Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Hamilton resists Verstappen to deny Red Bull victory in Bahrain GP nail-biter

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix summary

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Lewis Hamilton prevailed in a thrilling scrap with Max Verstappen to win the first race of the 2021 season in Bahrain.

The Mercedes driver came under attack from Verstappen in the closing laps, and briefly lost his lead, but regained it when his Red Bull rival ceded position after running wide.

Verstappen held his lead from pole position at the start, but fell behind Hamilton during the first round of pit stops. The Mercedes driver was the first of the two to pit, and Red Bull left Verstappen out four laps longer as they realised Hamilton’s early stop had ensured they couldn’t bring Verstappen in and maintain their advantage.

Red Bull therefore committed to shadowing Hamilton’s pit stops, which by the end of the race brought Verstappen within range of the Mercedes. Hamilton ran wide at turn 10 with five laps to go, bringing Verstappen onto his tail.

Verstappen got around the outside of Hamilton at turn four on lap 53, but had all four wheels off the track as he completed the pass. Exiting turn 10, Verstappen handed the place back to Hamilton, and the fight continued. But a few corners later he made an error of his own, giving Hamilton vital breathing space.

Hamilton won the sprint to the chequered flag, taking his first victory in a season-opening race since 2015, with a triumph which looked unlikely when Verstappen took an emphatic pole position on Saturday.

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Valtteri Bottas collected third place after slipping behind Charles Leclerc at the start of the race, then re-passing the Ferrari. He lost a significant amount of time mid-race with a slow pit stop.

Leclerc lost two more places by the end of the race, including to Lando Norris, who took fourth. Sergio Perez claimed an excelled fifth on his debut for Red Bull, despite starting from the pits after his car came to a stop on the formation lap.

Daniel Ricciardo took seventh place in his first place for McLaren, followed home by Carlos Sainz Jnr in his debut as a Ferrari driver.

Yuki Tsunoda scored two points for ninth place on his F1 debut, while Lance Stroll ensured Aston Martin claimed a point in their first F1 race for 61 years. His team mate Sebastian Vettel endured a poor race, colliding with Esteban Ocon on his way to 15th. Ocon came in 13th behind the Alfa Romeo pair.

There were no points for Alpine in their first race, as Fernando Alonso was forced out when a brake duct ingested debris and overheated. He had already been coping with an escalating problem with his power unit.

Haas got one of their rookie drivers to the finish, Mick Schumacher the last driver running in 16th place, but Nikita Mazepin crashed out on the first lap.

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2021 Bahrain Grand Prix reaction

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Keith Collantine
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177 comments on “Hamilton resists Verstappen to deny Red Bull victory in Bahrain GP nail-biter”

  1. Hamilton had no business dragging that Merc for a win today. Granted Red Bull could have been more polished with strategy, bu they had a reasonable advantage here that it should have been irrelevant.

    1. Merc won by strategy. Ver found two mercs to beat. Perez did great but was unable to influence the strategy choices.

      1. Red Bull had a clear advantage this weekend that strategy shouldn’t have been the deciding factor.

      2. If Verstappen is serious about the title, Bottas is irrelevant, the only thing that matters: finish ahead of Hamilton.

      3. There wasn’t “two mercs to beat” once Mercedes fouled up Botas’s second pit stop!!

        This is not great for RB. Some of us posted that all the talk of RB been miles ahead after the practice day, was premature. It simply made Mercedes and more importantly Hamilton bring their ‘A’ game from the start

        Lews, simply doesn’t start seasons well. Often it’s due to car issues / strategy (Aus 17′) – but he arguably has his worst race of the season, at the start, i.e. last year.

        He then mumbles around for the next few and suddenly wakes up at Barcelona

        A frosty Hamilton from minute one of the season is simply uncatchable, so unless that RB is significantly better – he will do what he did in 08′, 17′, 18′ and 19′ win the title whilst not having the best car all of the season

        1. talk sense like that and people are going to go at you. f1 media makes lovely narratives many times – but their attempts to make excuses for 9 other teams for not catching merc really created some narratives that irritate me. when a group of people are so on it, so clean, so polished, you just have to respect it.

        2. Ahaha, hamilton didn’t have the best car in 2017 and 2019? Fun, I’d call the 2019 mercedes a DOMINANT car, and the 2017 at least superior to ferrari, even if not dominant.

          1. @esploratore with regards to 2017, I would imagine that, with the criticism that Vettel has faced over his performances from 2018 onwards, there will be those asking if the 2017 Ferrari was quite as much of an inferior car as is suggested, or if both Vettel and Ferrari potentially could have done better with what they had to work with.

          2. @esploratore, he said “whilst not having the best car all of the season“. There were clearly periods in all those seasons where Mercedes wasn’t the best car.

      4. F1oSaurus (@)
        28th March 2021, 18:29

        erikje, Hamilton had to sacrifice his for track position. Red Bull had the chance to counter. Either way, yet another race where Verstappen did not win driving the fastest car.

        1. @f1osaurus

          Either way, yet another race where Verstappen did not win driving the fastest car.

          Lewis Hamilton’s teammates have won a combined of 45 races while being in the same car as Hamilton (Alonso 4, Kovalainen 1, Button 8, Rosberg 23, Bottas 9).

          Verstappen has a long long way to go before he’s thrown away as many race wins as Hamilton in the best car (today Mercedes was the best car by the way).

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            29th March 2021, 7:53

            @kingshark So Hamilton won twice as many races as his mostly world champion level team mates. When Verstappen was up against Ricciardo, Ricciardo won just as many races. So thanks for proving my point.

            The point is though, Verstappen fans claim that Verstappen would win all the time if he only had a competitive car. So I gave the benefit of the doubt and look only when he has the outright fastest car. Yet even then he doesn’t win half the races he could.

