Currently reading: Hamilton wins Formula One Bahrain GP: talking points
Opening round of the F1 season from Bahrain delivers an enthralling race; Verstappen second, Bottas third
Damien Smith
News
2 mins read
28 March 2021

“Still got it, Bono,” said Lewis Hamilton on the radio to his race engineer Pete Bonnington after an enthralling battle with Max Verstappen at the Bahrain Grand Prix. “Yeah, not bad for an old man,” came back the happy reply. Too right. But he sure was made to puff to claim his 96th grand prix victory on Sunday.

HAMILTON vs VERSTAPPEN: GAME ON

For once, pre-season testing hasn’t over-promised. After years of Mercedes-AMG domination, we’re finally in for what looks sure to be a classic F1 season as Red Bull proved it has what it takes to challenge the champions and ruin its bid for an eighth consecutive title. Verstappen’s stunning pole position, beating Hamilton by a clear 0.3sec, set up a fascinating race – which more than delivered on Sunday as Mercedes and Red Bull played high-speed chess on strategy in a race that built to a heady climax.

Did Verstappen blow it as he chased down, then passed Hamilton on lap 53 of 56? You have to say, he did – and he knew it. Max ran wide, broke the track limits rule at Turn 4 and was forced to cede the place he’d gained, under orders from the stewards via his team. He never quite got in range again, despite his pace advantage. Just like in Turkey last year, Hamilton won a race he really shouldn’t have. Just bring on round two at Imola on April 18.

NORRIS BESTS RICCIARDO AT McLAREN

“Were the fireworks for me?” asked cheeky Lando Norris after taking the chequered flag in a superb fourth for McLaren, behind Valtteri Bottas. On Saturday, new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo pipped him by just 0.047sec, but in the race the young Brit hustled past the Aussie on lap one and drove beautifully as Ricciardo trailed home seventh. Just the start Norris needs in what is primed to be one of the key team-mate battles of the season.

TYPICAL PEREZ COMEBACK ON RED BULL DEBUT

Sergio Perez was disappointed with himself for qualifying only 11th, then was forced to start from the pitlane after his new Red Bull cut out on the formation lap. But the Mexican put in a typically canny comeback, three-stopping his way to fifth place – ahead of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari. Good save.

BLUSHES FOR VETTEL AT ASTON

A yellow flag qualifying infringement and a clumsy rear-end into Esteban Ocon’s Alpine in the race marked a disastrous start to Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin relaunch. Lance Stroll managed just a single point with 10th in the other green car, behind AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda, who banked ninth on his F1 debut. Already, Vettel should be feeling the heat.

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405line 29 March 2021

Got to be one of the sweetest wins for Lewis. It also proves that the majority of the wins in F1 are hard won things, you can't just rock up in a fast car and think that'll do it.

Chris C 29 March 2021

I think another one to watch is Yuki Tsunodo who was the first rookie to finish in the points (9th) since 2016. He knew and accepts how he made a mistake in the first lap (so could have finished even higher) and is keen to learn from more experienced F1 drivers such as Fernando Alonso. Compare this to how Mick Schumacher got on. I also suspect that he has a calm analytical mind similar to Lewis Hamilton.

The Colonel 29 March 2021
Chris C wrote:

I think another one to watch is Yuki Tsunodo who was the first rookie to finish in the points (9th) since 2016. He knew and accepts how he made a mistake in the first lap (so could have finished even higher) and is keen to learn from more experienced F1 drivers such as Fernando Alonso. Compare this to how Mick Schumacher got on. I also suspect that he has a calm analytical mind similar to Lewis Hamilton.

Why single out Mick Schumacher? And compare how?  He finished the race, and just behind a former World Champion that manged to drive into the back of another car.  Everyone has days they'd rather forget, but finishing one's first F1 race, at all, is worth celebrating. What about the other rookie?  The one that keeps spinning off.  Possibly he gets dizzy seeing the name of his dad's company  everywhere he looks around the car.

xxxx 29 March 2021

Underrated driver of the day, Norris, cannot understand why he does not get more kudos. Next underrated drive was from Perez, he is going to give Max a run for his money. Vettel has been found out, again, and bottas start packing and make room for either Max or Russell.

si73 29 March 2021
Agree re Norris, he did a great job, and frequently does, a definite future star, I reckon.
Perez wasn't under rated though, he got driver of the day, a great recovery drive from him, he is good at that, blasting through the field.