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Verstappen, Perez give Red Bull perfect start to F1 season

Formula 1

Max Verstappen kicked off his Formula One title defence in style with a commanding victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday (AEDT), leading a Red Bull one-two finish ahead of teammate Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Starting from pole position, Verstappen maintained his lead throughout the 57-lap race, never relinquishing control and ultimately crossing the finish line a commanding 22 seconds ahead of Perez.

Perez, who had a subdued qualifying session, showcased his racecraft with a strong drive to secure second place, while Sainz rounded out the podium after an exhilarating battle with teammate Charles Leclerc, who struggled with tire degradation throughout the race.

Mercedes endured a challenging race, with both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton encountering issues with their batteries.

Hamilton, who also reported a broken seat, could only manage seventh place behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Further down the field, Aston Martin secured a double points finish with Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll crossing the line in ninth and tenth place, respectively, after overcoming early setbacks.

RB Honda stirred up late drama by instructing Yuki Tsunoda to yield to teammate Daniel Ricciardo, leading to a fiery radio exchange from the Japanese racer before he eventually complied with the team’s orders.

It was a tough race for Williams, with Alex Albon finishing 15th after some mid-race overheating issues and Logan Sargeant running dead last.

With the F1 paddock swiftly moving to Saudi Arabia for the next round, Verstappen’s rivals face a daunting task as they seek to mount a challenge against the reigning champion.

Online bookmakers have Verstappen pegged as a -357.14 favourite to salute again in Jeddah, with Red Bull teammate Perez holding the second line at +1050.

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