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Leclerc leads Ferrari one-two in Bahrain after Red Bull collapse

Leclerc leads Ferrari one-two in Bahrain after Red Bull collapse

FORMULA ONE: Charles Leclerc snapped Ferrari’s two-year victory streak with a comfortable win in Bahrain yesterday (Mar 20) after both Red Bull Racing drivers retired with engine dramas.

Formula-One
By Michael Lamonato

Monday 21 March 2022, 09:02AM


Charles Leclerc led home a Ferrari one-two to open the Formula One season in Bahrain. Photo: AFP

Charles Leclerc led home a Ferrari one-two to open the Formula One season in Bahrain. Photo: AFP

Leclerc had spent most of the race keeping reigning champion Max Verstappen at arm’s length before the Dutchman’s car developed power steering and then fuel-related problems that forced him out of the race with three laps to go.

Sergio Perez, who had been running fourth, then suffered an apparently identical problem on the final lap, spinning him around in the first corner when the power unit seized.

The dramatic twist in an otherwise straightforward race for the team promoted Carlos Sainz into second for a Ferrari one-two and Lewis Hamilton into third for an unlikely Mercedes podium.

“I’m so happy,” Leclerc said. “The last two years have been incredible difficult for the team.

“The guys have done such an incredible job building this amazing car.

“It’s starting the best way possible, with pole, victory, fastest lap, one-two today with Carlos. We couldn’t have hoped for better.”

Sainz, who had been off the pace set by Leclerc and Verstappen, congratulated the work of his team over the past two years to deliver a title-contending car.

“Congrats to Charles, congrats to Ferrari,” he said. “Ferrari is properly back - one-two, where the team should be.

“The hard work is paying off, and we are there.”

But arguably the night’s biggest winner was Lewis Hamilton, who only 24 hours earlier said he was satisfied to have qualified fifth in a Mercedes car more than half a second slower than the leaders.

Thai Residential

He and teammate George Russell, who finished close behind in fourth, spent the race in the empty space between the two leading teams and the midfield, and with the car not expected to move up the order for at least a month, Hamilton was happy to take some bonus points back to Brackley.

“It was such a difficult race,” he said. “This is really the best result we could’ve got.

“We did the best we could, and we’re grateful for these points.”

Kevin Magnussen finished fifth in his first race back with Haas after a year out of Formula 1. It was Haas’s best single result since Romain Grosjean’s fourth place at the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix and in one race betters the team’s point score for the past two seasons.

Valtteri Bottas’s first race as an Alfa Romeo driver delivered sixth, inherited after Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri pulled to the side of the road with a power unit failure - the first of three Red Bull-branded terminal engine problems of the night.

Esteban Ocon was Alpine’s highest placed driver in seventh ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso in the second Alpine.

Zhou Guanyu scored points on debut, the Chinese driver coming home 10th in an assured performance for Alfa Romeo ahead of Haas driver Mick Schumacher.

Mercedes motors powered the final six finishers, starting with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Thai driver Alex Albon in his Williams in his first race back as a full-time Formula 1 driver.

McLaren had its worst double race finish since 2018, with Daniel Ricciardo leading Lando Norris home in 14th and 15th. The team started the grand prix underprepared and with cooling issues, but the car’s sheer lack of competitiveness shocked, with neither driver ever in contention for points.

Williams driver Nicholas Latifi and Aston Martin’s Nico Hulkenberg were the last finishers in 16th and 17th.

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