Lewis Hamilton retains Max Verstappen to win thrilling F1 season opener


In a heart-wrenching final, Verstappen’s car seemed to have the speed to secure its 12th Grand Prix victory and in the finals the Dutchman briefly took the lead, only to return it to Hamilton after escaping the track.

“Amazing job guys,” Hamilton said, speaking on Mercedes Team Radio. “I’m very grateful. Everyone at the factory … works so hard. I know we weren’t quick enough but we managed to do it.”

Wishing to win a record-breaking eighth world title, Hamilton seems to have a real fight on his hands given the speed of Verstappen’s Red Bull car.

“Of course it’s a shame, but you also have to see the positive,” Verstappen told Sky Sports. “We’re fighting them (Mercedes) so it’s great to start the year like that.”

His Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished third, when he was 37 seconds behind.

“I’m disappointed with the way it turned out,” Bottas said. “Lewis and I had different strategies today – on my side things could have been better.”

Max Verstappen driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda leads Lewis Hamilton in the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 28, 2021.
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Swing race

It was Hamilton’s 96th Grand Prix victory and his first opening win of the season since 2015.

“Max was all over me at the end, but he just managed to hold him back, one of the toughest races I’ve had in a while,” said Hamilton.

The first lap had to be cut short a minute after Russian F1 debut Nikita Mazepin crashed his Haas car into the barriers at turn three.

During the Bahrain GP last season, Romain Grosjean’s car caught fire after crossing the barriers at the same turn in the first lap.

The Frenchman’s Haas car split in two under the force of hitting the race barriers and was engulfed in flames, before Grosjean miraculously escaped.

Russian Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin sits in his damaged car after crashing during the Bahrain Grand Prix.
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Verstappen had started on pole, but the Dutchman and Hamilton, each opposing the race twice, switched to the very end.

The 53rd lap proved crucial for Verstappen by finishing second. According to the Formula1.com website, by putting all four wheels above the white line when overtaking Hamiton, the Dutchman had violated the track limits and was asked to let Hamilton take over the lead.
Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the Bahrain GP.
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Mick, the son of the great Michael Schumacher, who was making his F1 debut, finished last in the Haas, while Fernando Alonso had to retire after his Alpine car suffered brake failure and engine problems.
Sergio Perez got the vote from Formula1.com as driver of the day after the Mexican rider finished fifth after starting the Grand Prix from the pit lane due to a technical issue with his car on the lap of training.

The second race of the F1 season is the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Italy on April 16.

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