Verstappen trips himself up at Bahrain, handing Grand Prix win to Hamilton

Sports Desk, Mar 28 (efe-epa).- British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, with Mercedes, beat The Netherlands’ Max Verstappen with Red Bull in a tight finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, notching victory No. 96 in his racing career.

The seven-time world champion F1 pilot eked out his win right at the last after being surpassed by Verstappen three laps before the finish line, but just after the Red Bull driver moved into the No. 1 spot he had to relinquish it because he had gained it by driving off the track in the first place.

The Mercedes team also took third place in the contest, with Finland’s Valtteri Bottas joining Hamilton and Verstappen on the podium.

Following the top trio were Britain’s Lando Norris (McLaren), Mexico’s Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Monaco’s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), Spain’s Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) and Canada’s Lance Stroll (Aston Martin).

Spanish pilot Fernando Alonso, driving for Alpine, who had returned to compete on the Formula One circuit after being absent for two years, had to withdraw from the race on Lap 34 because of problems with his brakes.

Verstappen had gotten the coveted pole position in the pre-race qualifiers, but Hamilton – after an early tire change on Lap 14 – had gotten out in front of the Dutchman by Lap 29 and then resisted his attempts to get back in the lead in the final laps.

The Dutch driver passed Hamilton late in the contest, but the race judges ruled that he had done so by driving slightly off the track, and thus Hamilton was not negatively affected.

The infraction meant that Verstappen would have had to suffer a five-second penalty for illegally passing Hamilton, but he avoided the penalty by handing the No. 1 spot back to his rival on the backstretch and thereafter never again got within striking distance of passing him again in the little time remaining in the race.

The Brit has racked up the most F1 wins in history, after last year he surpassed Michael Schumacher’s 91 race victories. This season, however, Hamilton knows that the Red Bull machines are faster than his Mercedes and yet with the season-opening win he has started things off well on his try for an eighth world championship.

At Bahrain, Hamilton also added a new record to his tally: that of the pilot with the most race laps in the No. 1 spot – more than 5,100.

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