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The 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix (officially the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2021) was the first race of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship, held at the Bahrain International Circuit between March 26 and March 28 2021.

Max Verstappen took pole position for Red Bull after dominating all three free practice sessions, but Lewis Hamilton managed to perform an undercut and take the lead from Verstappen, and managed to win ahead of Verstappen by less than a second as the Dutchman reeled him in in the closing laps, at one point successfully passing him but was told to relinquish the position after running wide and exceeding track limits while overtaking him at Turn 4 of the track, albeit reporting a differential issue early in the race. Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished third after a long pit stop cost him to lose battle for the lead, but took the fastest lap of the race.

The race start was aborted with one extra formation lap ran due to Sergio Perez stopping from an electrical issue on the initial formation lap, but he was able to get going and finish 5th in his first race in Red Bull. Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin became the first retirement of the season as he lost control and wrecked at Turn 3 on the first lap, deploying the Safety Car, while Fernando Alonso, making his return to F1 also retired from brake issues. Sebastian Vettel had a disastrous race for his first start in Aston Martin, being penalized for a qualifying violation and handed a 10-second post-race penalty after colliding with Esteban Ocon. Pierre Gasly, who started 5th, dropped back to 17th after making contact with Daniel Ricciardo and breaking his front wing. Gasly's team-mate and rookie Yuki Tsunoda was the only rookie to score points on debut in 9th.


Background[]

The off-season period since the last race in 2020, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, was not without news and incidents. The season-opening race for the 2021 season, the Australian Grand Prix, was due to take place on March 21. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which started from China in early 2020, leading to the 2020 season being postponed and heavily rescheduled, the Australian Grand Prix was announced to be postponed to November 21, with the Chinese Grand Prix also postponed to a yet-to-be announced date.[1] The postponement meant that the Sao Paulo, Saudi Arabian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix were also rescheduled. The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, originally intended as a one-off race in the 2020 season subsequently returned on the calendar.[2] Following the announcement, all teams agreed to move pre-season testing from Barcelona to Bahrain, taking place from March 12 to 14, two weeks before the season-opener.[3]

Drivers were not spared from incidents as well. While Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly contracted COVID-19 during the off-season period[4][5][6], two-time champion Fernando Alonso, set to make his comeback in Formula 1 since 2018, was involved in a road accident in Switzerland. The Alpine Team released a statement that they expect Alonso to recover in time for pre-season testing.[7]

In a series of news conferences from new F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, he reveals that F1 is intending to hold a summit in Bahrain before the race to discuss a variety of matters, including driver behavior[8]. Among them, was Lewis Hamilton's role in highlighting racial injustice since the killing of American citizen George Floyd in 2020, and Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin, who caused controversy when he uploaded a video of him groping a model's chest onto Instagram on December. The former Ferrari team principal had also dismissed the idea of reverse grid races, which had been in talks for a while, and that they were to trial sprint races as part of a format change[9].

An F1 Commission meeting with F1 and FIA officials and teams on February 11 yielded a number of outcomes:[10]

  • The rebranding of the We Race As One initiative[11].
  • An approval of an engine freeze until 2025[12]. Subsequently, Red Bull has announced it will continue to use Honda’s Formula 1 power units until 2025, forming a new operations called Red Bull Powertrains Limited, following Honda's exit from the sport at the end of 2021[13].
  • The filling of the TBC slot on the 2021 race calendar with the Portuguese Grand Prix, subject to the World Motorsport Council[14].
  • An upcoming decision on sprint races.

With the expectation of the return of spectators for the 2021 season, the Bahraini government has offered to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to F1 staff and attendees, although an F1 spokesperson confirmed that the organization has no plans to have themselves vaccinated[15]. However, Sergio Pérez, Carlos Sainz, Jr. and the entire AlphaTauri team have all accepted the offer to be vaccinated[16][17]. Spectators are also allowed if they are vaccinated or recovered[18].

The resulting pre-season testing showed some results, with Red Bull as favorites to challenge the title as Max Verstappen set the overall fastest time on the final day of testing. McLaren also looked good for title contention under the revived McLaren-Mercedes partnership, with Daniel Ricciardo setting the fastest time on the first two morning sessions. Mercedes appear to have struggled with Valtteri Bottas having gearbox issues on the first day and Lewis Hamilton spinning and momentarily stopping the session on the second day. However, testing on the final day was overshadowed by the death of legendary commentator Murray Walker at the age of 97, on the evening after the second day of testing. On the grand prix weekend, Williams ran a tribute to Walker by displaying his quote on Damon Hill's title win at the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix on their cars' halos.

