Alexander Albon admitted he expected more from his Sakhir Grand Prix, despite climbing from twelfth on the grid to finish sixth.
The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver had been confused to why he found himself so low on the grid on Saturday, although his straight-line speed disadvantage down the straights around the Bahrain International Circuit meant he found it difficult to get close enough to pass others in front of him.
He feels that the set-up they went with for the race, which saw him be quick in the middle sector but prevented him from attacking down the straights, hindered him badly, and he was unable to put his RB16 where he felt it deserved to be.
“It was a very strange and scrappy race and I’m not really sure how it all unfolded, but climbing from twelfth to sixth isn’t too bad, but we hoped for more today,” said Albon.
“We expected to be slow on the straights and we only just about to managed to stay with the other cars when we had DRS but it was so hard to overtake and I was having to dive bomb into Turn One to get the moves made.
“It was very hard to race with the configuration of downforce we had, and we were quick in parts of the track like sector two where you just can’t overtake. Now it’s full focus on Abu Dhabi in a few days’ time.”
“Everyone around me was being so aggressive” – Max Verstappen
Team-mate Max Verstappen was eliminated on lap one after hitting the barriers whilst avoiding the spinning Sergio Pérez at turn four after the Mexican had been pitched into a spin by Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen had made a good start and was attacking the two Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers into turn one, but a pincer movement prevented him from getting in between George Russell and Valtteri Bottas.
He attacked Bottas on the exit of turn three but was unable to make the move, and he braked early to try and avoid getting involved in any kind of incident. Unfortunately for Verstappen, Leclerc made locked up and hit Pérez, with Verstappen taking avoiding action that ultimately left him in the barriers and out of the race.
“I had a good start but got boxed in so was trying to stay out of trouble but everyone around me was being so aggressive and risking things like it was the last lap of the race,” said Verstappen. “Especially Charles going up the inside at Turn 4 and braking so late when the track is so dusty.
“I understand he wanted to pass a car but it was just too optimistic. I respect Charles a lot and he is a great driver but I think that was a bit too much. Checo couldn’t see what was happening on the inside, Charles hit him and then he was spinning backwards across the track.
“I tried to go around the outside to avoid any damage to my car but ended up in the gravel and then the barrier. It’s frustrating to retire so soon in a race where we had a racy car and a good chance of doing well.”
“An incredibly frustrating end to the weekend” – Christian Horner
Christian Horner, the Team Principal of Red Bull, admitted seeing Verstappen retire on the opening lap on Sunday was ‘incredibly frustrating’ as it prevented the Dutchman from using his strong long-run pace he showed in practice to fight for the win.
Horner says it was a great shame his race ended up in the barrier after taking avoiding action after Leclerc had hit Pérez at turn four.
“An incredibly frustrating end to the weekend with Max’s race being cut short on the opening lap through no fault of his own,” said Horner. “He managed to avoid Valtteri who had a slide at Turn 2 which cost him a lot of momentum and then unfortunately Leclerc misjudged his braking and hit Perez.
“Max was forced to take avoiding action and subsequently hit the barrier, which was a great shame as he would have been a real contender for the win today.”
Horner said Albon appeared to struggle for pace in the opening stint but began to find pace once he switched to the hard compound tyre, while he used the soft tyre in the final stint to good use to climb up to sixth.
“Alex survived contact in the opening lap but struggled for pace in the initial stint,” said Horner. “He pitted for the hard tyre which he seemed more comfortable on and we then took a bit of a risk under the last safety car to put the soft tyre on which he used to good effect to move up to P6.
“It was an entertaining race for the fans at home and congratulations to Racing Point and Sergio Pérez for their first victories in Formula 1.”