Max Verstappen (Pole, P2, 18 pts): 9.5/10
Everything looked to be going Max Verstappen's way heading into Bahrain. He topped the pre-season testing with ease and then crushed the field by seven tenths at the end of Friday's practice sessions. The red hot favourite to claim pole position, he duly pulled it off with a 0.388s advantage over Lewis Hamilton in qualifying. The start of the race went to plan, but there were early signs of problems with the car that affected his speed through slow-speed corners. Nonetheless the team's strategy of running two stints on medium tyres before closing out on the hard compound were set to pay off with a famous victory, which would be Red Bull's first in a season opener since Sebastian Vettel won in Australia in 2011. With three laps to go he did indeed take the lead - and then had to hand it back as the pass had been achieved by exceeding track limits. It was a sporting gesture and everyone assumed that he would still have another chance to reclaim the lead - but instead, Lewis Hamilton held firm and Verstappen was forced to accept the runners-up spot. A good result to be sure, but it's inevitably going to leave Verstappen with a bitter taste in his mouth when he did everything right and thoroughly deserved the victory.
Lewis Hamilton (P1, 25 pts): 9/10
Despite all the titles he's clinched, it's been six years since Lewis Hamilton kicked off a new season with a win. Doing so on Sunday suggests that his grip on the title is even stronger than ever, right? Well, no - not if Bahrain is anything to go by. Hamilton himself called it his toughest race in quite a while, and he was undoubtedly pushed to the absolute limit having been distinctively outclassed by Max Verstappen and Red Bull throughout pre-season testing and then practice and qualifying. But F1 senior citizen he may be, there's no doubting the fire raging inside Hamilton's belly that makes him perform above and beyond all expectations when the chips are down and the race is well and truly on. He might have been lucky to have been handed the lead back to him in the closing laps, but his never-say-die attitude throughout meant he was able to nail the opportunity when it landed in his lap to claim what could prove to be a crucial victory.