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Charles Leclerc’s last-lap scare in Bahrain

The final lap of Charles Leclerc’s dominant 2022 Formula 1 season-opening win at Bahrain International Circuit wasn’t without a “scare”.

Charles Leclerc and Ferrari got the 2022 Formula 1 season off to a hot start on Sunday in the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit.

Leclerc led 55 of the 57 laps around the 15-turn, 3.363-mile (5.412-kilometer) Bahrain road course in Sakhir, Bahrain en route to his third career victory and first since 2019. The win was also Ferrari’s first victory since 2019.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen had run second to Leclerc for much of the race, but a late fuel pump issue caused him to retire, opening up the door for a Ferrari 1-2 finish with Carlos Sainz Jr. in second place. During pit stops, Sainz led the only two laps not led by Leclerc.

For Leclerc, the one that got away in 2019 came back to him. And he made sure to remember that.

Leclerc, then still seeking his first career win, dominated this race in 2019 after starting from the pole position, the first pole position of his career.

But a late mechanical issue while leading by over 10 seconds caused a huge reduction in the pace of his Ferrari. This allowed the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to catch up and steal the top two spots, with Leclerc being forced to settle for third place — still his first career podium finish.

So on the final lap of Sunday’s race, just moments after the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez had been forced to retire with mechanical issues themselves, the 24-year-old Monesgasque thought it would be funny to play a little joke on his team and give them a little “scare”, reminiscent of the reality that was the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Here is what he had to say after the win.

“I did a bit of a joke on the radio in the last lap saying that there was something strange with the engine, which gave a heart attack to some of the engineers, I’m sure, but everything was fine, so very happy this time we brought it home.”

Leclerc now finds himself atop the driver standings for the first time in his Formula 1 career, and he will look to build on that lead in the next race on the schedule, this Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. This race is set to be broadcast live on ESPN from Jeddah Corniche Circuit beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 27, so be sure to start your free trial of FuboTV today!

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