F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix: Christian Horner latest and live race as Max Verstappen claims victory in Bahrain with Sergio Perez achieving a Red Bull one-two and Carlos Sainz coming third

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Written By Maya Cantina

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WATCH: Max Verstappen’s full post-race interview

Verstappen jubilant

We are witnessing history.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Pauline Ballet - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

WATCH: Full interviews wth Perez and Sainz

Max Verstappen celebrates

He’s now standing atop the podium and we’ll bring you all the images when we can.

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix REUTERS/Rula Rouhana

Carlos Sainz: We’re not where we want to be – despite podium finish

The start wasn’t ideal but I managed my tyres.

Keeping up with the Red Bull at the end was a pleasant surprise. Still not enough or where we want to be.

We had a very clear plan, using soft and then two hards. With the hard [tyres] in our car we feel more comfortbable because it overheats less.

In the Red Bull you can see different traits, different strategies. That’s the beauty of F1.

I expect cars liek McLaren and Red Bull to be competitive. Hopefully we can also be strong there [Jeddah].

Sergio Perez – We had issues but it’s a great way to start the season

It was the maximum we could have achieved. It was quite a ricky race. It’s a great way to start the season.

Compound the compound, the amount of silding we wre having, we were having issues with the engine braking.

We’ll analyse all of that tonight and make sure we learn for Jeddah.

It’s good for team momentum and we’ve got to keep it up.

Max Verstappen speaks to Sky Sports

Unbelievable. Today went even better than expected. The car was really nice to drive on every compounds. It was super enjoyable to drive today.

It was a lot of fun. I felt really good in the car. It’s special to have these kind of days.

It’s a long season and it’s a great place in the world to be [Jeddah, up next]. Couple of days’ rest and then we go again.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

A dominant performance from Verstappen

Carlos Sainz claims driver of the day

Alright, he didn’t win by 22 seconds, but the feeling is that Sainz outperformed his car.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 2: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Scuderia Ferrari walks in pitlane prior to the start of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 2, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Kym Illman/Getty Images)

Full classification

Verstappen

Hulkenberg

Max Verstappen wins!

And that’s a win for Verstappen!

He’s bettered last year’s triumph here by 10 seconds.

Perez comes in second – his best finish in nine races – while Sainz clinches third.

Say what you like about the scandal enveloping them, that was a relentless performance from Red Bull.

Verstappen never gave up top spot, whie Perez climbed from fifth to second.

Christian Horner congratulates his drivers on a ‘perfect’ start to the season.

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on March 2, 2024. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP) (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Final lap

Ricciardo was pushing hard and ignoring track limits but Magnussen has defended 12th position.

Final lap

This should be an easy win now for Verstappen. He could probably walk it and win. He’s 21 seconds to the good over Perez.

Battles to look out for? Norris catching Russell…. and that ongoing RB chase on Magnussen, with both drivers livid.

SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - MARCH 2: Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing during Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir, Bahrain on March 2, 2024. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Ricciardo annoyed in RB overtake kerfuffle – and Tsunoda still furious!

Ricciardo is said to be annoyed at how the overtake on Tsunoda was carried out as they had to scamper out of the way to let Verstappen past, and lsot valuable time on Magnussen in 12th.

Tsunoda is revving harder and harder and still blasting abuse down the mic. He’s furious.

Lap 54

Norris is trying to close in on Russell and is 1.8 seconds behind.

Sainz is 3.3 seconds out from Checo in second but the Mexican is stumbling along.

McLaren's Lando Norris during the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Lap 53

Verstappen is now 20 seconds ahead of Perez. He’s made me eat my words predicting a closer race than last year.

Yuki Tsunoda: ‘Are you KIDDING ME? No!’

Yuki Tsunoda is irate at instructions to let team-mate Ricciardo past him.

The Japanese driver is catching Magnussen and wants to make up that place… but that’d only put him 12th anyway, and the points positions are well off.

Against his will, the swap happens.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 2: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB enters the paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 2, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Kym Illman/Getty Images)

Driver of the day

Get your votes in for driver of the day… and let us know hwo you opted for!

Besides Verstappen, who has been imperious, I’d opt for Sainz, but I don’t think anyone has had a particularly good race.

Zhou has climbed six places to 11th so I guess he’s an outside shout.

WATCH: Russell SURRENDERS fourth to Leclerc

This was a disaster for Russell… and on lap 50 Norris is catching him. He’s got 2.3 seconds to make up.

Lap 49

Alonso is past Stroll but he’d have to be a magician to make up 27 seconds in nine laps.

Verstappen is 18 points ahead of Perez and doesn’t look like slowing up. He still holds the fastest lap, which would give him an extra point.

Norris has been complaining all afternoon but retains a four-second buffer over Hamilton.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Lap 48

Last 10 laps now.

Red Bull and Ferrari lock out the front four, with Russell fifth, Norris sixth, Hamilton seventh, Piastri eighth, Stroll ninth, and Alonso building in 10th on fresher tyres.

He can’t build far, though – Stroll is a mega 27 seconds behind Piastri!

Russell slips up

Noooo… Russell made that easy.

He drifted wide on the straight going into turn 11 and lost round, and Leclerc swooped in to take the inside line.

Russell is down in fifth now.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Pauline Ballet - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Lap 46

The wind are out of Hamilton’s sails. Once he thought he could catch Norris but that looks a dimming ambition. He’s four seconds off Norris and still seventh.

Lap 44

Sainz can be cautiously optimistic.

Wit 13 laps to go, he’s three seconds out from Perez in second, but the Mexican pitted ages ago and his tyres will start to struggle. Then again, he is the master of retaining tyre stamina.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain steers his car during the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Leclerc catching Russell

Engine cooling problems have dogged Russell this race and Leclerc is resurgent, in DRS range.

That’s our battle for fourth. The Italian stallions are catching. Leclerc has gained 0.5 seconds over four laps.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco steers his car during the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Lap 42

Alonso zooms into the pits and it’s not good news.

He surrenders places, slipping to 11th. Zhou has overtaken him and is now 3 seconds ahead… but with fresh tyres Alonso will be hoping to make up ground easily.

Hamilton – ‘these guys are fast!’

Lewis Hamilton: ‘These guys are fast, mate!’

The 39-year-old is again on his own, 3.2 seconds ahead of Piastri but 5.1 behind sixth-placed Norris.

epa11194179 Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain during a pit stop in the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix, at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, 02 March 2024. EPA/ALI HAIDER / POOL

Lap 39

Hamilton deploys DRS and springs past Alonso coming into lap 39. He’s now seventh but five seconds adrift of Norris.

