2020 Bahrain Grand Prix – what the drivers said

Reaction to the dramatic events at the Sakhir International Circuit

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - NOVEMBER 29: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, second placed Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing and third placed Alexander Albon of Thailand and Red Bull Racing stand on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on November 29, 2020 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Hamad Mohammed - Pool/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202011290484 // Usage for editorial use only //

Lewis Hamilton won a disrupted Bahrain Grand Prix, after the drivers spent more than an hour in the pitlane following a fiery high-speed crash by Romain Grosjean.

The Haas driver was taken to hospital with minor burns after the incident on the opening lap, which saw his car split in two as it catapulted through the crash barrier before bursting into flames.

After the restart, there was disappointment for Racing Point after Lance Stroll tangled with Daniil Kvyat and ended up upside down, before a late engine failure cost Sergio Perez a podium.

There were contrasting fortunes for Red Bull, who secured their first double podium finish since the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix.

Here’s what the drivers said following proceedings at the Sakhir International Circuit:

Lewis Hamilton – 1st (Mercedes):

“Today is a reminder for all of us that this is a dangerous sport. It was shocking to see Romain’s accident and I’m just so grateful that the Halo did its job and credit to the FIA medical team who were straight on the scene. For Romain to be able to walk away from an accident like that just shows what an incredible job F1 and the FIA have done in their quest for safety. Physically it was such a demanding race. Max pushed me all the way and he had a lot of speed today. I was struggling a little bit with the car sliding around, but I just had enough to be able to respond to Max’s quick laps when it mattered. I was a little cautious how it would play out at the end of the race once Max pitted, but I’m so thankful to my team because they made the right calls all day on the strategy. What a privilege it is to be able to get another result like this.”

2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday – LAT Images


Max Verstappen – 2nd (Red Bull):

“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. 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.”

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – NOVEMBER 29: Second placed Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on November 29, 2020 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202011290464 // Usage for editorial use only //


Alexander Albon – 3rd (Red Bull):

“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. 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.”

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – NOVEMBER 29: Third placed Alexander Albon of Thailand and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on November 29, 2020 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202011290474 // Usage for editorial use only //


Sergio Perez – DNF (Racing Point):

“It’s really hard for both myself and the team to take today’s result, but in the grand scheme of things, it almost becomes irrelevant after Romain’s crash at the start. At the end of the day, it’s either one more or one less podium or trophy for me, but the important thing is that Romain is still with us and that he’s ok. I wish him all the best. It was certainly hard to get back into the car after seeing something like that, but you just have to focus and prepare for the race. I think we executed a perfect race and the podium was definitely ours – it was going to be one of my best in Formula 1. It was gutting to retire with three laps left due to an MGU-K electrical issue. We were going to finish ahead of a Red Bull and a Mercedes, which is a great credit to all of us at the team, and we’d done such a good job all weekend too. We’ve lost out on some really important points today, which makes it a bit more difficult in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship battles, but the positive is that there are still two more races to make up for it.”


Toto Wolff – Team Principal (Mercedes):

“First of all, I want to say thank you to the FIA and F1 for having given us these incredibly safe racing cars. Today’s events show that the introduction of the Halo was tremendously important. I also want to thank the marshals as well as Dr. Ian Roberts and Alan van der Merwe who helped Romain escape the scene. As far as I know, Romain is ok, and I wish him the best possible recovery and I hope his family is alright despite having to witness these awful pictures. For our team, it was another bittersweet race; on the one hand, I’m very happy for the team and Lewis. The car showed strong performance today and the strategy team was on its A game. Unfortunately, Valtteri had more bad luck this weekend with his puncture. We need to find a way to break the pattern of him losing races for reasons that are beyond his control. Valtteri could have won a few more races this year and it’s just a shame that he needs to cope with these results. But it will make him stronger and now he just needs to give his best in these last two races and secure P2 in the championship. I have no doubt that next year will be very strong for him. I’m also sorry for the disappointment of Racing Point, but happy that Lance escaped unhurt. We need to analyse what happened on Sergio’s car and investigate to make sure we can avoid these DNFs in the future.”

