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Friday, March 31, 2023

World champion start from Verstappen

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Champagne shower in Sakhir tasted Verstappen and Alonso.
Image: APA/AFP/Cacace
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Even during the pre-season tests, there were indications that Max Verstappen and Red Bull would start the Formula 1 year with similar considerations as they had ended in 2022. In yesterday’s boring Bahrain desert, the Dutchman started his World Cup hat-trick mission with a show of force. The defending champion won ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez. Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin, who also benefited from a technical defect at Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, raced into third place.

“This is exactly the start of the season that we wanted and needed. A perfect 1-2,” said Verstappen after his 36th Grand Prix triumph. The champion confidently defended his pole position at the start and irresistibly outpaced his pursuers over the first few kilometers. After all, Leclerc was able to dupe Perez in the first few meters and was second in the first half of the race. Later, the Monegasque not only had to let the Mexican pass him, he even had to retire on lap 41 with an engine failure. Even before the first lap of the race, Ferrari made an unusual decision: the team changed the hybrid battery and the control electronics in the car from last year’s winner Leclerc, to be on the safe side, as it was said. Although the Monegasque was not penalized, each driver may only use two of these components per season before a swap with a shift back on the starting grid is sanctioned.

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While Verstappen, who had retired shortly before the end of the previous year with a chance of winning due to battery problems, drove up and away, a battle for positions developed behind them.

Outstanding old master

The duel between Mercedes and Aston Martin was particularly exciting: 41-year-old Alonso put the “Silver Arrows” in black under pressure. The two-time world champion first surpassed record champion Lewis Hamilton, then the Asturian also came out on top in a tough fight against Sainz, who ended up fourth. “Bye, bye,” Alonso said happily into the pit radio. He celebrated his 99th podium finish in the pinnacle of motorsport. Hamilton remained fifth.

In two weeks (March 19) the second of 23 races of the season is scheduled in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).

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Verstappen secured pole at the start in Bahrain

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