Top 10 finishers

As it finished... 1) Hamilton 2) Verstappen 3) Bottas 4) Norris 5) Perez 6) Leclerc 7) Ricciardo 8) Sainz 9) Tsunoda 10) Stroll

HAMILTON WINS THE BAHRAIN GP!

Formula 1
Piquet claims Verstappen 'would smash' Hamilton
31/03/2021 AT 10:17
What an incredible drive! Exceptional from Hamilton! Verstappen looked destined to win this race, but the world champion got his elbows out and was somehow able to manage his tyres to the end of the race. What a duel that was!

56/56 - Last lap!

Verstappen with DRS! Hamilton is still ahead as he enters turn 11! Has the Red Bull missed his chance? Hamilton hasn't won the opening race of the season since 2015. He's just a few corners away from doing so here!

54/56 - Verstappen gives the position back!

HAMILTON LEADING AGAIN! Verstappen has given the position back to Hamilton as Red Bull clearly feel he was off the track when he took the position and he's going to have to have another go of this! Drama!

53/56 - Verstappen takes P1!

Verstappen into the lead! The Red Bull was off the track when he took the position and so Hamilton will surely complain about that! That was magnificent racing from the two, but Verstappen has the lead now!

52/56 - Hamilton locks up!

Hamilton goes wide! Less than a second between the two drivers at the front of the pack now. Hamilton is struggling to slow the car down as his tyres go away. Verstappen is all over the back of Hamilton.

51/56 - Hamilton holding on!

This could go either way. There's just 1.5 seconds between Hamilton and Verstappen now. The Red Bull just can't get within DRS zone. Hamilton is showing why he is the best here!

49/56 - Two seconds in it!

"Leave me to it Bono," says Hamilton over the radio as Verstappen starts to appear in his rear view mirror. This is going to be an almighty finale. Can Hamilton hold this together? We're about to get a true battle between these two exceptional drivers!

48/56 - Traffic for Verstappen

Bad news for Verstappen as he gets caught in traffic. The mid-field battle between Ocon and Vettel held up the Red Bull a little longer than he would have liked.

46/56 - 10 laps to go!

This race is building to a grandstand finale! There's just four seconds between Hamilton and Verstappen now. The Red Bull is taking a bit out of the race leader's time in the middle sector. Verstappen should be on Hamilton's tail soon!

45/56 - Vettel into the back of Ocon!

Vettel has sustained some damage to his front wing after locking up and going into the back of Ocon into turn one. Vettel attempts to deflect some blame on the team radio, but that was all down to him.

44/56 - Perez up to sixth!

Perez on the charge! The Mexican gets past Ricciardo and he's in play for a good finish here. Next in Perez's sights is Leclerc. He might even catch Norris and given he started in the pit lane that's quite remarkable!

42/56 - New record!

Hamilton breaks another record! The Brit has now led for 5112 laps in F1 and that is a new record! However, Hamilton still has a lot of work to do here to claim victory in the opening race of the season.

41/56 - Message from Bono!

Mercedes believe that Verstappen is set to catch Hamilton in 10 laps which would leave five laps for the defending world champion to get his elbows out. This is going to be interesting!

40/56 - Verstappen in and out!

A sub-two second pit stop! A fantastic pit stop from the Red Bull crew and Verstappen is out behind Hamilton. This race would now appear to be in the Dutchman's hands. How will Hamilton manage his teams? Can he possibly go to the end of the race? 16 laps to go!

39/56 - Perez in... Verstappen next!

Perez into the pits! Red Bull are going to go back-to-back with their drivers here with Perez out into P8 and Verstappen set to come in next. This is a crucial phase of the race!

37/56 - Raikkonen past Russell!

Raikkonen up into the points! The Alfa Romeo has fresher tyres and that gives Raikkonen extra grip as he passes Russell and up into the points. Russell was flying somewhat under the radar for a few laps there! Having a decent race.

36/56 - Verstappen wants to stay out

"If my pace is good just keep me out," says Verstappen. This confidence is reflective of how the momentum seems to have swung back towards Red Bull following those second Mercedes pit stops. Do the Silver Arrows have something up their sleev here?

35/56 - Hamilton message

"If I do that I won't get to the end of the race," Hamilton responds when Bono tells him that he should be aiming for "lower 34s" with his lap time. This race might well be decided by who can manage their tyres better.

34/56 - Alonso's race ends!

Alonso retires! The second retirement of the race and it's Alonso. That's a shame for the former world champion. Alonso had an issue with his rear brakes and Alpine feel he can't continue.

33/56 - Bottas strategy

Whether this was always the plan or an improvised plan given that terrible pit stop, Bottas has now been told that he will be out for about 25 laps on the fresh set of tyres. That is a long stint!