            Even with 100% support from the team (ie no team mate who could even challenge him for a win) he manages to not win all those Monaco, Mexico, Malaysia and Singapore races where they were fastest. Or recently Hungary 2019, Monaco 2019, Mexico 2019, Turkey 2020, Sakhir 2020, Bahrain 2021.

            I guess the irony escaped you that Verstappen who supposedly would “easily win everything” manages to actually not win as often as that he actually does win.

          2. @f1osaurus

            So Hamilton won twice as many races as his mostly world champion level team mates. When Verstappen was up against Ricciardo, Ricciardo won just as many races. So thanks for proving my point.

            I just realized that Ricciardo only won 4 races as Verstappen’s teammate (one in 2016 and 2017 each, two in 2018). Verstappen won 5 (one in 2016, two in 2017, two in 2018).

            Verstappen has won 10/14 races that his team has won (71.4%)
            Hamilton has won 96/141 races that his team has won (68.1%)

            Hamilton has thrown away minimum 45 races with the proven best car. Now, if you add all the races where neither Mercedes car won despite having the best car (70th Anniversary 2020, Abu Dhabi 2020, Monza 2020, Germany 2019, Monza 2019, Singapore 2019 etc…) you end up with an excess of 100 races thrown away.

          3. F1oSaurus (@)
            29th March 2021, 19:15

            @kingshark Agreed, Verstappen wasted a much higher percentage of races.

            Your analysis of fastest car is daft though.
            70th Anniversary, Red Bull was clearly fastest in the race due to the tyres
            Abu Dhabi 2020 Red Bull was clearly fastest too.
            Monza 2019 and Singapore you really have got to be kidding. Seriously don’t be this lame.

            You again miss the point though. The point is not what percentage of team wins Verstappen got. He should have gotten 100% there since he’s their only focus.

            The point is his fans say that he will win every race if he has a competitive car. While the fact is that he doesn’t win even half of the races where he does have even the fastest car. Let alone all those races where he had a competitive car.

          4. @f1osaurus
            Mercedes had the fastest car at 70th anniversary and Abu Dhabi because they were fastest in qualifying, and using your caveman IQ level analysis, the fastest car in qualifying equals the best car. I’m using your own arguments and logic against you.

            As for Monza 2019, when a talentless hack like Bottas finished only a few tenths behind a generational talent like Leclerc, then yeah it’s pretty obvious that Mercedes is miles better. Hamilton’s complete inability to overtake a much slower car despite 20 laps of DRS around the easiest circuit on the calendar to overtake does not negate that.

            Overall, if you add the 45 wins from his teammates to all the races someone else won with an inferior car, I would estimate that Hamilton has thrown away about a century of wins in the best car.

          5. F1oSaurus (@)
            29th March 2021, 19:37

            @kingshark Tyres a re part of the car.

            Bottas is not worse than Leclerc.

          6. @f1osaurus

            Agreed, Verstappen wasted a much higher percentage of races.

            10/14 is a better conversion rate than 96/141

            Why on earth an I wasting my time debating a clown who’s IQ is so tragically low that he does not even understand the basic concept of percentages.

          7. @f1osaurus

            Tyres a re part of the car.

            Qualifying pace equals best car. Those are the standards you set when discussing the 2019 Ferrari, so those are the rules we are going to debate by. I am following the precedent of our previous debates.

            Bottas is not worse than Leclerc.

            He’s miles worse. Bottas is mediocre while Leclerc is a generational talent with a superior junior career to Hamilton.

          8. F1oSaurus (@)
            29th March 2021, 20:18


            Why on earth an I wasting my time debating a clown who’s IQ is so tragically low that he does not even understand the basic concept of percentages.

            If only you had the mental faculties to actually understand the argument and calculate the applicable percentages then you wouldn’t end up looking so dumb all the time.

            Qualifying pace equals best car

            Well there is fastest in Q and in the race. Indeed like I always tried to explain to you these can be different, but you never understand when or how it matters.

            Bottas is not worse than Leclerc. Bottas is just as fast and makes way less mistakes than Leclerc. The difference is that Bottas is going up against the greatest of all time and Leclerc was going against a driver who now gets beaten by Stroll.

          9. @f1osaurus
            Bottas is mediocre, always has been and always will be.

            Lost 9-5 to freaking Maldonado and drew 23-23 against Massa in a two car finish. This is your hero?

            Leclerc is a bigger talent than Hamilton by the way, judging by junior career results. Leclerc’s 2017 F2 season >>> Hamilton’s 2006 GP2 season.

          10. @f1osaurus
            Hahahah, Bottas is miles worse than Leclerc, you’re crazy if you think he’s on that level.
            I don’t know why you insist on defending Bottas when he’s clearly not worthy of that Mercedes seat. The guy is gone mentally, has no fight left in him, and now blames the team for his lack of pace. This will be his last year at Mercedes if his interactions with the team at this race are anything to go by. And I say good riddance, it’s a waste of a seat giving it to him.

            Crazy Hamilton fans such as yourself need to get re-acquainted with reality.

      5. This is one to remember for all those saying it’s all about the car. Today it was all down to the driver. Verstappen with five laps to go only had to be patient. Instead he fell to a Hamilton move. Lewis forced the Redbull to the outside hoping Max would bite, and he did.

        Hamilton used all his race craft to harvest energy under preassure, and positioned the car to make Max work. Lewis had no right to win that race, in fact if the roles were reversed Hamilton would have found a way to make the crucial move.

        Redbull had this rare chance to lead the championship, and blew it.

        Well done Sir Lewis…

      6. Bottas never had any influence in how things played out between Hamilton and Verstappen (other than taking the fastest point off Verstappen).

    2. Prior to the last pit BOT was about 16sec from VER. Then, maybe HAM adds about 0.3 sec to MERC.
      So, if RB+VER are not running 0.5-1.0 sec ahead of MERC in race pace there will be no easy win to VER.
      Unless RB leap ahead of MERC on development, VER will need to raceeover 100% every race or it is Lewis VIII.

