Verstappen leads Red Bull Bahrain Grand Prix one-two, Leclerc forced to retire
Max Verstappen started the defence of his Formula One title with a comfortable victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The two-time world champion was in front from the start and never truly came under threat, leading a Red Bull one-two ahead of Sergio Perez to secure his team's first opening-weekend victory since 2011.
With Charles Leclerc forced into a retirement due to an engine issue, Red Bull's closest challenger was Fernando Alonso, who worked his way through the field for a podium finish.
But a rejuvenated Aston Martin were no match for a dominant Verstappen and Red Bull in what proved to be a comfortable race for the defending champions.
Leclerc, who had a power unit change before the start, leapfrogged Perez to take second place at the start but could not stay ahead of the Mexican, who regained his grid position after the first round of pit stops on lap 26.
Mercedes' fight with Aston Martin was the battle to watch, Lewis Hamilton completing an undercut on Alonso before a stellar move on lap 38 saw the Spaniard move ahead again.
Engine problems for Leclerc led to his retirement three laps later, opening the door for Alonso to battle Carlos Sainz for a podium spot after the virtual safety car was deployed.
Alonso was able to catch his compatriot on lap 46 to clinch third spot in his first race for Aston Martin, though there was no challenge for Red Bull as they eased to only their second ever win in the first race of the year.
Having had to retire from the lead twice in the 2022 season due to engine issues, Leclerc would have hoped those problems were a thing of the past heading into Ferrari's 2023 campaign.
Never appearing to have the pace to put the Red Bull duo under threat, calamity struck with another forced retirement in a nightmare start to the season.
Ocon's Alpine agony
Esteban Ocon's season did not get off to a good start, with the Frenchman given three time penalties over the course of the race.
An initial five-second penalty came for incorrect grid position, with a 10-second penalty following for failing to serve that correctly and another five-second penalty issued for speeding in the pit lane before the Alpine was eventually retired.
IN THE POINTS
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +11.987
3. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) +36.637
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +48.052
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +50.977
6. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +54.502
7. George Russell (Mercedes) +55.873
8. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +1:12.647
9. Pierre Gasly (Alpine) +1:13.753
10. Alexander Albon (Williams) +1:20.870
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 25
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 18
3. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) 15
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 12
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 10
1. Red Bull 43
2. Aston Martin 23
3. Mercedes 16
4. Ferrari 12
5. Alfa Romeo 4