Alonso has done well not to slip back and is only a second behind him.

Verstappen first, Perez 18 seconds back, Sainz third, Russell fourth, and Leclerc fifth.

WATCH: Hamilton overtakes stumbling Piastri!

Lap 37

‘Verstappen can stop for a cup of tea,’ quips Martin Brundle. And he probably could, with Perez pitting now.

Perez comes out a whopping 41 seconds behind his team-mate. He’s on soft tyres now for 20 laps but is only a couple of seconds ahead of Sainz.

Verstappen comes in for a fresh set of boots and exits a world away from the competition.

Lap 35

Hamilton with the overtake!

Leclerc and Piastri pitted, and Piastri initially came out ahead of him, but Hamilton’s tyres were warmer as he had a lap in the bank and could grip better. He surges past the McLaren into eighth.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Lap 34

Well, Verstappen’s chasm is up to 17.5 seconds. Catch him if you can. You can’t.

Lap 33

Hamilton is making ground on Piastri as he’s only a couple off seconds off and in seventh.

A haul of six points would be a dire way to start a title challenge. This just shows how far Mercedes have declined. Russell is ninth.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 2: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes AMG rides his scooter in pitlane prior to the start of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 2, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Kym Illman/Getty Images)

WATCH: Bottas’ pit stop fail

Ouch, ouch, ouch. Bottas was in the pit for 52.4 seconds with a nut seemingly stuck in the rim of one of his wheels.

His race is ruined as he’s now 19th. Day over for the mulleted former Mercedes man.

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 Sauber's Valtteri Bottas in action during the race REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Valtteri Bottas of Finnland and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber looks on during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images )

Leclerc’s radio ranting

Somehow Leclerc is clinging on to fifth, but you get the sense he won’t be able to hold out fror much longer.

‘My car is going fully to the right when I’m braking!’

Lap 30

Verstappen’s fans must be loving this. Or maybe not. He’s 15 seconds ahead and in his own world, a lonely world of concentration and no action.

Russell is still fourth and now nine seconds off Sainz in third.

Lap 29

Fernando Alonso is experiencing huge woes as we come to the half-way point today. He’s in ninth, three places behind where he began, and is 11 seconds off Hamilton.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes leads Oscar Piastri of Australia driving the (81) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Lap 28

Albon has moaned about his new steering wheel.

Martin Brundle says the new Williams wheel is ‘distracting’ as it is so glaring.

Albon is down in 14th while his team-mate, Sargeant, is bottom.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes leads Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Williams prepares to drive on the grid prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Lap 26

Bored of Verstappen updates? He’s 12 seconds to the good now over Perez.

Hamilton has failed to kick on since overtaking Alonso and is 3 seconds off Piastri, who is seventh.

WATCH: Russell struggles with power unit issue – explained

Russell is still fourth but six seconds off the podium places.

McLaren expect to challenge Russell and Leclerc

McLaren CEO Zak Brown thinks Norris and Piastri will soon be at loggerheads with Leclerc in fifth, and Russell just up the road.

‘We’re making progress. We’ve got a race coming on with Russell and Leclerc. They’ll come into play here.

‘Everything is good on our end.’

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes leads Oscar Piastri of Australia driving the (81) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Lap 23

It’s almost embarrassing how superior Verstappen is. He’s nine seconds ahead of Perez and around 12 ahead of Sainz in third.

Zhou is having a good race as he’s in tenth, but so far, there will be lots of drivers dissatisfied with where they are.

Ricciardo underperforms

After going wide before, Daniel Ricciardo is having a deflating race.

He managed to get past Ocon a minute ago but is 15th.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Ted Kravitz – issues for Mercedes

Sky’s pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz says that Hamilton’s battery doesn’t have an issue, but he ran it down and needs to recharge it, hence his slower pace.

Russell is struggling with a power unit issue but has got past Leclerc and has a second on him.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Pauline Ballet - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Lap 20

Verstappen is storming this, but what about the rest?

Norris is locked in sixth as he’s four seconds behind Leclerc… but not for long. His last lap was a second quicker than the Monegasque.

Hamilton is in no man’s land in eighth, three seconds astray of Piastri. Very disappointing for him.

Hopes for Russell?

Russell is only around 0.9 seconds behind Sainz in third, so he needs to hang onto that if he’s to attack him with DRS on a straight.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Pauline Ballet - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Lap 18

Verstappen flits into the pits and thanks to his enormous gap, he doesn’t lose a place. Perez is barely visible in the distance as he emerges.

The three-time champion comes out with a 5.3-second gap over his team-mate.

Lap 17

Everyone has made at least one pit stop besides Verstappen now, who is 31 seconds ahead.

Perez is second, Russell third, Leclerc fourth, and Sainz fifth.

Zhou Guanyu has done well climbing to ninth but Alonso is having a mare in tenth.

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton makes a pit stop during the race Pool via REUTERS/Ali Haider

Huge worries for Leclerc and Hamilton

‘I just cannot get out of front-locking everywhere,’ Leclerc screeched down the radio. Even his pit stop has not helped.

Hamilton has been complaining abut being on one per cent battery!

Lap 15

It’s the ‘old switcheroo’ as David Croft puts it, as Perez turns Russell inside out and pushes him wide at turn four. Great racing. He’s up to seventh.

WATCH: Sainz blasts past ailing Leclerc

Lap 13

Russell and Perez dashed into the pits, and the Mercedes emerges superior!

Russell is eighth with the Mexican in ninth.

Meanwhile, Ricciardo, who hasn’t pitted, is living his best life in seventh, but expect him to tumble when he comes in.

Lap 12

Leclerc scurries into the pits. He’s been plagued by tyre issues all race and has fitted some new boots – hard compound tyres to take him a long way.

Verstappen and Perez now lead, with Sainz, Norris, Piastri, and Hamilton tailing them in intervals.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Lap 11

Carlos Sainz thundered past Leclerc on the main straight!

He’s up to fourth and maybe that’s a middle finger to Ferrari for kicking him out at the end of this season.

Lap 10 – some joy for Hamilton!

Hamilton has finally managed a way past Alonso toward the end of lap nine and can now dash up the road in clear air. He’s up to eighth.

Yellow flag conditions were brought in with Logan Sargeant looking as if he would have to retire, but he’s back in it.

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Lap 9

This is already a one-horse race out front.

Verstappen holds the fastest lap time and is continually building his gap over Russell. 6.9 seconds now.

