'What on earth': F1 world in disbelief over Daniel Ricciardo drama

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Daniel Ricciardo, pictured here after the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren had a nightmare in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Image: Twitter/Getty

McLaren has suffered an unmitigated disaster in the opening race of the new F1 season, with Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris finishing 14th and 15th at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc embarked on Formula One's new era in triumphant style, leading teammate Carlos Sainz in a 1-2 for Ferrari on Sunday.

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Leclerc crossed the line 5.5 seconds ahead of Sainz, who moved up to second place after world champion Max Verstappen suffered a calamitous start to his title defence when he was forced to retire with three laps remaining.

Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton snatched a shock third-place finish ahead of new teammate George Russell after Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez spun at the first corner on the final lap.

But it was absolute disaster for McLaren, who will be looking to improve on their fourth-place finish in last season's constructors' championship.

After struggling in qualifying, Ricciardo never got going on Sunday and finished well off the pace in 14th.

Even worse for McLaren, Ricciardo's British teammate Norris was 15th, with both drivers lapped in the final stages of the race.

F1 commentators and fans were left in disbelief over the brutal start to the season for the British team.

Charles Leclerc wins Bahrain GP after Max Verstappen drama

Sunday's win was the third of Leclerc's career and Ferrari's first since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.

It was also the Italian team's seventh at the Sakhir desert track.

The result puts Leclerc in the overall lead of the drivers' standings with another 22 races to go, while Ferrari lead the constructors' tables.

Leclerc, who also took the fastest lap and was voted driver of the day by fans, started Sunday's race from pole but it was not an unchallenged cruise to the flag for the 24-year-old.

He engaged in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Verstappen after the first pitstops with the pair passing and re-passing each other for the lead over several laps.

Charles Leclerc, pictured here celebrating after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc celebrates after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix. (Photo by Ayman Yaqoob/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

He also perfectly judged the restart after a safety car period, breaking away from Verstappen as the field returned to racing speed.

“That’s exactly how we should start the season,” Leclerc screamed on radio. “Mamma mia.”

Red Bull's race came undone at the very end.

Verstappen's car, hobbled for much of the race by a steering issue, appeared to suddenly slow.

“The faster I was going, I could barely steer (and) then suddenly I had to retire, everything just switched off," Verstappen said.

"It looked like a fuel pump issue, there was no fuel coming to the engine. It’s very painful for the team (and) we need to look into everything.”

Perez reported a loss of power immediately afterwards and blamed the engine for his sudden spin.

with agencies

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