Race recap: Fierce fighting at Ferrari, Verstappen back on top in Bahrain

After a grand total of 97 days since the 2023 Formula One season finale, the grid got back together again for the long-awaited season opener in Bahrain. Despite the wait, it was Max Verstappen who stormed, once again, to outright victory from Pole around the 5.412 km circuit, followed not-so-closely by his teammate Sergio Perez and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in third. Here's how it all went down and the top highlights from Formula One's 2024 season opener in Bahrain.


Red Bull is back on top

Off the back of another dominant season and its sixth Constructor's World Championship, Red Bull Racing came back to bite with another show of outright dominance after frontman Verstappen led the race from start to finish. Not once in the 57-lap race did the Dutchman relinquish his lead, while his teammate Sergio Perez finished second behind him. With Verstappen out in front on his own, the three-time World Champion crossed the line with a whopping 22.457s gap between him and Perez, marking the biggest winning margin in the history of the race.

Added to that, the Dutchman took the fastest lap bonus point and extended his Grand Prix winning streak to eight. Despite Perez failing to fight for the front, he capped off a perfect 1-2 Red Bull finish in the first race of the season.


Fierce fighting between Ferrari as Sainz shows the team's pace

With Ferrari's Charles Leclerc placing second on the grid after an impressive Qualifying session, the Monogasque driver was overtaken by Mercedes' George Russell on lap three. After that, Leclerc slipped down the rankings, with brake issues and lock-ups hampering his chances of a podium. By lap 11, Leclerc found himself in fourth with his teammate hunting him down in fifth. Creeping up, Sainz went wheel to wheel with his Leclerc, elbows out and sparks flying, as he catapulted past him on his way to a podium. Finishing third, Sainz's display of pace early on in the season might suggest the Ferraris are the best of the rest.


Mercedes showing promise with platform to 'build on'

It was a similar story at Mercedes, who showed signs of promise with Russell's early overtake on Leclerc. Yet, as far as the team's frontman Hamilton was concerned, the Brit climbed only two places during the race to finish seventh after starting ninth, reporting a broken seat during the race. Despite Russell qualifying third, the Brit backed down to finish fifth overall after reporting engine overheating issues. Still, Hamilton was confident after the race, commenting that he felt the team had a strong platform on which they could begin to "build on".


'Massive surprise' for Alonso at Aston Martin 

After a series of downbeat comments from Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso ahead of the season opener, the Spaniard said he was "massively surprised" after qualifying sixth in Bahrain. Failing to carry that pace through to the race, Alonso finished ninth overall, 20 seconds adrift of McLaren's Oscar Piastri. As for Alonso's teammate, Lance Stroll spun on the first lap after a nudge from Nico Hulkenberg's Haas at Turn 1. Despite the early setback, the Aston Martin driver rounded off the points in 10th behind his teammate.

More misery at Alpine

With turmoil at Alpine, the Bahrain season opener provided more setbacks and drama for the French outfit. With a car that appears to be far from competitive, drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly qualified at the back of the pack but managed a slight improvement during the race, finishing 17th and 18th respectively. As if things couldn't get any worse for the once championship-winning outfit, it emerged that the team's technical director Matt Harman and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer both resigned from their positions during the race weekend.


It's all to play for as the season unfolds. Join us for the British Grand Prix this July to see all the action for yourself.