RACE ZONE: Winning the opening race may not be the best omen for Max Verstappen… while Alex Albon is slowly rebuilding his reputation

Max Verstappen opened his championship defence with a crushing victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver, who dominated last season to claim his second consecutive world crown, outclassed his rivals with an ominous performance under the floodlights in Sakhir. Perhaps the most concerning aspect of Max Verstappen’s domination in Bahrain is that he has already matched his points tally from the opening three races of last year — when he won the world championship by 146 points. However, the winner of the season’s opening race has not clinched the title since Nico Rosberg in 2016. His first-lap tag of the Spaniard put the latter at risk of a puncture, just two races on from their clash at last season’s US Grand Prix where Stroll’s chop across the track sent Alonso airborne.

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