By Paige Eagle
What a weekend to kick off the Formula One 2021 season – two DNFs, track limits controversy, and a fight for first like none other in the Hybrid era.
Mercedes’ Seven-time and defending World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton managed to grasp the win in Bahrain after a close race against his Red Bill opponent Max Verstappen, leaving fans on the edge of their seats until the finish line.
Verstappen started his race weekend off in pole position, shortly followed by both Mercedes drivers Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
After three strong practice sessions from the Red Bull racer, many fans were excited for the potential results of the race weekend.
The battle at the front became tense with Mercedes pitting early in order to successfully obtain an undercut against Verstappen, who was struggling with differential issues throughout the race.
However, on fresh tyres and raring to go Verstappen was able to progressively close the gap to Hamilton, being around one second behind the World Champion in the final few laps.
After a struggle on the straight Verstappen attempted his overtake in lap 53, but due to exceeding track limits during his overtake, his winning position was short lived as he was informed that he had to give up his place.
Essentially, he had gone too wide at turn four and gained an unfair advantage by leaving the track to usurp first from Hamilton – a big no no in the world of F1.
Sadly, in the final push, it was not enough, with reported dirt affecting Verstappen’s tyres, meaning he was unable to grasp the win.
Race winner, Hamilton shared his joy after the race stating it was “one of the hardest races I’ve had in a while”.
Throughout Sunday’s race fans looked on with excitement as the action never stopped.
Surprisingly, the first shocking moment started in the formation lap, with Sergio Perez having issues which caused him to come to a complete stop.
Luckily for Red Bull, he managed to recover and get the car moving again but had the consequence of starting in the pits.
However, Perez successfully managed to work his way through the grid to finish fifth place in his first action-packed race for Red Bull.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso could not finish the race in his F1 return.
After a strong start, even getting up to seventh on the grid, the returning World Champion had to retire his car with brake issues. Surely not the way he planned to reunite with Formula 1.
With a great performance in qualifying, Pierre Gasly started fifth on the grid. That was short-lived as he had to pit in lap four after a collision and was unfortunately unable to make the places up, leaving him to retire.
Not everything went right for the Mercedes.
Valtteri Bottas suffered a delay during his pit stop, adding to the gap between the third place driver and the battling two upfront. Effectively, he couldn’t support Hamilton nor put pressure on Verstappen.
He was followed by McLaren’s Lando Norris who outraced his current and former teammates Daniel Riccardo (seventh)) and Carlos Sainz (eighth).
Aston Martin’s debut as a new team was also off to a slow start.
Lance Stroll was able to come away with 10th place, just about scaping his way into the points. Team mate Sebastian Vettel (15th) suffered an unlucky start to his new venture at the team after a disappointing qualifying result, five place grid penalty, and a 5 second time penalty during the race.
Could this be the potential start of a continuing tight battle between Mercedes and Red Bull? Fans are hopeful that this is the start of an exciting fight for the top, with a tight middle of the grid.