Leclerc wins the Bahrain Grand Prix

CHARLES Leclerc started the new 2022 Formula 1 season brilliantly, delivering the Ferrari he was driving to finish ahead and become champion in the opener series race of the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Sunday (20/3).

The Monaco driver ended his famine and Ferrari has won the F1 race since 2019 when he was at the forefront of the Italian Grand Prix.

Leclerc, who started the race from pole position, was able to complete 57 laps of the race in a time of one hour 37 minutes 33.584 seconds.

Read also: Despite Success in Reaching Pole Position at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Leclerc admits he’s not satisfied

Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz finished second by 5.598 seconds to complete Ferrari’s dominance of the two pole positions in the season’s opener.

Ferrari’s success in finishing in the front two cannot be separated from Red Bull’s bad luck, which forced world champion Max Verstappen to fail to finish the race with three laps remaining and his team mate Sergio Perez, who slipped right on the last lap.

Red Bull’s disaster was a windfall for Mercedes, as Lewis Hamilton finished third on the podium and his new partner George Russell finished fourth.

Verstappen, who started the race from second place trying to catch Leclerc’s lead on lap 15, cut the distance from 3.5 seconds to 0.35 seconds.

This led to intense competition over the next three rounds until Leclerc pulled away again as Verstappen struggled at Turn 1 of the Bahrain International Circuit.

The second series of riders entering the pitstops again started by Verstappen on lap 31, but this time Leclerc already had a much more comfortable lead and everything was under control until the world champion returned to the pitstops on lap 44.

Two laps later, AlphaTauri racer Pierre Gasly forced the Safety Car out of the way because his car stopped and caught fire. Leclerc took advantage of that opportunity to enter the pitstop again.

As lap 51 rolled on, Leclerc drifted further and further away from pursuit while Verstappen began to experience steering problems and was irritated by power problems in his car.

Verstappen’s problems were used by Sainz to take second place on lap 54, Perez and Hamilton trailed behind, while the world champion had to pull over early, failing to finish the race.

Hamilton, who kept a close eye on Perez, had the next advantage when the Mexican suffered the same power unit problem his team mate had.

Ironically, Perez’s car skidded at Turn 1 on the final lap and completely refused to start, giving Hamilton the last place on the podium.

Russell, who started in ninth place, was able to drive his way through the mid-table race before finishing fourth thanks to Red Bull’s disastrous results.

Meanwhile, Chinese driver Zhou Guanyou was able to mark his F1 debut by finishing 10th in the Alfa Romeo he was driving.

The next race is scheduled for next weekend when the drivers head to Saudi Arabia and pave the Coniche Circuit in Jeddah, March 25-27. (Ant/OL-1)