F1 2021: Hamilton fends off Verstappen’s late charge to win Bahrain GP

If the inaugural race is anything to go by, we have a rollercoaster of a season ahead. The fight between Mercedes and Red Bull is a big one this year as Hamilton took a stellar win.

By:Updated: Mar 28, 2021 10:52 PM

The inaugural race of the season saw Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes take a stellar victory fending off a late and aggressive charge from Max Verstappen of Red Bull. Mercedes claimed the final step of the podium with Valtteri Bottas finishing third and also claiming the extra point for the fastest lap of the race on the very last lap.

Verstappen started from pole with Hamilton beside on the front row. Into turn one, that’s how they stayed. But, it was a yo-yo between Mercedes and Red Bull over the course of the whole race. While the race was set up in the pit lane with Hamilton taking the lead after Verstappen pitted on lap 40. 15 laps remained and Verstappen was now 8.8 seconds behind out of the pits. The race was on!

Hamilton driving on tyres 10 laps older compared to Verstappen on a fresh set of hard compound Pirellis. Lap by lap, Verstappen started to reel in the reigning world champion. With 10 laps to go, Verstappen was 2.6 seconds behind and closing in with every sector. But by lap 50, Verstappen had shaved another second off to the leader Hamilton.

On the next lap, Hamilton started to report that his “Rears are gone” and by turn 10, Hamilton locked up on the tricky part of the track and ran wide. Verstappen capitalised and leapt even closer. The gap was now just half a second!

Now within the DRS range, Verstappen used it to his advantage on the back straight to make his move. Verstappen passed Hamilton, but he slid off to the left of the kerbs at turn 4 meaning he exceeded track limits during the overtake. Verstappen was asked to hand the place back to Hamilton. With three laps remaining, Verstappen started to struggle and just couldn’t find the grip to stay on Hamilton’s tail. Hamilton managed to preserve his tyres till the end.

The Briton came across the finish line to take a stellar victory and Dutchman, Verstappen had to settle for second. He was also holding on to the fastest lap accolade, but it was snatched away by Bottas in third place on the very last lap.

Lando Norris in the McLaren finished fourth. Sergio Perez who started the race from the pit lane after his Red Bull broke down on the formation lap, finished a well earned fifth-place. Behind him, Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari came across the line in sixth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in his McLaren in seventh. Carlos Sainz finished eighth for Ferrari with rookie driver Yuki Tsunoda finishing in the points on his F1 debut with a ninth-place finish for AlphaTauri. Lance Stroll took the final championship point in 10th for Aston Martin.

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