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Bahrain Grand Prix - Lewis Hamiltontakes a thrilling victory for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team


 

Sakhir, 28 March 2021

The Bahrain Grand Prix provided Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow with a first indication of the quality of the work carried out over the winter, both in terms of the car itself and how the team worked. Sixth and eighth place finishes for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz respectively are a good starting point for a season that’s going to be long and hectic.

A step forward
With two teams clearly ahead of the pack, the fight to be third best is very close, as was seen in qualifying and Ferrari was in that fight from the first to the last lap. Yesterday, the Scuderia seemed to have won that particular contest, today the situation changed, but the gaps were still very small. Making a comparison with the race run on this track four months ago, the progress was clear to see, relative to our closest competitors, as well as to those at the front of the field, the latter gap still being quite a big one. Particular attention went into planning relating to tyre management and here too this produced results. There’s still a long way to go, but we seem to be on the right road.

Lewis Hamilton
Firstly, can I just say it’s the first time I have seen fans in a long time, it’s so good to see people out here and everyone keeping their distance and staying safe. I’m so proud of what Formula One has been able to do, to start on a normal schedule this year and wow, what a difficult race that was! Definitely by stopping early, we knew it would be difficult, but we had to cover Max and keep the track position in the lead. They have had an amazing performance all weekend, so it was going to take something pretty special to get the win tonight. We stopped for that last stint and trying to find the right balance between pushing hard and saving tyre performance for the end of the race was difficult. And Max was all over me right at the end but I just about managed to hold him off. It was one of the hardest races I’ve had for a while so I’m really grateful for it and massively thankful for the men and the women back at the factory and here, for continuously pushing the boundaries and never giving up, even if we do feel we’re behind. But we love the challenge, I love the challenge, I love what I do.

Valtteri Bottas
We lost a lot of time on the slow pit stop otherwise it was a close race with Red Bull. The cars were quite close on pace but if you lose 10 seconds like that, racing against Max and Lewis, you are not going to get that back. On a personal level it’s not satisfying but at least as a team, we have more points than Red Bull. It was the right thing at the end to stop for new tyres and set the fastest lap so we have an extra point. The car was more drivable today, it was better than yesterday and we are continuing to make steps forward. Hopefully we can make further progress. We have three weeks of work ahead of us before Imola. If you had said at testing that we would have two drivers on the podium and be top of the Constructors’ table after the first race, we would have taken it.

Toto Wolff
If somebody had predicted this would be the result on Sunday, I wouldn’t have believed it. If you are 100% honest with yourself, we are still lacking pace in qualifying. Today we were definitely competitive, and the strategy made all the difference. We made a bold call in the beginning to take track position and the lead of the race, then at the end the racing gods were on our side.

Bahrain was never the strongest race for Red Bull and they have never traditionally been the quickest out the blocks, so after today I have no doubt that they are going to be extremely difficult to beat in 2021. We have a real fight on our hands – and we’re all excited about the prospect of a really close battle for these championships!

Andrew Shovlin

Days like today remind us why we do this! Everyone in Brackley and Brixworth have been working flat out since the test; we knew that we had our work cut out but today was a great reward for all the extra hours that everyone has been putting in. Our hope going into the race was that we’d be able to put Max under a bit of pressure. Lewis did that brilliantly and was able to stay within undercut range which enabled him to take the lead at the first stop. He pushed the tyres pretty hard at the start of that second stint to gain the position and we were starting to drop too early. That’s what forced us to come in when we did. It was earlier than we’d have liked but Max was close enough to try and undercut Lewis so we had to make a move. A few seconds behind, Valtteri was having a strong middle stint, and although we didn’t have the gap to undercut Max,  we boxed at a point where we thought they may be afraid to go to the end and wondered if they would let us undercut them and take P2. Unfortunately, we had a problem at the stop and lost precious seconds and places which prevented Valtteri from being in the mix at the end, but it also allowed Max to offset his strategy to Lewis. Honestly, once that had happened, we didn’t think we’d win, but Lewis did an amazing job with the tyre management and defending. We’re well aware this championship will be close so when we had an opportunity to go for fastest lap with Valtteri we took it, earning him and the team the extra point. It’s great to walk away from here leading the championship but we’re under no illusions that this will anything other than an incredibly difficult championship to win. We’ve made good progress in the last week or so, but Red Bull have the better package at the moment and if we don’t improve, our lead may be short-lived.

Esteban Ocon
It wasn’t the result we wanted today, but there were certainly lots of positives. We were fighting for most of the race with a number of cars with fun, wheel to wheel battles. Even with Seb [Vettel] at the end, he locked up and went into me. He apologised, we all make mistakes, and that happens sometimes. We were just a little bit short overall today. Qualifying didn’t help us as it meant we always had places to gain. We showed our fighting spirit during this race and that’s quite important. We move onto the next race as a team, aiming to get back to scoring points.

Fernando Alonso
Firstly, it was great to be back racing in Formula 1. The start was fun, we gained some places and I had some enjoyable battles with old colleagues. However, it was disappointing to not see the chequered flag in the end. The issue we had after the second stop was a rear brake issue as some debris entered the brake ducts and overheated the temperatures of the car. Looking at the race it was very close in the midfield, and just a couple of tenths seems to change the order quite significantly. I think it’s going to be a very interesting and competitive season to watch. We’ll go again and fight hard in Imola.

