Charles Leclerc has started the 2022 Formula 1 season with victory in Bahrain, with teammate Carlos Sainz finishing second to give Ferrari a 1-2 finish.
Red Bull looked to be on for a place on the podium as well, but mechanical issues late on meant neither of the team’s cars saw the chequered flag.
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez’s issues handed Lewis Hamilton the final spot on the podium, with his new teammate George Russell just behind him.
It was a clean start at the front of the field, but Valtteri Bottas, starting from sixth on his Alfa Romeo debut found himself tumbling down the order, while Esteban Ocon and Mick Schumacher tripped over each other in the midfield, resulting in a five-second time penalty for the Frenchman.
Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to make a pitstop, and was almost caught out by the cooler tyre temperatures in 2022, struggling to control his Mercedes as he rejoined the track.
Verstappen stopped a lap earlier than Leclerc, and having fresher tyres a lap sooner allowed the reigning champion to close the gap to the Ferrari. The Dutchman briefly took the lead a lap later, but Leclerc immediately responded to move back ahead a couple of corners later.
The Red Bull driver tried the same move on the next lap, but once again was repassed by the Monegasque racer, before locking up his tyres on the next attempt, ensuring the Ferrari driver remained at the front.
With Verstappen unable to challenge Leclerc after the second round of pitstops, Red Bull rolled the dice by bringing Verstappen and Sergio Perez in for a third round of pitstops.
Ferrari responded by bringing in Carlos Sainz, but left Leclerc out, but there was further drama when Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri burst into flames, bringing out the safety car late on in the race.
The incident gave Leclerc chance to make his third stop, while Verstappen complained of a heavy feeling wheel following his stop.
Verstappen’s difficulties continued as the safety car period ended, and eventually his car started to lose power, allowing Sainz to move ahead before the rest of the field started the follow before the car was brought into the garage and retired.
Perez also complained of a loss of power on the penultimate lap of the race as he came under pressure from Hamilton for the final spot on the podium, and an apparent engine issue cause him to spin at the start of the final lap, leaving him stuck facing the wrong way.
Hamilton moved up into third as a result, while Red Bull’s late troubled ensured Guanyu Zhou finished his first race in the points.
1 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
4. George Russell (Mercedes)
5. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
6. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
7. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
10. Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)
11. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
12. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
13. Alexander Albon (Williams)
14. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
15. Lando Norris (McLaren)
16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
17. Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin)
Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)