Leclerc wins Bahrain GP as Verstappen retires near the end

SAKHIR, Bahrain –

Formulation One champion Max Verstappen’s title defence become a nightmare when the Pink Bull star retired close to the tip of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday permitting Ferrari to clinch a 1-2 end with Charles Leclerc successful forward of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.

Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton took an sudden third place after Sergio Perez’s Pink Bull additionally retired with the end line in sight because the race completed below a yellow flag.

Hamilton had been lagging method behind in fifth when late drama on Lap 46 modified the race.

Leclerc was main comfortably from Verstappen when the again of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri automotive caught hearth as he parked it on the facet of the observe. It was rapidly put out and the Frenchman walked away unhurt.

From the restart, Leclerc received away and Verstappen began complaining about steering issues.

A couple of minutes later each Pink Bulls have been out of the race and George Russell’s Mercedes moved up into fourth to present Mercedes an sudden bonus.

Hamilton is aware of his automotive was gradual till Gasly’s misfortune — he was greater than 30 seconds behind Leclerc — so is not going to get carried away.

“We did one of the best we may and are grateful for these factors,” Hamilton mentioned. “It’s not going to be a fast turnaround.”

In a 57-lap race, Verstappen retired on Lap 54 and Perez on 56.

It was an exhilarating race to start out the season and one laced with a big dollop of irony.

Verstappen gained the F1 title final 12 months with a last-lap go of Hamilton following a controversial restart below a security automotive, simply when Hamilton was cruising to what would have been a report eighth title.

Pink Bull celebrated wildly that night time in Abu Dhabi, then Mercedes misplaced each appeals and Pink Bull began in dynamic kind as Verstappen led preseason testing. He lined up second behind Leclerc for Sunday’s race with trusted Pink Bull teammate Sergio Perez ranging from fourth and the workforce anticipating a wholesome haul of factors.

Pink Bull walked away with none.

Candy revenge for Mercedes maybe as workforce principal Toto Wolff smiled from the facet and possibly not solely due to Hamilton’s sudden podium.

But additionally unbridled pleasure for Ferrari.

“That is precisely how we should always begin the season,” Leclerc screamed on radio. “Mamma mia.”

It was the workforce’s first win and its first 1-2 since former driver Sebastian Vettel gained the Singapore GP forward of Leclerc in 2019, and Leclerc’s first since successful the Italian GP in Monza two weeks earlier.

A classy one, too.

“Pole place, victory, quickest lap, 1-2 with Carlos, we could not have hoped for any higher,” Leclerc mentioned.

As Leclerc celebrates his third profession win, the Scuderia’s Tifosi followers have one thing to crow about, whereas his outdated karting rival Verstappen will likely be fuming at his dangerous luck.

Hamilton is aware of a little bit about how that feels.

So does Kevin Magnussen, who was fired by Haas on the finish of 2020 as a restructuring passed off with a Russian backer and Russian driver. However when Nikita Mazepin was axed, Haas re-hired Magnussen and the decided Dane powered the automotive into fifth place.

Haas scored no factors final 12 months.

The dramatic ending ought to take nothing away from Leclerc’s very good driving on Laps 17-19.

3 times Verstappen overtook him along with his trademark aggressive driving, two of these by diving inside Leclerc on Flip 1, just for the motive force from Monaco so as to add metal to his silk and go him again rapidly to regain the lead.

“I used to be making an attempt to be as intelligent as doable, brake early in Flip One and twice it labored out,” Leclerc mentioned. “It was good, on the restrict, exhausting racing.”

The 24-year-old drivers have been bitter rivals of their karting days. As Verstappen’s rise continued, a dreadful 2020 marketing campaign left the Ferrari’s Tifosi followers in tears and the workforce in tatters. Final 12 months was steady with a handful of podiums however no wins.

Ferrari’s final F1 title was Kimi Raikkonen’s in 2007.

Hopes will now be raised that this Ferrari is fast sufficient to compete, particularly with Pink Bull shelling so many early factors.

“Ferrari are correctly again with a 1-2, the place the workforce must be,” Sainz Jr. mentioned. “The exhausting work is paying off and we’re there.”

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