Alpine F1 Team missed out on points in the season opening Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix with Esteban Ocon thirteenth and Fernando Alonso – on his return to Formula 1 – retiring under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit.
It was a bright start for both cars with Fernando passing Carlos Sainz on the outside of Turn 1 on the first lap to take eighth with Esteban gaining three places after a quick getaway off the line. Fernando was locked in an early battle with a string of cars with his pit-stop – for Mediums – on lap 11 allowing him to jump a number of drivers after a slick 2.5second stop by the crew.
Esteban was always knocking on the door of points and he pitted on lap 13 for Medium tyres. Fernando was in the box again on lap 29 for Hards but his evening ended early as he retired with overheating rear brakes as a result of debris in the brake ducts.
Esteban pushed on – striving for points – with a pit-stop for Hards on lap 31 putting him in the mix. His chances of breaking into the top 10 were hampered when Sebastian Vettel collided into the back of his A521 at Turn 1 on lap 44, causing Esteban to spin. The Frenchman ended thirteenth at the flag.
Esteban Ocon, started P16, finished P13
“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, started P9, DNF
“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, 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.”
Source: Media Groupe Renault