Entry List[]

The full entry list for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix is outlined below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
3 Australia Daniel Ricciardo United Kingdom McLaren F1 Team McLaren MCL35M Mercedes F1 M12 1.6 V6t P
4 United Kingdom Lando Norris United Kingdom McLaren F1 Team McLaren MCL35M Mercedes F1 M12 1.6 V6t P
5 Germany Sebastian Vettel United Kingdom Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Aston Martin AMR21 Mercedes F1 M12 1.6 V6t P
6 Canada Nicholas Latifi United Kingdom Williams Racing Williams FW43B Mercedes F1 M12 1.6 V6t P
7 Finland Kimi Räikkönen Switzerland Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN Alfa Romeo C41 Ferrari 065/6 1.6 V6t P
9 Russian Automobile Federation Nikita Mazepin United States Uralkali Haas F1 Team Haas VF-21 Ferrari 065/6 1.6 V6t P
10 France Pierre Gasly Italy Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda AlphaTauri AT02 Honda RA621H 1.6 V6t P
11 Mexico Sergio Pérez Austria Red Bull Racing Red Bull RB16B Honda RA621H 1.6 V6t P
14 Spain Fernando Alonso France Alpine F1 Team Alpine A521 Renault E-Tech 21 1.6 V6t P
16 Monaco Charles Leclerc Italy Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari SF21 Ferrari 065/6 1.6 V6t P
18 Canada Lance Stroll United Kingdom Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Aston Martin AMR21 Mercedes F1 M12 1.6 V6t P
22 Japan Yuki Tsunoda Italy Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda AlphaTauri AT02 Honda RA621H 1.6 V6t P
31 France Esteban Ocon France Alpine F1 Team Alpine A521 Renault E-Tech 21 1.6 V6t P
33 Netherlands Max Verstappen Austria Red Bull Racing Red Bull RB16B Honda RA621H 1.6 V6t P
44 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Germany Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 W12 Mercedes F1 M12 1.6 V6t P
47 Germany Mick Schumacher United States Uralkali Haas F1 Team Haas VF-21 Ferrari 065/6 1.6 V6t P
55 Spain Carlos Sainz, Jr. Italy Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari SF21 Ferrari 065/6 1.6 V6t P
63 United Kingdom George Russell United Kingdom Williams Racing Williams FW43B Mercedes F1 M12 1.6 V6t P
77 Finland Valtteri Bottas Germany Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 W12 Mercedes F1 M12 1.6 V6t P
99 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Switzerland Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN Alfa Romeo C41 Ferrari 065/6 1.6 V6t P
Source:[19]

Practice Overview[]

Qualifying[]

Q1[]

Verstappen set the fastest time in Q1, but the shock of the session came from the Alpine of Esteban Ocon and the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel, both failing to set improved times due to a yellow flag caused by Nikita Mazepin spinning on Turn 1. For the tenth time in his career, George Russell was able to get into Q2 for Williams.

Q2[]

The main shocker was Sergio Perez in his first Red Bull weekend, as his initial lap time was deleted for track limits violations. He improved further but only ended up 11th fastest, with AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda in 13th.

Q3[]

The final session saw Verstappen coming out from Hamilton in the battle for pole, the first time since 2013 that a Red Bull had taken pole in the season-opener. Fernando Alonso qualified 9th on his first race back.

Qualifying Results[]

