F1 preview: A lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix
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Max Verstappen started what could be another dominant F1 season with victory in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix. His latest win extends a period of supremacy that has eclipsed even Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher – two racing icons who could soon be in his sights – at their best.
After Verstappen went one second ahead after the first lap, four after five laps and seven after 10 laps, it became clear he intended to start 2023 as he ended 2022.
It was a successful curtain-raiser all-round for Red Bull, with Sergio Perez profiting from Charles Leclerc’s DNF to secure a one-two finish.
But the win was particularly special for Verstappen, who continues to trailblaze his own path through F1 history.
The Dutchman has now won 15 of his last 20 races since Imola last season, an impressive 75 per cent win rate.
No other driver has matched that dominance over a 20-race period. Not Sebastian Vettel. Not Hamilton. Not even Schumacher.
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Hamilton and Schumacher’s best 20-race periods only saw them conjure 14 wins (70 per cent) with Vettel managing 13 (65 per cent) to Verstappen’s 15.
It emphasises what could go down in history as the most dominant driver-car combination F1 has ever seen, especially if the 25-year-old continues as expected.
Verstappen is the overwhelming favourite to win a third consecutive world championship, which would move him already four behind Hamilton and Schumacher.
“It was a very, very good first stint where I made my gap. From there, it was all about looking after tyres,” Verstappen said after the Bahrain GP.
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“You never know what’s going to happen later on in the race. We just wanted to make sure we had the right tyres and were in good condition as well.
“We have a good race package. We can definitely fight with this car, and also, big thank you to the team over the winter for getting us a quick race car again.”
Ferrari were expected to be Red Bull’s biggest challengers again, but Leclerc’s DNF was a sickener and Carlos Sainz couldn’t fend off the challenge from Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.
After securing his first-ever win in Bahrain, Verstappen will be eyeing success in Saudi Arabia next weekend to move further ahead of the pack at the start of the season.
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