Sakhir Grand Prix – Race

There was a lot of news since the Bahrain GP which I noted in my Qualifying post, so here’s the summary: HAM out with COVID; RUS takes the Mercedes seat; Jack Aitken (AIT) fills in at Williams; Pietro Fittipaldi (FIT) to stand in for the injured GRO.

Provisional grid: BOT, RUS, VER, LEC, PER, KVY, RIC, SAI, GAS, STR, OCO, ALB, VET, GIO, NOR, MAG, LAT, AIT, RAI, FIT*
*FIT qualified P20 but also had penalties for engine changes as Haas rebuild the car after GRO’s accident

Haas have announced that GRO will miss Abu Dhabi next week, which is the final GP of the season so his F1 career might have ended with that crash

NOR’s McLaren has been fitted with a new engine and turbo charger, so the penalties mean he’ll now start from the back of the grid (P19) [FIA]

SkySports interview Andrew van der Merwe and Dr Ian Roberts – the medical car team who were just seconds behind the incident and first to attend to GRO – I hope they have a quiet day today

Toto Wolff confirms he’s offered GRO a post-season drive in the Mercedes if none of his previous teams give him the chance to drive once more so that he doesn’t finish his career with an accident

Green lights; the pit lane is open and cars can head out to the dummy grid – time to focus on the race
Everyone’s doing practice starts at the end of the pit lane, as usual
How is RUS nodding along with the Bahrain national anthem? Does he remember it from last week?
Drivers settle into their cars and the engines are fired up
Radio from RUS, “At the pit stop please just remind me we are the first box” 🙂

Air temperature 21°C; track 24°C; 59% humidity but no chance of rain

Grid: BOT, RUS, VER, LEC, PER, KVY, RIC, SAI, GAS, STR, OCO, ALB, VET, GIO, MAG, LAT, AIT, RAI, NOR, FIT

BOT and RUS are starting on their Q2 medium tyres; rest of the top 10 are on softs
MAG, LAT, NOR and FIT are starting on softs too; rest of the grid on mediums

BOT leads everyone away on the formation lap
VER passes RUS, just warning him of what’s to come

01/87: RUS gets a clean start
RUS leads into Turn 1
LEC tags PER; they spin, taking VER with them into the gravel
Safety Car deployed

02[SC]: RUS, BOT, SAI, RIC, KVY, STR, GAS, OCO, VET, NOR, MAG, ALB, GIO, LAT, AIT, FIT, RIA, PER; out: VER, LEC
PER pits; rejoins but he’ll catch the rest of the field

04[SC]: Turn 4 incident involving PER, LEC and VER noted by Race Control
Replay shows BOT struggling with his Mercedes in Turn 1 and T2
Radio for RUS reminding him of the various buttons he’ll need for the restart

06[SC]: SC in at the end of this lap

07: SAI has a look at BOT; SAI steals P2 but runs wide and BOT reclaims it

08: NOR inside VET to take P9

09: RUS fastest lap 0:58.
VET past ALB for P10

10/87: RUS, BOT, SAI, RIC, KVY, STR, GAS, OCO, NOR, VET, ALB, PER, MAG, LAT, GIO, AIT, RAI, FIT
RAI takes P16

13: RUS has a 2sec gap over BOT
BOT locks up

15/87: RUS, BOT, SAI, RIC, KVY, STR, GAS, OCO, NOR, ALB, PER, VET, MAG, LAT, GIO, AIT, RAI, FIT
Radio for BOT, “target +9” so they expect to go 9 laps longer before pitting

18: BOT f/lap

19: PER looks around the outside of ALB but the Red Bull keeps P10

20/87: RUS, BOT, SAI, RIC, KVY, STR, GAS, OCO, NOR, ALB
ALB now looks at the outside of NOR – takes P9
PER follows through and takes P10 from NOR

21: NOR pits from P11; mediums go on; rejoins P18
PER attacking ALB; squeezes past to take P9

23: BOT has got the gap down to under 2sec behind RUS

24: RUS f/lap 0:57.955
BOT f/lap 0:57.978

25/87: RUS, BOT, SAI, RIC, KVY, STR, GAS, OCO, PER, ALB, VET, LAT, GIO, MAG, AIT, FIT, NOR, RAI
NOR takes P16 from FIT

26: Radio for NOR asking if racing the tailenders will ruin his race strategy; told if he doesn’t race them, there is no race

27: GIO and MAG pit

28: RUS f/lap 0:57.975
KVY pits
BOT’s lap time deleted
Was that an unsafe release of SAI?

