F1: Verstappen was ‘stroking it’ and still was 1s a lap faster than Hamilton

—by Mark Cipolloni—

Defending World Driving Champion Max Verstappen drove a conservative race in winning the Bahrain GP after Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari ground to a halt on lap 40 of 57.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were going at it hard over 4th position with Alonso finally schooling Hamilton on his way to a podium finish.

Had Verstappen not backed off on lap 40 onward, his margin of victory over Hamilton would have easily been over 60 seconds in the 57 lap race.

As a result, Sky Sports F1 analyst Martin Brundle believes the Bahrain race confirms that Mercedes has “accepted defeat” on their W14 car concept.

“It was a devastating performance – the two Mercedes cars and the two Aston Martins were fighting hard among themselves all race, as well as trying to catch the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz,” said Brundle in a column for Sky Sports.

“And yet Lewis Hamilton was still 50 seconds behind Max at the end of the race, with George Russell even further back. The six-tenths per lap they were missing in qualifying was more like a second per lap in the race, and that’s a shocker.”

Brundle says he “wouldn’t rule out” Red Bull taking victory at every race in 2023, after the comments made by George Russell following the race.

“George said after the race that he believes Red Bull will win all 23 races, and while that might have been an emotional and disappointed reaction, you couldn’t rule it out on the evidence we’ve seen so far,” he said.