Verstappen oversteps the line and Hamilton wins in Bahrain

Carlos Sainz, after the race.

The Formula 1 World Championship is coming to one of its periodic revolutions next season, a cascade of changes to the technical regulations introduced with the intention of tightening a platoon dominated by Mercedes since 2014, when hybrid technology entered the scene. As an aperitif, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) already gave a small shake to the regulations of this 2021. At least in Bahrain, those adjustments have already altered the order established for the luck of the fans, who have been waiting for a team for a long time that can be measured short with the star mark.

While waiting for others to arrive, this team will be Red Bull, the only structure that in recent times has managed to withstand the pull of the Silver Arrows. Behind the red buffalo troop come a couple of the others, with a much more positive inertia than in recent years. McLaren arrives, with the good vibes and freshness that Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo bring. Ferrari arrives, with the ‘dynamic duo’ made up of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. And Alpine arrives, with a rejuvenated Fernando Alonso and eager to go.

In Sakhir, the victory was taken by Lewis Hamilton, but regardless of the result, the most striking thing about this first grand prize was the pulse of the race itself, truffled with a festival of overtaking that predicts a somewhat different panorama from the last years, in which Mercedes took out the roller. The podium in Bahrain was completed by Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, who barely entered the game. In his debut with Ferrari, Sainz finished eighth, while Alonso had to leave due to a breakdown in his car.

Hamilton has in his hands to put on his eighth champion crown, the one that would allow him to break the tie with Michael Schumacher and become, with statistics in hand, the runner with the best service record in the history of the tournament. If he achieves his goal, it will probably be the most worked title of the seven that he would accumulate in the Mercedes jumpsuit. According to the British, the aerodynamic restrictions applied in 2021 only pursue one thing: “It is no secret that the changes have been made to slow us down.”

If we leave aside the logically interested opinion of the current champion, there are a number of indications that lead us to think that, indeed, the German manufacturer will not dominate with an iron arm as he did recently. From the outset, the ‘pole position’ that Verstappen won in this first round of the season, the first that Mercedes has not taken in eight years. And then the zeal with which Hamilton and his engineers handled the test, turned into a true chess match between the jewel of Mercedes and the diamond of Red Bull until the last 16 laps. From that moment (lap 40), when the Dutchman made his last visit to the workshops, all the previous strategy was blown up and everything was reduced to an exchange of blows from the two sharpest cars on the grid.

Mad Max exited the workshop at that last stop more than eight seconds behind Hamilton, who was nevertheless riding on tires (both with the harder specification) 11 laps more used than his rival’s. The red buffalo dagger took off his racing jumpsuit to put on that shark costume that defines him so much. In nine laps (from 40 to 49), he aired six seconds for Hamilton, who was measuring the weight of the foot on the accelerator to reach the decisive moment with some rubber on his wheels.

“You’ve got Max behind you,” Peter Bonnington, the Stevenage driver’s track engineer, told Hamilton. “I leave it to you. I can’t help you any more ”, replied Gianpiero Lambiase, his counterpart in the energy workshop, addressing the Hasselt boy. Well, the winner of the exchange of blows was finally decided by the Race Direction stewards, who forced Verstappen to return the lead to Hamilton immediately after having overtaken him, with three laps remaining, for crossing the limits of the race. clue.

“It’s a shame, but you have to get the positive side of what happened. We have managed to fight with them [Mercedes], and that is very good if we consider that it is the first great prize ”, summed up the one of Red Bull. “It has been one of my most difficult races in recent times. Max is doing very well and he is going to squeeze us to the maximum ”, said, for his part, the first leader of the table of a championship that looks very different from the last ones.

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