Leclerc is really struggling with persistent lock-ups.

According to Karun Chandhok, McLaren have told their drivers to hurry up, and Norris is still concerned about his rear tyres withering away.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 and the rest of the field during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Lap 7

Lando Norris is struggling with his rear tyres and has got on the radio to tell his McLaren engineers.

He’s told to switch to plan B. Still in sixth so doing okay, backd up by Piastri in seventh.

Verstappen has built up a 5.6-second lead over Russell, while Perez has scrambled past Leclerc, who is struggling in fourth.

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 McLaren's Lando Norris and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso in action during the race REUTERS/Rula Rouhana

Lap 6

Verstappen is now a colossal four seconds ahead of Russell. Across a 57-lap race, he could gain a minute at this rate!

Russell, Leclerc, Perez, and Sainz are all close to each other and within DRS range of the one in front.

Gasly and Ocon have gained some positions at the back, sitting 17th and 16th.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault leads Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner arrives at the grid before the start of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on March 2, 2024. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP) (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Footballing royalty unites

Of course, they’re not on the track anymore!

Lap 3

Russell overtakes Leclerc going into turn four and Norris has also overtaken Alonso. Good news for the Brits!

Hamilton stays ninth.

Verstappen has established a comfortable lead, now 1.9 seconds ahead of Russell.

Lap 2

Verstappen has already gained a second over Leclerc, getting out of DRS range for when that kicks in.

Russell is in third and Hamilton remains ninth.

Zhou is the biggest climber with four overtakes but Hulkenberg is last and pitting for a change of tyres. Shame.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 and Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes compete for track position during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

And we’re off!

Verstappen gets away better than Leclerc, who challenges him at the first corner.

Stroll comes undone at the first corner and has slipped to last. Hulkenbrg tagged him and they both suffered. Stroll looks like he hit the curb and Hulkenberg lost his front wing.

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 General view of drivers in action during the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix REUTERS/Rula Rouhana

Formation lap underway

The drivers are tentatively weaving their way around the track on the formation lap.

Any moment now…

Last year, Max Verstappen won by almost 12 seconds. I’m going to stick my neck on the line and say it’ll be a bit closer this time around. Extrapolating out the qualifying times, it looks like he’ll be nine seconds ahead – but never take qualifying as gospel in the tumult of racing.

Five minutes away!

David Croft is running through his opening spiel on Sky Sports as a drone swoops around the track.

Checo, below, was pictured receiving his final instructions before equipping himself with his battle helmet.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing talks with race engineer Hugh Bird on the grid prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Fans wait for the action to start prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Pauline Ballet - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Christian Horner cracks a smile

After Red Bull’s phenomenal dominance last year, and their showing in qualifying, Christian Horner is going to be one of the most confident people in the whole of Bahrain today.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner during the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Opening titles set the mood

F1 does opening title music the best, right? There’s something so epic about Brian Tyler’s score. I’ll just post this here to help get us in the spirit.

A nerdy fact about me: I listen to this for fun.

Lando Norris: This could go either way

Lando Norris was cautious to commit to his prospects of a podium when speaking with Sky Sports.

‘We’re just in a pack which is very close. I made a mistake and paid the price. It can easily go our way or easily someone else’s way. It makes our lfie tricky but should be exciting.’

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren prepares to drive on the grid prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Bahrain national anthem is played

Hum along to the tune if you know it.

The drivers line up and feign sombreness as Bahrain’s anthem is blasted out.

A Gulf Air plane flies overhead just on cue.

President of the FIA Mohammed Ben Sulayem before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
President of the FIA Mohammed Ben Sulayem before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

George Russell: The conditions could cause some lock-ups!

‘Turn one is going to be hard on the breaking but turn two and four will be easier,’ he told Sky Sports, before predicting some lock-ups at turns eight and ten. There are heavy headwinds today, affecting how cars will corner.

Mercedes' George Russell before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Final preparations

Reasons to be excited!

If you’re less familiar with F1, Mail Sport’s Tum Balogun has rounded up some of the reasons why this is a great time to get into the sport.

McLaren’s CEO: We can get a podium

Zak Brown, McLaren’s CEO, is optimistic with his cars on the fourth row.

‘I think we left a little bit of time on the table in qualifying. I don’t think a podium is out of reach.’

Patrice Evra also makes an appearance on Martin Brundle’s grid walk and hugs Neymar, cutting off his brief chat with Sky’s favourite wanderer.

Nico Hulkenberg: We’re aiming for the midfield

‘Hopefully we can fight with the midfield teams. It feels like two separate worlds with the frontrunners and the ones at the back bunched up.’

It was a miserable season last time out for Haas, as they finished rock-bottom with 12 points.

SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - MARCH 2: Nico Hulkenberg of Haas, Logan Sargeant of Williams and Oscar Piastri of McLaren before Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir, Bahrain on March 2, 2024. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Spain’s former king makes surprise entry

Spain’s former King Juan Carlos is zooming around in a golf buggy and looks like he fancies his chance in today’s GP. A slightly unorthodox vehicle, granted, but you’ve got to differentiate yourself from the competition, right?

Spain's former King Juan Carlos I (C) is driven in a golf buggy ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on March 2, 2024. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Neymar enjoys a Red Bull with drivers

Neymar is getting all the honours here!

A picture with Max Verstappen, a picture with Sergio Perez… next he’ll be asking for a photo with our very own Jonathan McEvoy! The audacity.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing meets Neymar in the garage prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 meets Neymar in the garage prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Horner and Halliwell share a kiss

Steady on!

Christian Horner and Geri Halliwell are now frozen in history mid-smooch.

Give them a bit of privacy, photographers!

Christian and Geri Horner kiss before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

George Russell: ‘I’ll go for it at the first corner… that’s our only chance!’

George Russell dampened expectations ahead of the race by sticking to a realistic line. He feels good but isn’t getting ahead of himself.

‘I’m feeling good. It’s a nice, amazing reminder of how special this sport is. We’ve had two, three months off, you’ve got the quaifying nerves, the anxiety of what’s to come. There’s nothing else in my life that gives me those feelings and excitment ahead of a session,’ he told Sky Sports.

To get a P3 was a great result.

If there’s an opportunity on lap one, turn one, I’ll go for it. I think that’s our only chance. We’ve got to be realistic. They won almost every race last year.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 2: George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes AMG walks in the paddock during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 2, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Kym Illman/Getty Images)

Neymar is shepherded around Sakhir… and meets Yuki Tsunoda!

