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‘Three of them on the podium’: Red Bull boss’ cheeky dig at rival as shock F1 contender emerges



Formula One is back but it was the same old story at the 2023 season opener as Max Verstappen cruised to victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The two-time reigning champion led from start to finish in an ominous indication he is on track for a third straight title.

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His Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez finished second but rounding out the podium was Fernando Alonso, who was making his debut for Aston Martin.

Alonso started eighth on the grid but overtook Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to snare his first podium for his new team.

“This is just unreal,” 41-year-old Alonso said.

“Finishing on the podium the first weekend of the year, it’s just amazing what Aston Martin did over the winter to have the second best car on race 1.”

Aston Martin impressed in preseason testing and it appears they have taken the biggest leap forward of any of the midfield teams heading into the new season.

Fernando Alonso has still got it at age 41. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)Source: AFP

Lance Stroll finished sixth, a seriously impressive effort considering he broke his wrist in a bike accident two weeks ago and drove the race with a broken toe.

It was a sensational result, especially after Stroll accidentally bumped into Alonso on the opening lap.

It means Aston Martin sits second in the constructors’ championship ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari, albeit after just one race.

Aston Martin has recruited heavily in the offseason, picking up several Red Bull staff members including their former head of aerodynamnics Dan Fallows.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner couldn’t resist a cheeky dig at Aston Martin, declaring “imitation is the biggest form of flattery”.

“I think it demonstrates to all the teams that it’s possible,” Horner said.

“So, they’ve obviously done a good job over the winter. They say imitation is the biggest form of flattery, and it’s good to see the old car going so well.”

“I think that it’s flattering to see the resemblance of that car to ours, so it was great to see the three of them on the podium.”

Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso celebrate on the podium after the Bahrain Grand Prix. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)Source: AFP

With Alonso join the two Red Bull drivers on the podium Perez joked: “It’s nice to see three Red Bull cars on the podium!”

Speaking to Sky Sports Germany about the several engineers who defected to Aston Martin, Red Bull supremo Helmut Marko quipped: “It seems they all have a good memory.”

Seven different teams featured in the top 10 and scored world championship points.

Australia’s Oscar Piastri has a nightmare debut for McLaren, with engine failure forcing him to retire from the race on lap 15.

Bahrain Grand Prix results

1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull

2) Sergio Perez, Red Bull,

3) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

4) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

5) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

6) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

7) George Russell, Mercedes

8) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo

9) Pierre Gasly, Alpine

10) Alex Albon, Williams

11) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

12) Logan Sargeant, Williams

13) Kevin Magnussen, Haas

14) Nyck De Vries, AlphaTauri

15) Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

16) Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo

17, Lando Norris, McLaren

18) Esteban Ocon, Alpine (DNF)

19) Charles Leclerc (DNF)

20) Oscar Piastri, McLaren (DNF)

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