The Formula One season has started in dramatic fashion with Charles Leclerc of Ferrari winning in Bahrain as defending champion Max Verstappen retired with only a few laps remaining.
It was a one-two finish for Ferrari with Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz coming second and Lewis Hamilton rounding out the podium.
The win in Bahrain was Leclerc’s third career win, while it was Ferrari’s first Grand Prix win in Formula 1 since the Singapore GP in 2019.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo had a nightmare start to the season in his McLaren as he finished 14th, while team mate Lando Norris also struggled and ended the race in 15th.
Verstappen was sitting in second place with three laps to go, however disaster soon struck for the Dutchman as his Red Bull Racing car suffered engine problems and he was forced to retire from the race.
On the final lap, fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez was in third position when his motor suddenly seized at turn one, spinning him around and out of the race.
The one-two for Ferrari finished off an excellent weekend with the Italian team being quick in qualifying after a difficult period in Formula One.
“The last two years have been incredibly difficult for the team and we knew this was going to be a big opportunity,” race winner and Ferrari driver Leclerc said.
“Pole position, victory, fastest lap, one-two with Carlos (Sainz), we couldn’t hope for better.”
“It’s incredible to be back at the top.”
Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto said all the hard work over recent years has paid off and he was thankful for the fans for sticking with the team.
“I am very happy with this result, as our race today shows how well this team has worked over the past two years in Maranello. Personally, I have always had faith in them. They have worked as a united group and reacted to the difficulties we encountered,” Binotto said.
“Tonight, I wanted to go up on the podium to collect the Constructors’ trophy because I felt it was the best way to represent the whole team, back home and here in Bahrain. I have to admit it was an emotional moment.”
“I am also thinking of the fans who have always supported us, even when things were a bit tricky and I admit I can’t wait to get to Imola to race in front of them.”
After qualifying in 18th position, Aussie Daniel Ricciardo described the race as ‘tricky’ as he struggled in his McLaren and came home in 14th position.
“The race was just tricky,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports F1.
“I think there’s definitely a lot to understand. Some corners I felt good on entry, on braking, but obviously we’re comparing to the tail end of the field, so maybe those strengths don’t apply to the frontrunners.”
“Obviously, we’re not where we want to be, but we just have to work, figure it out and try to improve as soon as possible.”
Ricciardo’s team mate Lando Norris agreed, admitting that McLaren is “a long way off the pace”.
The next race of the Formula 1 season takes place at Saudi Arabia on March 27.