      1. I like that VIII thing. ;-)

        King Louis the VIII

    3. Red Bull shot themselves in the foot with the turn 4 complaint on track limits!! No doubt Toto was straight onto race control to inform them that Max overtook outside track limits, you guessed it, at turn 4!

    4. On contrary, he was in business all race long…. on harder (= slower!!!) tyres! He was lapping even 3sec faster than VER. The difference was minimal, not enough to be able to pass in the end. Mercedes still seems to have more raw power.

      1. @mg1982 Brand new tyres (even hards) should be faster than 14 lap old ones and Red Bull then decided to keep Verstappen out for another four laps.

    5. Lewis shouldn’t win that one, he will need to bring his A game at every single venue because Red Bull was much quicker in sector 2, which had more turns and was less power dependent.

      Both Max and Lewis performed well, Lewis was better though.

    6. Hamilton fans going crazy because there man won a race in a car that wasn’t supremely dominant for the first time since 2013.

  2. This was decided in the pitlane. Red Bull should have known that once Norris pitted, it would open up the others’ pit stop due to the undercut being almost at Singapore levels in terms of power. I am still wondering whether Hamilton will be investigated for going wide at turn 9-10.

    1. Why in earth would he be investigated for making a mistake and losing time?

      1. Oh he did lose time lol. I was too focused on them rather than the gaps.

      2. By the way, him going wide got me a bit confused. Did Hamilton cracked under pressure with that mistake, or…?

        1. Hamilton’s Tires was starting to go, he was losing grip under preassure into the corners, and still Max could not profit

    2. He went wide almost the entire race in turn 4. The same turn where Ver passed him, but gave the position back.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        28th March 2021, 18:32

        Because Masi said the track limits would not be enforced at turn 4 during the race.

        1. And decided to enforce them after max was told to do the same.

          1. @rvg013

            Well done on just showing Lewis is more cerebral lol. Was told it only enforced in qually so Ham did it in the race. Yet more proof how great Hamilton is getting told midrace one more and you get a black and white flag yet dint go wide again.

          2. @rvg013
            “And decided to enforce them after max was told to do the same.” well it was RB’s request to begin with. it s like the pot calling the kettle black! they complained, they did the same afterwards, They got the attention they wanted, and in the end, they burned themselves

          3. and decided to enforce them after RB made their usual smug retort about the Mercs exceeding track limits and Max should do the same.

          4. @mysticus I’m not complaining about any driver or team. It’s stupid they told Mercedes it wasn’t allowed anymore after 38 laps. Just like Lewis said on the radio.

          5. @rvg013 i wasnt blaming you, i was saying it for RB, they complained about it themselves, if it was not allowed, race director should have said it earlier, everyone was going there, including max, maybe not as much, but he was still using it too. then horner complained (my opinion, because he thought mercedes was gaining more than RB itself)

      2. A car on itself going wide cant be compared to going wide during an overtaking manoeuvre. And the rules were (albeit mid-race) clarified and known to all.

        1. Albeit mid-race: Yes, after Hamilton took advantage at least 29 times in corner 4 without getting any warning. Only when RB told Max to do the same they “clarified” the rule. What a joke!

      3. Passing off-track will draw a penalty. Every. Single. Time.

        1. Would it have been worth it if max had directly disobeyed his team and stayed ahead, hoping to get 5 seconds ahead??

  3. No doubts on Ham’s abilities, but it’s tiring to see same car at the top again and again. Let’s hope the RB16B can stay capable of fighting for wins throughout the season.

  4. NeverElectric
    28th March 2021, 18:03

    What a race!
    Guess that’s why he’s won seven titles – some drive, that was!

    1. Exactly what I was thinking. When he said to bono, leave me to it, he went old school, driving the car with gut feeling.


      Well, merc have now a confirmed successor to LH in MV, when that seat .becomes available.

      1. I smiled when he said that. It was basically ‘Sunday Ham’ mode – like Tiger in the old days, Federer and Nadal, you knew he had more to give that and his deliberately, sulky messages, were simply ‘playing possum’

        1. And the best part, he know where to trap him, yup… turn 4 :) let him by, and where he knew overtake wouldnt stick well in track limits… then booom comes the RB message in mind :) about track limits at turn 4… i chuckled a lot

    2. Yep
      “Leave it to me, Bono”
      Lewis Hamilton on the radio

      That defines the race

      1. That was indeed cool.

  5. Suckers. Same old result. Same old F1. Boring.

    1. @Hg #YouCantPleaseEveryone

    2. Even if the result was same. The route to the result was very different. It was actually a fun race. Lets hope this continues. The problem with F1 is not Mercedes always winning, it’s how dominant they were when winning. If they sweat winning the races, F1 is fun again!!

      1. I agree, the ferrari vs mclaren era was interesting back around 2000, and there was no dominance for a few years, not compared to mercedes now.

    3. I’m really hoping this is a sarcastic comment.

    4. I don’t understand. What was boring? You watched the race and then come to talk about it. Maybe you don’t understand f1? I dunno. Why was it boring.

  6. Lewis…the GOAT-iest!

    Take a bow sir, take a bow!

  7. Michael Masi’s performance this weekend was dreadful and changed the outcome of the race. Whether you enforce track limits or not, making up the rules as you go all weekend — including in the middle of the race — is an embarrassing look for F1.

    1. It’s amazing they allow the mercs to go 5 meters off track for 38 laps at turn 4. And then suddenly it’s not ok anymore.

      1. Sound sensible to me. They basically warned drivers who did it too often and they never allow an overtaking move like that to stick, which Max has form on

        Don’t understand all the fuss. Flexible management of track limits is the way forward

      2. You are missing the bit where RB whinged about it, but then told their driver to do it as well; closely followed by Massi saying no you dont, and promptly stopping it. Maybe Horner should have kept his mouth shut. But doing that is probably a lot more difficult than RB being able to overtake a Merc without going off track.

