F1 Bahrain GP: Charles Leclerc leads Ferrari to 1-2 finish, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton comes third

IANSUpdated: Sunday, March 20, 2022, 11:19 PM IST
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Ferrari's Charles Leclerc outpaced his nearest rival Red Bulls Max Verstappen to win the first Formula 1 race of the new season on Sunday.

Verstappen suffered car problems at the end of the race, missing out on the points and podium at the Bahrain International Circuit while seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton made a late charge to the podium, finishing third.

It was a dream day for Ferrari as they led every lap of a race for the first time since the Belgian Grand Prix in 2018. Not only that, but Carlos Sainz took advantage of Verstappen's mechanical issues to move into second and secure a one-two for the Italian team to start the season.

Hamilton was right on Perez's tail—and then the Mexican began to complain of a power unit issue, and it turned from bad to worse for the reigning drivers' championship-winning team when Perez spun at Turn 1 when his engine gave way on the final lap, giving Hamilton the final podium place.

His team-mate Carlos Sainz, who like Verstappen was on used softs, running third ahead of Hamilton, the Briton passing Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez. George Russell was up from ninth to seventh, with Valtteri Bottas dropping from sixth to 14th.

Verstappen, starting P2, attempted to undercut Ferrari's pole-sitter Leclerc on Lap 15, cutting down what was a 3.5s deficit to just 0.35s when Leclerc emerged in the lead on Lap 16. That triggered a three-lap box-office bout for the lead, Leclerc hanging on when Verstappen locked up into Turn 1 on Lap 19.

Russell, who started ninth, enjoyed superior race pace to the midfielders and took P4 after the Red Bulls retired, ahead of Kevin Magnussen - fifth for Haas on his return to F1.

Bottas rescued P6 after a poor start for Alfa Romeo, while Esteban Ocon shrugged off a penalty early on for contact with Mick Schumacher to take a surprise seventh.

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