Verstappen is already the heavy favourite for the F1 crown after just one race, Alonso shows class is permanent and Hamilton’s Mercedes woes continue – SEVEN THINGS WE LEARNED from the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix

In some ways, Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, the curtain-raiser to the new 2023 Formula One season, offered us exactly what we expected. Now he has his first properly competitive car for a decade, and he showed what he can do when he has one. ‘It’s impossible to look at the positives on a day like this when you don’t finish the race. New Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur insisted their qualifying pace – Leclerc was a little more than 0.1 seconds off Verstappen in his first run of the final qualifying session – means they can genuinely match up to Red Bull on race day. It probably wasn’t a good sign that before the race Lando Norris, who signed a three-year contract in February, admitted the McLaren car is hard to drive.

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