Mercedes Lewis Hamilton held off Max Verstappen's Red Bull for victory in an extraordinary finish to the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hamilton held off polesitter Verstappen in a riveting finish to the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton got in front of Verstappen by pitting ahead of Verstappen on two occasions and got some help from a Verstappen pass for the lead that went slightly awry.
Verstappen got ahead of Hamilton with less than four laps to go in turn 4. But he went off the track on the corner exit. Formula 1 stewards started telling teams during the race that drivers would be penalized for going off track in the corner after numerous drivers were going wide in the corner.
That warning meant that Verstappen was facing a five-second penalty for going wide while passing Hamilton. He avoided a potential penalty by giving the lead back to Hamilton on the backstretch but never got close enough to try a pass for the lead again over the final three laps.
The win is Hamilton's first in a season-opening race since he won the 2015 Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton has won the last four world titles and six of the last seven championships. An eighth title would break a tie with Michael Schumacher for the most F1 titles. Hamilton is already the winningest driver in F1 history and Sunday's race was his 96th career win.
Verstappen was the driver to beat all weekend. He was fastest in practice and beat Hamilton to the pole by nearly four tenths of a second.
But Hamilton got the lead with an undercut on the first pit stop cyle of the race. Verstappen pitted six laps after Hamilton and then got the lead back with his fresher tires after Hamilton pitted before Verstappen again after Verstappen had closed to within two seconds.
Hamilton cut into Verstappen's ensuing lead on his fresh tires and had an 8.8-second lead when Verstappen emerged from the pits with 16 laps to go in the 56-lap race. Verstappen quickly cut into Hamilton's lead over the next 10 laps and put himself in a position to get the win if it wasn't for the errant pass, Yahoo Sports reported.