Verstappen sails to F1 victory from Perez, Alonso

Max Verstappen dominated the 2023 Formula 1 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix to win ahead of Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso, while Charles Leclerc lost a nailed-down podium due to engine trouble.

Verstappen easily led away from pole position, while Perez lost second place to Leclerc after making a slow jaunt and falling behind the Ferrari driver.

Any hope of a battle for the lead was quickly extinguished when Verstappen got rid of Leclerc by more than half a second per lap, with Perez chasing Leclerc throughout the first stint before making their first of two stops at the stalls.

Leclerc was the first of the leaders to stop to go from softs to hards on lap 13 of 57, with Verstappen coming from nearly 10 seconds ahead to take a second set of softs after both Red Bull cars entered in the race with just one set. white wall rubber available.

Perez ran a few more laps before stopping to take on more softs as well, which he then used to close in on Leclerc and took second with a DRS-assisted blast on the inside of Turn 1 on the 26th lap.

From there Verstappen was only hampered by a minor downshifting issue causing the occasional rear lock-up and pulled away from Perez to win by 11.9s after they both pitted more to finally take it hard in what was an overwhelming performance from Red Bull.

It got even better when Leclerc, who had fallen almost 10 seconds behind Perez before making a second stop for new hards on lap 33, retired from the race after suddenly losing the drive on lap 40, Ferrari later stating that it had “lost the engine”. ” on his SF-23.

It triggered a brief virtual safety car as the Ferrari recovered, after which Alonso charged past and passed compatriot Carlos Sainz to score a podium finish in his first appearance for Aston Martin.

He had previously lost a place to Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes on the first lap, then lost another to George Russell when Lance Stroll scored his new Aston team-mate by overshooting while battling Russell into Turn 4 during the opening tour.

Alonso followed Hamilton through the early tire management phases of the race and two stops for the Astons and Mercedes cars, with the Spaniard running long before making his second stop after Mercedes pitted Hamilton early for the second time to stave off a threat from his former team McLaren. -boyfriend.

The two world champions engaged in a thrilling battle for what was then fifth place, Alonso needing two attempts to clear Hamilton after his first pass at Turn 4 went wrong before making a brilliant dive in the 9/10 turns to clear the Mercedes.

After the VSC, Alonso quickly caught up with Sainz, who was running away from Leclerc and worried about his second set of toughs at the finish, and also had a close call with the Ferrari when he tried to pass for the first times at Turn 4 on lap 45, lightly marking the Ferrari’s right rear with his left front.

But moments later, Alonso’s superior pace meant he benefited from DRS on the backstretch and exploded to take a third place he wouldn’t lose.

Hamilton trailed Sainz to the finish in fourth and fifth, with Stroll beating Russell to sixth after Aston made the clearance at their second save.

In other notable incidents, Pierre Gasly moved from last to ninth, with Alex Albon 10th for Williams.

Lando Norris stopped five times with a tire pressure issue on his McLaren before retiring late, as did Esteban Ocon after picking up three penalties – for being out of position in his grid box, Alpine working on his car before finishing serving his five-second penalty at his first stop and speeding into the pit lane.

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