrari were left licking their wounds again, with Charles Leclerc sidelined by a loss of power while running in third place and Carlos Sainz then overtaken by Alonso.

Verstappen meanwhile cruised on untroubled from pole position.

It was the first time he had won in Bahrain and also the first time he had triumphed in an F1 opener.

Leclerc had seized second place at the start from third on the grid and looked good for the podium until he slowed and pulled over 17 laps from the end, shouting "No, no, no! No power" over the team radio.

Third-placed Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin celebrates with his team after the race in Sakhir, Bahrain, March 5, 2023. (Photo: CFP)

Veteran double world champion Alonso, in his 356th race, then passed Sainz with a thrilling wheel-to-wheel move 12 laps from the end.

"This is a lovely car to drive," the 41-year-old Spaniard, the oldest driver in the race, told his jubilant team.

"To come here and finish on the podium in the first race of the year, it is amazing what Aston Martin did over the winter to have the second-best car on race one. This is just unreal," he told the crowd after the finish.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was fifth for Mercedes.

"Well one of the worst days in racing, really not good at all," Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

"We were just lacking pace front, right and center. That's a reflection of the tests because the Aston Martin is very fast; they deserve that. Red Bull is just on a different planet," he added.

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes prepares to drive ahead of the race in Sakhir, Bahrain, March 5, 2023. (Photo: CFP)

Canadian Lance Stroll of Aston Martin finished sixth.

It was a remarkable drive from the young Canadian, who broke both his wrists and big toe in a cycling accident in Spain two weeks ago.

George Russell was seventh for Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas eighth for Alfa Romeo and Pierre Gasly finished ninth on his Alpine debut after joining from Alpha Tauri and starting the race in the last position.

Alex Albon took the final point for a markedly more competitive-looking Williams.

Australian Oscar Piastri meanwhile retired 14 laps into his debut with his stricken McLaren wheeled into the team garage after suffering an apparent electronics issue.

The 21-year-old had complained of gearbox problems, and mechanics swapped the steering wheel when he pitted, but he could not restart.

Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo races during the F1 Bahrain GP in Sakhir, Bahrain, March 5, 2023. (Photo: CFP)

Alfa Romeo's Chinese racer Zhou Guanyu was classified 16th.

"Zhou took the fastest lap for Alfa Romeo, pitting on the penultimate lap for soft tyres on which he rounded the track in 1m 33.996s," reported.

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