Verstappen leads Red Bull 1: 2, Alonso third

Verstappen led slightly away from pole while Perez lost to Leclerc in second after slowly getting away and falling behind the Ferrari driver.

Any hope of a battle for the lead was quickly dashed as Verstappen was edging away from Leclerc by over half a second a lap, while Perez pursued Leclerc on the opening stint before making his first of two pit stops.

Leclerc was the first of the leaders to stop to switch from soft to hard on lap 13 of 57, with Verstappen coming from almost 10 seconds to grab a second set of softs after both Red Bull cars with just one set entered the race were available in white-walled rubber.

Perez ran a few laps longer before stopping to take more softs as well, which he then used to close in on Leclerc and finish second on Lap 26 with a DRS-assisted blast into the inside of Turn 1.

From then on, Verstappen was only bothered by a minor downshift problem that occasionally resulted in rear jams, and drove away from Perez to win by 11.9s after both made another pit stop to finally appreciate the tough performance of Red to face bull.

That got even better when Leclerc, who had fallen to almost 10 seconds behind Perez before making a second stop for fresh hards on lap 33, retired from the race after suddenly losing the momentum on lap 40, with Ferrari later said he had “lost the engine”. ‘ on his SF-23.

That triggered a brief virtual safety car as the Ferrari was recovered, after which Alonso charged after, passing compatriot Carlos Sainz to take a podium in his first outing for Aston Martin.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

He had previously lost a place to Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes on the first lap, then another to George Russell as Lance Stroll tagged his new Aston team-mate, who out-braked himself while battling Russell at Turn 4 on the opening lap.

Alonso followed Hamilton through the early tire management stages of the race and two stops for Astons and Mercedes cars, with the Spaniard running long before making his second stop after Mercedes put Hamilton in the pits early a second time to avoid an undercut Fend off threat from his former McLaren teammate.

The two world champions put up a thrilling battle for then-fifth place, with Alonso taking two tries to clear Hamilton after his first pass went awry at Turn 4 before pitting in a brilliant 9/10 dive to clear the Mercedes.

After the VSC, Alonso quickly caught Sainz, who had been running well behind Leclerc and worried his second set of Hards would finish, and also had close contact with the Ferrari when he first tried to get past Turn 4 into Turn 4 Lap 45 – Lightly touching the Ferrari’s right rear wheel with his left front wheel.

But a few moments later, Alonso’s superior pace meant he benefited from DRS on the backstretch and he sped past to claim a third place he wouldn’t lose.

Hamilton followed Sainz in fourth and fifth, with Stroll beating Russell for sixth after Aston pulled the undercut at his second stop.

In other notable incidents, Pierre Gasly rose from last to ninth place, while Alex Albon finished tenth for Williams.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Lando Norris stopped five times with a pneumatic pressure problem on his McLaren before retiring late, as did Esteban Ocon after receiving three penalties – for not being in position in his starting box, Alpine working on his car before crossing the finish line came to serve out his five-second penalty at his first stop and speeding in the pit lane.

Full Bahrain GP results:

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