The new season of the Formula One World Championship got underway on Sunday with the Bahrain Grand Prix, which saw Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton take home victory.
He just managed to beat Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen who started the race on pole and had the faster car, which hasn't been the case in previous seasons. Verstappen finished just 0.7 seconds behind Hamilton.
Third place went to Mercedes' other driver, Valtteri Bottas, some 37 seconds behind Hamilton.
Further down, it was a good start for AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda who finished ninth in his debut race, scoring himself two points. It was a different story for fellow rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin at Haas. Schumacher was the last of the finishers, ending up 16th and one lap behind the leaders, while Mazepin spun and crashed out of the race on the first lap.
AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda at the 2021 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix
Verstappen led the race early on and by lap 13 had built a gap of 1.7 seconds. Hamilton was in second place and on the next lap made a stop for hard tires, a risky move so early in the race given the level of degradation of the tires in Bahrain.
Upon exit, Hamilton, with fresh tires, worked hard to close the gap. The undercut worked, as Verstappen then lost the lead spot following his own pit stop on lap 18. With Verstappen now in the chase position, Hamilton made his second stop on lap 28. He came out behind Verstappen though knowing the Red Bull driver would have to stop soon for his own set of fresh tires. That stop came on lap 39 which then allowed Hamilton to move once again into the lead.
Verstappen fought hard upon exiting the pits and almost managed a pass. He got past Hamilton at one point but ran wide off the track and had to give back the position. Hamilton kept his cool to the end of the race and Verstappen had to settle for second place.
With the first race over, reigning world champion Hamilton leads the 2021 Drivers' Championship with 25 points. Verstappen is second with 18 points and Bottas is third with 16 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 41 points, versus the 28 of Red Bull and 18 of McLaren. The next race on the calendar is a special Made in Italy and Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on April 18, which fills in for the canceled Chinese Grand Prix.
Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix
Below are the full results from the 2021 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix:
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz AMG
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing +0.745 seconds
3) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-Benz AMG +37.383 seconds
4) Lando Norris, McLaren +46.466 seconds
5) Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing +52.047 seconds
6) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +59.090 seconds
7) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren +66.004 seconds
8) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari +67.100 seconds
9) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri +85.692 seconds
10) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin +86.713 seconds
11) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo +88.864 seconds
12) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo +1 lap
13) Esteban Ocon, Alpine +1 lap
14) George Russell, Williams +1 lap
15) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin +1 lap
16) Mick Schumacher, Haas +1 lap
17) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri DNF
18) Nicholas Latifi, Williams DNF
NC) Fernando Alonso, Alpine DNF
NC) Nikita Mazepin, Haas DNF