“Great start”: Max Verstappen on ‘unbelievable’ start to title defence with Bahrain GP win

Sakhir [Bahrain], March 3 (ANI): After winning the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen expressed his delight with an “unbelievable” start as the Dutchman began his third consecutive title defence at the Sakhir circuit with a commanding performance.

Verstappen qualified first for the race on Saturday night and maintained his lead throughout the first lap before gradually pulling away from the field to finish 22 seconds ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

“It’s unbelievable. I think today went even better than expected. I think the car was nice to drive, on every [tyre] compound I think we had a lot of pace,” Verstappen said post-race as quoted by Formula 1.

“It was just super enjoyable to drive today, we stayed out of trouble and it’s a great start to the year – it couldn’t have been better. It’s always very special to have these kinds of days because they don’t happen that often, that it just all goes perfect, you are at one with the car and everything just feels great,” he added.

Verstappen said that his easy victory was largely due to his manoeuvring throughout the race to protect fellow front-row starter Charles Leclerc entering Turn 1.

“I think the start was good. Of course, the first corner is a very tight hairpin, so naturally, you want to defend the inside just to be safe, so that’s what we did and basically from there onwards we just focused on our race,” he said.

As for only having a few days to commemorate before returning to action with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Verstappen said, “That’s fine. It’s a long season. It’s a great place in the world to be anyway so for me, a couple of days of rest and we go again.”

Verstappen’s victory was the 55th of his Formula One career, and it gave him an early lead in the drivers’ standings going into the Jeddah Corniche Circuit over Perez and Carlos Sainz, who finished in third place.