The full qualifying results for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Grid
Pos. Time Pos. Time Pos. Time
1 33 Netherlands Max Verstappen Austria Red Bull-Honda 1 1:30.499 7 1:30.318 1 1:28.997 1
2 44 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Germany Mercedes 3 1:30.617 3 1:30.085 2 1:29.385 2
3 77 Finland Valtteri Bottas Germany Mercedes 11 1:31.200 5 1:30.186 3 1:29.586 3
4 16 Monaco Charles Leclerc Italy Ferrari 4 1:30.691 2 1:30.010 4 1:29.678 4
5 10 France Pierre Gasly Italy AlphaTauri-Honda 6 1:30.848 8 1:30.513 5 1:29.809 5
6 3 Australia Daniel Ricciardo United Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes 5 1:30.795 6 1:30.222 6 1:29.927 6
7 4 United Kingdom Lando Norris United Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes 8 1:30.902 4 1:30.099 7 1:29.974 7
8 55 Spain Carlos Sainz, Jr. Italy Ferrari 15 1:31.653 1 1:30.009 8 1:30.215 8
9 14 Spain Fernando Alonso France Alpine-Renault 7 1:30.863 9 1:30.595 9 1:30.249 9
10 18 Canada Lance Stroll United Kingdom Aston Martin-Mercedes 12 1:31.261 10 1:30.624 10 1:30.601 10
11 11 Mexico Sergio Pérez Austria Red Bull-Honda 10 1:31.165 11 1:30.659 11
12 99 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Switzerland Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 9 1:30.998 12 1:30.708 12
13 22 Japan Yuki Tsunoda Italy AlphaTauri-Honda 2 1:30.607 13 1:31.203 13
14 7 Finland Kimi Räikkönen Switzerland Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 14 1:31.547 14 1:31.238 14
15 63 United Kingdom George Russell United Kingdom Williams-Mercedes 13 1:31.316 15 1:33.430 15
16 31 France Esteban Ocon France Alpine-Renault 16 1:31.724 16
17 6 Canada Nicholas Latifi United Kingdom Williams-Mercedes 17 1:31.936 17
18 5 Germany Sebastian Vettel United Kingdom Aston Martin-Mercedes 18 1:32.056 20*
19 47 Germany Mick Schumacher United States Haas-Ferrari 19 1:32.449 18
20 9 Russian Automobile Federation Nikita Mazepin United States Haas-Ferrari 20 1:33.273 19
107% time: 1:36.834
Source:[20]
  • Bold indicates the fastest driver's time in each session.
  • * Vettel received a five-place grid penalty for failing to respect double yellow flags in Q1.

Grid[]

Pos. Pos.
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 1 ______________
Max Verstappen 2
______________ Lewis Hamilton
Row 2 3 ______________
Valtteri Bottas 4
______________ Charles Leclerc
Row 3 5 ______________
Pierre Gasly 6
______________ Daniel Ricciardo
Row 4 7 ______________
Lando Norris 8
______________ Carlos Sainz, Jr.
Row 5 9 ______________
Fernando Alonso 10
______________ Lance Stroll
Row 6 11 ______________
Sergio Pérez* 12
______________ Antonio Giovinazzi
Row 7 13 ______________
Yuki Tsunoda 14
______________ Kimi Räikkönen
Row 8 15 ______________
George Russell 16
______________ Esteban Ocon
Row 9 17 ______________
Nicholas Latifi 18
______________ Mick Schumacher
Row 10 19 ______________
Nikita Mazepin 20
______________ Sebastian Vettel
  • * Pérez would take the start from the pit line on the second formation lap after having an electric failure of his steering wheel.

Race[]

Report[]

Results[]

The full results for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 44 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Germany Mercedes 56 1:32:03.897 2 25
2 33 Netherlands Max Verstappen Austria Red Bull-Honda 56 +0.745s 1 18
3 77 Finland Valtteri Bottas Germany Mercedes 56 +37.383s 3 16FL
4 4 United Kingdom Lando Norris United Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes 56 +46.466s 7 12
5 11 Mexico Sergio Pérez Austria Red Bull-Honda 56 +52.047s 11 10
6 16 Monaco Charles Leclerc Italy Ferrari 56 +59.090s 4 8
7 3 Australia Daniel Ricciardo United Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes 56 +1:06.004 6 6
8 55 Spain Carlos Sainz, Jr. Italy Ferrari 56 +1:07.100 8 4
9 22 Japan Yuki Tsunoda Italy AlphaTauri-Honda 56 +1:25.692 13 2
10 18 Canada Lance Stroll United Kingdom Aston Martin-Mercedes 56 +1:26.713 10 1
11 7 Finland Kimi Räikkönen Switzerland Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 56 +1:28.864 14
12 99 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Switzerland Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 55 +1 lap 12
13 31 France Esteban Ocon France Alpine-Renault 55 +1 lap 16
14 63 United Kingdom George Russell United Kingdom Williams-Mercedes 55 +1 lap 15
15* 5 Germany Sebastian Vettel United Kingdom Aston Martin-Mercedes 55 +1 lap 20
16 47 Germany Mick Schumacher United States Haas-Ferrari 55 +1 lap 18
17 10 France Pierre Gasly Italy AlphaTauri-Honda 52 Collision damage 5
18 6 Canada Nicholas Latifi United Kingdom Williams-Mercedes 51 Turbocharger 17
Ret 14 Spain Fernando Alonso France Alpine-Renault 32 Brakes 9
Ret 9 Russian Automobile Federation Nikita Mazepin United States Haas-Ferrari 0 Accident 19
Source:
  • * Vettel received a 10-second post-race time penalty for causing a collision with Ocon, but the penalty did not affect his final classified position.
  • Gasly and Latifi were still classified despite retiring as they had completed 90% of the race distance.

