Verstappen takes dominant Bahrain win


Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sent a chilling message to his Formula 1 rivals with a crushing victory in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

He brushed off the controversy surrounding his team principal Christian Horner to dominate after a brief challenge at the start from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen led team-mate Sergio Perez home ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc recovered from dropping to fifth early on to pass Mercedes’ George Russell for fourth in the closing laps.

The weekend in Bahrain had been dominated by Horner, who has been at the centre of a complaint of inappropriate behaviour from a female colleague for the last month.

On Wednesday, the day before the on-track action started, Red Bull’s head office announced that the grievance had been dismissed.

An email containing a cache of messages purporting to involve Horner was sent to Formula 1 personnel and media less than 24 hours later.

After qualifying, Verstappen was asked twice whether he had full confidence in Horner as Red Bull team principal, and both times declined to give a definitive reply.

Horner’s wife, the former Spice Girl Horner, flew into Bahrain for the race, as the pair made what appeared to be a studied and calculated appearance for the cameras.

Red Bull’s main shareholder, the Thai businessman Chalerm Yoovidhya, also flew in for the race to offer public support for Horner. Yoovidhya declined to answer BBC Sport’s questions before the race.

Horner was asked before the grand prix by BBC 5 live pit-lane reporter Rosanna Tennant whether the messages were genuine and replied that he “couldn’t comment on messages from an anonymous sender.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, admitted after taking pole that Horner had been “of course a little bit distracted” but said that the controversy was “not our business” and that he was “focused on the performance.” And what a performance it was. (BBC) 

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