Verstappen leads Red Bull Bahrain Grand Prix one-two, Leclerc forced to retire

By Sports Desk March 05, 2023

Max Verstappen started the defence of his Formula One title with a comfortable victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The two-time world champion was in front from the start and never truly came under threat, leading a Red Bull one-two ahead of Sergio Perez to secure his team's first opening-weekend victory since 2011.

With Charles Leclerc forced into a retirement due to an engine issue, Red Bull's closest challenger was Fernando Alonso, who worked his way through the field for a podium finish.

But a rejuvenated Aston Martin were no match for a dominant Verstappen and Red Bull in what proved to be a comfortable race for the defending champions.

Leclerc, who had a power unit change before the start, leapfrogged Perez to take second place at the start but could not stay ahead of the Mexican, who regained his grid position after the first round of pit stops on lap 26.

Mercedes' fight with Aston Martin was the battle to watch, Lewis Hamilton completing an undercut on Alonso before a stellar move on lap 38 saw the Spaniard move ahead again.

Engine problems for Leclerc led to his retirement three laps later, opening the door for Alonso to battle Carlos Sainz for a podium spot after the virtual safety car was deployed.

Alonso was able to catch his compatriot on lap 46 to clinch third spot in his first race for Aston Martin, though there was no challenge for Red Bull as they eased to only their second ever win in the first race of the year.

Ferrari frustration

Having had to retire from the lead twice in the 2022 season due to engine issues, Leclerc would have hoped those problems were a thing of the past heading into Ferrari's 2023 campaign.

Never appearing to have the pace to put the Red Bull duo under threat, calamity struck with another forced retirement in a nightmare start to the season.

Ocon's Alpine agony

Esteban Ocon's season did not get off to a good start, with the Frenchman given three time penalties over the course of the race.

An initial five-second penalty came for incorrect grid position, with a 10-second penalty following for failing to serve that correctly and another five-second penalty issued for speeding in the pit lane before the Alpine was eventually retired.

 

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +11.987

3. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) +36.637

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +48.052

5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +50.977

6. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +54.502

7. George Russell (Mercedes) +55.873

8. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +1:12.647

9. Pierre Gasly (Alpine) +1:13.753

10. Alexander Albon (Williams) +1:20.870

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 25

2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 18

3. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) 15

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 12

5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 10

Constructors

1. Red Bull 43

2. Aston Martin 23

3. Mercedes 16

4. Ferrari 12

5. Alfa Romeo 4

Related items

  • FIA boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem investigated over alleged interference in F1 race FIA boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem investigated over alleged interference in F1 race

    FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is reportedly under investigation for allegedly interfering with the result of a Formula One race.

    According to the BBC, a report by motorsport governing body’s compliance officer Paolo Basarri to the ethics committee says Ben Sulayem acted to overturn a penalty given to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

    The PA news agency has contacted the FIA, but it is understood that because matters like this rest with the ethics committee, an independent body, the FIA is unlikely to offer any comment while any due process runs its course.

    The BBC report claims a whistleblower alleged Ben Sulayem called Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa – FIA vice-president for sport for the Middle East and North Africa region, who was in Saudi Arabia for the race in an official capacity – and made it clear he thought Alonso’s penalty should be revoked.

    The removal of Alonso’s 10-second penalty, imposed for work done on his car while he was serving a previous five-second penalty, returned him to the podium behind Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, after the sanction had dropped him to fourth.

    At the time there was no suggestion there was anything untoward with the decision after Aston Martin’s sporting director Andy Stevenson had put the team’s case to stewards in a right of review.

  • Christian Horner meets with Max Verstappen’s manager in bid to defuse tensions Christian Horner meets with Max Verstappen’s manager in bid to defuse tensions

    Christian Horner staged a face-to-face meeting with Max Verstappen’s representative in Dubai on Monday in a bid to iron out escalating tensions at Red Bull.

    The summit was held 48 hours after Verstappen’s father, Jos, said Red Bull would “explode” if Horner remained in his role as team principal.

    The PA news agency understands that neither Jos or his son, Max, were present, with Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen acting on the Dutch driver’s behalf.

    A source told PA the talks “went well”. Senior Red Bull figures were also said to be present. The next grand prix takes place in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

    Verstappen’s victory at the opening round of the season last weekend in Bahrain was overshadowed by continued controversy surrounding Horner.

    Following the race Horner said he was “absolutely confident” he would stay on as Red Bull boss for the remainder of the season after overseeing Verstappen lead a one-two finish from team-mate Sergio Perez.

    Horner has faced intense scrutiny in recent weeks following allegations made against him by a female colleague. Horner has always denied the claims.

    But, speaking to the Daily Mail, Verstappen Snr added further fuel to the fire when he said: “There is tension here while he (Horner) remains in position.

    “The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

    Responding to Verstappen Snr’s comments, a Red Bull Racing spokesperson said: “There are no issues here. The team are united and we are focused on racing.”

  • Fraser McConnell secures second-place finish in 2023/24 Nitrocross Championship Fraser McConnell secures second-place finish in 2023/24 Nitrocross Championship

    Jamaica’s Motorsport Athlete of the Year, Fraser McConnell, secured the second spot on the podium for the 2023/24 Nitrocross season, while Robin Larsson clinched his second consecutive title.

    McConnell's stellar track record continues as he finished one position higher than his third-place finish in 2022/23.

    During the 2023/24 season, the Jamaican driver demonstrated remarkable skill and determination by securing a decisive victory in Oklahoma on June 16, marking an impressive start.

    Mechanical issues hindered his performance, possibly preventing him from reaching the podium in rounds two and three in Utah in August. However, McConnell bounced back strongly in rounds five and six in Phoenix, Arizona, finishing first and second on November 10 and 11.

    McConnell is gearing up for another thrilling season of sprint racing in 2024/25 as Dreyer & Reinbold Racing confirms the extension of his contract for another year,

    "We are thrilled to announce Fraser McConnell's continued partnership with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for the upcoming NitroCross season," said team owner, Dennis Reinbold. "Fraser's exceptional talent and dedication to excellence embody the spirit of our team, and we are confident that together, we will achieve even greater heights in the 2024-25 season."

    McConnell also looks forward to a third season with the team, “I’m happy to continue this opportunity with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. The team has felt like family over the last two years and it’s a huge honour to continue with the best team in the paddock."

    On his 2023/24 results, he added,

    “It is so incredible to finish on the podium once again, last year third, this year second, next year I’m coming for that trophy!”

    “We definitely have what it takes to win the championship. We finished strong here in Las Vegas and next season will be no different.” he added.

    The fourth season of Nitrocross gets underway on September 7 & 8 with Rounds one & two slated for a new venue, Richmond Raceway, in Virginia.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.