        1. Maybe Horner should have kept his mouth shut.

          That’s something that Red Bull seem to find difficult to do!

        2. F1oSaurus (@)
          29th March 2021, 7:55

          It doesn’t matter though. Overtaking off track means you need to give the position back. Regardless of whether the specific corner is chosen especially for track limits enforcement.

      3. Exactly. Superstar is bending the rules? What rules? Superstar got passed by someone bending the rules. WE MUST ENFORCE THE RULES. These Hamilton apologists can’t see there guy has gotten every single call in his favor and anyone that ever is in question within 100 yards of him is penalized. LH = $$$ for F1 Competition, fairness and truth don’t make anyone any money- the apologists on this comment section are why F1 sucks.

        Maybe if they had the guts to refuel the cars, control the constant cheating, knock it off with the bloody favoritism and let them race – F1 might have a future for actual sports fans. Until them it will be a sport of trolls. “I’m on team X- I hate Mr. Y” and “I’m on team Y – and hate Mr. X” How millennial . . .

        It’s really easy folks – just follow the NFL – do EVERYTHING in your power to seek parody and level the playing field – and competition follows. The governing bodies of European sports are so political and rife with corruption (IOC, FIFA, F1, Cycling) that sports on the continent are the equivalent of WWE in America. All that talent wasted in the Euro glut . . .

    2. I though a potentially tricky situation was pretty well managed. Track limits is an issue though, ring back sandtrap.

      1. I agree that the end result could have been much worse, but the situation shouldn’t have arisen in the first place and would have been prevented by clarity in the rules and technical directives. Red Bull let Masi off the hook by giving the order to give the place back, which I would say was pretty sporting of them. If they had forced the issue by pulling a five second gap on the road and placed the outcome in the hands of the stewards, it would have looked much worse. But I almost wish they would have, just to expose how rudderless F1’s approach to track limits this weekend was.

        1. Please explain when last time an overtaking move was allowed when all four wheels were off the track

          Max made an error. There was no need to do the job then – he still had three laps.

          I fail to see what Masi did wrong on this occasion. Or is it OK if it’s Verstappen, because we want competition?

          How was it ‘sporting’ when RB would definitely have lost the race?

          This is just excuse making. Some of us remember how hard it is to be the favourite for your first F1 title. See Lewis in 08′ and Seb in 10′ for their occasional very flawed race-craft. Verstappen, is only human and this is the first time he is under that pressure.

          1. @banbrorace You’re making quite an assumption about who I want to see win the race…

            My point is that track limits should be clearly defined and consistently enforced (or consistently not enforced).

            Multiple times last season, Michael Masi allowed the drivers to do whatever they pleased with all four tyres off the track, as long as they had one tyre on the kerb. Though that contradicts the sporting regulations — which quite clearly say kerbs do not count as the track — at least there was a clear directive given.

            I’d call Red Bull’s decision sporting because if Verstappen was assessed a 5 second time penalty — as is the precedent for this sort of thing — and finished more than 5 seconds ahead, he would have won the race.

          2. Not making any assumptions at all. I’ve not once suggested who you favour

            Track limits are a totally different discussion. I’ll concede, that they are consistent

            But they had nothing to do with the overtake as it wasn’t a track limits issue. Max clearly breached the rules for overtaking, so how on earth it was “sporting” for RB to give it back when it was a slam dunk penalty – it’s a struggle to understand

            It was an error. Similar to Lewis at Canada 2008, that comes when you’re the favourite and desperate for your first F1

            Let’s call it as it is. It will be a vital dynamic for the rest of the season. I’m not convinced that Verstappen handles the pressure well enough. Today is an illustration of that. But if he goes on to win all the remaining races, then I’ll admit I was wrong

          3. @banbrorace Fair play, you didn’t say I was favouring one or the other — but I felt that way because you did say this was “excuse-making” on behalf of Verstappen, which I entirely dispute.

            Because actually, I very much agree with everything you say — that Max cracked under pressure, and that the pressure is different when you’re fighting for a championship! For me, as you say, track limits are an entirely separate discussion.

            As for whether Red Bull were “sporting,” for sure, I see your point, and maybe that’s being generous. But they didn’t have to give that place back, they could have earned it — at least in the eyes of the rules — by pulling a gap large enough to negate the penalty. Which I think is ludicrous! And does not by one iota increase my sympathy for Verstappen, but does increase my ire at the way F1 handles track limits.

          4. @banbrorace i think Max, was fair to listen to team first, then question it later, a bit younger max would ignore it. i give that to him today. but it is too early to say he is matured enough. he is a bit too hot headed, and lives the moment, rather than look for the future. it is understandable to desire to win, but he needs to learn about patience too… ham for quite sometime, waits for longer for the exact best moment, and when he sees an opportunity is gone, he humbles and wait for next, and dont rush it…. i guess thats what makes f1 champions different from f1’s greats… it was max’s race to loose, and he did it by being impatient, if he waited for the right moment, he would take the lead easily… ham just shown his class in the fight. if max wants to learn, he should watch a master… ham if he was overtaken, would not be able to attack, and he knew it. it was max who lost the race

          5. I’m just puzzled how seasoned F1 fans, think this was controversial, when they’ve been doing this as long as I’ve been watching since 1976 (well, listening then!!)

          6. @banbrorace I wouldn’t say the outcome was controversial—I think that thankfully, we were spared the controversy because RB didn’t opt to take the time penalty. But the potential for that exists in the rules, which bothers me, and it also bothers me that their application is so inconsistent.

            I’m fine with track limits being defined flexibly for each circuit to suit their quirks and layouts — actually I prefer it — but not in the middle of the race.