Injured Al-Hilal star Neymar has found time in his recovery schedule to hop over from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain for today’s action.

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 Al Hilal's Neymar is seen ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB meets Neymar prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Brazilian soccer player Neymar, center, arrives in the VIP area prior to the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Geri Halliwell soaks up the conversation

Geri Halliwell, extraordinarily brave, is diving into conversations with people and is always pictured looking engaged.

I can’t help but feel that in a time like this, all she’d want is peace, but instead she has to meet a succession of sponsors, engineers, Spice Girls fanatics, and so on.

Bet she’ll be relieved when the racing gets underway and deflects some of the attention.

Geri Horner before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Geri Horner before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Geri Horner speaks to Daranee Yoovidhya before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Daniel Ricciardo: I’m ‘grumpy at myself’ after qualifying!

Daniel Ricciardo is still adjusting to being a driver lower down the field. Remember, he used to race for Red Bull and challenge for race wins. Now he starts in 14th for RB and is disappointed as he feels he could have done better.

He said: ‘I’m disappointed I didn’t put it together because that’s what qualifying is for. And you meant to put it together when it counts, so I’m kind of grumpy at myself.

‘I didn’t drive s*** or anything, but I never really crossed the line being like: “Yeah, I did a clean lap.”‘

RB's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo attends the drivers' parade before the start of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on March 2, 2024. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP) (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 01: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB climbs out of his car in the garage during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 01, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

A reminder of today’s grid

Less than an hour to go now and here’s a reminder of our starting placements for today.

Spiderman casts his web over Bahrain

A superhero is in town as Spiderman has been spotted lingering by the side of the track.

I can’t help but feel that he might be rather redundant in Bahrain, barring some major security issue. Surely there are more pressing matters for him to attend to elsewhere.

Or perhaps Spiderman is allowed a day off from saving the world.

Horner and Halliwell continue to mingle

If the weight of the world is on their shoulders, they’re certainly not showing it.

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner and his wife British singer Geri Halliwell talk to acquaintances ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on March 2, 2024. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Martin Brundle: Fred Vasseur might actually prefer the calm Ferrari set-up he has… without Lewis Hamilton!

Martin Brundle worries how Lewis Hamilton joining Ferrari will affect their serene set-up, and Sky Sports’ pundits have reflected on the shcokwaves his move will send.

‘A part of him would be happier with the calm set-up he’s got with Sainz and Leclerc,’ Brundle said.

Naomi Schiff wants Charles leclerc to take a big name joining in the right way. She said: ‘I think he [Leclerc] is going to have to see this in a positive light. Lewis comes with a huge amount of experience and has a lot to bring to the team that can help him move forward.’

Damon Hill: ‘As for Carlos going to the Mercedes, I think the idea of Toto taking a driver who’s been booted out of Ferrari unceremoniously, I don’t know if he can get his head around that.’

Brundle: ‘How about Verstappen leaves Red Bull in all the melee!’

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 28: Martin Brundle talks with Mark Webber in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on February 28, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

A wide shot of the ‘school photo’

Now we’ve got a full shot of this year’s grid, all kitted out in their resplendent colours.

What’s your favourite outfit? I think Aston Martin’s deep green is quite smart, very on-brand, and Ferrari’s red is just iconic. Not sold on the wishy-washy ones with mixed colours. Give me bold and brash.

Formula One drivers pose for a group photo prior to the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Fancy a catch-up on Horner?

If you’re just joining us, make sure you’re up to speed on the defining story of this race week surrounding Christian Horner.

We’ve put together a timeline including everything you need to know, including: An initial allegation of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ against him

  • Red Bull’s parent company launching an investigation
  • Comments from Horner and other senior figures in the sport
  • Horner being CLEARED by the investigation, meaning he can keep his £8million-per-year job
  • The thunderbolt of leaked texts – and the strain on his marriage to Geri Halliwell

Daniel Ricciardo gets locked in

Formula 1’s favourite Australian is looking completely zen in this shot.

What a breath of fresh air he’s been since returning to the grid, and he’s looked snappy this weekend, even topping the first practice session.

RB's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo attends the drivers' parade before the start of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on March 2, 2024. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP) (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Max Verstappen: The top eight or nine cars are much closer

‘Everyone is just looking forward to do the race now. We’ve done a lot of laps, preparation, long runs,’ Max Verstappen told Sky Sports.

‘It feels like the top eight or nine cars are a lot closer and that’s great to see. I do think it’s going to be quite an interesting race.

‘We have quite a few options we can do as a team [in terms of strategy] so we’ll have a look.’

Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Christian Horner and Geri Halliwell hold hands in exclusive video

Mail Sport are determined to be the first to the news, so we were right there videoing as Horner and Halliwell sachayed through a mass of cameras.

Credit: Aadam Patel, Mail Sport.

School photo time!

Man, this takes me back. It’s like a year group photo all over again.

They could’ve done a better job at getting everyone in…

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: The F1 Drivers of 2024 pose for a photo prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain

Sky Sports pundits give their initial thoughts on Ferrari’s chances

Martin Brundle: ‘They are a lot closer to the Red Bull than some people feared.’

Damon Hill ‘It was embarrassing at times how easy it was for them [Red Bull] to go past [last season].

‘A lot of them are converging in [on Red Bull]. It’s going to be very tight in the middle of the field. Lots to play for.’

Naomi Schiff: ‘It is closer than ever.’

Martin Brundle before the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in Spa, Belgium on July 30, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 01: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 01, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

More snaps of Halliwell and Horner

All smiles from the centres of attention for the day.

Christian and Geri Horner before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, left, speaks with his wife Geri Halliwell prior to the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Aadam Patel brings unique shots

Mail Sport’s Aadam Patel is on the ground in Bahrain and his camera was among the lenses frantically snapping as Geri Halliwell and Christian Horner walked together hand in hand.

Do follow Aadam on social media… he’s this week been nominated for an award, he’s that good at it!

Horner and Halliwell present united front

We might be looking at two of the most photographed people in the world today.

All eyes are on Red Bull’s chief and his wife of PSice Girls repute, the Drive to Survive stars with a seemingly idyllic country life.

Sources have said Halliwell is upset and considering the future of their marriage after leaked texts alleged that Horner had sent inappropriate messages to a female colleague less than 24 hours after he was cleared of such behaviour by Red Bull’s parent company.

