Max Verstappen started his Formula One World Drivers’ Championship defense with a first-place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
Verstappen began the race on the pole and never looked back, continuing his dominance on the F1 circuit and not skipping a beat after winning the title the last two seasons. Going back to last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, where he wrapped up the 2022 title, Verstappen has won five out of the last six races and 10 out of his last 12.
The Belgian-Dutch racer held off Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso – who finished second and third, respectively. Alonso sped past Carlos Sainz late in the race but couldn’t catch up to Perez.
Sainz finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton in fifth.
Charles Leclerc was vying for a top-five spot until he appeared to have an electrical issue that doomed his day. He pulled over to the side of the track while engineers worked to get his vehicle off the track.
The McLaren team had struggled throughout the race. Oscar Piastri had electrical issues as well and was forced to retire from the race. He ended in 20th place. Lando Norris was in and out of the pits as he dealt with an engine issue. He managed to finish the race but way behind in 17th.
Red Bull Racing would finish on top of the Bahrain Grand Prix with Verstappen finishing first and Perez in second. They also qualified 1-2. Verstappen has 36 career wins since he made his F1 debut at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix and 78 podiums. He now has one in Bahrain.
Logan Sargeant represented the first American on the grid since 2015. He finished in 12th place after starting the race in 16th.
The next F1 race is set for March 19 – the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.