2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday – Steve Etherington


Lando Norris – 4th (McLaren):

“First of all, I’m glad to see that Romain wasn’t seriously injured. It was good to see him get out of the car and it proves how safe the sport has become thanks to the work done by F1 and the FIA along with the teams. Once again, the halo has proved that it saves lives, and I’m sure that we’ll learn even more from this accident and make the sport even safer. The bravery shown by the marshals and medical car crew was absolutely incredible as well. Otherwise, a very good race! First time I think we’ve had that in a long time. I think everything went pretty much perfectly for us. Both starts were really good which put us in a strong position ahead of the Renaults. That was all really! There wasn’t a lot more to the race. I know there was a lot of action, but I think we just had a good strategy and we did what we had to do. My race wasn’t boring, but it was quite straightforward and we stuck to our plan and focused on ourselves. That was all we wanted to do in the beginning and that’s what we did, so I’m happy it all paid off. Good points, fourth and fifth – one of our best results as a team. A good bounce back from yesterday.”

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35, leads Esteban Ocon, Renault R.S.20, and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF1000


Carlos Sainz – 5th (McLaren):

“First of all, the most important thing today is that Grosjean is okay. It was a massive relief to see him jump out of the car after such a scary accident. I think this is the hardest reminder of how dangerous motorsport is. Despite the incredible safety measures we have nowadays, our lives are still at risk every weekend when driving these beasts to the limit. This has to be respected. On the positive side, what happened today underlines the great job of Formula 1 and the FIA, in collaboration with the teams, to keep making the cars safer every year. I think no one will dare to criticise the halo, for example, after what we’ve seen tonight. Finally, I want to highlight the job of the marshals and our pit-crews. They may not drive the cars, but they are equally exposed to big risks and they are key to protect us all. From my side, another good comeback from P15 to P5! I managed to do a very strong first stint with the Soft tyre, overtaking a lot of people but at the same time making that tyre last. The second stint on the Medium was also very strong, and we were able to pass both Renaults and have good pace closing the gap to Lando. It was a great race and we managed to score a big amount of points for the team which is crucial for the championship standings.”


Christian Horner – Team Principal (Red Bull):

“Firstly it’s a huge relief that Romain Grosjean 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. 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.”

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – NOVEMBER 29: Second placed Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing and third placed Alexander Albon of Thailand and Red Bull Racing celebrate with their trophies after the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on November 29, 2020 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202011290502 // Usage for editorial use only //


Pierre Gasly – 6th (AlphaTauri):

“The main thing about today is to see Romain walking away from that horrific crash at the start of the race. It was pretty shocking to see, but I’m really glad he’s ok and I wish him all the best for his recovery and hope to see him back very soon. Performance-wise, I’m really pleased with our job. We took a risky strategy – it was a gamble – but it paid off in the end. It was one of the toughest races and a lot of hard work inside the cockpit today, it was all about managing and pushing as hard as I could, without hurting the tyres too much and keep them alive for as many laps as possible. It gave me a pretty hard time in the cockpit, but we managed to get one of our best results of the year, so I’m really happy to make it back in the points and make the best out of this Sunday.”


Daniel Ricciardo – 7th (Renault):

“Firstly, I’m glad Romain is OK after the incident. The result today does not matter so much after that and it’s a bit of an afterthought. To see him escape and walk away was a relief and I wish him the best in his recovery. That’s the main thing from today. In terms of our race, it certainly wasn’t what we wanted but we gave it our best and we still managed to score points. We’ll focus on next week when it comes, it’s still to play for in the championship and we’ll come back stronger.”

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team RS20.
Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday 29th November 2020. Sakhir, Bahrain.