Christian and Geri Horner ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: Philip Duncan/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Christian and Geri Horner before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Geri Halliwell holds hands with Christian Horner in F1 paddock

Amid all the turmoil, Geri Halliwell and Christian Horner are putting on brave faces – and at least on the surface appear united.

While we have reported on the relational rumbles underlying their public posture, Halliwell and Horner are presenting a unified front. And how powerful that is.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Geri Horner walk in the Paddock holding hands prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Geri Horner walk in the Paddock holding hands prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Christian Horner and Geri before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

David Croft sees a chance for Ferrari

David Croft, F1’s eminent commentator on Sky Sports, thinks Ferrari stick a chance today.

He discusses how good Charles Leclerc was in the seocnd qualifying session, though he couldn’t translate that to the final session.

An encouraging stat ahead of the race

The grid is much tighter in terms of qualifying speeds compared to last year, it turns out.

The slower teams have bunched up with the behemoths to bring the cars closer together.

Alpine, sadly, miss out on that joy.

Still deep in discussions

Wow, Lewis Hamilton has his arms crossed now! That’s the enduring symbol of a bona-fide serious conversation in my eyes.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes speaks with Charles Leclerc of Moanco and Scuderia Ferrari during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images )

Future team-mates conspire

Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc have mingled ahead of the race.

It’s an odd one, isn’t it? They know they’re going to be on the same team next year, but for now, they’re fierce enemies, hoping to pip race wins. They need to maintain distance but not be so cold that things beome awkward.

It’s not often we learn of a driver departure a whole year in advance, so it’ll be intriguing to see how things play out.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Where’s Geri?

To the best of our understanding, Geri Halliwell WILL be attending today’s race.

However, pictures are yet to drop of her in Bahrain today, so very helpfully, have one of her and Christian Horner from Monza in 2024.

‘I’ve never know so much attention to be on one team in the paddock. Everyone has been camped outside Red Bull,’ Ted Kravitz tells Sky Sports.

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 07: Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Geri Halliwell pose after the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 7, 2014 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

‘The start of a gruelling first five or six races’

Ted Kravitz has outlined just how demanding the opening to this record-lenght F1 season will be.

  • Bahrain today
  • Saudi Arabia on March 9
  • Australia on March 24
  • Japan on April 7
  • China on April 21

A day of razor-thin margins

Lando Norris spoke yesterday about the flimsy time gaps separating the drivers in qualifying.

You can use that to your advantage – or it can bite you hard.

The ULTIMATE guide to an F1 car

  • How fast?
  • What horse power?
  • Sorry, can you repeat that? How many revs per minute? Wow!

Mail Sport have put together an extensive guide to an F1 car, which you can cast your eyeballs upon in the article linked below.

… And one very happy man!

Contrasting with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, Lance Stroll is away with the fairies.

He officially wins the award for ‘broadest grin of the day so far’.

He stars from 12th today.

Aston Martin's Lance Stroll before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

One very harried man

They probably don’t teach you how to deal with salacious scandals in karting school, and would it even be in the ‘F1 CEO handbook’?

Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of Formula 1, is trotting around an absolute hellscape of a PR disaster.

I wouldn’t like to be dealing with the pressure on his shoulders this weekend, although it would be cool to be F1’s CEO just for a day!

CEO of the Formula One Group Stefano Domenicali before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Action pending…

Just over two hours until it’s ‘LIGHTS OUT AND AWAY WE GO’.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, the super-speed minions of McLaren, look extremely chilled.

Preparations in full swing

Here’s a member of Red Bull’s posse shifting some sort of crate… with a beer in his right hand?

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: A Oracle Red Bull Racing team member works in the Pitlane prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

JONATHAN McEVOY: Christian Horner and the curious case of Geri’s arrival: Alleged texts. Netflix cameras everywhere. This will be the most photographed event in F1 history. And the most brazen

Jonathan McEvoy, Mail Sport’s F1 correspondent, has pieced together a wonderful long read on the Horner scandal and the arrival of Halliwell.

‘Across the most surreal days and long nights of the weirdest grand prix of some 300 I have attended, in a febrile, poisonous atmosphere unmatched in 20 years covering the sport, the crew have recorded every spit and conversation, every whisper of the intrigue.

‘That is their task as fly-on-the-wall chroniclers. But this weekend, sensing rising drama, they are particularly ubiquitous,’ he writes.

Read more below.

Lawrence Stroll strolls through the paddock

See what I did there?

Executive chairman of Aston Martin Lawrence Stroll – often a stick used to beat their driver, Lance – has unwittingly become the latest fleeting focus of Mail Sport’s live blog.

People often argue that Lance doesn’t deserve a seat in F1 and is only there because of his father, but I think he’s a decent, reliable driver.

He came 10th last season, although the gap to team-mate Fernando Alonso, who finished fourth, didn’t help his case.

Executive chairman of Aston Martin Lawrence Stroll, before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Damon Hill comments on the Christian Horner scandal

Damon Hill, the 1996 Formula 1 champion, claims the cloud hanging over Horner will ‘affect Red Bull’s long-term performance’.

He does, however, think the drivers can get on with their jobs, though it is a ‘massive distraction’.

Guenther Steiner plods around the paddock

Haas’ explosive former chief Guenther Steiner – a popular figure on Drive to Survive – soaks up the sun.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Guenther Steiner walks in the Paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Guenther Steiner talks to the media in the Paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

WATCH: Jonathan McEvoy brings us the latest from Bahrain

Jonathan McEvoy and Aadam Patel are out at the F1 for us today and will be providing us with updates throughout the day. Hear McEvoy’s thoughts here.

Max Verstappen: F1 texts scandal is not our business!

Max Verstappen insisted that he and the rest of the Red Bull team were ‘fully focussed’ on the Bahrain Grand Prix and claimed the controversy surrounding team boss Christian Horner is ‘none of our business’.

That’s pretty much the stagnant PR speak you’d expect – I reckon the reality is pretty different. This scandal has reverberated beyond the sport and gripped the public. It’s huge. How do you not think about it?

Nico Hulkenberg grins

There’s the broad smile we’ve been waiting for, and there’s little surprise it’s coming from the face of Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg!

He starts in 10th today after a superb qualifying session.

epa11193110 German driver Nico Hulkenberg (C) of Haas F1 Team before the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix, at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, 02 March 2024. EPA/ALI HAIDER

Toto Wolff opens up on mental health in Mercedes

Toto Wolff has told Sky Sports he stopped a female engineer after they found she was working 100 hours per week and reduced her working hours before he feels it is his ‘duty’ to look after people’s mental health.