30/87: Radio for BOT telling him to stay off the kerb at Turn 8; RUS has been told the same
RIC pits; rejoins P10, just behind KVY
KVY f/lap 0:57.580

31: RUS laps FIT

32: VET pits; not a quick stop; rejoins alongside LAT

33: VET chops across LAT to take P12

34: Radio for ALB warning him they’ve exceeded track limits at Turn 8 twice

35/87: RUS, BOT, STR, OCO, PER, ALB, SAI, KVY, RIC, GAS, NOR, VET, LAT, GIO, MAG, AIT, RAI, FIT; out: VER, LEC

36: RUS steadily opening his lead; now 2.7sec ahead of BOT

37: Radio from BOT saying his front tyres are going off

38: Radio for OCO asking him to “put pressure on STR”
RUS has lapped everyone up to & including VET, P12

40/87: RUS, BOT, STR, OCO, PER, ALB, SAI, KVY, RIC, GAS
Interview with VER, “They were being so reckless and at the end of the day two cars are out, so I don’t really know why”

41: AIT has his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 8

42: OCO pits from P4; hard tyres go on; rejoins P10

43: Radio for RUS, “We’ll keep extending while we have people in the pit window”
STR pits from P3; mediums; rejoins P9, just ahead of OCO

Half distance

44: OCO attacks STR, takes P9

45/87: Radio for RUS telling him to push
OCO f/lap 0:57.392

46: RUS pits; stops in the right box; hard tyres go on; rejoins P2, 6.5sec ahead of PER
Radio from RUS, “No power!” – did he miss a setting?

47: Radio for RUS telling him to make a setting change, so it’s not driver error

48: RUS f/lap 0:56.6
PER and ALB pit; rejoin P9 and P11 respectively

49: Black and white flag for ALB for exceeding track limits

50/87: BOT pits from P1; hard tyres go on; rejoins P2, now over 8sec behind RUS
Radio for RUS warning him of “track-rod overload – be careful with that front left”, i.e. he’s using too much kerb in Turns 7 and 8

51: Radio for BOT telling him of the same warning

53: ALB inside NOR for P9
Sky report RUS has now led more laps than anyone other than HAM or BOT this season!

54: KVY pits
Yellow flag at Turn 8 – LAT has parked the Williams

55/87: RUS, BOT, SAI, RIC, OCO, STR, PER, ALB, NOR, KVY, GAS, VET, GIO, MAG, AIT, RAI, FIT; out: LAT, VER, LEC
VSC deployed
VET pits; slow stop; unsafe release
VSC ends

56: SAI and RIC pit

57: STR locks up; teammate PER takes P4
PER attacking OCO; steals P3

59: RUS leads by 4.9sec

60/87: BOT f/lap 0:56.613

61: BOT has cut the lead to 4.9sec
AIT has lost his front wing – it’s on the track

62: VSC deployed
AIT pits for a new nose
Replay shows AIT lost it in the final turn, clipped the barrier
SC deployed

63[SC]: RUS pits; slow stop
BOT stacks, waiting for RUS
BOT’s front left brake is on fire
Finally they get the wheel changed and send BOT out
Radio for RUS telling him to pit again – they’ve put the wrong tyres on!

64[SC]: RUS pits; rejoins P5
What on earth has happened at Mercedes?

65/87[SC]: PER, OCO, STR, BOT, RUS, SAI, RIC, KVY, GAS, ALB, NOR, VET, GIO, MAG, RAI, FIT, AIT; out: LAT, VER, LEC
Race Control: lapped cars can pass the SC
Radio for RUS “You should have a big tyre advantage”; “I ***** hope so!”

