The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix was plagued with drama from the very outset, but through it all Aston Martin Red Bull Racing managed to capitalise on the chaos to steal a double podium.
A pre-red flag overtake from Max Verstappen elevated him up to second – which he maintained all race long – whilst Alexander Albon was in the mix to bag his second Formula 1 podium when BWT Racing Point F1 Team’s Sergio Pérez experienced a late-stage engine failure.
The race played the scene for one of the most dramatic crashes of recent times, as Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean was launched into a deadly inferno after first-lap contact with Daniil Kvyat. Luckily, the Frenchman was safe thanks to remarkable bravery from marshals and medical teams- whom Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was quick to commend:
“It’s a huge relief that Romain is okay this evening and all credit goes to the FIA and particularly Ian, Alan and the marshals that were there without hesitation to help extract Romain from the car. They are truly heroes. We sometimes underestimate the role that the FIA play but today Romain owes his life to that collective work and the safety measures in place.“
With regards to Red Bull’s race, Horner was pleased. The strong results solidified the Milton Keynes team’s runner-up position in the 2020 constructors championship, and he says the security enables them to ‘focus on trying to get both drivers further up the standings in the remaining races.’
“For our drivers, Max extracted every ounce of performance from the car with second place and our first podium at this track since 2013. We did an extra stop at the end, because we could, which helped us achieve an extra point for Fastest Lap.
“Alex meanwhile drove another strong race. He was unlucky to lose out a bit to Sergio at the start and there was very little between them today. Sergio’s misfortune was Alex’s good fortune, giving him third place on the podium to secure our first double podium since the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix.
“Today’s result also secures second in the Constructors’ Championship for the Team which is encouraging and it enables us to now focus on trying to get both drivers further up the standings in the remaining races.”
Verstappen: “There wasn’t much left to give”
Like everyone, Max Verstappen was incredibly thankful to see Romain Grosjean safe and sound after witnessing his horror crash first-hand.
The Dutchman said it was ‘a big shock’ to see such a huge incident unfold in front of his eyes, but he admits he breathed a sigh of relief after seeing all the elements of modern F1 safety in action to save Grosjean’s life.
“It was of course a big shock to see the flames at the start of the race and you know it is bad when there is fire like that. We were all relieved that Romain was able to get out of the car himself and that any injuries were treatable and I hope he recovers quickly. It’s not nice to see those things happen but fortunately the safety is incredible with the suits and the halo really saved his life today by pushing the guard rail up over his head.
Verstappen, who bagged his sixth second place finish of the season under the Bahraini lights, was undeniably satisfied with the race although he believes the team could have possibly ‘put Mercedes under a bit more pressure overall’. A slow pit stop and an even slower car thwarted the Dutch lion’s chances of victory, but he acknowledges that ‘there wasn’t much left to give’.
In the race I tried everything I could to stay with Lewis and there wasn’t much left to give but unfortunately we were just a bit too slow. I think we could maybe have put Mercedes under a bit more pressure but overall I think second is where we belong today with the pace of the car. A double podium is a great result for the Team and well done to Alex as I am pleased for him. The car seems to be working well here so we’ll see how next weekend goes on the different layout but hopefully we can find a bit more pace and get everything that’s possible.”
“It’s been a good weekend for me and I’m happy with how it turned out” – Albon
After a disastrous crash in Friday practice, Alex Albon was contented to be able to ‘repay’ his team for their extraordinary efforts to repair his car.
The Thai driver stood on the podium for the second time in his career after immense precision mixed with late luck saw him elevated to third from starting fourth on the grid. As with all the drivers, though, Albon first praised the heroic marshals and medics who ensured the safety of his colleague Grosjean.
“Like everyone in the paddock I was also very relieved to see Romain walk away from the car after the accident, it was shocking to watch back and the safety team did an amazing job today.
“Of course there’s a bit of luck involved today and Sergio drove a good race but we were there to capitalise on anything happening ahead and that’s exactly what we did so I’m really happy. The team told me Sergio might have an engine issue and my first thought was if he’s dropping oil, I don’t want to be the first car behind him so I stayed off-line just in case and fortunately everything worked out.
“Considering the car damage we had on Friday, the guys did an amazing job to get everything ready for Saturday and it’s nice to repay them in this way. It’s been a good weekend for me pace wise and I’m happy with how it turned out. I feel like the last few races have been getting better and results just haven’t shown that but we’ve taken another step forward this weekend and I’m pleased. Next week we’re racing on a different layout but it’s a pretty similar circuit so hopefully we can expect more of the same.“