‘We found out that she was clocking 100 hours per week and we stopped it,’ he said.

‘We need to protect our people in the short-term to make it a long-term success.

‘I’m in my comfort zone when the stress levels are very high. I’m at risk when thing are easy.

‘I’m trying to cerate an environment where mental health is seen like anything else. If you break your arm, you see a doctor.

‘Not everything that shines is gold. We’re all humans.’

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon soak up the adulation

Alpine’s French duo have been lapping up the adoration f supporters.

They start at the back of the grid today, but there’s little doubt that they’re among the grid’s most promising individuals long-term.

Good vibes in the Mercedes camp

Lewis Hamilton has been greeting Mercedes’ pit crew and engineers.

George’s duo of doting fans arrive

George Russell’s girlfriend, Carmen Montero Mundt, and George’s mother Alison have been snapped waltzing through the paddock.

If you’re of the prying vairety and are curious about the lives of the lovers of F1, you can read our feature below.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 2: George Russell's girlfriend, Carmen Montero Mundt, and George's mother Alison walk in the paddock together prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 2, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Kym Illman/Getty Images)

Highlights of Martin Brundle’s 2023 grid walks

Martin Brundle marauding down the grid pre-race is a staple of the F1 fan’s diet.

Charming, direct, and unashamed, Brundle brings his trademark personality and lives it up alongside the celebrities attending the weekend, whether aloof, pompous, lovely, or a true F1 fan.

Last year, he rubbed shoulders with Pep Guardiola, Sam Ryder, Will Smith, and many more. Check out the highlights below.

FIA boss: Horner controversy is DAMAGING the sport

The boss of the FIA – the body which governs many motorsport events – has spoken out after talks with Christian Horner.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem claimed the controversy is ‘damaging the sport’ .

What else did he say? You can find out below.

Romain Grosjean attends race after horrific 2020 crash engulfed him in flames

Romain Grosjean, F1 knows, is lucky to be alive.

At this very track in 2020, the Frenchman went off the track and crashed, with his car suddenly engulfed in flames. It was a harrowing site and the entire sport held its breath.

Somehow, he emerged from the conflagration and was treated. Nowadays he competes in the NTT IndyCar Series. It’s nice to see him back.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Romain Grosjean walks in the Paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

CONFIRMED: Geri Halliwell will attend today’s Grand Prix

Mail Sport’s Jonathan McEvoy is on the ground in Sakhir and providing updates for us.

You can read his breaking report here.

Geri Halliwell flew in to Bahrain on Thursday

As Mail Sport exclusively revealed yesterday, Geri Halliwell flew in to Bahrain by private jet and landed on Thursday night to meet her husband amid his talks with F1’s overlords.

Geri Halliwell WILL attend today’s race

Geri Halliwell WILL attend today’s race, Red Bull have confirmed.

She is set to appear alongside her under-fire husband, Christian Horner.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 28: Geri Halliwell and Christian Horner attend the Gala Dinner for the F1 Grand Prix Of Monaco on May 28, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/WireImage)

Sergio Perez wears stony expression

Not much in the way of visible joy from Sergio Perez, although I appreciate we only get isolated snaps.

The Mexican, 34, has come under increasing scrutinty over his performances and there was even a school of thought that Danny Ricciardo would oust him last year.

I’ve always been a fan, though. He came second last year, the highest you can expect him to finish realistically, and his historic race win in Bahrain in 2020 lives in the memory.

That day, he fought from the back of the grid to clinch an exhilarating victory while driving for Racing Point.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing walks in the Paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing walks in the Paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

EXCLUSIVE: Geri Halliwell and Christian Horner’s marriage is ‘now in question’

Friends of the couple have told MailOnline that the marriage of Halliwell and Horner is on the rocks after a humiliating alleged text exchange between the F1 boss and a female employee were leaked.

Friends close to the Spice Girl, who stood by her husband of nine years resolutely throughout the internal probe, have now revealed she is ‘having the meltdown to end all meltdowns over the leaks’.

Sincerely, I hope everyone involved can find a solution a solution which best honours human relations.

The couple have three kids: Bluebell, Olivia, and Montague. Think also of them. This would be a testing trime for any family.

A tight race?

Just over a second split the times of the fastest driver and slowest driver in the first qualifying session.

And while that’s not the most accurate indication of how things will play out today, it is a litmus test for what we could see, and shows the gossamer-thin details that divide the sport’s best and those at the back of the pack.

Are you predicting any surprises today?

Max Verstappen DIDN’T expect his F1 pole

The Dutchman has had 33 pole positions in his F1 career, but he claims last night’s was still a shock to him.

He didn’t finish top in any of the practice sessions so perhaps there’s truth in what he says… or is he just bluffing?

Catch his post-qualifying interview below.

F1 stars return to their roots with karting

Alex Albon, George Russell, and Lando Norris locked horns in a karting race recently, and Albon had an underhand tactic up his sleeve.

You won’t get away with that today, Alex, that’s for sure!

You can catch a snippet of his crafty ways here.

Fresh wheels

There are few more glorious sights in sport than a pristine F1 car glistening in the garage.

Thousands of hours of effort have gone into making today a success, and it can all go wonky at the first corner.

An entire army of people have been tinkering with these Red Bull cars to get them in tip-top shape. Now it’s on Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez to make it count.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: The car of Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing is seen in the garage prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: The Oracle Red Bull Racing cars are seen in the garage prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

IAN HERBERT: Christian Horner couldn’t do what Geri told him to. He struts around like the cock of the walk. Now this grubby text scandal has left a stain on F1

Mail Sport’s mystic Ian Herbert has delivered his verdict on the strom in which F1 is embroiled.

‘It’s the audacity of Christian Horner that really takes your breath away, he writes.

‘The brass neck and air of absolute invincibility which has allowed him to strut around an F1 paddock in Bahrain, cock of the walk, betraying no sense of personal jeopardy when he would have known about a deluge of WhatsApp messages which surely mean he is finished.’

If you’ve been enjoying our F1 content, you’ll love Herbert’s column – and why not consider subscribing to MailPlus for more cutting-edge content?

Fernando Alonso grows a beard… and much, much more

More than just the facial hair has changed for Fernando Alonso since he took part i the inaugural Bahrain GP in 2004.

Since then, he’s won two world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, and he’s seen a complete sea-change in his competition.

In 2004 he came 17th in a field packed with Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, and F1’s former resident swear word machine, Kimi Raikkonen.

He’s the last one standing from that grid and starts sixth today.

