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Bahrain Grand Prix 2021 RECAP: Lewis Hamilton wins after a thrilling duel in the desert

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Bahrain Grand Prix LIVE updated as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle for victory (Image: GETTY)

Bahrain Grand Prix 2021 LIVE – 

  • “It was one of the hardest races I’ve had for a while”-  Hamilton WINS after a thrilling duel in the desert
  • Red Bull confirm they were told by race control to give the lead back to Hamilton on closing laps
  • Bottas disappointed with third place finish, saying the team should’ve done more for him
  • Brake issues for Alonso who retires from the race  

POST RACE 18:05

Hamilton takes the win, with his team-mate Valtteri Bottas finishing third behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

And after a pitstop issue for the team, the Finn was downbeat after the race. 

“It was disappointing for sure. As a team we got good points but from my side, strategy wise, we were on the defensive instead of attacking. I am quite surprised and it is not normal.

“I also had a quite slow pit stop which took away any opportunities.

“It was good but I am disappointed.

“We managed to have two cars and we had different strategies but from my side they [Mercedes] should have done more.”

Lewis Hamilton wins in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton wins in Bahrain (Image: GETTY)

POST RACE 6pm:

He had to fight for that one, here’s what Hamilton had to say after the race:

“What a difficult race that was. Stopping early we knew it was going to be difficult but we had to cover Max.

“They have had an amazing performance all weekend.

“We stopped for that last stint and trying to find the right balance at the end of the race is typical.

“Max was all over me right at the end but I just about managed to hold him off. It was one of the hardest races I’ve had for a while.

“Each year they are talking about when you’ve hit your peak and I’m trying to make sure that timing is everything. I think that I am at the [my peak] and Max is also doing really well at the moment so it is going to take everything and more.

“We have to keep putting in performances like this.“I love the challenge and still love what I do.”

Also there’s a bit more coming about why Verstappen gave the lead back to Hamilton in the closing stages of the race.

Verstappen said on team radio: “Why didn’t you just let me go, man?

“I could have easily pulled those five seconds [for a penalty]. 

“I am prepared to lose a win like that than be second like this.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s post race message to his engineer was “I still got it Bono.” 

 

5:50pm:

RACE results after race one in Bahrain:

  1. Hamilton (Mercedes)
  2. Verstappen (Red Bull, +0.745)
  3. Bottas (Mercedes, +37.3)
  4. Norris (McLaren, +46.4)
  5. Perez (Red Bull, +52.0)
  6. Leclerc (Ferrari, +59)
  7. Ricciardo (McLaren, +66)
  8. Sainz (Ferrari, +67.1)
  9. Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri, +85.6)
  10. Stroll (Aston Martin, +86.7)
  11. 11th Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
  12. 12th Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeoi)
  13. 13th Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
  14. 14th George Russell (Williams)
  15. 15th Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
  16. 16th Mick Schumacher (Haas)
  17. 17th Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
  18. 18th Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
  19. 19th Fernando Alonso (Alpine) DNF
  20. 20th Nikita Mazepin (Haas) DNF

5:40pm:

Wow, wow, wow. 

“Let Lewis through” Team radio after the race explains why Verstappen gave back the lead in a hugely entertaining race.

“We had instructions from race control” – Christian Horner tells Verstappen on the radio.

Just to be clear, race control is not the race stewards. 

Lewis Hamilton wins in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton wins in Bahrain (Image: GETTY)

LEWIS HAMILTON WINS THE OPENING RACE OF THE FORMULA ONE SEASON AFTER A THRILLING BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

LAP 52/56

Lewis Hamilton “I got no rear man” 

VERSTAPPEN LEADS THE GRAND PRIX IN A THRILLER IN BAHRAIN 

Wheel to wheel from the Red Bull driver – Brilliant move from Verstappen.

OR DOES HE?

NO Verstappen GIVES the place back to Hamilton!

Did Verstappen go wide off the track and give it back to avoid a penalty?

LAP 51/56 

Hamilton goes WIDE under pressure but holds on to the lead of the race!!

There is now less than a second between Hamilton and Verstappen. Remember Hamilton is on older tyres. 

Lap 50/56

“Going to leave you to it Lewis, let me know if you need anything.” says Pete Bonnington, Hamilton’s race engineer. 

LAP 49/56

Verstappen is closing in on Hamilton with just 7 laps to go, there is now less than three seconds between the pair.

The fight is ON.

Hamilton told: “Verstappen is the car behind you”

“Leave me to it Bono” comes the reply from Hamilton.

In other news, the incident between Vettel and Ocon under investigation.

Lap 46/56

Ocon and Vettel both spin after crashing – both get going again on track.

