Gulf Air Bahrain GP
March 18 - March 20, 2022
Bahrain International Circuit
Race Winner
Charles Leclerc
3 Pits
Gulf Air Bahrain GP
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Charles Leclerc wins Bahrain GP; both Red Bulls retire dramatically

Charles Leclerc kicked off Formula One's new era with a victory for Ferrari as Red Bull lost both cars in a dramatic final three laps of the season's opening race in Bahrain.

Leclerc led home Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz in a 1-2 finish as Red Bull's race imploded in spectacular fashion. First Max Verstappen, the reigning F1 champion, hit car trouble and dramatically dropped down the order after a late safety car restart.

Verstappen had been chasing Leclerc for much of the race.

Sergio Perez was then running in third but spun at Turn 1, allowing Lewis Hamilton to claim an unlikely podium for Mercedes, ahead of new teammate George Russell.

Haas' Kevin Magnussen finished fifth in his first race back since returning to the team two weeks ago.

Before the dramatic final few laps, Leclerc had managed the race superbly from pole position, but he had to fend off Verstappen over three consecutive laps as the race reached mid-distance. On Lap 17, Verstappen caught and passed the Ferrari driver at Turn 1, only for Leclerc to get back around the outside at Turn 4 and reclaim the position. A similar situation played out on the following lap, only with Leclerc retaking the position on the inside of Turn 4.

On Verstappen's third and final attempt, he tried to out-brake Leclerc from a long way back but went into the corner too hot, running wide and letting Leclerc immediately back into the lead.

Verstappen's complaints with the car started about 10 laps before his dramatic retirement from the race. The Dutch driver told his team that his steering had become too heavy when he tried to turn into high-speed corners.

At the restart five laps from the end, Verstappen was quickly fending off Sainz behind him, before his car gave up completely. Verstappen brought the car into the pits to retire.

Perez's drama occurred at the start of the final lap. The Red Bull driver was defending from Hamilton into the first corner when his rear tyres appeared to lock up and pitch his car into a spin.

It meant Ferrari leave Bahrain with maximum points, while Red Bull, likely to be their main title rival this year, leave the opening race with zero to their name.

Valtteri Bottas finished where he qualified in sixth place despite plummeting down the order with a bad start on the opening lap.

Esteban Ocon took seventh for Alpine ahead of AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda, Fernando Alonso in the second Alpine and rookie Zhou Guanyu on his debut for Alfa Romeo.