68[SC]: SC in at the end of this lap
STR locks up, almost hits OCO … despite they’re still behind the SC

69: ALB steals P9 from GAS

70/87: PER, OCO, STR, BOT, RUS, SAI, RIC, KVY, ALB, GAS
BOT runs a bit wide; RUS sees the gap and squeezes through for P4

71: RUS closing on STR

72: PER has opened 2.5sec lead over OCO
RUS inside STR for P3
Black and white flag for MAG for exceeding track limits

73: RUS now tucked up behind OCO
Easy move for RUS to take P2
Mercedes have confirmed BOT is still on the old hard tyres

74: RUS 3.4sec behind PER

75/87: PER, RUS, OCO, STR, BOT, SAI, RIC, ALB, KVY, GAS, NOR, VET, GIO, RAI, MAG, FIT, AIT
Radio from SAI complaining about BOT – presumably he doesn’t know he’s on very old tyres

76: RUS f/lap 0:56.393 – PER’s lead down to 2.8sec
BBC report the Williams mechanics are in the garage cheering on RUS

77: RUS takes another half-second out of PER’s lead
SAI passes BOT for P5
RIC follows and takes P6

78: ALB past BOT, and then KVY passes the Mercedes too
Radio for RUS telling him he has a rear puncture! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

79: RUS pits; softs go on; rejoins P15
RUS takes P14 from MAG

80/87: PER, OCO, STR, SAI, RIC, ALB, KVY, BOT, GAS, NOR, VET, GIO, RAI, RUS, MAG, FIT, AIT

81: RUS f/lap 0:55.404
Incident involving RUS will be investigated after the race – incorrect tyres

82: PER has almost 9sec lead over OCO

83: Radio from BOT, “These tyres are terrible”; “They’ll get you to the end – P8, every point counts”
RUS now up to P12

84: RUS inside VET for P11
Racing Point mechanics can hardly watch the TV

85/87: PER, OCO, STR, SAI, RIC, ALB, KVY, BOT, NOR, GAS, RUS, VET, GIO, RAI, MAG, AIT, FIT

86: PER over 10sec clear of OCO
RUS tucked up behind GAS

87 = final lap: RUS takes P10 from GAS
RUS now takes P9 from NOR

PER takes the chequered flag

Provisional result: PER, OCO, STR, SAI, RIC, ALB, KVY, BOT, RUS*, NOR; GAS, VET, GIO, RAI, MAG, AIT, FIT; DNF: LAT, VER, LEC
*RUS fastest lap… but also under investigation for the wrong tyres in that terrible pit stop

Both Racing Point drivers on the podium
RUS finally gets some points (well, depending on the investigation)

I’m exhausted!

Interviews:
PER: “I’m speechless. I hope I’m not dreaming, I have dreamt this moment. After the first lap the race was done, but we had tremendous pace and we knew what we had to do today. What happens [next year] is not in my hands at the moment but I want to keep going.”
STR: “Amazing race for the team, a part of me is disappointed as I could have won. I went deep and Esteban got past me and I didn’t have the pace. One of those things but it didn’t end too badly for Sergio…”
OCO: “I cried across the line. We worked hard, we stayed motivated and we made it happen. It’s hard work but it paid off. Daniel has had a very solid season but I’m closing the gap to him and this podium is the cherry on the cake.”
Otmar Szafnauer: “For me personally, it’s my second win ever. But more importantly this is about the team, it’s a big team effort. Last Sunday we had a big shunt and one car on fire. We had scant parts, we had to fly parts out to rebuild two race cars. There are tears [in the garage].”
Toto Wolff: “It’s a refreshing podium and Checo had great pace. For us it was a colossal ***** up.”
RUS: “I was managing the race at the start, felt comfortable. Gutted but incredibly proud of what we achieved and happy to have had the opportunity. That’s racing, it’s a team sport, we’re all in it together. Sometimes the driver messes it up, I have once or twice this year at Williams. It was a late call, we got the tyres muddled up. Silver lining – I got my first points in F1.”

[2020 calendar] [2020 line-up]

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4 thoughts on “Sakhir Grand Prix – Race”

  1. For the two incidents under investigation: looks pretty clear the Turn 4 collision was LEC’s fault, but the stewards tend to be fairly lenient on lap 1 incidents. As for RUS’ pit stop, it seems that Mercedes put BOT’s front tyres (but RUS’ rear tyres) on and sent him out, which puts him over his tyre allocation for the weekend and (I think) that is an automatic disqualification. Still waiting for the official word though.

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