Saturday, April 13, 2024
HomeWorldBahrain Grand Prix: Formula One 2024 opener – live

Bahrain Grand Prix: Formula One 2024 opener – live


Key events

Lap 53/57: Verstappen is running into a bit of traffic but only because he’s currently lapping some back markers. That’s our best hope of some excitement late in this race.

Jos Verstappen, Max’s dad, is pictured watching on from the Red Bull pit.

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Lap 53/57: Hamilton is currently half a second per lap quicker than Lando Norris’s McLaren, who is about 3.7sec ahead. Can he put some pressure on? (Hamilton’s seventh, Norris sixth.)

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Lap 52/57: But, again, an impressive effort from Verstappen, from Red Bull, and from their beleaguered team principal, Christian Horner.

The Dutchman has 19.6sec on his teammate and is cruising home for his first win of 2024. He won a record 19 races in 2023. Can he improve on that this year?

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Lap 51/57: The on-screen graphics are currently bigging up the “battle for 13th”. Enough said.

Lap 50/57: Leclerc is quickly three seconds in front of Russell, the 26-year-old Briton.

Lap 49/57: Verstappen, the reigning world champion, has 18.2sec on his teammate Perez in second.

Lap 48/57: Top 10: Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Leclerc, Russell, Norris, Hamilton, Piastri, Stroll, Alonso.

Lap 47/57: Not anymore! Russell goes wide and locks up … Leclerc takes him down the straight. The Frenchman is up to fourth. In the pits, his crew applaud as they watch the action on the screens.

“That’s the trouble when you have to start driving in your mirrors,” says Brundle of Russell’s error. “You make mistakes.”

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Lap 46/57: Leclerc is continuing to battle Russell for the final Champions League spot, AKA fourth place. Russell is holding him off as it stands.

Lap 45/57: Leclerc, in fifth, is on Russell’s tail.

“This has not been an all-time classic,” says Brundle up in the commentary box.

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Lap 44/57: This is a phenomenal performance from Verstappen, and of course from Red Bull. But 23 more races like this in 2024 isn’t going to make much of a Netflix series.

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Lap 43/57: Top 10: Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Russell, Leclerc, Norris, Hamilton, Piastri, Stroll, Zhou.

Verstappen leads by 15.8sec.

Mercedes’s Toto Wolff is pictured watching the screens in the pitlane, looking suitably ashen-faced.

Lap 42/57: “Alonso is going to try and hang on for a one-stopper, is he?” muses Brundle of the Spaniard in the Aston Martin, who is ninth, behind Piastri in the McLaren.

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Lap 41/57: The gap between Verstappen and Perez is holding at around 16sec. Can Sainz, in his Ferrari, threaten this one-two for Red Bull?

Lap 39/57: Sainz, in third, is 1.9sec behind second-placed Perez.

Hamilton had dropped to eighth, but he overtakes his old rival Alonso, and is back in seventh.

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Lap 38/57: Red Bull’s Verstappen leads his teammate by 16sec after that second pitstop.

“He’ll be on the radio saying: ‘Is the race still going on?’” Brundle says of Verstappen’s dominance. “He’s not seeing anybody is he? It’s incredible.”

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Lap 38/57: Verstappen, Alonso and Albon are the drivers in the top 10 with one stop. Now Albon pits again … and now Verstappen too!

Max Verstappen makes a pit stop. Photograph: Ali Haider/Reuters
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Lap 37/57: The most exciting moment of the day so far, in my view, was Brundle speaking to Patrice Evra during his pre-race grid walk.

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Lap 36/57: Verstappen now leads Perez by 18sec. Meanwhile, Piastri of McLaren is overtaken by Hamilton in the Mercedes! Hamilton, the seven-times world champion, is up to eighth place.

Lap 35/57: The top three of Verstappen, Perez and Sainz have all stopped once.

Meanwhile, Leclerc is on the radio to his team saying his brake problems are continuing.

Lap 34/57: All 20 cars are still running. Logan Sargeant went off at turn four a few laps ago, in his Williams, but it’s been remarkably incident-free apart from that.

Lap 32/57: Ferrari’s third-placed Sainz is 3.2sec behind the Red Bull of Perez in second. That’s where the drama is … Fourth-placed Leclerc is another 11sec or so down on his teammate.

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Lap 31/57: There’s a bit of a sense of anti-climax here given how close things looked in qualifying.

Mercedes made a fanfare about sacrificing some one-lap pace in order to make themselves quicker in this race, but let’s see what they say about that after. Russell is running fourth, more than half a minute behind the race leader. Hamilton is seventh.

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Lap 30/57: Well, we’re more than halfway through the race, and out in front the driver who won the past three championships is 15sec ahead of his teammate. The battle for second is on, though, with Sainz 2.5 sec behind second-placed Perez.

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Lap 29/57: I thought Logan Sargeant (Williams) had retired but that is not the case. He has been lapped, however.

Verstappen has 14.8sec up front.

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Lap 28/57:

As it stands:

1 Max Verstappen
2 Sergio Perez
3 Carlos Sainz
4 George Russell
5 Charles Leclerc
6 Lando Norris
7 Oscar Piastri
8 Lewis Hamilton
9 Fernando Alonso
10 Guanyu Zhou
11 Yuki Tsunoda
12 Lance Stroll
13 Kevin Magnussen
14 Alexander Albon
15 Daniel Ricciardo
16 Esteban Ocon
17 Valtteri Bottas
18 Pierre Gasly
19 Nico Hulkenberg
20 Logan Sargeant

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Lap 26/57: Verstappen leads by 13.2sec from Perez, his Red Bull teammate, in second.

Lap 25/57: Verstappen’s lead is up to 11sec. Nearly 12, in fact.

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Lap 24/57: Zak Brown has a chat over the radio: “Piastri had a learning experience last season … a year in, he’s a pro.

“It sounds like Charles [Leclerc] has an issue with his tyres. We’re doing the same lap times as Lewis [Hamilton]. It’ll be close.”

Lap 23/57:

Top 10: Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Russell, Leclerc, Norris, Piastri, Hamilton, Alonso, Guanyu Zhou.

“Shout out to Guanyu Zhou,” says Kravitz of this impressive display by the Kick Sauber driver who is running 10th. Or was it David Croft? I am not sure.

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Lap 22/57: Ricciardo (RB) overtakes Ocon (Alpine) for 15th place. But what else is going on that’s exciting?

Verstappen leads by 8.4sec. Perez, Sainz, Russell, Leclerc, in that order, are giving chase.

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