          7. @mysticus He’s far more mature than Lewis and Seb was at the same age. But he has the same problem as others in different sports have going up against their equivalent GOATS, i.e. Rafa at the French Open. Tiger – two years ago

            He wouldn’t be human, if he wasn’t more wary of overtaking Hamilton in comparison to anyone else

            Add the fact that Lewis gets more cynical by the month – as he plays that old ‘it’s all terrible’ card, (witness Hungary 2019!!) because as soon as he tells Bono he wants radio silence, he believes he will win

            I’d like Alonso up there with him. Someone who is not intimidated in the slightest

            But Max does seem to be about there – it’s just very difficult to see beyond Hamilton is the cars are even

    3. I agree the track limits were a mess, they should have been enforced at the start or not at all, mid race is ridiculous.

      However, regardless of track limits ruling the Verstappen overtake is an entirely different issue and the correct call. You cannot overtake with 4 wheels off the track, that has always been the case. Red Bull themselves haven’t questioned it, it was the correct decision

      1. @burden93 Of course overtakes that go off the track should be penalized. But the precedent is a 5-second penalty — and Verstappen could have taken it and still won the race! I think the whole process makes a mockery of itself. Why not straight line a corner completely to overtake if you can get a five second gap in less time than what you lose in following?

        So I’m not questioning the outcome, I’m questioning the consistency and process. If track limits are not enforced, then are drivers really off the track? I suppose you could make that argument, and say that drivers should be allowed to exceed track limits to make up time but not to overtake. But I think that’s ridiculous.

        1. Actually the precedent is a 25 second penalty – see spa 2008 and exactly the same issue

          When the rules were clarified AFTER the race

          Believe me all the moaning is pointless given the last time this happened the winner came third!

          Apologies for hitting the report button

          1. @drgraham I wish that were still seen as the standard! But Masi himself said the the penalty would probably have been a five or ten second penalty. Neither, in my view, is appropriate. They should be forced to relinquish the position, and if not, scored a lap down or DSQ.

            “It’s generally a time penalty that’s imposed, from what we’ve seen can be five [seconds] or could be 10.”

        2. @markzastrow I doubt very much that Verstappen would have been able to pull out a five second lead in the remaining three and a half laps. Despite his statement they should have taken the penalty, he said after the race that once he let Hamilton past, his tyres didn’t have enough left to fight.

          I’d also point out that the order to give the place back to Hamilton came from Race Control, so if Verstappen had ignored that and did manage to pull out a five+ second gap, he would have very likely faced a harsher penalty for ignoring a direct instruction from RC.

          1. @scbriml Unfortunately not—Masi said the punishment would be up to the stewards and that, “It’s generally a time penalty that’s imposed, from what we’ve seen can be five [seconds] or could be 10.”

            It’s true he may not have been able to pull the gap, but maybe that just means he should have shortcut a corner sooner to do so.

            This whole approach that overtaking off the track is subject to an arbitrary time penalty that could be negated depending on the situation and the stewards’ decision needs to be rethought. Some situations of racing combat — like causing contact — will always come down to a steward’s judgment call, but track limits need not be one of them.

    4. Jack (@jackisthestig)
      28th March 2021, 18:39

      On some corners it’s allowed, some corners not. They are allowed to run off-track all race long when running alone but if overtaking they have to give the position back, what a mess! Track limits is a self inflicted problem for F1, surely there should be either zero-tolerance or ‘anything goes’.

      1. @jackisthestig It is a mess, but it doesn’t need to be. The track limits are clearly demarked by these nice white lines. Any driver avoidably putting all four wheels outside the white lines (kerb or not) should face a small time penalty each time the do it. They wouldn’t be out there if there was nothing to gain. It’s funny how track limits isn’t an issue at Monaco!

  8. Hamilton made that one work against all odds!

    Dominant car my butt cheeks!

    1. Hamilton made that one work against all odds!

      How come? After 14 laps HAM was +1sec behind VER, after 4 more laps he was +7sec ahead… while equipped with slower tyres. Mercedes seems as strong as past few years, this could have been very well just 1 of those few races where they are not that strong. So, all I hope RBR is just as good on most tracks in order to have a real battle for the WDC at least.

      1. Brand new tyres, even harder ones, do tend to be faster than old, even softer ones. This is perfectly normal.

    2. I said yesterday after qualifying that the claims about Mercedes being the fastest car will be tabled immediately after Ham leads Max across the line for the first time. No matter what the circumstances.

  9. Awesome race. This is what is required. Lets hope this continues all season long. Merc and RBR are almost neck and neck with Hamilton’s speed..

  10. Cristiano Ferreira
    28th March 2021, 18:09

    Poor Vettel.

    I don’t know, maybe i’m wrong but it seems he doesn’t have any passion left for his job. Kimi and he are just racing for the sake of it (money). Aston Martin are going to miss Perez very much if Seb’s form does not improve in the next races.

    Also i hope that Vettel gets his mojo back but by the looks of it, to me if he gets trounced by Stroll, that’s retirement for him, if he still cares about his reputation.

    1. Why Kimi, he’s still better than his young teammate

      1. Cristiano Ferreira
        28th March 2021, 18:25

        Being almost as equal or slightly better than Giovinnazi (a poor to okish driver) is not worth the praise, at least not for the drive that Kimi was.

        1. Cristiano Ferreira
          28th March 2021, 18:26


        2. Davethechicken
          28th March 2021, 18:31

          +1. I am a Seb fan. was really hoping for him to come out strong this year.
          If he is consistently slower than Stroll, I think he will retire before the end of this season.

      2. I’m not so sure. They will be very evenly matched this year, but I think Giovinazzi is now very slightly ahead of Kimi.

    2. Lets see after a few races, he was always going to have a hard time of it from the back of the grid. His racing against Alonso was very good considering his tyres, though the less said about the Ocon incident the better!