Valtteri Bottas – 8th (Mercedes):

“I’m so glad that Romain is ok – that’s really the most important thing today and I’m very relieved he was able to escape such a big accident. I had a puncture at the restart of the race; I don’t think there was any contact and I didn’t see any debris either, so I’m not quite sure what caused it. I tried fighting my way through the field, but we had a bigger wing than most of the others, so it wasn’t easy to get through the train of cars. At the very end, I had yet another puncture, but fortunately that was under the Safety Car and I didn’t lose any more positions. I’ll need to look at what I can do better next week; the track layout will be different, but a lot of the characteristics will also stay the same, so there’s certainly a lot to learn from this week. Hopefully, I’ll have better luck next weekend.”


Esteban Ocon – 9th (Renault):

“The first, and main thing, is the news of Romain [Grosjean] and I wish him a very fast recovery. It was a crazy incident. The team told me in the car that he was alright, but looking at the images, I struggled to believe it. It’s a miracle that he’s fine and I’m glad to hear he’s OK. Our race was secondary to that incident today. We have plenty to review from the race as the McLarens were a bit quicker than us. We’ll push on see what we can do next weekend on the shorter layout and try and claim some points back.”


Charles Leclerc – 10th (Ferrari):

“After Romain’s crash, I was feeling very bad. It was probably the first time I have felt like this during a race, because I was trying to keep someone behind me and so I saw what happened in my rear view mirrors and when I got to turn 9 I saw the flames, so I was worrying and waiting for news about Romain. I was extremely happy when they told me he was ok, after what seemed like a very long time. Well done to everyone who works on making our cars safe. It’s impressive to see what an incredible job they’ve done! Once I knew Romain was ok I focused on the race again. It was a difficult one for us today, as we were really not quick enough. I had a very good start but unfortunately after that it was all uphill. P10 was the best we could achieve today. We have two more GPs ahead of us now and we’ll try to get the most out of them.”


Guenther Steiner – Team Principal (Haas):

“We got fortunate today. The good news is that Romain is doing well considering what happened. We are thankful for all the safety advancements in modern Formula 1 in order to protect the drivers. We send a thank you to the FIA safety team and the marshals who were on-site immediately to help Romain get away from the scene. As I said, I think we got lucky – there’s not a lot more to say. We hope Romain will recover quickly from the injuries he sustained.”


Daniil Kvyat – 11th (AlphaTauri):

“To finish P11 is super frustrating. On the opening lap, I was a bit angry at first with Romain for his move, but then I was just worried about him because I saw the flames and how bad the crash was – I was just hoping he was OK and fortunately it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Then on the race restart I had an incident with Stroll. I was fully on the inside of him and even if I think saw me he chose to turn in like I wasn’t there. I put my whole car on the inside of the kerb and there wasn’t much more I could have done. So, I don’t share the same view as the Stewards regarding my penalty. It’s a shame they took this decision because it ruined my race. I’m upset but nothing will change the outcome, unfortunately.”


George Russell – 12th (Williams):

“I am pleased with the job we have done this weekend. I dropped places on the initial start but from the restart I came from P18 to P12, and in the race managed to keep Vettel behind us, whilst overtaking Giovinazzi, Magnussen plus fighting with Kvyat. I think it is a job we can be pleased with, and I think we can leave saying we got everything out of this weekend. It’s not a point but it is the maximum that we could do today. It is incredible that Romain walked away from the crash today. I am just pleased that he is ok and extremely thankful that we have the halo. I am proud of the work that the FIA and F1 have done for the safety over the recent years.”

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing FW43 and Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-20 at the start of the race.
Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday 29th November 2020. Sakhir, Bahrain.


Otmar Szafnauer – CEO & Team Principal (Racing Point):

“A tough evening in Bahrain. Checo was cruelly denied a podium after an MGU-K issue forced us to park the car with three laps remaining. Up to that point, he had driven a flawless race, managing the tyres perfectly, and running comfortably in third place. Lance was just as unlucky – being eliminated through no fault of his own after Kvyat flipped him over. It was a scary moment, but fortunately Lance was checked at the medical centre and is ok. It makes the fight for third in the championship more difficult, but there are still two races to go, plenty of points available, and we know we have a competitive car. We will give everything we have to recover the lost points today and reclaim third in the championship. Regarding Romain’s accident, we share the relief of the entire paddock that he only has minor injuries. It was a frightening accident and credit to the FIA and sport as a whole for the safety standards we have worked hard to deliver in recent times.”


