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POWER RANKINGS: Who makes the top of our list after the Bahrain season opener?

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With the first race of a record-breaking 24-round season behind us, it’s time to round up and present our Power Rankings judges’ scores from the Bahrain Grand Prix and find out how the 2024 leaderboard stands heading to Saudi Arabia.

How it works

  • Our five-judge panel assess each driver after every Grand Prix and score them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation

  • Our experts’ scores are then averaged out to produce a race score – with those scores then tallied up across the season on our overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)

READ MORE: Verstappen storms to victory in action-packed season-opening Bahrain GP

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Max Verstappen started his third successive title defence in style with a statement pole position and victory double in the Sakhir desert. Still only in his mid-20s, the Dutchman now has a whopping 55 wins to his name as he bids to make it four championships on the bounce.

READ MORE: ‘It couldn’t have been better’ – Verstappen hails ‘unbelievable’ start to title defence with statement win

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Carlos Sainz entered the season-opening weekend facing more questions about his future as Lewis Hamilton gets set to replace him at Ferrari next year. But the Spaniard put all that to one side and battled his way to the podium – via a couple of scraps with team mate Charles Leclerc – with an eye-catching display.

READ MORE: Sainz ‘pleasantly surprised’ by ability to keep up with Red Bull as he clinches podium in Bahrain

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After team mate Lewis Hamilton’s pace-setting time in Thursday practice, George Russell impressively led the Mercedes charge through qualifying and the race, rising as high as second early on and only falling out of podium contention when overheating and battery problems took hold aboard his W15.

READ MORE: Russell insists there’s ‘potential’ in the Mercedes car after being hindered by ‘big red alarms’ in Bahrain

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Charles Leclerc was Verstappen’s nearest challenger in qualifying and had a sniff of the lead on the run down to Turn 1, but from there chronic brake problems made his life a misery and he had to make do with fourth position at the chequered flag.

READ MORE: ‘It was impossible to drive properly’ – Leclerc left disappointed in Bahrain after brake issues

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Sergio Perez started the weekend on the back foot, with almost half a second – and four places – between himself and team mate Verstappen in qualifying, but as was the case so often in 2023, he made up for it on race day with a charge to second, giving Red Bull a one-two to start the year.

READ MORE: Perez insists Red Bull have ‘plenty of work to do’ despite P2 finish in Bahrain

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Lando Norris felt he had the pace to challenge for a spot on the front row of the grid in qualifying, only for a couple of mistakes to leave him seventh. From there, gained a place to finish the race between the Mercedes machines of Russell and Hamilton.

READ MORE: McLaren ‘easily good enough for front row’ in Bahrain says disappointed Norris

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Kick Sauber lost both cars at the Q1 hurdle in what was a challenging first competitive session of 2024 for the rebranded outfit. However, Zhou Guanyu quietly impressed on race day by rising from 17th on the grid to 11th, contending for points despite a lengthy final stint that required strong tyre management.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from the Bahrain Grand Prix as Verstappen takes first victory of 2024

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Oscar Piastri backed up team mate Norris with a run to eighth position, giving McLaren a double points finish. While not headline-making for either driver, it still represented a much stronger start to the year for McLaren as a whole after the team’s early-2023 struggles.

FACTS AND STATS: Red Bull tie Williams’ win tally in first-ever retirement-free season opener

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As touched on above, Hamilton trailed team mate Russell in qualifying after a set-up “risk” post-FP2 and again in the race en route to P7, although the seven-time world champion had to deal with similar battery issues and a broken seat across the 57-lap encounter.

READ MORE: ‘We thought we’d be closer’ – Hamilton admits Mercedes had hoped for more after P7 finish in Bahrain

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Kevin Magnussen squeezed his way into the Power Rankings top 10 with his solid race-day rise at the Bahrain International Circuit, bouncing back from a difficult qualifying session to turn 15th on the grid into 12th at the finish – crossing the line as the lead Haas after team mate Nico Hulkenberg’s first-lap dramas.

Missing out

Fernando Alonso just missed the cut for the top half of our rankings with a score just 0.2 down on Magnussen, after his top six qualifying result became ninth on race day, with Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon also on the fringes.

QUIZ: Saudi Arabia Special – Test your knowledge of the Jeddah street race

The standings

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