Verstappen proves it’s business as usual at Red Bull with crushing Bahrain GP 1-2

Max Verstappen proved he's not been weighed down by Red Bull's off-track distractions, leading a commanding 1-2 victory at the 2024 Bahrain GP

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He promised and he delivered. Max Verstappen backed up his assertion that it’s business as usual at Red Bull by cruising to a 1-2 victory in the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Sergio Perez as littany of problems befell their rivals, dashing hopes of at least an exciting podium fight.

It wasn’t quite a carbon copy of the 2023 Bahrain GP, which saw Verstappen win by 38 seconds from the best non-Red Bull and Perez only 11 seconds behind his teammate, but it’s still a deathly ominous sign as the Dutchman is now just three wins away from breaking his own record of consecutive victories from last season.

Both Mercedes had overheating problems despite the lukewarm desert conditions while Lewis Hamilton also had issues with his battery and seat and Charles Leclerc recorded a clutch of lockups while complaining about his brakes over team radio.

After qualifying fifth despite being just half a tenth behind third-placed George Russell, Perez quickly fought through the chasing pack and had second effectively sewn up before his first pit stop before disappearing up the road while never threatening Verstappen and finishing 22 seconds back.

But after Carlos Sainz was the victim of the biggest story of the offseason with the bombshell news that Hamilton will replace him at Ferrari for 2025, the Spaniard claimed a morale-boosting third place and passed Leclerc twice on track.

After appealing to the pit wall to invert the drivers, Sainz took matters into his own hands on lap 11 by muscling his way past Leclerc at the first chicane – showing he won’t be cowed by Ferrari clearly marking out their favourite within the lineup.

Though Leclerc jumped his teammate in the pitstops, Sainz was soon back into third and defended that for the rest of the race without ever looking likely to beat Perez and finishing a few seconds behind the Mexican.

The race for the win was effectively over on the first corner as Verstappen made a comfortable getaway and quickly covered off his front-row partner Leclerc – despite DRS becoming available from the second lap of the race in 2024 the Dutchman pulled out a second’s lead straight out of the blocks.

There was at least some excitement behind as Nico Hulkenberg attempted to make up with a poor start from the top 10 with an extremely speculative dive up the inside of Lance Stroll that sent the Aston Martin spinning and seemingly ended both drivers’ races, plus that of Valtteri Bottas.

However, Stroll put in one of the performances of the day by fighting back to secure a point and finish just behind Fernando Alonso, who just wasn’t competitive with Ferrari, McLaren or Mercedes.

Up front, Leclerc confirmed that the Scuderia are the second-best team in F1 by repaying Russell‘s earlier overtake to claim a comfortable fourth, with Lando Norris, Hamilton and Oscar Piastri showing Mercedes and McLaren can’t be separated in sixth, seventh and eighth.

Alonso fell back through the order with the Aston Martin looking the slowest of the top five teams on race pace, but Sauber and Haas were both stronger than RB to alleviate rivals’ fears of a second Red Bull challenging for the podium.

Reliability gremlins run rampant across F1 grid

Max Verstappen defends from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the first corner of the 2024 Bahrain GP as his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell also battle | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

After a remarkably smooth three days of pre-season – at least mechanically – followed by uneventful practice and qualifying sessions, it looked like F1 teams were well on top of their reliability.

But the Bahrain GP proved that to assume makes an ass out of u and me, with plenty of drivers complaining over team radio that they were facing mechanical gremlins.

Leclerc‘s first stint was ruined by a string of lockups particularly into turn 10, and while his team radio calls became less common as the race progressed the issue still persisted for all 57 laps. But Mercedes were the hardest-hit team.

Hamilton saw his battery rapidly draining and also reported a broken seat while both drivers struggled with an overheating engine – a problem that also handicapped the Williams of Alex Albon when he wasn’t struggling with the brightness of his steering wheel screen.

And with just a week until the Saudi Arabian GP, teams won’t get long to right themselves and may have to muddle through the 50 circumnavigations of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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