Milestones[]

Standings[]

Mercedes continued their streak of leading the constructors' standings continuously since the 2018 German Grand Prix.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts +/-
1 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton 25
2 Netherlands Max Verstappen 18
3 Finland Valtteri Bottas 16
4 United Kingdom Lando Norris 12
5 Mexico Sergio Pérez 10
6 Monaco Charles Leclerc 8
7 Australia Daniel Ricciardo 6
8 Spain Carlos Sainz, Jr. 4
9 Japan Yuki Tsunoda 2
10 Canada Lance Stroll 1
Constructors' World Championship
Pos. Team Pts +/-
1 Germany Mercedes 41
2 Austria Red Bull-Honda 28
3 United Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes 18
4 Italy Ferrari 12
5 Italy AlphaTauri-Honda 2
6 United Kingdom Aston Martin-Mercedes 1

Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.

References[]

Images and Videos:

References:

  1. Motorsport.com: F1 season-opening Australian GP set for postponement
  2. F1.com: F1 Schedule 2021 – Bahrain to host season opener as Australia moves later in calendar and Imola returns
  3. Motorsport.com: F1 teams agree Bahrain March test dates
  4. Motorsport.com: McLaren F1 driver Norris tests positive for COVID-19
  5. Motorsport.com: Ferrari's Leclerc latest F1 driver to contract COVID-19
  6. Motorsport.com: Gasly becomes sixth F1 driver to test positive for COVID-19
  7. Motorsport.com: Alonso hospitalized after being hit by a car while riding bike
  8. Motorsport.com: F1 planning Bahrain summit to discuss driver behaviour
  9. Motorsport.com: F1 sprint race decision due before 2021 season start
  10. Motorsport.com: F1 braced for sprint race, engine freeze decisions
  11. F1.com: Formula 1’s #WeRaceAsOne initiative to continue in 2021 with three new areas of focus
  12. F1.com: Engine freeze for 2022 agreed, with low-cost, sustainable power units set for 2025
  13. Motorsport.com: Red Bull strikes deal to keep using Honda engines until 2025
  14. F1.com: Formula 1 intends to fill vacant slot on 2021 F1 calendar with race in Portugal
  15. Motorsport.com: Bahrain to offer COVID-19 vaccinations for F1 test and race attendees
  16. Motorsport.com: Perez and Sainz accept offer for COVID-19 vaccine
  17. Motorsport.com: AlphaTauri team takes COVID-19 vaccine in Bahrain
  18. Motorsport.com: Bahrain GP open to fans who are vaccinated or COVID-19 recovered
  19. 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix - Entry List (PDF). Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. 14 November 2021 -->
  20. ' ', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Limited, 2020), , (Accessed 05/07/2020)
V T E 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship
Teams Alfa RomeoAlphaTauriAlpineAston MartinFerrariHaasMcLarenMercedesRed BullWilliams
Engines FerrariHondaMercedesRenault
Drivers alphabetically AlonsoBottasGaslyGiovinazziHamiltonKubicaLatifiLeclercMazepinNorrisOconPérezRäikkönenRicciardoRussellSainzSchumacherStrollTsunodaVerstappenVettel
Drivers by number 3 Ricciardo • 4 Norris • 5 Vettel • 6 Latifi • 7 Räikkönen • 9 Mazepin • 10 Gasly • 11 Pérez • 14 Alonso • 16 Leclerc • 18 Stroll • 22 Tsunoda • 31 Ocon • 33 Verstappen • 44 Hamilton • 47 Schumacher • 55 Sainz • 63 Russell • 77 Bottas • 88 Kubica • 99 Giovinazzi
Other Drivers AitkenAlbonde Vriesdi RestaFittipaldiHülkenbergIlottKvyatNissanyVandoorneZhou
Cars Alfa Romeo C41AlphaTauri AT02Alpine A521Aston Martin AMR21Ferrari SF21Haas VF-21McLaren MCL35MMercedes W12Red Bull RB16BWilliams FW43B
Tyres Pirelli
Races BahrainImolaPortugalSpainMonacoAzerbaijanFranceStyriaAustriaBritainHungaryBelgiumNetherlandsItalyRussiaTurkeyUnited StatesMexicoSão PauloQatarSaudi ArabiaAbu Dhabi
Cancelled Races ChinaCanadaSingaporeJapanAustralia
Tests Bahrain
See also 2020 Formula One Season2022 Formula One SeasonCategory
V T E Bahrain Bahrain Grand Prix
Circuits Bahrain International Circuit (2004–present)
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Races 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021
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