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Charles Leclerc masterfully secures victory in Bahrain’s Formula 1 season opener, while Lewis Hamilton miraculously secures the podium after Red Bull’s disaster

Charles Leclerc secured a stunning Ferrari 1-2 in the Formula 1 season opener in Bahrain as Lewis Hamilton clinched an unexpected podium after drama.

Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz followed Leclerc home as the Italian giants took maximum points, helped by a complete collapse from Red Bull.

Leclerc has battled late drama and a potent threat from Verstappen to claim his third win in F1

AFP

Leclerc has battled late drama and a potent threat from Verstappen to claim his third win in F1

Meanwhile, Verstappen's race ended in the pit lane

Getty

Meanwhile, Verstappen’s race ended in the pit lane

And Hamilton clinched a late podium after Gasly's fire

AFP

And Hamilton clinched a late podium after Gasly’s fire

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen was battling Leclerc for victory the entire time, but after it looked like he would settle for second place he ended up in late reliability battles in the pits.

Teammate Sergio Perez then lost power, allowing Hamilton to sneak onto the podium, followed by teammate George Russell in fourth place, taking home unexpected but huge points for Mercedes.

Kevin Magnussen finished fifth on his return to F1, leading last season’s bottom-performer Haas to extraordinary new heights after a year of hell, followed by the speedy Valtteri Bottas in his Alfa Romeo.

Winner Leclerc and the retired Verstappen have a rivalry dating back to their go-karting days, which continued in the 2019 F1 season with a series of high-profile clashes.

However, Ferrari soon entered the wild for several years from which they have now emerged spectacularly, with Leclerc masterfully repelling the rest of the grid for his third F1 win.

He didn’t have it all his way, however, as Verstappen’s Red Bull took the lead twice after the first pit stop phase at turn one and his team nailed an undercut strategy.

Leclerc brilliantly extended his elbows to twice deny Verstappen victory

Getty

Leclerc brilliantly extended his elbows to twice deny Verstappen victory

But despite a ridiculous Red Bull pace advantage down the main straight at Sakhir, Leclerc fought back brilliantly on both occasions to reclaim his lead in the second DRS zone.

Verstappen’s tires were shot out after he failed to overtake Leclerc and it looked like his chances of winning had ended as the race came to a close.

However, out of nowhere a fire broke out in Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri, triggering a belated safety car which re-collected the pack.

While Verstappen had his eye on victory, Leclerc shot clean again at the restart as he immediately put a huge gap on his competitor, who then began complaining about problems over the radio.

These difficulties were quickly demonstrated with Sainz effortlessly passing Verstappen before Perez’s second Red Bull also fell out of the points due to performance issues.

Hamilton capitalized on third place in a race where little was expected of the struggling Mercedes, while there were huge points elsewhere in the Alps and Guanyu Zhou took home an impressive point on his F1 debut.

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https://talksport.com/sport/motorsport/1068304/charles-leclerc-max-verstappen-formula-1-bahrain/ Charles Leclerc masterfully secures victory in Bahrain’s Formula 1 season opener, while Lewis Hamilton miraculously secures the podium after Red Bull’s disaster

Andrew Schnitker

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