Red Bull delivered a double podium finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix on a difficult night for F1 after a horror crash involving Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
The race had a shocking start at the Bahrain circuit, when contact between Grosjean and Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat coming out of the opening three turns sent the Frenchman’s Haas into the barriers at high speed, splitting the Haas car in half, forcing the front half through a safety barricade and out the other side, and creating a major fireball that burned the front of the car.
The Haas driver was able to jump out of the wreckage without needing assistance and was airlifted to a nearby hospital. Haas F1 Team later confirmed he is being treated for burns but had no broken bones from the incident, and that Grosjean will remain in hospital overnight.
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner paid tribute to the FIA and to Medical Car driver Alan van der Merwe, medical delegate Doctor Ian Roberts and the marshals for helping to extract Grosjean from the crash, and voiced his relief the French driver got out of the wreck alive.
He said, “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.”
The race was suspended for 80 minutes while the wreckage was removed and the broken barrier was replaced, and would ultimately resume for a 54 lap race.
When the race eventually resumed, it would eventually see Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Alex Albon both take spots on the podium – the first time the Milton Keynes-based team has had 2 drivers on the same F1 podium since Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo took 2nd and 3rd at the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s path to a podium was opened up by a poor afternoon for Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who sunk back on the original start and then suffered a puncture on the restart. It allowed the Dutchman a relatively smooth afternoon to take second, with Verstappen also picking up the fastest lap bonus point.
Albon spent most of the afternoon in direct battle with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who has been frequently linked with the second Red Bull seat in recent weeks.
It had looked as though Perez was going to be the driver on the podium but with 3 laps to go, an engine failure and fire meant the Mexican driver was forced to retire, allowing Albon to take a place and take a second career podium, adding to one at the Mugello race in late September.
Verstappen voiced his relief that Grosjean was able to escape with treatable injuries and hoped for a quick recovery. When moving onto his own race, the Dutchman said he couldn’t get anything more but was happy with both second and being joined on the podium by his team-mate.
He said, “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.
“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.”
Albon had broken the car in a big crash on Friday practice, and paid tribute to the mechanics for getting the car fixed in time. He said he also had to be careful to watch out for Perez’s engine failure, but was happy to make the most of the opportunity.
He said, “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.
“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.”