HAMILTON WINS TENSE BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX
The 2021 Formula One season is finally underway beginning at Bahrain for the first time since 2010. And it was built up to be the battle of the century between two generational talents in Hamilton and Verstappen. And it's certainly what we got.
There was drama right from the beginning starting on the formation lap when Perez (Red Bull) pulled to one side in what looked like the worst start for the Mexican's time at Red Bull but Perez got it going but was forced to start from the pit lane. This meant an extra formation lap took place.
It wasn't the debut Mazepin would have wanted in the Haas as he spun out just four corners into his full F1 debut - meaning we got the first Safety Car of the year - this time the Aston Martin - which took us to lap four when the racing started once more and as the cars went through turn six and seven Gasly (Alpha Tauri) made contact with the McLaren of Ricciardo losing his front wing which meant the one time race winner had to pit early leaving him at the back of the field for the remainder of the race. At the same time Schumacher (Haas) spins out at the back but keeps it going.
Come lap 12 it was the returning Alonso (Alpine) who pitted first (within the pit window) which caused a knock on effect to other drivers with Norris (McLaren) and multiple other to pit on lap 13.
With the pit stops going on the top three looked a little different for a while with Verstappen or Hamilton leading with the likes of Bottas and Sainz sitting in second or third.
Further down the field on lap 21 we were treated to a great battle between former title rivals Alonso and Vettel (Aston Martin) with Sainz (Ferrari) in there as well as the three former and ex Ferrari drivers battled it out for eighth, ninth and tenth place.
Most teams went for a three stop for this race and Bottas came in for his third on lap 31 but Mercedes once again struggle to consistently give a solid stop as Bottas was stationary for 10.9 seconds an age in the eyes of the driver.
Sadly for Alonso it was only 34 laps before his Alpine gave up with brake problems.
It was a record breaking season for Hamilton last season but it only took him 43 laps to take a new record, this time - total laps lead - Hamilton now over 5,112 - it was held by Micheal Schumacher with 5,111.
Lap 45 we see Ocon (Alpine) and Vettel facing the wrong way into turn one after Vettel locks up into the back of the Frenchman. Vettel was ultimately given a 10 second time penalty.
As we entered the final few laps of the race the battle for the lead between Hamilton and Verstappen intensified but on lap 51 Hamilton goes wide and gives some time to Verstappen and then just two laps later Verstappen does take the lead but was off the track so had to give back the position which in the end decided the winner.
The next race is the Italian Grand Prix.