The fun head-to-head between Sergio "Checo" Pérez and Max Verstappen of Formula 1 3:03

(CNN) --

Max Verstappen took victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix this Saturday, leaving ominous weather for the rest of the field in the opening race of this Formula 1 (F1) season.

His victory dispelled any notion that Red Bull's dominance might have waned over the winter or that its preparations had been significantly disrupted by an external investigation into team principal Christian Horner over allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Horner was cleared of any wrongdoing on Wednesday and again denied the allegations on Friday after alleged leaked messages were distributed to members of the F1 community on Thursday on a Google Drive.

CNN has not been able to independently corroborate the authenticity of those messages.

Before the race began, Horner was accompanied in the paddock by his wife and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell-Horner, a gesture of unity amid the controversy.

Christian Horner and Geri Halliwell-Horner walk through the Bahrain paddock.

(Clive Mason/Getty Images)

While the scandal surrounding Horner overshadowed the race weekend for Red Bull, it did not appear to affect the team's performance on track, as Sergio Pérez took second place giving the team another 1-2, a result equal to the from last season's opening race.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz completed the podium in third place.

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Verstappen and Red Bull enjoyed one of the most impressive seasons in history last year, and the three-time world champion continued that stranglehold in Bahrain, albeit with a newly designed car, scoring as many points as possible in the championship. of drivers and also recording the fastest lap.

  • Max Verstappen ended a record-breaking season with a victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

"Unbelievable, I think today was even better than expected," Verstappen told Sky Sports after the race.

"I think we had a lot of pace and it was a lot of fun to drive today. We didn't get into any trouble and it's a great start to the year, it couldn't have been better," he added.

"It was a lot of fun and I felt very good in the car. It is always very special to have these types of days because it is not so common that everything goes perfect and that you feel one with the car."

Max Verstappen pulled away from the rest of the field.

(David Davies/PA/AP)

Verstappen resisted an attempt by Charles Leclerc into the first corner and simply pulled away from the rest of the field, opening a 1.2-second gap at the start of the second lap.

Ultimately, he finished more than 22 seconds ahead of Perez as he pulled away from all the machinations unfolding behind him.

Mercedes' George Russell briefly slipped into second place, while Perez, who started in fifth, worked his way up the field, passing the Ferrari pairing of Sainz and Leclerc, as well as Russell, to move up. to second place.

Despite his initial success, Russell was eventually overtaken by the Ferraris and finished fifth.

Meanwhile, his teammate Lewis Hamilton never contested the front part of the race and finished in seventh place.

The F1 season continues next weekend and stays in the Middle East with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah.

Formula 1Max VerstappenRed Bull