Max Verstappen stares us down

Max Verstappen has cracked the faintest smile, almost imperceptible, as he stomps around the F1 paddock.

Nineteen race wins last season. Nineteen. How many will he get this time around? Let us know in the comments.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing walks in the Paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Thumb up from George

I won’t delve into any particular analysis with this one. it is what is says on the tin.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 2: George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes AMG gives the thumbs up during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 2, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Kym Illman/Getty Images)

Red Bull’s future engine supplier, Ford, remain tight-lipped

Red Bull’s future engine supplier, Ford, have fallen silent over Christian Horner after previously being vocal following initial allegations of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ against the team boss.

Mail Sport approached Ford, who will become Red Bull’s engine supplier in 2026, for comment, but our overtures were snubbed. Ford declined to comment.

You can read more about what this means below.

Valtteri Bottas or 80s pop star?

Valtteri Bottas is sporting a luscious bleached mullet for Sakhir today.

He arrives, as does team-mate Zhou Guanyu, racing under the renamed Stake F1 brand.

Neither of them managed to make it out of the first qualifying session and it could be an exasperating season for them, but they’ve got potential with their blend of experience and youth.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber greets fans as he arrives at the circuit prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Zhou Guanyu of China and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber greets fans as he arrives at the circuit prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Nico Hulkenberg poses with fans

What a story for Nico Hulkenberg, who returned full-time to F1 last season after losing his spot at Renault in 2019.

He secured 16th place for Haas last season and starts tenth today after a solid qualifying session.

The 36-year-old has the most starts in F1 history without winning a race. Could this be the year?

Go well, Hulk!

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Haas F1 greets fans as he arrives at the circuit prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

A frightening view!

Charles Leclerc will have his work cut out today as he seeks to defend a first-corner attack from George Russell.

Enough about scooters…

Alright, I’ll let you in on a little secret – Lewis Hamilton has a penchant for driving.

It turns out, quite unsurprisingly, that Stevenage’s greatest export is into his four-wheel zoomers.

His collection includes an ultra-rare McLaren worth more than £16million.

I’ll let you take a look at his goodie bag of rides.

Lewis Hamilton experiments with a new vehicle

I heard rumours that Hamilton was going to try and race on a scootr in a bid to claim an eighth world title…

The Brit, 39, has swapped his snazzy red costume for a Mercedes-themed outfit and is scooting his way around the paddock, as he often does.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton on a scooter before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Duke of Richmond hopes for a princely day

Who knew the Duke of Richmond would be racing!

Charles Gordon-Lennox, right, has arrived with his son, William Rupert Gordon-Lennox.

A small confession: I would be quite dire in a game of royal bingo. I’ve no clue who these are, but I hope they have a nice day.

Turns out he’s the President of the British Automobile Racing Club.

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 Duke of Richmond, Charles Gordon-Lennox and his son William Rupert Gordon-Lennox are seen ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Fanfare for Piastri and Tsunoda

This could be a good weekend for Oscar Piastri and Yuki Tsunoda.

Piastri has qualified in eighth, with Tsunoda 11th.

Incidentally, both of them finished ninth on their F1 debut at Bahrain – Tsunoda three years ago and Piastri last campaign.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren greets fans as he arrives at the circuit prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB greets fans as he arrives at the circuit prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Christian Horner dappled in sunlight

Christian Horner is making sure he still gets a tan in the bleak winter of F1 discontent.

Red Bull’s chief is pictured in conversation… and is that the faintest smile on his face?

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Lewis Hamilton oozes class

Is that diamond encrusted? Can’t tell, but whatever it is, Lewis Hamilton has got style.

Perhaps the deep red colour of his jacket is dropping a hint about his F1 future…

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

How would you describe F1 to a five-year-old?

Something more light-hearted here.

F1 stars have been asked to describe their job to a five-year-old child.

Lewis Hamilton claimed he’d say something funny, but actually opted for something almost sensual!

‘When the engine starts and the seat vibrates, it tickles your back.’

Makes it sound like his job is getting massaged!

Martin Brundle laments ‘very sad’ situation

Martin Brundle, one of Formula 1’s most affable and respected figures, has expressed his sadness over the scandal enveloping the sport – and fears it’s only just the beginning.

Read his thoughts below.

Geri Halliwell’s ‘crisis talks’

Any Spice Girls fans reading?

With a public psychodrama penetrating into the very heart of Christian Horner and Geri Halliwell’s marriage, it’s not an easy situation for them to manage.

Halliwell is holding ‘crisis talks’ over Horner’s leaked text messages and did not want to meet her husband in Bahrain until she was talked into it by his family, according to sources.

Friends of the star, who is understood to have known about and approved of the woman working for her husband’s team, have told Mail+ they are ‘deeply concerned’ about her and said the singer appeared ‘fragile’ when they saw her some weeks ago.

Read more below.

Red Bull elders swoop in

Red Bull’s backroom team is packed with F1 know-how.

Here’s their chief technical officer Adrian Newey and sporting director Jonathan Wheatley.

Formula One F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - March 2, 2024 Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Red Bull Racing Sporting Director Jonathan Wheatley before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

No fine French vintage for Pierre

One of F1’s most popular drivers, Pierre Gasly, must have nightmares about the Bahrain GP.

After qualifying last in the first race of the 2023 season, he’s only gone and done it again, with Alpine buddy Esteban Ocon helping him to prop up the back of the grid.

Alpine are looking weak at the moment – could another team take advantage of their frailties?

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 01: 20th placed qualifier Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine F1 walks in the Pitlane during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 01, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Williams principal arrives

One of the lesser-heralded figures in F1 but with every right to be at the race, here’s James Vowles.

Williams are entering their second season with Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant as a pairing, so they’ll be hoping to build on their seventh-placed finish, though even consolidation would be a good result.

Williams team principal James Vowles before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

George Russell rocks up

Morning George. Hope you’re reading this.

Russell had a storming qualifying session and starts on the second row in third place, six spots ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who had quite a rough time, especially in the first qualifying session.

Mercedes' George Russell before the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Picture date: Saturday March 2, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story AUTO Bahrain. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Christian Horner arrives

Shieldd by shades, Red Bull’s beleagured boss has arrived at the paddock ahead of the Bahrain GP.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner walks in the Paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

A penny for your thoughts, Lando?

Here’s Lando Norris signing a cap if you’re short on pictures of those variety, although its proprietor has left the label on!

With the storm billowing over F1, perhaps the hopes and dreams of McLaren this season have gone under the radar.

