Verstappen kicks off with a Grand Chelem

Could there be a better way to start the season than with a Grand Chelem? That’s exactly what Max Verstappen did at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with a dominant performance that saw him not only win the race, but also take pole position, as well leading each and every one of the 57 laps. The Dutchman also secured the point that goes with setting the fastest race lap, a stratospheric 1’32”608 on lap 39, a full second and a half quicker than the second best time of 1’34”090 set by Charles Leclerc. Max was joined on the podium by second placed Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, third.

This was Verstappen’s 55th career win, while today’s Grand Chelem was his fifth, which puts him third for this particular discipline equal with Alberto Ascari and Michael Schumacher: ahead of him are Lewis Hamilton (6) and Jim Clark (8). As for Red Bull, it now joins Williams in fourth place on the list of team race wins on 114.


In terms of tyre use and strategy, the race panned out pretty much as expected from earlier forecasts and simulations carried out after qualifying. All the drivers started on Soft tyres before switching to Hards. Those, such as Red Bull, who only had one available set of C1s used the new set of C3s saved from qualifying for the final stint, while the vast majority of drivers opted for the second set of Hards for the third and last part. The exceptions can be counted on the finger of one hand: the quartet in question were Nico Hulkenberg, forced to pit on the opening lap following a collision at the start, making three stops, as did Pierre Gasly (Alpine) and Logan Sargeant (Williams.) They went for something different, doing two stints on the Hard and two on the Soft, while Daniel Ricciardo (Racing Bulls) made two stops, choosing a new C3 set to end the race.


 “The first Grand Prix of 2024 seemed almost like an extension to the previous season with Verstappen easily leaving the rest of the field in his wake, while it was all very close behind him. It’s no coincidence that there were five teams in the ten points scoring positions, pretty much in the same order as they finished last season, the only exception being Ferrari ahead of Mercedes. In terms of how the tyres performed, there were no surprises: in fact the tyres are practically the same as those from last year’s race here and the three days of testing prior to this race meant the teams were able to analyse every aspect of their performance. The slightly cooler temperatures meant the Soft was even more competitive, because there was less degradation taking into consideration the nature of the track. However, only Red Bull made a bold choice in terms of strategy, while the others preferred to play it safe, keeping two sets of Hard for the race.”


Formula 2

Zane Maloney (Rodin) was the big star of the first weekend of the FIA Formula 2 Championship. The Barbadian won both Friday’s Sprint Race and today’s Feature event, picking up a total of 36 points. Spaniard Josep Maria Marti (Campos) also paid two visits to the podium, third in the Sprint and second in the Feature, while the other two podium places went to the American Jack Crawford (DAMS) second on Friday and Estonia’s Paul Aron (Hitech), third today.

The new generation Formula 2 car made its race debut in Sakhir and clearly there is still room for improvement for teams and drivers when it comes to fine tuning the new car-tyre package. The two compounds – Hard and Soft – that Pirelli brought here behaved pretty much as expected, maybe with a slight performance difference and less degradation than was seen last year.

Formula 3

Arvin Lindblad (Prema) in the Sprint Race and Luke Browning (Hitech) in the Feature Race were the winners at this first round of the FIA Formula 3 Championship. In the first contest, the Danish Prema driver got the upper hand over Dutchman Laurens van Hoepen (ART) and Italy’s Leonardo Fornaroli (Trident.) In the main race, the English Hitech driver was joined on the podium by Australia’s Christian Mansell (ART) and Germany’s Tim Tramnitz (MP Motorsport.)

The Sakhir event saw the teams running the new Hard for the first time. The compound behaved as expected and, most importantly, met the performance targets as defined in conjunction with the championship promoter.


Formula 1 is back on track almost immediately this coming week for the second round of the season, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, from 7 to 9 March on the Jeddah street circuit. As was the case here in Bahrain, the race takes place on Saturday. Pirelli is bringing the C2, C3 and C4 compounds to Saudi Arabia, with Formula 2 again on the support card, while also racing for the first time this year will be the F1 Academy, the all-women series for which Pirelli is the sole tyre supplier.


Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 117 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.