Sebastian Vettel – 13th (Ferrari):

“Maybe the only good news of today is the one I received on the radio, confirming to me that Romain was ok. When we stopped in the pitlane and I jumped out of the car I saw the images and it was incredible how he was able to get out of his car. I have to admit I tried not to look at the images too much. Talking about my race, the first stint was very bad, I didn’t have the pace and I lost quite a lot of ground. The situation improved as the race went on and in free air in the end it was not that bad but all in all it was definitely a difficult race.”

GP BAHRAIN F1/2020 – DOMENICA 29/11/2020
credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office


Nicholas Latifi – 14th (Williams):

“The first start was very tricky but we got a much better start on the second one, and moved up a bit, but then I made a misjudgement whilst battling for position on the subsequent lap. Still, I am pretty pleased with the race. Tyre degradation was the big factor to manage and I think we did a good job. We had a strong strategy which meant I could achieve the target which was to get ahead of the Haas and the Alfa. Obviously, you always want more, there are some things that could have been better as it wasn’t an easy race out there, but I am pretty pleased with the result. I wish Romain a speedy recovery, you never like to see something like that, it just shows you that the risk is always there in motorsport.”


Kimi Raikkonen – 15th (Alfa Romeo):

“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 – 16th (Alfa Romeo):

“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.”


Mattia Binotto – Team Principal (Ferrari):

“The outcome of today’s race is secondary to the relief we felt when Romain Grosjean got out of his car after that terrifying accident. The fact that he suffered only minor injuries is a testament to the amazing job done by the FIA in terms of safety and the courage and professionalism of all those involved on that front at a Grand Prix. But for the progress made in recent years and above all the introduction of the halo, we might have been commenting on a tragedy. As for our race, it was disappointing, but we had seen right from Friday that we would struggle this weekend. Now we have a few days in which to analyse all the data carefully and see how we can improve the car’s handling for next weekend. As we stay in Sakhir, the track conditions and temperatures should be the same, but we will be racing on a different layout for the very first time, which could present us with an opportunity. It will be up to us to grasp it and to do better than we did today.”


Lance Stroll – DNF (Racing Point):

“I’m really happy that Romain was able to walk away from that crash as it was a scary one to see happen. I think all of us drivers in the pitlane had to stop for a second and reset before getting back into the car. I’m definitely thinking of him. For me, personally, I’m really frustrated by the race. We’ve scored two points since Monza and it’s been a series of incidents outside of my control that’s caused it. At one point this season we were P4 in the Drivers’ Championship and we’d had such a strong start to the year, so that makes the current situation all the more frustrating. I can’t say much about today’s incident, I was going through Turn 8 and was mid-corner when I was hit by Daniil [Kvyat] who came out of nowhere and connected with me. The crash looked worse than it was: I’m ok, and Daniil got a penalty. There’s no point thinking about what could have been today or in the previous events. We won’t dwell on it because there’s nothing we can do about it now. We need this run of bad luck to end and we’ll focus on coming back stronger next week and finishing the season on a high.”


Kevin Magnussen – 17th (Haas):

“Firstly, I’m just very, very happy to see Romain walk away from that crash – it was unbelievable. To see him survive that is frankly a miracle. I’m so happy that the halo was introduced, and it was on his car. Without it I’m sure it would have been very different. That’s really all from me today. I’m just happy that we’ve still got Romain.”


Romain Grosjean – DNF (Haas):

*Grosjean did not speak to the media following his crash, but Haas released the following statement:

Haas also shared a video of Grosjean from hospital:


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