LECLERC WINS IN BAHRAIN AS RED BULL FAIL TO SCORE
F1 is back with new cars, new drivers and teammate pairings as well as a new reigning World Champion in Max Verstappen.
For the first time in 2022 the lights went out and Leclerc leads from Verstappen then Sainz and Hamilton in fourth and Magnussen in fifth in the Haas after an incredible qualifying and making it into Q3.
On lap 12 Hamilton was the first to stop and he comes out in 11th behind Bottas (Alfa Romeo) and has a wobble coming out of turn three and the only rookie on the grid - Zhou (Alfa Romeo) gets past.
Not long after on lap 15 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) pits from second place and comes out in fourth - the top three is now Leclerc (Ferrari), Perez (Red Bull) and Russell (Mercedes) - Sainz (Ferrari) also pitted and comes out in fifth place.
The next lap around its Leclerc who pits from the lead and Perez follows him into the pits from second place and Russell does the same from third. Leclerc leads from Verstappen and Sainz going into lap 16.
On lap 17 Verstappen passes Leclerc for the lead into turn one then just seconds later Leclerc passes Max again to regain the lead into turn four.
It wasn't until lap 44 that Verstappen and Perez both pit for a late stop to try and get a better finishing position. And it was Sainz who reacted pitting from second. Verstappen takes second and Sainz is back out in third
Two laps later we had the first retirement of the year with Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri out and with his car on fire. The Safety Car is deployed.
On lap 51 the Safety Car comes in and we go back racing, Leclerc gets a good start and leads with Verstappen in second ahead of Sainz in third.
Three laps later Verstappen complains over the radio about a battery issue and is clearly losing pace as Sainz passes him to make it a Ferrari 1-2. Verstappen coming out of the final corner peels into the pits and is forced to retire the car
Then on the very next lap Perez appears to have the same issue but is able to hold of Hamilton behind him in fourth, until the final lap when coming into the first corner Perez spins and Hamilton goes past to take yet another podium with Russell in fourth.
Red Bull come away with nothing after a horrendous finish to the race as well as McLaren who also fail to score but on the other hand you have Haas who score points for the first time since 2020 with Magnussen in his unlikely return to F1 finishing in the top ten.
The next race is the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.