      1. Seb stopped been in the top class, the moment he lost it at Hockenheim 2018 and then quickly followed it up with this Monza fars

        Remember, that was these were some of the many, brain fades – he’d has since Baku the year before

        I like him a person. He seems genuinely nice, family man and i admire any ‘start’ who doesn’t have a big ego and needs adoring social media fans. But he was wrong, when he tried to blame Ocon for an incident that wasn’t anything less than 100% his fault

        He’ll have some good days, but I’m afraid as some of us said at the time – it’s Hamilton and Alonso who have been demonstrably the best drivers since 2005, as Fernando proved to today before another unfortunate retirement

        1. Cristiano Ferreira
          28th March 2021, 18:49

          Alonso put Ocon in his place from the start. We are talking about someone who spent two years away from F1 and is racing with a fractured jaw.

          I hoped to see the same with Seb. It’s race one alright, so there’s still time for Seb to recover, but if by race 4 or 5 this trend continues it will start to look bad for him, as Aston Martin needs a better driver than Stroll to score important points just like Perez was doing before he got axed.

  11. So Lewis can drive out of track in turn 4 half race but Max does it once and he has to let Lewis pass.

    Anyway, great and exciting race. Good job from Lewis.

    1. It’s about a lasting advantage. And Lewis had a warning about track limits during the race too. 1 more and it’s a penalty, he was told.

      Max overtook him while off the track, that can’t be allowed to stand.

      1. Lewis said on the radio he was doing it all race. So let’s say 20 or so laps an advantage of a tenth minimum seems lasting to me.

        But if it isn’t punished it’s fair so no excuses. Just some heat of the moment thoughts.

        Hopefully the fight stays this close

        1. At least 29 times. “But if it isn’t punished it’s fair” really?

    2. I agree LH was off track several times. As you remember, RB told Max to do the same. A few laps later, race control told all to be in the track limits, or they will pay 5 sec penalty, on which both drivers complied after that.
      It seems Max still cannot think straight under pressure or when things do not go the way he expected, and that’s where Hamilton still has the advantage. Max should have chosen a better spot to give the position back, like right before a DRS zone.
      Clear win for Hamilton
      What a race!

      1. It seems Max still cannot think straight under pressure or when things do not go the way he expected,

        what a strange remark. Try to show some respect for all drivers!

        1. How is that disrespectful? Max has shown in the last, and arguably today, that he makes mistakes when he really has something to race for. We all respect max…but we know what sort of driver he is. At best he will be a Schumacher who ends up winning champs in dirty ways. Bit I did like that he gave back position. That made me smile and I respect that.

      2. If you mean by several, at least 29 times, yes then you are correct.

      3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        29th March 2021, 12:34

        @mauromori Max said in the post race press conference that letting Lewis back past just before a DRS zone would not have been fair as he still would have an unfair advantage being close behind going into DRS. That is a very honourable thing and sporting thing for Max to do. This was a great race between arguably the best two drivers of the last two decades. Max had to overtake Lewis off the track because Lewis positioned it that way. He still has the edge in experience but after a few races going at each other Max will learn!

        Regarding all the moans about using the off track at turn 4, maybe read the regs issued on Friday. That is where Lewis got the impression it wouldn’t be an issue. They stated turn 4 track limits would not be monitored but reminded drivers that they should do their best to stay within the bounds. For 38 laps it wasn’t monitored until Redbull alerted Max to it, which drew the attention of Race Control, who then took action. As for Lewis, it gave him lap time but hurt his tyres (again what he said after the race.) Once he stopped he found his tyres lasted longer which was crucial in the last stint.
        It was an exciting race with a lot going on especially if like me you’re following Lewis and Max, Tsunoda and Norris, Ricciardo and Vettel on the timing app. I can understand if people didn’t quite understand what was actually going on. Lewis did nothing wrong. Neither did Redbull by telling Max to do the same. This action however made Race Control start monitoring it, which they weren’t doing before hence the mid race call to both drivers to stay within the limits. Don’t forget it was just a few months ago they were racing in Bahrain and going off at turn 4 both in qualifying and the race hence Lewis’s surprise as they had already said it would not be monitored (i.e. it’s not an issue.)
        Fantastic race. Nobody should have anything to complain about. I’m a Lewis fan but pretty much accepted Max was going to get him. If Max had one after that battle I still would consider it to be a fantastic race.

    3. @anunaki … Agreed, but Max was instructed to do the same by his team. Not sure Max did or didn’t after that instruction, but he certainly did when he passed…

      I wish Max had ignored the instruction to give the place back, but he would have been penalised. Could he have pulled 5+ secs, and even if he did, would the standards limit the penalty to 5 secs only, had he ignored a clear instruction?

      1. *stewards

      2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        29th March 2021, 15:45

        @psynrg Masi as race director ordered Redbull to instruct Max to give the place back, which they did. If Max then ignored a direct order from race control it would not be just a penalty for overtaking off track. They would have dealt with him more harshly. Paul Di Resta spoke to the stewards after the race and was told it likely would have been 10 seconds. Given there were only a few laps to go and Max had only been catching Lewis by 5 or 6 tenths a lap, Max would have been second anyway and there would be a sour taste in everyone’s mouth like Canada 2019.

    4. Davethechicken
      28th March 2021, 18:25

      I agree with your sentiment, however the difference was he went off the track to overtake another car.
      I agree track limits should be consistent, but for years now they are only enforced on certain corners on each track. I don’t think it right.
      Max and RBR were aware of the difference and that there is a difference . That is why they yielded.
      If you could pass another car off the track imagine the corner cutting that would go on.

    5. @anunaki

      How many cars did Hamilton overtake off track for position at turn 4? In a way, Rosberg set the precedent in Canada 2014. You can abuse track limits and get a certain number of strikes before the black and white flag. But when it’s for position, it’s a different rule. I get you’re salty but atleast try and stay objective.