31/56 - Terrible pit stop!

A 10.9-second pit stop for Bottas! Oh dear! When will Bottas' luck ever turn? A disastrous pit stop from Mercedes and Norris and Leclerc are both through! That isn't just bad news for Bottas, it's bad news for Hamilton in the attempt to squeeze Verstappen.

30/56 - Advantage Red Bull

Hamilton only managed to get 16 tyres out of those hard tyres. Mercedes seem to be burning through their tyres rather quickly and that could mean it's a three-stop strategy. If it's not, Hamilton is going to have a very long stint ahead of him.

29/56 - Hamilton pits!

Hamilton on to another set of fresh tyres! Mercedes are keeping Red Bull guessing with their strategy here. Hamilton is on to a new set of hard tyres, so is this a three-stop strategy for the world champion?

28/56 - Halfway point!

The top 10... 1) Hamilton 2) Verstappen 3) Bottas 4) Norris 5) Leclerc 6) Ricciardo 7) Perez 8) Stroll 9) Sainz 10) Raikkonen

26/56 - Another Tsunoda pass!

The rookie up into 11th! That was an exceptional smooth overtake from Tsunoda on Alonso. The AlphaTauri was late on the brakes and is within one place of the points in his maiden F1 race! He's been very impressive.

25/56 - Perez around the outside!

Perez up into P8! Qualifying didn't go well for Perez and the formation lap was even worse, but the Mexican is showing why Red Bull made a move for him over the summer with some of these overtakes. Fantastic racing from Perez as he goes around the outside of Sainz into turn one!

24/56 - Tsunoda past Vettel!

It's been a difficult race for Aston Martin so far and so it is continuing as Tsunoda easily passes Vettel into P12. The rookie isn't too far away from the points in his first F1 race!

23/56 - Verstappen finding pace

The supercomputer system that F1 has suggests Verstappen will be within 'striking distance' of Hamilton. While the undercut worked for Mercedes, the Red Bull is now gaining time on the world champion on these medium tyres.

21/56 - Swaps!

Drama for P8! Alonso passes Vettel, then Sainz passes both of them, then Vettel passes Alonso again! Well, that was interesting but Sainz is the one who has won by taking P8.

20/56 - Message from Toto!

"Hunt him down, Valtteri," comes the message from Toto Wolff over Bottas' radio. The Finn is three seconds behind Verstappen and Mercedes sense a one-two here, although the Red Bull is biting some time out of Hamilton as those fresh medium tyres start to warm up!

19/56 - Bottas past Perez!

Bottas back into P3! Yet more bad news for Red Bull as Bottas gets past Perez into third place. Red Bull really needed the Mexican to hold up one of the Silver Arrows. It feels like Mercedes are starting to take control of things!

18/56 - Verstappen pits!

Not a great stop! Red Bull are usually so swift with their pit stops, but that was about 7/10s of a second slower than they would have liked and the undercut has worked for Hamilton! He's now the race leader!

17/56 - Hamilton closing!

Fastest lap! Hamilton has just set a new fastest lap and his last lap was three seconds quicker than Verstappen's on those fresh hard tyres! Have Red Bull messed this up? They seem quite confident in their strategy. I'm not so sure...

16/56 - Verstappen stays out!

Everyone was expecting Red Bull to respond with a pit stop, but Verstappen has stayed out! He's going to try and stretch his advantage, but this is a huge risk because Hamilton is finding some additional time on those fresh hard tyres.

15/56 - Hamilton into the pit lane!

Hamilton on to hard tyres! The defending world champion has been pulled into the pit lane and is on to a fresh set of hard tyres. Are Mercedes trying the undercut on Verstappen? The gap was around a second-and-a-half!

14/56 - Alonso undercut!

There's the strategy! Alpine's decision to pit Alonso early triggers stops from McLaren, Ferrari and Aston Martin and the undercut has worked with the latter. Alonso is ahead of Stroll in track position.

13/56 - Alonso pits

Alonso pits early! Did the veteran pick up some damage or is this a strategy from Alpine? That is certainly early for them to switch the Spaniard on to medium tyres. Let's see how this one plays out.

12/56 - Top 10

How things stand in the top 10 after 12 laps... 1) Verstappen 2) Hamilton 3) Bottas 4) Norris 5) Leclerc 6) Ricciardo 7) Stroll 8) Alonso 9) Sainz 10) Giovinazzo

10/56 - Perez is flying!

Moving through the field! Having started the race from the pit lane, Perez is moving his way through the pack nicely. The Mexican is up to P12. There's still a good chance he'll end the day with some serious points.

9/56 - Norris gets him!

Norris up to fourth! That was much easier place for the McLaren to pass down into turn one and Norris is finding some serious pace here. Of course, McLaren now have Mercedes engines in their cars this season!

