Miguel A. HerguedasSpecial Envoy Sakhir

Special Envoy Sakhir

Updated Saturday, March 2, 2024-18:01

  • Bahrain GP Classification and times

  • The Emeritus returns to F1. Surprise visit to the paddock and jokes with Sainz

There was no story at the start of the World Cup, because

Max Verstappen

prevents rivals from building their story.

There is no option even for partisan resistance, nor for an ambush, nor for hand-to-hand combat in the trenches.

The dominance with which Red Bull has started rolling in 2024 is so exaggerated that its rivals are now only thinking about crumbs.

Mad Max

won with 22.4 seconds over

Sergio Pérez

, his Red Bull teammate, the largest margin after two decades in Bahrain.

And he signed what in F1 is called

Grand Chelem

, which includes victory,


(1:32.608), fastest lap and a lead maintained from the start to the finish line.

Among the dust of the desert, only one flower grew under the dunes.

A red one, raised by

Carlos Sainz

in this wasteland.

The Madrid native was chosen by the fans as driver of the day with 31% of the votes.

At the finish line, of course, he looked exultant.

During some stretch of the race he had even dreamed of catching Pérez, but third place undoubtedly fulfilled his expectations.

Because it was not simply his career podium, but a coup d'état in the Ferrari garage.

Fernando Alonso

, why deny it, did not have the slightest option of doing something great in Sakhir.

He finished ninth because his car doesn't go much further, which should put all of Aston Martin on alert.

He had started from the dirty zone and soon discovered that he couldn't even hold the McLarens.

On the third lap he gave way to Norris and a couple of laps later to Piastri.

With Hamilton's nose behind his fin, he felt at the mercy, not only of a seven-time champion, but of almost anyone.

Sainz had sent a warning to sailors to avoid misunderstandings: "I have more pace than those in front."

Obviously, he was alluding to a Leclerc with destroyed nerves, whom he did not hesitate to push to the limit.

In the short distance, after a spectacular braking in Turn 1, Sainz took the first fight of what seems like a busy year in the red garage.

Carlos was not exaggerating with his predictions, because he was the only one capable of sustaining Verstappen's infernal pace for a while.

But he wanted Ferrari to return to the asphalt again after his first pit-stop, on lap 15, in Leclerc's wake.

While the Monegasque was complaining about the brakes, his companion was a shot.

To his fastest lap (1:35.507), shortly later improved by Verstappen, he added a wonderful maneuver in front of Russell.

To understand the superiority of the champion, the only one who regularly ran in 1:35, there is also the fact that it only took 20 minutes to beat Logan Sargeant.

After halfway through the test, his gap over Pérez had widened to 15 seconds.

That is, an average of five tenths per lap against a rival with his own car.

If there was interest in checking how the cold would affect degradation, the conclusions were most encouraging for Ferrari.

Leclerc was warned that his Pirelli would extend his life beyond what was expected.

And Sainz, on an asphalt at only 22ºC, rode steadily in 1:37.

In addition, Ferrari more than completed a second pit-stop, 20 laps from the finish line, in 2.2 seconds.

Red Bull had to act immediately with Pérez, given that his advantage over Sainz did not exceed two seconds.

However, with the second

The Asturian did enough to stay in the top-10, because he could never feel competitive.

Not in front of McLaren, not in front of his garage mate.

Lance Stroll had plummeted towards the pit after a first-turn contact with Nico Hulkenberg.

But the Canadian did not lose his step, but he gradually acquired great consistency.

Fernando had only attracted the attention of the cameras with a couple of maneuvers against Guanyu Zhou.

But his first


with the hard ones was more than worrying.

And he didn't even have any luck in the

safety car

casino , waiting for a stroke of fortune that would never come.

No less than 25 laps waiting for nothing.

After renewing the footwear, his AMR24 looked different.

If Stroll intended to cross the finish line ahead, he didn't know who he was going to play in the quarterfinals with.

Alonso got rid of his partner with a fierce maneuver.

His only revenge in a race, which, as he himself acknowledged on the radio, seemed eternal.