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Max Verstappen heading for “incredible” Red Bull double in Bahrain | Formula 1 News

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Three-time world champion Max Verstappen began his title defense in impeccable style on Saturday by guiding his Red Bull team to a crushing one-two finish, ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, at the Bahrain Grand Prix. In an emphatic declaration of superiority, the 26-year-old Dutchman returned 22.5 seconds ahead of Perez, who started fifth, to take some pressure off team leader Christian Horner. Pole sitter Verstappen held off Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari to take the lead into the first corner, and it was business as usual until the checkered flag as he enjoyed a perfect start to his quest to win. a fourth consecutive title.

In claiming the 33rd pole of his career, fastest lap and race victory, Verstappen completed the 12th “treble” of his career, leaving only seven-time champions Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton ahead with 22 and 19 hat-tricks respectively.

It was Verstappen’s eighth consecutive victory, his 55th race victory and his 99th podium as Red Bull dominated an uneventful race on a cold evening at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.

he also extended his run as championship leader to 40 races since the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix.

“Amazing!” Verstappen said.

“I think today went better than expected and we had a good pace. It was great to drive and we avoided any problems. It’s a good start to the year, It couldn’t be better.”

“It was a lot of fun. And it’s very special to have days like today because it doesn’t happen often, where everything is going well with the car. It was great today.”

His teammate Perez congratulated the team.

“The team definitely had good momentum. We need to maintain it for the coming weekends,” he said.

“It was the most we could achieve: a tricky race with tire management and a lot to learn from the race.”

Carlos Sainz, whose seat at Ferrari will be taken by Hamilton next year, finished a pugnacious third ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc, who took advantage of a rare error from Mercedes’ George Russell in the closing laps.

“I felt really good today and had a good pace. We had a clear plan and it worked well,” Sainz said.

“I managed my tires and was then able to pass a few cars on my way to the podium. A good step forward from last year.”

Russell finished fifth ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, Hamilton in the second Mercedes, Oscar Piastri in the second McLaren and the Aston Martin duo of two-time champion Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll.

Horner shows unity

After days of speculation, Red Bull boss Horner arrived hand-in-hand with his wife, former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell – a show of unity after a cache of alleged messages from his share to a female member of staff.

This came just 24 hours after he was cleared by Red Bull’s internal investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior.

On track, the team showed no apparent distractions as Verstappen dominated qualifying to secure his 33rd pole position – and lead the field when the lights went out in cold, dry desert conditions.

The Dutchman got off to a good start and led fires to the flag.

When he arrived for his final set of new softs at the end of lap 37, he rejoined with a 17-second lead over Perez.

It was an impressive performance from the champion, complete with a fastest lap of 1:32.608 as he ran the final 16 laps: a lap that was 1.5 seconds faster than any other.

“Look, it’s the best possible start to the season,” Horner said afterwards.

“Very clinical from the team and a well executed race. A perfect start.”

Asked about his own position and the confidence Red Bull owners have in him, Horner was optimistic.

“Do I have their support? Absolutely, yes,” he said. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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