Bahrain GP | Verstappen eases to win from Perez, Alonso 3rd on debut for Aston Martin

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For the start, 19 of the 20 drivers selected the soft tyre. The Haas of Kevin Magnussen went off on hards.

Verstappen got away well, but teammate Sergio Perez did not. Charles Leclerc got the jump.

The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton had a great first lap to pass Russell and Alonso.

At turn 4, Stroll hit his teammate but both escaped damage. It meant Alonso lost out to Russell, with Stroll dropping behind Bottas.

Verstappen led Leclerc, Perez, Sainz, Hamilton, Russell, Alonso, Bottas, Stroll and Norris at the end of the first lap.

Bottas, Albon and Sargeant were the big winners. The Finn gained four places, with the Williams drivers making up three each to move into P12 and P13.

Norris fell out of the points as Ocon and Albon both overtook the McLaren driver. It would turn out that the Brit was struggling with engine issues and was forced into long stops to top up the pneumatic valve.

The Aston Martin of Lance Stroll got back through on Bottas with a comfortable DRS overtake into turn 1 on lap 5.

At the end of lap 10, Verstappen led Leclerc by 7s, followed by Perez, Sainz, the two Mercedes, two Aston Martins, Bottas and Ocon.

On lap 13, Alonso finally got Russell after a number of laps shadowing the Mercedes closely.

The Alpine of Esteban Ocon was hit with a 5-second penalty for failing to be in the correct grid position at the start. It was upgraded to a 10-second penalty as it wasn’t served correctly when he pitted. He would get a third penalty for speeding in the pits.

The big guns started to pit between laps 12-15, except for Sergio Perez who went long on his first set of softs.

F1 debutant Oscar Piastri had an early end to his debut with technical problems forcing the team to retire the car.

Valtteri Bottas was the big winner as he jumped Alonso, Russell and Stroll. However, the Finn was quickly eaten up by Alonso, Russell and Stroll on their fresher tyres to drop to P9.

Perez eventually pitted from the lead on lap 18 and changed to another set of softs. He rejoined back in P3.

On lap 20 Verstappen led Leclerc, Perez, Sainz, Hamilton, Alonso, Russell, Stroll, Bottas and Albon. The two Red Bulls, Norris and the two Williams’s went for softs again, with everyone else going for hards.

Norris and Ocon – who fought hard for P7 in the Drivers’ Championship in 2022 – had a battle for P18 with various problems for both putting them back there. The McLaren driver made a nice move into turn 4 to take the spot.

In the battle for P2, Sergio Perez used DRS to get a move done down the inside of Charles Leclerc to make it a 1-2 for the Milton Keynes-based team by lap 26.

Mercedes and Aston Martin triggered the next round of stops with Hamilton and Stroll on lap 31.

It worked a treat for Aston Martin as Stroll got an undercut on George Russell by massively closing the gap. The Canadian got a lovely run through turns 1 and 2 with Russell coming out of the pits on cold tyres to make the overtake on the Brit into turn 4.

After Alonso’s second stop, the Spaniard went on the charge with his fresher tyres and caught Hamilton. The Spaniard looked set to get by on lap 37 at turn 4 with a brave move down the inside but had a massive slide when picking up the power and it allowed Hamilton by.

However, he managed to get the job done a lap later with a cracking move down the inside of his former teammate into turn 10.

17 laps from the end, Charles Leclerc retired from a very comfortable P3 as his Ferrari broke down.

Gasly and Tsunoda took advantage of the VSC to retrieve Leclerc’s car by pitting for fresh tyres. They rejoined in P11 and P13 respectively.

Both took advantage of their fresher boots as Gasly overtook Albon, while Tsunoda flew past Zhou and De Vries with a lovely double move through turns 2 and 4.

As the Red Bulls had it easy out at the front, it all kicked off for P3. Fernando Alonso caught Carlos Sainz – and after a very close shave at turn 5 – the two-time World Champion got down the inside at turn 11 with DRS to take P3.

The top 10 with 10 laps left was Verstappen, Perez, Alonso, Sainz, Hamilton, Stroll, Russell, Bottas, Gasly and Albon.

Out front, Verstappen eased to a very comfortable victory from teammate Sergio Perez. Fernando Alonso scored his first podium since the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix with a brilliant drive to P3 on debut for Aston Martin.

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Despite his best efforts, Lewis Hamilton was unable to get Carlos Sainz for P4 on a tough day for Ferrari.

Lance Stroll drove a brilliant race to finish P6 in the other Aston Martin in spite of his injuries. Russell, Bottas, Gasly and Albon completed the points scorers, with the Frenchman coming from the back to make up 11 places.