“I lock up and he changes the line” says Vettel on the radio.

UP FRONT – Hamilton still leads the Bahrain Grand Prix.

10 laps to go, but Verstappen is chasing down the Mercedes to try and take the win for the opening race of the season.

There’s less than 4 seconds between the top two now. We’re set for a thrilling end to this race.

HAM, VER, BOT, NOR, LEC, PER, RIC, SAI, STR, TSU

LAP 41/56

The fight is ON

Lewis Hamilton told “Verstappen forecast to catch us in about 10 laps.”

LAP 40/56

VERSTAPPEN PITS – Mediums off, HARDS on.

Hamilton retakes the lead of the race, but his main rival has fresh tyres out there.

LAP 36/56

Welcome back to Formula One Fernando…

“Lost rear brakes” – the two time world champion Fernando Alonso has to retire from the race in the Alpine.

Meanwhile at the front Verstappen still leads, 17 seconds clear of Hamilton.

If Verstappen pits now, which he must eventually, he would come out behind Hamilton, but on MUCH fresher tyres.

“If my pace is good just keep me out” says Verstappen.

Looks like we might see all the fighting happen on track now…

VER, HAM, BOT, PER, SAI, NOR, LEC, RIC, STR, RUS

LAp 30/56

DISASTER IN THE PIT STOPS FOR BOTTAS

Front right tyre didn’t want to come off which led to a 10.9 second pit stop for Bottas.

He had just been told: “Lewis is in the pits, Verstappen could have undercut him, so we are going long.”

They seemed to release him from the stands and drop him down before they had sorted the tyre and then lift him back up.

He should still come out net third place.

LAP 29/56

Half way point and it’s a second pit stop for Lewis Hamilton.

The seven time world champion puts on another set of hard tyres – a quick stop at 2.4 second for Hamilton, however it seems quite early to see the Brit back in the pits.

Advantage Red Bull again?

LAP 24/56

It’s ALL action this race.

There is now 4 seconds between Hamilton and Verstappen out in the front as the Red Bull tries to bring the fight back to Mercedes. 

HAM, VER, BOT, NOR, LEC, RIC, STR, SAI, PER, RAI

QuicK RECAP:

  • Hamilton leads the race after blinking first in the pitstops, however Verstappen is going a second a lap quicker than the Mercedes as it stands
  • Hamilton and Verstappen on different strategies
  • Mazepin only retirement as it stands after crashing out on lap 1

Lap 18/56

HAMILTON LEADS THE GRAND PRIX

Bottas pits – he was six seconds behind Verstappen. Looks like Mercedes have snookered Red Bull. 

“Box and pit confirm” comes the order to the leader Verstappen. Mediums to mediums. Now it looks to be a two stop strategy for Verstappen. 

Verstappen emerges in front of the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

“I have no grip out of turn one” says Verstappen after his pitstop. 

LAP 13/56

Cars start filtering into the pitlane, here comes the shake up. 

“Ok Lewis, it won’t be long. Just close up,” Hamilton is told – he’s come in for his first pitstop and straps on a pair of hard tyres. Looks like a one stopper for Hamilton. 2.9 seconds pit stop for the championship winning team.

Verstappen yet to pit yet, but would come out behind Hamilton if he pitted now.

Verstappen MUST stay out if he wants to keep the lead. 

LAP 10/56

Team radio to Bottas “So, Verstappen ahead has a problem. Everything to play with. Come on Valtteri.”

Expecting pitstops in the next 10 laps. Probably looking at a one stop race?

Mazepin crashes during Bahrain GP

Mazepin crashes during Bahrain GP (Image: GETTY)

LAP 6:

“There is definitely an issue, you better f***ing find it” says Max Verstappen complaining of issies with the Red Bull.

McLaren on the softs – Lando Norris hunting down Bottas now after making his way up through the pack.

Gasly in the AlphaTauri with damage to front wing after damage. Mick Schumacher spins but rejoins.

The battle between Bottas and Leclerc continues…..

VER, HAM, LEC, BOT, NOR, RIC, ALO, STR, SAI, GIO

LAP 2:

Saftey car out, reply of Mazepin losing the car with no rear grip at all for the Haas car. Replay doesn’t seem to show any contact.

Fifth spin of the weekend in three days. Tough start for the rookie. Driver is fine.

Mazepin reported that he got on the curb and tried to avoid Schumacher and spun.

4:08PM

THE LIGHTS ARE OUT, THE 2021 SEASON IS UNDERWAY!!

Good start for Hamilton and Verstappen, as Verstappen holds the lead from the Mercedes.

Bad start for Bottas as he loses a place to the Ferrari of Leclerc. 