They’re quietly confident. Norris starts seventh today.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren walks in the Paddock prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

A familiar face bounds in

We’ve got a wild Daniel Ricciardo on our hands.

Pictures are trickling in of our F1 stars arriving today and Ricciardo has, understandably, been a hit with the fans.

He’s a larger-than-life personality and starts in 14th today, a respectable position for the rebranded RB team (formerly Alpha Tauri).

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB greets fans as he arrives at the circuit prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Pauline Ballet - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

A closer look at the Red Bull civil war

Everyone in Formula 1 has an opinion on the Christian Horner scandal, even if they’re not willing to share it.

Those who work closely with Horner are divided. The scandal enveloping him has been bad PR for F1, but he also has some staunch allies.

Why not take a look at where the fault lines lie? Here’s our piece on who stands with Horner and who is more distant.

Sparks ready to fly

There’s nothing quite like seeing the sparks sizzle at the rear end of a Formula 1 car.

Under the cover of evening in Sakhir, hopefully we’ll see a few illuminate the track.

Is Christian Horner going to be there?

Red Bull’s embattled chief has been present in the build-up to the GP so far.

Here’s a photo of him arriving with a bag to prove it.

Horner cut a lonely figure as he turned up and has remained stoic throughout the ordeal, with the controversy surrounding him threatening to derail Red Bull’s prim preparations.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner walks into the Paddock ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on February 29, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

And… what about the racing?

Let’s not forget that 20 people are putting their lives on the line at 3pm today. Yes, believe it or not, amid all the furore, there is a race happening.

Max Verstappen qualified in pole position for this one, as he did last year. And last year he won the opening GP at a canter before scooping up 18 more victories. Way to go.

Joining him on the front row is Charles Leclerc of Ferrari, while George Russell is poised for a strong race in third.

As for Lewis Hamilton, well, he’s down in ninth. It was a nervy qualifying session for the 39-year-old while Carlos Sainz, the man who he will replace at Ferrari, starts in fourth.

Below you’ll find our review of qualifying.

The leaked texts that sent F1 into overdrive

Fancy a deeper dive into the WhatsApp leak?

On Thursday, just as the second practice session was getting underway, an email was sent spinning into a pantheon of Formula 1 titans.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali, team principals, senior journalists. All were privy to 79 documents which purported to shine a light on inappropriate behaviour from Horner.

He refused to comment specifically on the leak but insisted he denied any allegations.

You can read more about this latest twist below.

What’s all this Horner stuff about?

Formula 1 cars can reach speeds of up to 225mph. You’d be forgiven for feeling you need to reach that pace to keep up with the Christian Horner updates!

If you’re not fully familiar with the controversy surrounding Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, this timeline will guide you through every turn.

That includes:

  • An initial allegation of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ against him
  • Red Bull’s parent company launching an investigation
  • Comments from Horner and other senior figures in the sport
  • Horner being CLEARED by the investigation, meaning he can keep his £8million-per-year job
  • The thunderbolt of leaked texts – and the strain on his marriage to Geri Halliwell

Welcome to a season opening like no other

Well, it’s finally here. After 97 days, hundreds of leaked messages, and one almighty scandal, Formula 1 is back and more explosive than ever.

Welcome to the Bahrain GP, 2024, a curtain-raiser like no other.

While last season signified dull dominance on Red Bull’s part, this campaign begins as one of the most volatile in history.

On Wednesday, Red Bull’s parent company cleared team principal Christian Horner of ‘coercive behaviour towards a female employee’. And so after a month of tension the sport – and Horner’s marriage to Geri Halliwell – appeared to finally have some fragile peace restored.

Not for long. Within 24 hours, an anonymous email address sent hundreds of WhatsApp messages to leading F1 figures and members of the press. The bombshell email alleged that Horner had sent them, many of an erotic nature, plunging the paddock back into disarray.

There are other reasons why this season starts like few others.

Lewis Hamilton will enjoy a final swansong with Mercedes before pitching up at Red Bull in 2025, leaving Carlos Sainz to scramble for a seat elsewhere. Cue shockwaves on the grid.

This will also be the longest F1 season ever, featuring a staggering 24 races. How’s your stamina?

Mail Sport will be with you every step of the way. Time to get stuck in.

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner monitors during the third practice session of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on March 1, 2024. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP) (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)
Key Updates

  • WATCH: Max Verstappen’s full post-race interview
  • Max Verstappen celebrates
  • Full classification
  • Max Verstappen wins!
  • Yuki Tsunoda: ‘Are you KIDDING ME? No!’
  • Russell slips up
  • Leclerc catching Russell
  • Hamilton – ‘these guys are fast!’
  • WATCH: Hamilton overtakes stumbling Piastri!
  • WATCH: Bottas’ pit stop fail
  • Leclerc’s radio ranting
  • WATCH: Russell struggles with power unit issue – explained
  • McLaren expect to challenge Russell and Leclerc
  • Ted Kravitz – issues for Mercedes
  • Huge worries for Leclerc and Hamilton
  • WATCH: Sainz blasts past ailing Leclerc
  • Lap 10 – some joy for Hamilton!
  • And we’re off!
  • Opening titles set the mood
  • Spain’s former king makes surprise entry
  • Neymar enjoys a Red Bull with drivers
  • Horner and Halliwell share a kiss
  • Martin Brundle: Fred Vasseur might actually prefer the calm Ferrari set-up he has… without Lewis Hamilton!
  • Christian Horner and Geri Halliwell hold hands in exclusive video
  • Horner and Halliwell present united front
  • Geri Halliwell holds hands with Christian Horner in F1 paddock
  • The ULTIMATE guide to an F1 car
  • Damon Hill comments on the Christian Horner scandal
  • George’s duo of doting fans arrive
  • FIA boss: Horner controversy is DAMAGING the sport
  • CONFIRMED: Geri Halliwell will attend today’s Grand Prix
  • Geri Halliwell WILL attend today’s race
  • IAN HERBERT: Christian Horner couldn’t do what Geri told him to. He struts around like the cock of the walk. Now this grubby text scandal has left a stain on F1
  • Lewis Hamilton experiments with a new vehicle
  • Lewis Hamilton oozes class
  • Martin Brundle laments ‘very sad’ situation
  • Geri Halliwell’s ‘crisis talks’
  • Christian Horner arrives
  • The leaked texts that sent F1 into overdrive
  • What’s all this Horner stuff about?
  • Welcome to a season opening like no other

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