Max Verstappen Opens 2023 With a Dominant Bahrain F1 Win

f1 grand prix of bahrain
Max Verstappen Opens 2023 With a Dominant WinPeter Fox - Getty Images

Max Verstappen and Red Bull ran away with the 2022 Formula 1 championships, but Ferrari was quicker to open the season and Mercedes had caught the leaders by the end of the year. It gave both teams hope that they could come into 2023 ready to fight for wins from the beginning, but pre-season testing last weekend showed that Red Bull was once again well clear of all competitors. That made the results of today's Bahrain Grand Prix unsurprising.

Max Verstappen got away to a quick lead from pole, then never looked back. Sergio Perez briefly fell behind Charles Leclerc of Ferrari, but he quickly got back up to second and by the end Verstappen won by forty seconds over the nearest non-Red Bull. The 1-2 finish for the team puts both Verstappen and Perez in early control, with Ferrari and Mercedes spending their race weekend instead fighting Aston Martin for third.

Leclerc's day ended with a sudden loss of power from third on lap 41, turning his race from a disappointment to a disaster. That opened the door for Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Carlos Sainz Jr. to fight for the final spot on the podium. Alonso would pass both on track over the day's final stint to take third, his first podium since 2021 and second since 2014.

Sainz and Hamilton would go on to round out the top five, two disappointing results that will still help out their respective seasons if either Ferrari or Mercedes make significant gains in mid-season development. Lance Stroll, George Russell, Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly, and Alex Albon rounded out the points-paying spots, meaning that only Haas, McLaren, and Scuderia AlphaTauri would leave the opening round without a point. American rookie Logan Sargeant finished twelfth, while Esteban Ocon and Oscar Piastri joined Leclerc in retiring from the race.

The 2023 Formula 1 season continues in Saudi Arabia next weekend. That semi-permanent Jeddah circuit is a very different type of track, but Red Bull and Verstappen should still be seen as the heavy favorites.

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