A night of drama in Sakhir
2020 FIA Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix – Race – Sunday
Weather: clear night, 25.5-24.4°C air, 28.7-25.9°C track
A dramatic Bahrain Grand Prix saw a lot of action and heart-in-the-mouth moments, especially at both ends of the race. The first start saw Antonio Giovinazzi, sitting in P16 on the grid, make another one of his trademark rocket starts to make it up to 11th, only for the race to be red flagged after a horrifying crash to Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman’s car crashed heavily on the opening lap, bursting into flames as it split in two: thankfully, the whole grid was able to sigh a breath of relief as Romain walked away, shaken but safe, from the scene.
At the restart, a lengthy time after the red flag was shown to allow for repairs to the barrier to take place, it was Kimi Räikkönen who had the better start, leaping into P13. Unfortunately, damage sustained by the Finn in the opening stages effectively compromised the remainder of his race: hits to the floor affected the C39’s aerodynamics and resulted in Kimi having to fight with a hand tied behind his back for the rest of the evening.
Antonio, on the other hand, made some good progress and spent most of the race just outside the points, fighting with the Ferraris and holding his own against the rivals around him. With just a handful of laps to go, a late safety car, called to deal with Sergio Perez’s retirement, neutralised the race and the team elected to fit Antonio, who was in P13 at the time, with new soft tyres that would have given him an advantage in a putative restart. Unfortunately, the race ended behind Safety Car and the Italian couldn’t make his tyre advantage count.
On a night of high drama, we weren’t able to spring a surprise under the Sakhir lights. We will get a new chance next week, when we race on the “outer” loop of the Bahrain International Circuit.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “Before any consideration can be made about the sporting result, it’s important to express our relief in seeing Romain Grosjean walk away with relatively little harm from such a terrifying crash. Seeing the images on our TV screens was a breath-taking experience and the outcome of this incident is testament to the great strides made by the FIA and F1 in making our sport safer. There can never be complacency when safety is involved, but it’s heartening to see lessons are being put to good practice. As for the race, it was an unlucky night in which we had any opportunity of a good result taken away from us by a few unfortunate circumstances. Antonio’s great launch was nullified by the red flag and Kimi’s race came undone as he suffered damage in both race starts. It’s been a challenging weekend but all we can do now is focus on next week’s race.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 05/Ferrari)
Race result: 15th
Fastest lap: 1:33.573
Tyres: New Medium (1 lap) – New Medium (15 laps) – New Hard (24 laps) – Used Medium (17 laps)
“Like everyone, I am happy to see Romain being OK: nobody is used to seeing crashes like that in these days so it’s important to see he was able to walk away. Once the race restarts and you are in the car, though, you just focus on that: sadly my race was compromised early on as I got damage in both starts. I had a hit to the floor in the first start and then to the front wing and to the right side of the floor in the second and that took away a lot of performance. The car was quick in the first laps after the stops, but the damage made the pace fall off quickly. It’s a shame as the car felt pretty good on the way to the grid, but we weren’t able to make that potential pay off.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
Race result: 16th
Fastest lap: 1:34.536
Tyres: New Medium (1 lap) – New Medium (19 laps) – New Hard (33 laps) – New Soft (3 laps)
“I was really relieved to see Romain walk away from that huge crash – seeing him get out of the car was the best thing of tonight. I hope his injuries are not too serious and he can be back with us soon. As for the race, I made a great start and made up a lot of positions before the red flag – I was 11th, but was brought back to P14 at the restart. The second launch wasn’t as good and after that I settled into a rhythm: our pace was quite good but I have a feeling our choices for the race didn’t pay off as well as we expected. We chose to stay out on the hard tyres and only stopped when the final safety car came out, but that didn’t work for us in the end. Time to shift our focus to next week and hope it goes better.”