Lewis Hamilton leaps from his car

Lewis Hamilton has snatched victory from polesitter Max Verstappen by less than a second in a classic Bahrain Grand Prix to open the Formula 1 season.

Max Verstappen's RB16B sparks in the night-time

For the first time in the turbo-hybrid era a non-Mercedes driver will line up from pole position for a season-opening grand prix, but can Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the first victory of the campaign?

Max Verstappen gives the thumbs up after taking pole

Max Verstappen has broken reigning champion Lewis Hamilton in the fight for pole position at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen confirmed Red Bull Racing’s ascendancy with a comfortable pole position over Lewis Hamilton at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Dutchman held a slender 0.023s advantage over the Mercedes after the pair’s first laps of the top-10 shootout but radioed his team that he wasn’t happy with his lap, hinting at more pace to be squeezed from his RB16B. He duly delivered with a second blistering lap of 1m 28.997s, dismissing Hamilton by 0.388s.

It’s the first time Mercedes hasn’t taken the first pole position of the season since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, also the scene of Red Bull Racing’s last season-opening pole.

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Max Verstappen kept Red Bull Racing on top in the only night-time practice session at the Bahrain Grand Prix, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was his closest pursuer.

The Dutchman’s lap of 1m30.847s was enough to continue his control of the time sheet after also leading first practice in the heat of the late afternoon sun. Friday evening practice is the only session of the Bahrain Grand Prix representative of the after-dark qualifying and race conditions and is therefore considered a more accurate measure of relative performance.

Norris was the surprise next-quickest driver, only 0.095s adrift. His Mercedes-powered McLaren team suggested the Briton’s soft-shod lap was the car’s first performance run after eschewing low-fuel running during pre-season testing. Lewis Hamilton followed in third as the fastest Mercedes driver, but the Briton was 0.235s off Verstappen’s pace.

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Max Verstappen opened the 2021 Formula 1 season with the fastest time of first practice for Red Bull Racing at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Dutchman rocketed to the top of the time sheet with a lap of 1m31.394s in the final five minutes of the session with a fresh set of soft tires.

The Honda-powered RB16B was 0.298s quicker than Mercedes’s Valtteri Bottas, but the practice hour did little to clarify the competitive order between the two constructor giants.

Red Bull Racing and Mercedes spent the first half of the session rotating through top spot of the order, with Sergio Perez opening proceedings for his new team first before being usurped by Lewis Hamilton and in turn Bottas.

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I preview the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix with last year’ spodcast guest Abhishek Takle.

Max Verstappen sits in his car with his visor open

After seven years of F1 domination, has Mercedes finally unveiled a car with a beatable weakness?

Michael Lamonato from the Box of Neutrals podcast and F1StrategyReport.com joined Jordan Kounelis to delve into what to expect from teams and drivers in the upcoming Formula 1 season beginning this weekend in Bahrain.

Laurence Edmonson joins us to ask the burning question of the season: when and where is William Storey returning to F1? We also talk about the championship for a bit.

Sergio Perez’s popular Sakhir victory only piled more pressure onto Red Bull Racing and the under-fire Alex Albon switch drivers in 2021.

At the 190th time of asking, Sergio Perez made himself a grand prix winner with a sensational run from the back of the pack on the first lap to victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

The Mexican was in devastating form all evening, his pace only accentuated by his recovery from being punted off the road by Charles Leclerc on the first lap. He made up seven places in five tours early in his recovery and eventually rose to third twice — before and after his sole racing pit stop (excluding his first-lap tyre change while last) — to highlight just how scintillating a drive he was executing.

But such is the state of Formula One that even in such sparkling form he relied on a truly classic Mercedes catastrophe to put him in a winning position.

Sergio Perez has come from last to first for a sensational comeback win and maiden Formula 1 victory after a Mercedes pit stop blunder cost it a comfortable one-two finish.

The Mexican was punted off the road by an errant Charles Leclerc on the first lap as they battled for third. The crash put the Ferrari driver out of the race and clamed Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen as collateral, but Perez was able to continue, albeit in last place after a pit stop to replace his damaged tyres.

But equipped with fresh rubber Perez made mincemeat of the midfield. He made up seven places in five laps and continued his rise back up to third, an easy pass on his own teammate underlining his ferocious personal pace.

Sergio Perez has sensationally won his first Formula 1 grand prix from last on the first lap after a Mercedes pit stop blunder and late puncture cost George Russell a chance to regain the lead of the Sakhir GP.

The Racing Point driver was hit by Charles Leclerc at the start of the race in a crash that took out the Monegasque and Max Verstappen, forcing Perez into a costly first-lap pit stop for fresh tires, but the Mexican made rapid progress in the first half of the race before making just one extra stop to rise to third late in the race.

A podium behind a comfortable Russell-led Mercedes one-two was on the cards, but a late-race safety car conspired to lose Mercedes its double podium and promote Perez into a race-winning position.

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Formula One is back at the Bahrain International Circuit for the Sakhir Grand Prix, but a different track configuration, short and ultra-fast, promises a different challenge.

Valtteri Bottas has pipped George Russell and Max Verstappen in a three-way fight for pole at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen started the top-10 shootout as favourite with provisional pole, but the super-short circuit lent itself to three runs than the usual two, and Valtteri Bottas duly took back the initiative with his second lap.

But George Russell, standing in for Lewis Hamilton as the world champion recover from COVID-19, was the man making the biggest gains. The Williams driver has been improving session by session during his Mercedes loan and had just 0.142 seconds to close with his final tour to contend for pole.

Valtteri Bottas led a Mercedes front-row lockout at the Sakhir Grand Prix after narrowly beating stand-in teammate George Russell to pole position.

Bottas held provisional pole ahead of the final flying laps but failed to improve with his final effort, leaving himself vulnerable to the improving Russell, who is substituting for Lewis Hamilton this weekend after the world champion contracted COVID-19.

The young Briton started with a 0.142s deficit and set two personal best times in the second to splits, but it wasn’t enough to overturn the disadvantage, falling an agonizing 0.026s short.

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Max Verstappen usurped Mercedes’s Friday practice control to take a slender advantage into qualifying for the Sakhir Grand Prix.

The Dutchman set his best time of 54.064s on his first flying lap on soft tires for the evening, having run on the hard compound until late in the session. It put the Red Bull Racing driver 0.206s ahead of Mercedes’s Valtteri Bottas, though the Finn surrendered at least a tenth of a second running wide past the curbs at the final corner of his best lap.

The two most likely rivals for victory this weekend were streets ahead of their teammates. Alex Albon in the second Red Bull Racing car was sixth and 0.565s off the pace, while George Russell — having topped both Friday practice sessions — slipped to seventh and 0.6s adrift in his Mercedes.

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