Round one to Hamilton but Red Bull’s Verstappen is lurking

Sport

Round one to Hamilton but Red Bull’s Verstappen is lurking

Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton takes season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as Max Verstappen settles for second spot

Alan Baldwin

Formula One’s “racing gods” smiled on Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in Sunday’s Bahrain season-opener, but round one of what promises to be a far bigger fight showed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will be hard to beat.

Bold strategy and supreme race-craft won the day after Verstappen, who had led testing and every practice session, started from pole position with a faster car only to finish second. The Dutch driver would surely have won had he not gone off track while passing Hamilton on fresher tyres with four laps remaining, then been ordered to hand back the lead in a key moment of a nail-biting race.

“If somebody would have told me this is going to be the result on Sunday, I would have probably not believed it,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “I have no doubt that Red Bull are extremely difficult to beat. They are the ones leading the pack. And I think today, the racing gods were on our side...

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