Red Bull's Max Verstappen started the 2023 Formula 1 season as he had finished 2022, scoring an ominously easy win in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. Having dominated the 2022 season, Red Bull's pre-season testing form had suggested that they would remain the team to beat in 2023, and that assertion was borne out when Verstappen and Sergio Perez locked out the front row in Saturday's qualifying session, reports Xinhua news agency.
Alonso makes the podium
Leading the field away from pole position, Verstappen was never threatened as he eased to his first ever victory at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Behind Verstappen, Perez made it a Red Bull 1-2. The Mexican had lost second place to Charles Leclerc at the start, but took the position back by passing the Ferrari on Lap 26.
The final podium place went to a resurgent Fernando Alonso on his first outing for Aston Martin, after surviving contact on Lap 1 from teammate Lance Stroll. The 41-year-old rolled back the years with ambitious overtakes on Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz to underline the big step forward that Aston Martin appear to have made in 2023.
Ferrari & Mercedes off the pace
Behind the top three, Sainz took fourth, but Ferrari must be concerned at how far off Red Bull's pace they already appear to be. The Scuderia's woes were exacerbated by Leclerc's failure to finish, after the Monegasque pulled off with a power unit issue while running third on Lap 41.
Lewis Hamilton took fifth for Mercedes, whose W14 also does not currently look capable of challenging Red Bull's dominance. Indeed, team boss Toto Wolff took the unusual step of publicly acknowledging on Saturday that the W14 will not be truly competitive in its current form, adding that the team may elect to change the car's entire concept.
The second round of the 2023 Formula 1 season is the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on March 19.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)