      1. Fair comment. And as I said: well done from Lewis

      2. Great point. That Rosberg incident was such a blatant advantage, it was amazing it was allowed

    6. As others have said, the track limits on a normal lap and overtaking are two different things. The ruling is you cannot overtake with 4 wheels off the track. Even if they hadn’t started imposing track limits on the corner, Max still wouldn’t have been allowed that overtake

    7. Please!! You know it’s always been OK, to a degree, to take an advantage as long as it’s not an overtake

      At least know the stewards are not going to allow the inconsistency and warned Lewis about race limits

      Go bad through history and you’ll see loads of limit breaches that are suddenly wrong when it’s an overtake

    8. ^ this. Max should have given the pos back as he did. but it would not have been needed if the stewards just did their job. but hey at least they gave Vettel a penalty.. what a load

    9. You think Max only went wide once?

    10. The drivers were told track limits at turn four applied during practice and qualifying (with lap times being deleted), but it would be OK in the race as long as there “was no lasting advantage“. Then half way through the race they decided to start warning drivers about it. Hamilton was told he’d get a black & white flag if he went wide again, then a penalty the next time he did it.

      Changing that ‘ruling’ mid race is bad. All or nothing – either it’s always OK or it’s never OK. Personally, I don’t understand why they can’t just use the white lines for the whole circuit, it’s what they’re there for!

  12. Still he rises. Slow car, old tyres yet he wins

  13. Not fan of Max, but he was scamed today.

    1. @sylversurferr

      Nonsense on both counts.

    2. He overtook with all four wheels off the track. It was a certain penalty. Credit to Max for doing the right thing and letting Lewis back through.

      1. It has been reported that Race Control told Red Bull they had to give Hamilton the place back, so no choice really or face a tougher punishment for not following a RC directive.

    3. @sylversurferr No he wasn’t. It’s not like it’s the first time he’s been punished for overtaking off-track, is it? He should know better than most.

  14. Amazing max made it that close despite a poor strategy and routine fia intervention on hamilton’s behalf

    1. Haha you must be joking lol, fastest car today. And he choked the win away by not overtaking cleanly. Hamilton shown today he is Max’s equal. People acting like Max was on another level from Hamilton was silly they are both there equal in my opinion and even then id say alot of that is Lewis’s age. Perez come from pitlane and came 5th lol. Max had a huge advantage had a massive headwind and he bottled it. If you think Max was amazing what do you decribe Lewis in 2014 vs Nico or today vs Max?

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      28th March 2021, 18:35

      @realnigelmansell I would imagine the FIA will generally be in Max’s favor – they have over the years…

    3. F1oSaurus (@)
      28th March 2021, 18:40

      @realnigelmansell LOL, you mean, Verstappen had the fastest car, was comfortably in the lead, had the choice of best strategy, Hamilton got threatened with a penalty and still Verstappen couldn’t get the win?

      1. The fastest car and comfortably in the lead?! HAM was 1.6sec behind after 14laps, +7sec ahead after 4 more laps!! What are you talking about?! Mercedes/HAM was in cards for the win from once the red lights went off.

        1. Really? I thought it was because these tyres are more fragile and Hamilton has proved he is probably the best at looking after them since Reggazzoni. Whereas Max has to be instructed how to drive them and then still wrecks them going into the last turn.

        2. F1oSaurus (@)
          29th March 2021, 8:00

          @mg1982 That’s called “the undercut”. Maybe you should try to understand the basic concepts of F1.

        3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          29th March 2021, 15:51

          @mg1982 We know Redbull had the fastest car because Max was closing down Lewis at half a second per lap until he got behind him. Had Lewis not been in the way or Max had made the move on track and passed, Max’s race time would have been shorter by a few seconds. It’s that simple. No need to compare stints or different strategies or different tires or tire wear. If Lewis was not in the way, Max’s race distance time would have been shorter therefore over the race distance Redbull had the fastest car. End of!

    4. LOL!! Lewis, last year was still sore about that Belgium 2008 penalty, that occured 12 years earlier!!

      But of course overtakes with 4 wheels off the track are always allowed

    5. Routine? Yeah last year will tell you different reference fia and Hamilton.

      Still Max has lost a position before for overtaking off track, Austin gp I think.

    6. The only reason that verstappan is anywhere near Mercedes is because the fia designed rules to hurt Mercedes. I mean seriously.

  15. Still he rises. Slow car, old tyres yet he wins

  16. Cristiano Ferreira
    28th March 2021, 18:33

    Maybe MazeSpin is the new Maldonado.

    Maldonado might be out of f1, but his spirit Romain in Mazespin now.

    1. Lol, you sir won the best comment on this article so far.

    2. You shouldn’t lower Maldonado to Mazepin level. Mazepin would find better company alongside Yuji Ide.

    3. The only diff between MAZ and MSC is Mick didnt hit the barriers when he lost it as well.

      1. Not hitting the wall was the difference between 2 laps and 56 laps.

        Besides, for a rookie in a Hass the goal is beat somebody, even just your teammate. Schumacher met that goal.

  17. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    28th March 2021, 18:34

    What a race, kudos to Red Bull for making such improvements! Kudos to Mercedes for the strategy calls! Kudos to Max and Lewis for an absolutely amazing race!

  18. Long live King Lewis and majestic mercs! Awsome race right through the grid. Was on the edge!

  19. Max will not win the championship driving like that. He was faster, why to try to overtake there? He has always been too focused on being the fastest possible, to overtake immediately, to be spectacular, but championships are won being smart. He would have been able to overtake the next lap if haven’t burned his tyres trying something with so little chances of success.

    1. Jan-Marten Spit
      28th March 2021, 20:19

      Still i bet HAM would have loved to win without cheating.

