Red Bull’s dominant one-two victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix was the best start any team has made to a season in 25 years.
You have to go back to the 1998 Australian Grand Prix – before Red Bull were on the grid and Bahrain was on the calendar – for the last time a team’s car finished further ahead of its closest rival. Max Verstappen won last week’s season-opener ahead of team mate Sergio Perez with Fernando Alonso 38.637s behind in his Aston Martin.
Not since the 1998 Australian Grand Prix, which also saw a dominant one-two victory for an Adrian Newey designed car, has the opening race been won by a larger margin. On that occasion Mika Hakkinen brought his McLaren-Mercedes home followed by the sister car of David Coulthard while Heinz-Harald Frentzen took the flag a lapped third in his Williams.
The biggest gap during the intervening period occured in 2004 when, as last weekend, Alonso also finished third. On that occasion it was behind the all-conquering Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.
Do either of those seasons tell us whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic about the standard of anything about the standard the rest of year is likely to produce? Not really. The 1998 title fight went down to the wire between Hakkinen and a resurgent Schumacher, but six years later the latter dominated proceedings, winning 12 of the first 13 races.
For Red Bull, this was their most dominant win since Baku last year. Verstappen notched up the 36th win of his career and 21st pole position, the latter leaving him one shy of Alonso’s tally, though perhaps he will add his first pole in more than a decade later this year.
Despite his dominant start to the season, Verstappen was unable to complete a hat-trick as the fastest lap went to Zhou Guanyu. The Alfa Romeo driver took the second fastest lap of his career, the other having come at Suzuka last year.
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Alonso achieved the 99th podium finish of his career and is poised to become the sixth driver in F1 history to reach a century. He has now competed in 20 different seasons, which is a record, exceeding the tallies of Schumacher, Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen.
It was officially the second podium finish for an Aston Martin driver, the first being Sebastian Vettel’s in Baku two years ago. Vettel also stood on the podium in…
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