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Hamilton victorious on Bahrain, Verstappen second

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – MARCH 28: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 28, 2021 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

The days started with huge news for Sebastian Vettel as the german was awarded a 5-place grid drop penalty as well as three penalty points for failing to slow during double-yellow flags during the qualifying session.

The formation lap already delivered some drama, as the Red Bull of Sergio Pérez stopped at one side as his machine lost power. The Mexican, however, was able to re-start his car and started the race from the pits. This incident caused an aborted race start, which prompted a second formation lap.

The race started with poleman Max Verstappen leading the pack and Hamilton behind. Charles Leclerc was quick to overtake Valtteri Bottas and behind them was Pierre Gasly. Vettel also had a strong start as the German quickly gained six places.

Green flag action did not last long as Nikita Mazepin spun on turn 3 and hit the barriers, retiring from the race and causing a safety car.

After the Safety Car period, Verstappen led away at the front with Hamilton behind. Lecler was third, but neither the Brit nor the Monegasque managed to make a move into turn 1. Behind them, Pierre Gasly went wide at turn 6 and dropped to P11, while Mick Schumacher spun himself at turn 4.

Gasly then made contact with Ricciardo and lost his front wing, causing a Virtual Safety Car for debris on the track.

The race restarted for a second time and the running order was Verstappen, Hamilton, and Leclerc, with Bottas struggling behind to re-gain his third position. Norris and Ricciardo followed behind.

Ten laps in and Valtteri Bottas re-gained his third spot, but Verstappen and Hamilton were way ahead of the Finn battling it out for the lead.

The first pit-stop was that of Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard pitted early on lap 12, fitting a set of mediums and coming out in the 17th place.

And Alonso’s early stop was a chain reaction, as two laps after it was Norris, Leclerc, Stroll, and Giovinazzi all going into the pits.

Verstappen pitted 18 laps in for mediums and went out behind Hamilton, who pitted before the Dutchman for hard tires.

On lap 21, Stroll got past Sebastian Vettel and so did Sainz. Alonso was behind the German trying to overtake him as well, but the Spaniard locked up and failed to make a move.

Vettel was the only driver yet to pit by lap 24. This allowed for Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda to get past the German, who finally went on to pit on lap 25, going out in 17th place behind Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher.

On lap 27 Sergio Pérez went past Lance Stroll who was running 7th. The Mexican was still recovering from a pit-lane start after breaking down on the formation lap.

Hamilton pitted on lap 29th and went out behind Valtteri Bottas. Verstappen took the lead with his 11-lap old Mediums with the Finn from Mercedes pitting two laps after.

And then disaster arrived for Bottas. On his pit stop, his crew struggled to remove his front-right tire and lost more than 10 seconds, with the Finn coming out behind Leclerc, in the fifth position. That did not last long, however, as the Monegasque pitted, allowing Bottas to move up to fourth and Norris up to third.

On lap 33 Fernando Alonso went into the pits and retired from the race after problems with his brakes. Lando Norris pitted a lap after and went out in the sixth position, behind Carlos Sainz. Yuki Tsunoda followed with his pit stop, coming out 13th.

Lap 38th and Russell went into the pits. The Brit was having a great race, battling it out for a point-awarding 10th place with Kimi Raikkonen, but then dropped down behind Pierre Gasly in 16th place.

Red Bull then double-stacked the cars of Sergio Pérez and Max Verstappen on lap 40. The Mexican went out in 7th position behind Ricciardo, while Verstappen went out in the second position behind Lewis Hamilton with a gap of 8.6 seconds.

By lap 43, Lewis Hamilton set a new record in the history of Formula 1 for most laps led: 5112.

On lap 45 Sebastian Vettel crashed into the back of Esteban Ocon at turn 1. The German locked up and hit the Frenchman from behind, sending him into a spin. Vettel said on the radio that Ocon changed line under braking, but no such action from the Frenchman was notable. The stewards noted the incident and Sebastian Vettel was awarded a 10 second time penalty.

Lap 50 and the battle was on; Max Verstappen was closing in on Lewis Hamilton and was just a second and a half behind the Britton. The Dutchman, who received a “we’ll leave it to you” radio message, was a lot quicker than the Mercedes driver.

Under pressure, Lewis Hamilton locked up on turn 10 with 5 laps to go. Verstappen was now within DRS range of the Britton and pushing as hard as he could to gain the lead.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the 52nd lap but he did so off-track, and the Dutchman returned the position later in the lap. Bottas pitted on lap 55 to try and get the fastest lap of the race.

Verstappen was not able to recover and it was Lewis Hamilton who won the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen in second place and Valtteri Bottas third.

PosDriverTeamPointsGap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes25+0.000
2Max VerstappenRed Bull18+0.745
3Valtteri BottasMercedes16+37.383
4Lando NorrisMcLaren12+46.466
5Sergio PérezRed Bull10+52.047
6Charles LeclercFerrari8+59.090
7Daniel RicciardoMcLaren6+66.004
8Carlos SainzFerrari4+67.100
9Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri2+85.692
10Lance StrollAston Martin1+86.713
11Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo0+88.864
12Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo0+1L
13Esteban OconAlpine0+1L
14George RussellWilliams0+1L
15Sebastian VettelAston Martin0+1L
16Mick Schumacher AlphaTauri0+1L
17Pierre GaslyHaas0
18Nicholas LatifiWilliams0
19Fernando AlonsoAlpine 0DNF
20Nikita MazepinHaas0DNF

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