  20. This was a positive start for the season. Both Mercedes and Red Bull seemed on similar pace, with Bottas and Perez having troubled races. Especially Bottas pace (when in free air) was pretty good and i hope he can mix with the two other guys regularly.

    I really liked the McLaren-Ferrari battle (which would have involved Alpha Tauri as well) and Ferrari seems to be genuinely back in the high end of the grid.

    Really disappointed by Alpine and Vettel. Alpine’s raw pace was really weak throughout the weekend, while Vettel made some amateurish mistakes once again.

    A really solid start for the season and i hope that when we reach Europe,the situation will be familiar.

  21. Great race! Finally a challenge for Hamilton and Mercedes but like we saw plenty of times in the past it needs more than a fast car to beat them.
    You have to be perfect in both driving and strategy and Redbull/Verstappen simply weren’t today.

    Good racing in the midfield too. I only hoped that McLaren and Ferrari would have been a little bit closer to the front.

    And a little bit of a mess with the track limits though. It cannot be the case that they change policy during the race.

  22. Sensational from Hamilton, he’s still got peak years ahead of him! How many chances’ young’ Max are the press going to throw at him as he’s at least 100 GPs old and the trite up and coming trope still being thrown at him, surely he had to to convert today.

    Kevin in Austin TX Hill Country

  23. Please let this continue through the season

  24. Don’t worry my friends. Mercedes are still hanging on to power by their fingertips for another fortnight. That is all.

    1. Then Williams will return to where they belong.

  25. Whatever is happening to Sebastian!? So sad to see him being beaten by Stroll!
    Bonkers of a race that was, hats off to Hamilton!

  26. Jan-Marten Spit
    28th March 2021, 20:16

    HAM exceeded track limits for at least the 30 laps i checked. Max stayed within the limits at turn 4 consistently. Only after RB told max to copy HAM, race control labeled it illegal. HAM gained an advantage of 30 to 40 times 0.1 s.

    RIC did not breach turn 4. LEC did not breach turn 4. NOR did not. I bet nobody but MERC did.

    How is that race control let HAM do that yet decided to outlaw it after RB complained about the unfair advantage? Was it only outlawed from that time onwards? If so, race control changed the rules during the race on RB’s request. If it was already outlawed during the entire race, why was HAM not warned for breaching the track limits consistently.

    On Saturday morning Martin Brundle commented that everybody was honoring the track limits at turn 4 because they were told to, and that it was good to see drivers sticking to it. There is a race track, and there is the area outside that is not.

    Teams and fans should put an end to this lack of sportsmanship. If Toto can’t behave, he must be forced to.

  27. How does Mercedes have the worst pit crew on the grid? Not only is Mercedes above the average in pit time but their variation has to be the largest too. When they pit, you could get anything from a 2.9 to a 4.1 with a random 10 second thrown in.

  28. This was just an awesome round one in the HAM / VES fight. Unfortunately for Max he couldn’t get fully on the power out of some corners because of a (differenential?) issue for a big part of the race. And track position was more important than Redbull anticipated looking at their strategy.

    Lewis on the other hand performed a great undercut and managed to keep Max behind him when it counted. That outlap after his 1st stop was pretty awesome on that hard tyre.

    It’s 1-0 now and 25 – 19 points. I can’t wait for the next one… Imola.

  29. Formula 1 fans must thank Ves, RB and Honda for bringing back the excitement. Would be a walk in the park for Mercedes and Lewis if not.

  30. Redbull strategy fail, too bad.

  31. Lewis win= great race

    According to most people

    Same result=boring

    According to me

    1. the race takes place in development. maybe you are not watching the right thing.

    2. @olivier what race were u watching? Are implying it will only be good if lewis does not win. Even though like today he had a real fight being in the slower car and still winning

      1. In the slower car? Verstappen still manage t o pass him with an damaged car.

    3. @olivier It only shows that your dislike for Hamilton is more than your love for a good race.

    4. I know what you mean. Even with the best tools you know Max and RB going to screw it up.

  32. Just another lucky day for hamilton. Verstappen still manage to pass him with an ill car. The good thing one cannot be always lucky without a dominant car. Lets move to next race.

    1. Yes, lucky Max ruined his newer tyres at T13 too. Or we turning a blind eye to that?

  33. I would like to see more discussion around Merc’s strategy with BOT. Why not leave him out there for longer on that stint where they ended up screwing the pit stop? Either bring him in on the lap after HAM or leave him out there.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      29th March 2021, 15:55

      @jimfromus Toto addressed that after the race. Apparently Bottas wasn’t showing good enough pace to make it work. They took the fastest option of getting new tires on rather than let him continue at a slower pace than Max.

  34. Neverelectric
    28th March 2021, 22:45

    The irony of Max and RB complaining that Lewis was leaving the track at Turn 4, then Max himself getting penalised for – guess what? – overtaking with all tyres off the track at Turn 4….you couldn’t make this up!

  35. Wow very exciting race. So much for the fabled Red Bull advantage / Mercedes handicap from pre-season testing. Biggest handicap again was in reality Red Bull without a 2nd driver in the mix to help with the undercuts.

    The race director and stewards again showing their incompetence and lack of strength. In reality decided the race outcome. Even after they warned Mercedes there would be a black and white flag for next track limits infringement, they didn’t enforce it despite being repeated.

    Otherwise very impressive by Norris and Leclerc, but still the gaps to the front is huge. Kudos to Alfa Romeo too. Almost in the points with both cars is a good improvement to where they usually are.

  36. Results look much like last year. Lewis P1, Bottas not a threat, Max spectacular, but behind Lewis.

    Leclerc great, Vettel clumsy crash, some pay driver ran out of talent, Perez was excellent, #2 RBR driver far behind Max, etc.

    Good thing we watch the race, because results were not entertaining.

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