1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

F1: Ferrari's Leclerc wins season-opening Bahrain GP

March 20, 2022

Ferrari celebrated an opening day one-two in Bahrain courtesy of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. But it was a disastrous start for defending champion Max Verstappen and Red Bull, whose two cars both failed to finish.

Formel 1 Bahrain Leclerc Charles
Image: Xavi Bonilla/PanoramiC/IMAGO

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari won the Formula One season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday after reigning champion Max Verstappen was forced out with engine trouble with just two laps remaining.

Carlos Sainz made it a Ferrari one-two while seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton snatched third place after Sergio Perez added to Red Bull's disastrous day by spinning out of the race with minutes remaining.

It is Ferrari's first win since 2019 and the third of Leclerc's career. The Frenchman was largely unchallenged other than a three-lap burst from Verstappen, who moved his Red Bull in front, briefly, from well behind thanks to DRS.

Ferrari have not won a title since 2008 but after years of being out of contention will now believe they have the package — and drivers — to end the drought.

"Mamma mia, that's how to start a season!" said an ecstatic Leclerc at the finish. "I'm so happy. The last two years were unbelievably difficult for the team, but they've done a fantastic job to provide us with this great car. It couldn't have gone any better for us."

With Hamilton in third and teammate George Russell immediately behind in fourth, Mercedes will also feel they made the most of the opening day, while Kevin Magnussen, back at Haas after they dropped Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, was a surprise fifth.

New F1 regulations

The race was the first held under new regulations, with changes in aerodynamics in particular designed to promote more overtaking and closer battles between cars.

And they seemed to have an effect, with Leclerc engaging in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Verstappen after the first pitstops, and the pair passing and repassing each other for the lead over several laps.

But Red Bull's race came undone at the very end. Verstappen's car, hobbled for much of the race by a steering issue, appeared to suddenly slow. Perez reported a loss of power immediately afterward and blamed the engine for his sudden spin. 

The next race is in Saudi Arabia on March 27.

Final standings:

1. Leclerc (Ferrari)
2. Sainz (Ferrari)
3. Hamilton (Mercedes)
4. Russell (Mercedes)

mf/sms (AFP/SID)