SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — Formula One champion Max Verstappen’s title defense turned into a nightmare when the Red Bull star retired near the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday allowing Ferrari to clinch a 1-2 finish with Charles Leclerc winning ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.
Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton took an unexpected third place after Sergio Perez's Red Bull also retired with the finish line in sight as the race finished under a yellow flag.
Hamilton had been lagging way behind in fifth when late drama on Lap 46 changed the race.
Montreal's Lance Stroll was 12th and Toronto's Nicholas Latifi was 16th.
Leclerc was leading comfortably from Verstappen when the back of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri car caught fire forcing him to park it on the side of the track. It was quickly put out and the Frenchman walked away unharmed.
From the restart, Leclerc got away and Verstappen started complaining about steering problems.
A few minutes later both Red Bulls were out of the race and George Russell's Mercedes moved up into fourth to give Mercedes an unexpected bonus.
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Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press