Nikita Mazepin has hit the barrier the saftey car is deployed at turn 2.

4:05pm:

Sergio Perez breaks down on the formation lap!!!

He was meant to have started 11th, but Perez OUT of the race.

An extra formation lap added to the start due to the Red bull stopping on the side of the track at turn 13.

The car gets fired up again, and heads back to the pitl ane to start his race from last. It’s where he won from last year in Sakhir. 

Race will be shortened by one lap.

4pm:

Formation lap underway…

Just to remind you….Full starting grid: Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Gasly, Ricciardo, Norris, Sainz, Alonso, Stroll, Perez, Giovinazzi, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Russell, Ocon, Latifi, Schumacher, Mazepin, Vettel

3:50pm:

Drivers getting suited and booted on the grid, can Hamilton get past the Red Bull of Max Verstappen? It is only Verstappen’s fourth pole position of his F1 career. 

Also you can be pretty variable with strategies in Bahrain – so all to play for today.

3:45pm

Cars getting ready for 57 laps around Bahrain to see who will take the first win of 2021 season.

15 minutes to go!!

3:30pm

Pitlane is open! 

Engines are roaring – a brand new season is about to get underway. It’s Max Verstappen on pole, with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas behind them.

Cars heading out to the grid now…half an hour to go until lights out.

News drivers on the grid, Haas drivers Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda in an AlphaTauri.

Christian Horner has told Sky F1 Honda reported an issue so they’ve changed the energy store as a precaution in Sergio Perez’s car.

Speaking about Mercedes, Horner said to Sky F1:

“They’re going to throw the kitchen sink at it, I think it’s going to be a really interesting fight today.

“It’s the first of 23 events, it’s a track you can overtake at. We’ve got this high gusting wind which is going to be a factor also.

“We’re going to see race performances for the first time this year.”

3:15pm: 

Thanks to a five-place grid penalty, Sebastian Vettel starts from the pack of the grid, and picks up 3 penalty points. Not an ideal start in his new Aston Martin. 

Meanwhile Charles Leclerc and Ferrari are looking to put one of their worst seasons behind them today, Leclerc starts P4.

“We will know about the race pace very soon, I am surprised by the fourth place yesterday, but we need to keep our feet on the ground.

“Bahrain is always very special and it’s a bit of a standout of the season, the conditions are very different from what we’re used to in the season, but it’s a nice surprise and it seems like we’ve done a great job from last year to now.”

Full starting grid: Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Gasly, Ricciardo, Norris, Sainz, Alonso, Stroll, Perez, Giovinazzi, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Russell, Ocon, Latifi, Schumacher, Mazepin, Vettel

Lights out at 4pm… 

3pm: We are now just one hour away from lights out, where we’ve heard that Sebastian Vettel has a five-place grid penalty and will start 20th on the grid.

The four-time world champion failed to respect double waved yellown flag after Haas’ Nikita Mazepin span during qualifying yesterday.

Meanwhile ahead of the race, Lewis Hamilton has just spoken:

“Yes, we weren’t quick enough yesterday, we were half a second off. There’s work to do.

“Naturally I’ve got to get out there and do the job, and we’re going to be faced with so many different challenges in these races, such as the wind today.

“But that’s what I live for, it’s going to be a tough battle against these guys because they’ve made huge improvements naturally on their engine. I think they’re a little bit ahead of us on the engine for probably the first time you’ve probably seen in a long time, and also with their car. The change has affected their rear floor less than ours.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t give them a hard time.”

Max Verstappen meanwhile sounded confident ahead of the start of the race starting on pole.

“It looks exciting, we had a good day yesterday and now I’m just looking forward to today to try and have a good result.

“We knew we had to close the gap and that’s what the team have been doing all winter. Try to work hard.

“We’ll just try and have a clean start, and if the car is fast enough then we can seal the deal.”

Tyres for the race – Verstappen has only one new set of hards, Hamilton has two, but Verstappen has a new medium and Hamilton only has used. 

F1 news

Max Verstappen will start the race on pole position (Image: GETTY)

2.45pm: Good afternoon and welcome to Express Sport’s coverage of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix!

Stay tuned to see if Lewis Hamilton is still the man to beat this year or whether Red Bull have finally provided Max Verstappen with a car capable of challenging for the championship.

Verstappen showed blistering pace throughout practice and will start on pole position.

Hamilton is set to join the Dutchman on the front row, with his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in third.

Full starting grid: Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Gasly, Ricciardo, Norris, Sainz, Alonso, Stroll, Perez, Giovinazzi, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Russell, Ocon, Latifi, Vettel, Schumacher, Mazepin



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