VERSTAPPEN DOMINATES IN BAHRAIN AS ALONSO TAKES 99TH PODIUM
F1 is back for 2023 and for the 20th time in Bahrain in what turned out to be a brilliant first race of the season. It was a good a race as you can get for Red Bull as Verstappen picks up where he left off from last year with a dominant display and Perez making some great moves to make it a Red Bull 1-2 in the opening race and it was delight at Aston Martin as Fernando Alonso on his debut for his new team takes his 99th podium in F1, 22 years after his debut as he finishes third.
Max Verstappen got away well as Charles Leclerc took second from Sergio Perez with Carlos Sainz in fourth. The two Aston Martins made contact going into T4 - with Fernando Alonso lucky not to get a puncture and Lance Stroll does well not to brake his front wing as Alonso drops down a place.
The first pitstop came on lap 10 as Pierre Gasly came into the pits and comes back out in 20th and last. This was the trigger to start the rest of the pitstops.
Unfortunately for Oscar Piastri it was a debut to forget as he had to change his steering wheel at the pit stop (on lap 14) as the engine had stopped in the McLaren and it’s not the debut Piastri would have wanted. The cause for the retirement was a possible electrical issue. This was the beginning of an awful race for McLaren as Norris would finish last by around a minute to second to last placed Nico Hulkenberg. The Woking team have a lot of work to do.
After the first round of stops the top five is Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Sainz and Hamilton.
On lap 26 Sergio Perez made his final pass of the race as he passes Charles Leclerc to make it a Red Bull 1-2.
It wasn't to be for Charles Leclerc as 41 laps into this race after running in third for the whole time and looking set for a podium - as he loses power, a devastating start for Ferrari and a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) is deployed. Which only last until the next lap (L42) when the green flag is shown.
On lap 44 Esteban Ocon is retired after what is possibly the worst race in his career. To begin the misery Ocon was handed a five second penalty for incorrectly lining up on the grid - which he serves on his first pit stop which he is then told that the team started the work on his car too early which he was then handed a 10 second penalty and just to add to that misery when coming in for his first penalty he was caught speeding in the pit lane which gave him another five second penalty.
After an immense battle between the two Spaniards on lap 46 Fernando Alonso takes third from Carlos Sainz after a fantastic battle that nearly ended in retirement for both drivers after the Aston Martin almost went straight into the back of the Ferrari into turn five.
The next race is the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
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