Kurt Verlin
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Lewis Hamilton Wins 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Verstappen Chased by Hamilton at 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix
Photo: Honda
2021 Bahrain Grand Prix - Race Results

Lewis Hamilton won the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, but despite the podium looking awfully familiar — Hamilton, Verstappen, and Bottas have shared it a whopping 14 times — it was the result of a great race that bode well for the rest of the Formula 1 season.

Having taken pole position, Max Verstappen looked in control for the first part of the 57-lap Grand Prix, even after a first-lap safety car carried away the remainders of Nikita Mazepin’s Haas F1 car (many people had bet “Mazespin” wouldn’t make it past the first corner, and they lost that bet, as it took him, incredibly, three times that many).

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However, it was Lewis Hamilton that had the advantage through the middle part of the race, as he undercut Verstappen and eked out a significant time advantage. The seven-time champ was on a three-stop strategy, one more than expected — a symptom of the high tire degradation drivers experienced on the abrasive Bahrain International Circuit.

As a result of the differing strategies, fans were treated to a great final act to the race, with Verstappen catching and then doing all he could to get past the recently-knighted Briton. He got past, but having completed the move with all four wheels off the track, Verstappen was told to give the position back and try again.

Ultimately, he couldn’t. His next two laps after the first attempt were too scruffy to get close, and by the time he looked to be in position to overtake again, the race had run out of laps. One could raise legitimate concerns about the lack of consistency in how track limits were enforced, but leaving those aside, it was a great duel. If we can get more of that at the next 22 races, I might not even mind if Hamilton wins the whole thing yet again.

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There were great battles throughout the midfield as well. Pierre Gasly lost his front wing after tapping Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren, and Sergio Pérez had to start from the pit lane after his car shut down on the formation lap — and from there, somehow carved his way all the way to fifth place. Sebastian Vettel was having a great race that included a lovely defensive battle with Fernando Alonso…until he ran into the back of Esteban Ocon and somehow seemed to think it was the Frenchman’s fault rather than his own (though he has since apologized).

After a short winter break and an exciting season-opening race, we have an unusually long, three-week gap to the second event, taking place at Imola. That’s really too bad, as after a race as good as the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, I just want to see the drivers go at it again right away.

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix - Championship Standings