8/56 - Wheel-to-wheel!

Synchronised driving! Leclerc and Norris go wheel-to-wheel around turn four, but the Ferrari does just enough to keep hold of his position. Norris was forced wide as Leclerc stuck to his racing line and the McLaren ran out of track to find a way around.

7/56 - Bottas passes Leclerc!

Bottas up to P3! The Finn is back up into the position he started the race in after passing Leclerc. Bottas then receives a motivational message over the team radio, referencing how Verstappen is suffering some problems.

6/56 - VSC over!

Okay, shall we try and get some racing laps in? Between the extra formation lap, the safety car and virtual safety car we have barely got started here!

5/56 - Virtual safety car

"There's definitely an issue so we better ******* find it," says a worried Verstappen on the team radio. The Red Bull has been under pressure with the stop-start nature of these first few laps. Meanwhile, Schumacher has spun and we're under a virtual safety car after the damage to Gasly.

4/56 - Racing again!

Norris into P5! Gasly has lost places to both McLarens with Norris into fifth and Ricciardo into sixth. It looks like the AlphaTauri might have suffered some damage to his front wing.

3/56 - Perez pits

Perez takes the opportunity to change on to a fresher set of medium tyres. Of course, he has experience of starting from the back of the pack in Bahrain! He won from that situation last year! Meanwhile, Mazepin is on the back of the bike on the way back to the garage after his crash.

2/56 - Verstappen message

"There's something weird on the throttle," Verstappen says over the team radio. He'll surely be a bit nervous after seeing what happened to Perez on the formation lap. Do Red Bull have some gremlins?

1/56 - LIGHTS OUT!

Verstappen stays ahead! Hamilton has an early look at the Red Bull on pole into the first corner, but Verstappen gets his elbows out and stays ahead. Leclerc is up to third, but there's a safety car as Mazepin flies into the barriers. The Russian is fine.

16:05 - Perez has stopped!

Drama already! Perez has pulled his Red Bull to the side of the track on the formation lap. His car looks completely dead. He was having some power/battery problems before the race. We're going to have a second formation lap. Perez has got his car rolling again, but have the problems been fixed?

16:00 - Formation lap

The cars are rolling on their formation lap. Hamilton was actually a little eager to get off from the grid and had to wait for Verstappen to pass him. That potentially tells you a lot about how eager the defending world champion is to get to the front of the pack from the start! It's much cooler today than it has been over the course of the weekend until now.

15:55 - Not long now!

This could be the longest season in F1 history if all the races take place as planned. 23 races over 2021 and it all starts here in Bahrain. Will we get a title race? Can Hamilton go ahead of his own as the most successful driver of all time? Might this be his final season in the sport? Can Red Bull stick with the Silver Arrows? So many questions! Let's get some answers!

15:50 - Familiar surroundings

Taking into account the two races at the end of last season, this is the third straight F1 race in Bahrain. Plus pre-season testing took place at this circuit. These have become familiar surroundings for these drivers.
Of course, the season opener traditionally takes place in Melbourne, but Covid-19 regulations have seen the Australian GP pushed back until later in the year.

15:45 - Drivers take the knee

As was the case last year, some of the drivers take the knee and some others don't before the national anthem. Hamilton, of course, is one of those who takes the knee. The world champion has spoken a lot about how he remains determined to force change in a sport that hasn't done enough for equality in the past.

15:40 - Walker remembered

This is the first F1 race since the death of the legendary TV commentator and personality Murray Walker. He was the voice of the sport for so many years and there are some heartfelt tributes being paid this weekend.

15:35 - Gasly redemption arc!

One of the big storylines from qualifying was Pierre Gasly taking P5. AlphaTauri look to have a rocket in the back of their car this season with Yuki Tsunoda expected to be Rookie of the Year.
Of course, Gasly was dumped by Red Bull in 2019, returning to AlphaTauri. Since then the Frenchman has rediscovered his confidence, has won at Monza and now looks set for a great season.

15:30 - Title fight!

Last season was a bit of a procession for Hamilton and Mercedes, but the early signs in testing, practice and in qualifying yesterday are that the field will be much more competitive in 2021.
As already referenced, Verstappen is on pole and Red Bull have ambitions of challenging Mercedes for the Constructors' Championship. McLaren also look to have improved, plus they have Daniel Ricciardo now.

Let the season begin!

Here. We. Go.
Welcome to Eurosport's live text commentary from the Bahrain Grand Prix. What's on the menu? Lewis Hamilton begins his quest for a record eighth world championship, but Red Bull's Max Verstappen is looking to spoil the party. The Red Bull driver topped the Mercedes man in qualifying - can he deliver on race day?
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