Charles Leclerc wins Bahrain Grand Prix

March 22 2022 , 12:06 am

Charles Leclerc won a close battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen before taking a classy victory as Ferrari took a one-two in a dramatic season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Leclerc and Verstappen staged a thrilling wheel-to-wheel dice after their first pit stops, swapping places five times in two laps before Leclerc moved ahead.

The closing laps were packed with drama, with a safety car period and then reliability problems forcing Verstappen’s retirement promoting Carlos Sainz to second.

And then the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez suffered a failure at the first corner of the final lap leaving Lewis Hamilton to take the final podium place for Mercedes.

Hamilton had looked set for fifth place as Mercedes’ pace problems became ever clearer during the race but Red Bull’s nightmare provided the seven-time champion an unexpected boost.

The irony that Hamilton gained from Red Bull’s misfortune in the first race after he lost the world title in the controversial climax to last season will be lost on few.

Leclerc’s victory was out of the top drawer and underlined his quality as one of the leading lights of the new generation.

And if Ferrari can stay competitive throughout this long, 23-race season, he will be a serious contender for the championship.

Verstappen should have taken second place but he suffered as Red Bull’s day imploded in the final three laps.

The Dutchman tried his best, fighting vigorously with Leclerc after their first pit stops but ultimately losing out in the fight, and was looking set for a frustrated second place before his race unravelled.

He had already started to complain about heavy steering, and then a lap into the final sprint after the safety car he asked what was happening with the battery. He slowed and pulled into the pits with three laps to go.

Sainz moved into second and Perez was left holding off Hamilton for third place.

The Mexican was also suffering problems but was managing to keep Hamilton just at bay when he spun at the start of the final lap as the engine suddenly stopped and Red Bull went from second and fourth to nothing in a few moments.

Team principal Christian Horner said he did not yet know what had gone wrong but it “looks like an issue in the fuel system” for both cars.

Verstappen said: “It looked like there was no fuel coming to the engine and everything just turned off so I just rolled into the pit lane.”


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