Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo had a bittersweet moment in F1 Sakhir GP despite a Top 5 result as Alexander Albon was confused with his race.
With three drivers involved in a scuffle at the start of F1 Sakhir GP and the Mercedes duo leading, McLaren’s Sainz made the most of the situation to move up to third, while being chased by Renault’s Ricciardo and AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat.
Red Bull’s Albon was still 12th after the Thai had an off, while trying to defend his place. There was a brief moment when Sainz got second from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas after safety car re-start, but the Finn took back the position thereafter soon.
The track position was intact then with Sainz leading Ricciardo and Kvyat, while Albon tried to fight back into the Top 10. It was going well until the Virtual Safety Car period, where the pack lost out to stream of cars, who were racing behind them.
It was led by Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who cut through the field, even passing Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll. While Sainz hung on behind them, Ricciardo lost to Kvyat when they pitted under VSC, a move which the Australian did not like.
After Mercedes duo had their troubles, it was Perez ahead of Ocon and Stroll, being chased by Sainz, Ricciardo, Albon and Kvyat. The late safety car allowed the Australian to gain back the place he lost to the Russian, while the Thai too managed to pass him in the end.
Despite ending fourth and fifth, both Sainz and Ricciardo, felt a lot was undone. “We have to analyse everything calmly,” said the Spaniard to media. “For my part I did everything I could, I have not left anything out there, and these are racing circumstances and other cars have been luckier with the timing of the stops and the Virtual Safety Car.
“There were also other cars that were much faster than us, such as Checo and company, who fell to the last place and in the end they ended 10 seconds ahead of us. All this despite the fact that we were driving on a newer tyre, which also makes it clear that maybe this wasn’t our weekend.
“Even with the lack of pace we had and having perhaps a little bad luck with the VSC, we finished fourth stuck to the Racing Point. It was a strange race, which also have stuck there behind that Mercedes has not helped, but well, that’s what it is. I’m not too frustrated, honestly. When you get a race this good, you can’t complain.
“I haven’t left anything out there and I’m calm and happy. The others, Ocon and Stroll have had a little more luck,” Sainz summed up, as Ricciardo had similar thoughts, especially with regards to the pit stop, where he thought they should have done one stop as well.
Teammate Ocon did so and ended up second. “To be honest it was scrappy,” said Ricciardo to media. “A scrappy race from our side. I just got called to the pits but I was already past the pit entry so I couldn’t pit and then Kvyat undercut us. We have him a freebie and then spent the whole second stint behind him.
“I felt every lap we were behind him the race was getting away from us. It is tough and I’m fifth and usually that is a good result, but if you see our rivals first and third and I heard that Perez was in the pits on Lap 1, for all of us when a car that pits then, you can’t let him win the race. I felt like we all missed out.
“The VSC timing didn’t help as well but honestly deep down I was happy with a one stop and I thought the first stint was going OK so I was trying to extend it but we stuck to a two stop and probably the circumstances as well didn’t go in our favour. It is probably the most disappointing fifth I’ve had in a while,” summed up Ricciardo.
There was confusion with Albon along with disappointment. The Thai did not have a smiling start but hung on. He stopped for the hard tyres in a seemingly one-stop strategy but Red Bull took a risk to stop him for the soft compound in order the gain as many places.
He was 10th and managed to end up sixth – thanks to the Mercedes troubles as well. But he ended up doing more laps on the soft compound than the medium or hard, on which the likes of Sainz and Ricciardo were, which helped the duo to hang on well in a short circuit.
The idea was for Albon to carve his way through the field but it wasn’t to be. “It was a very strange and scrappy race and I’m not really sure how it all unfolded but climbing from 12th to sixth isn’t too bad but we hoped for more,” he said. “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.
“It was so hard to overtake and I was having to dive bomb into Turn 1 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. I don’t think it was a bad performance. We were behind Sergio for most of that race.
“I don’t quite understand how it unfolded,” summed up Albon, as Kvyat was more than pleased to end up seventh, even though, he felt they could have done more, especially having passed Ricciardo in the pits.
Here’s Carlos Sainz post-race on radio: https://www.formula1.com/en/video/2020/12/2020_Sakhir_Grand_Prix__Sainz_reacts_to_%27frustrating_P4%27.html
Here’s Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll about podium
Here’s how F1 Sakhir GP panned out