Sports Desk, Mar 20 (EFE).- Monaco’s Charles Leclerc, 24, moved to the head of the pack in the Formula One rankings with his win on Sunday in the season’s first race – the Bahrain Grand Prix – with fellow Ferrari pilot, Spain’s Carlos Sainz, coming in second on the Sakhir circuit in a one-two punch for the Italian team.
British six-time world F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, driving for Mercedes, came in third.
The Netherlands’ Max Verstappen, with Red Bull and the current world champion, had to withdraw from the race two laps before the end due to a technical steering issue, and his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez – who had been in third – also could not finish the race with just one lap to go, and thus ceded his prospective spot on the winner’s podium to Hamilton.
Sainz equaled his best F1 performance on Sunday, while Leclerc – who had started from the coveted pole position – achieved his third victory.
The other Spaniard in the race, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, driving for Alpine, finished in ninth place.
Briton George Russell, with Mercedes and Hamilton’s new teammate, was fourth, while Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen, who had replaced Russia’s Nikita Mazepin in Haas due to the international sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine, ended the day in fifth, ahead of sixth-place Valtteri Bottas, from Finland, making his debut with Alfa Romeo.
Frenchman Esteban Ocon, Alonso’s colleague with Alpine, was seventh, ahead of Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri), who was eighth at Sakhir.
For the first time in the 73-year history of Formula 1 was a Chinese driver – Zhou Ganyu, driving for Alfa Romeo, and who couldn’t have had a better debut, coming in within the top 10, thus garnering ranking points, in the No. 10 spot.
With fewer than 10 laps remaining in the contest, Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri vehicle burst into flame, resulting in a safety car while the track was cleared, although apparently nobody was injured.