Marcin Budkowski, Alpine Executive Director
It’s not the best start to the season for us as we had our fair share of bad luck throughout the weekend; both in qualifying and the race. Both cars made a good start and gained some places on the first lap with Fernando holding firm in the top ten. After his first stop we had a small issue that forced us to reduce the performance of the car, then after the second stop, a sandwich wrap paper got stuck inside the rear brake duct of Fernando’s car, which led to high temperatures and caused some damage to the brake system, so we retired him for safety reasons. It was a very unlucky first race for Fernando considering how strong he looked. Esteban drove a solid race today starting from sixteenth and was heading towards a possible points finish. But then he was hit by Sebastian [Vettel], which led to some damage to the car. We’ve got some work to do ahead of Imola to bring more performance to the car to fight in a very competitive midfield where each tenth counts. We’re all looking forward to having another go in just a few weeks.

Charles Leclerc #16
“It’s a nice start and a good feeling and I am reasonably happy with the race today. I cannot be extremely satisfied with P6, but at the end of the day we need to look at where we were last year and it’s clear we have made good progress.
I had a very good start. I found myself in third place and managed my tyres quite well in the first stint. I think there was probably a bit more left in them, but we had to stop and try to push the others towards different strategies, which was the right thing to do, but it might have cost us a little bit in terms of pace at the end of the race.
All in all, it was a good race and a positive weekend and we made a good step forward compared to last season. We’re still not where we want to be, so we need to keep working and pushing very hard to get better in the coming races.”

Carlos Sainz #55
“I think we had a solid first race today. It was very important for me to complete all the laps and keep building experience with the car. Maybe that’s the reason why this time I didn’t take too many risks at the start and it cost me a couple of places. I was curious to see how the car reacted in the dirty air of a race start and I knew I would have the opportunity to fight back once I got into my rhythm.
Once the race settled a bit, I started pushing lap by lap and I think we showed a very strong pace with the Medium tyre and especially with the Hard tyre during the last stint. I also managed to pull of some good overtakes.
Today I’m happy for the work we have been doing the entire weekend. Ferrari wants more. I want more. But it has been a promising start and we’ll keep pushing to get there.”

Mattia Binotto Ferrari Team Principal
“That was a very intense race. It was the first of 23 stages of what will be a very long season and we must take each one as it comes, working calmly and with determination, just as we did this weekend. In the race, we struggled a bit more than we had done in qualifying, but we acquired plenty of useful data that will allow us to understand where we must improve.
There’s a long way to go, but we will continue working to improve in all areas. Now our attention turns to the next round in Imola, which is special for us given that, along with Monza, it is a home race for us.”


Kimi Räikkönen
“It wasn’t a bad race, we had some good fights and the car behaved nicely, but it’s disappointing not to bring home points when we were in the top ten nearly all night. Had the race been a few laps longer, we probably would have been able to catch the cars in front but we will keep trying. The car felt good, as it did in testing, so it is clear we have made a step forward compared to last year: we still have a bit to work to close the gap with the top five teams, but we keep fighting to find that little bit extra.”
            
Antonio Giovinazzi  
“Compared to the start of last season, we are much faster and have a much better car so we can be happy about the step forward we have made. It wasn’t enough to bring home points today, but we are very close to the top ten and we can consistently fight for the points. My race was good, I think I got everything I could out of the car, but of course we lost time at the first pit-stop. In the end, mistakes do happen and we have to learn from them and make sure we don’t do them again next time; without the issue, I would have probably been close to where Kimi ended. Now my focus is on Imola, racing again in my home country and hopefully achieving a good result to make the Tifosi at home happy.”

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG
Tonight gave us a strong indication of the progress we have made in the last twelve months. We raced with authority, leaving the Alpines and an Aston Martin behind us and finishing on the tail of the other Aston. Even though we leave Bahrain with no points, we do so having reclaimed our place in the midst of the midfield – and results will surely come soon. We demonstrated to be the able to fight in and around the top ten and we can look with optimism to the rest of the season. It was an eventful race, even though the low attrition rate – just two retirements – meant we had our work cut out when aiming for a place in the points. We take a lot of positives, however, knowing we can go to the next race in Imola, in two weeks, ready to battle again for a place in the top ten.”

Next round
There is now a three week break before the season resumes, with the Made in Italy e dell’Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola on 18 April.

 

 

 

1

44

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes-AMG

F1 W12

E Performance/06

1:32:03.897

56

2

33

Max Verstappen

Red Bull

 

+ 0.745

56

3

77

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes-AMG

F1 W12

E Performance/05

+ 37.383

56

4

4

Lando Norris

McLaren

 

+ 46.466

56

5

11

Sergio Pérez

Red Bull

 

+ 52.047

56

6

16

Charles Leclerc

Ferrari

 

+ 59.090

56

7

3

Daniel Ricciardo

McLaren

 

+ 1:06.004

56

8

55

Carlos Sainz jr.

Ferrari

 

+ 1:07.100

56

9

22

Yuki Tsunoda

AlphaTauri

 

+ 1:25.692

56

10

18

Lance Stroll

Aston Martin

 

+ 1:26.713

56

11

7

Kimi Räikkönen

Alfa Romeo

04

+ 1:28.864

56

12

99

Antonio Giovinazzi

Alfa Romeo

03

+ 1 Lap

55

13

31

Esteban Ocon

Alpine

 

+ 1 Lap

55

14

63

George Russell

Williams

 

+ 1 Lap

55

15

5

Sebastian Vettel *

Aston Martin

 

+ 1 Lap

55

16

47

Mick Schumacher

Haas F1 Team

 

+ 1 Lap

55

17

10

Pierre Gasly *

AlphaTauri

 

retired

52

18

6

Nicholas Latifi *

Williams

 

retired

51

NC
16

14

Fernando Alonso

Alpine

 

Retired
breaks

32

NC
20

9

Nikita Mazepin

Haas F1 Team

 

accident

1