Aston Martin - bird-small
On Track

Race Recap: 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

After 61 years away, Aston Martin returned to the Formula One World Championship and marked the long-awaited occasion with a point in the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix Sunday

For the first time since Maurice Trintignant and Roy Salvadori lined up at the 1960 British Grand Prix, an Aston Martin once again raced in motorsport’s most prestigious competition.

Lance

Lance and Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team represented one of seven different teams inside the top 10 in an early preview as to how closely fought the Bahrain Grand Prix would be.

The Canadian made a strong start to the race and immediately took up the fight with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. Lance was initially rebuffed on the run to Turn One, but swiftly stormed past as they approached Turn Four.

The Aston Martin Vantage safety car was soon called for a stricken Haas, allowing Lance a second chance at a quick getaway. He kept his nose clean to climb to 8th following an incident higher up the field on the fifth lap of 56.

He would then fire in a quick succession of fast laps to haul in Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and he looked set to pass the two-time World Champion until Alonso opted to pit on the 12th lap and trigger a wave of midfield pitstops.

While the team and Lance quickly responded by pitting one lap later, an Alfa Romeo pitstop delayed Lance's return to the track and allowed Alpine the breathing space to keep Alonso ahead.

Lance drove a strong and intelligent race, making the two-stop strategy work well.
Otmar Szafnauer
CEO & Team Principal
Lance 2021 Bahrain GP Saturday

Now running on new Mediums following a stint on used Softs, Lance kept himself in contention for a strong points score – swiftly entering a long-running battle with Alonso over 7th.

Lance would make his second and final stop on lap 28 to switch to a new set of Hards, which contributed to his pace beginning to fall away.

“I felt comfortable in the car and we were racing hard against the cars around us. We tailed off a little bit in the second half of the race on the hard tyres, but there are plenty of positives to take away.”

He would spend the second half of the race duelling Sainz and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. Lance eventually crossed the line in 10th to secure Aston Martin’s first Formula One World Championship point in its first race back.

“I’m pleased to come away with a point, but it is fair to say we wanted more from today. We had a strong first half of the race and we made up some positions.

“We know there are some areas where we can improve and everything we have learned this weekend will help us in the races to come.

“We have a few weeks before the next race to work on those things.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal, added: “It was important to mark Aston Martin’s return to Formula 1 with a finish inside the points.

“Lance drove a strong and intelligent race, making the two-stop strategy work well.

“I don’t think there was much more on the table, especially considering the long final stint on the hard tyres.

“In terms of race pace, Lance was there or thereabouts with the midfield pack, which is encouraging, but it is clear the new regulations have impacted more negatively on teams – such as ourselves – running a low rake aero philosophy."

In-depth

Bahrain GP report

Dive into the Bahrain Grand Prix, uncovering the facts and figures behind the first race of the season, and hear the thoughts of Lance, Sebastian and the team in our intuitive race report.

Discover Bahrain GP
Explore the Bahrain Grand Prix
Explore the Bahrain Grand Prix

Sebastian

Sebastian was put on the back foot ahead of the Grand Prix after he was given a five-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently for yellow flags in Saturday’s first qualifying session.

Lining up 20th on the grid, the team opted to start Sebastian on a set of new Mediums in a bid to extend his first stint and to keep his options open on the strategy.

A superb first lap, the fastest of all in the field at that point, helped Sebastian climb all the way to P14 by the arrival of the safety car.

When the safety car period ended, Sebastian wasted no time in passing the Williams of George Russell to move into 13th.

“The start of the race was strong: I made a good start and I was well positioned after lap one. But it was not easy to make progress after that. I picked up a small flat spot and we had to extend the first stint to try and make the one-stop strategy work.”

He would still climb as high as 8th with the help of his alternate strategy and aided Lance’s efforts by battling hard against both Alonso and Sainz Jr before making his one and only stop on lap 24 for a new set of Hard tyres.

Even though it has not been the best weekend, we have continued learning together and understanding where we can improve.
Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian 2021 Bahrain GP Sunday

“We tried to do something different with the strategy – by stopping only once – but it did not pay off in the end. I think we made the right decision to try it, but by the end of the race my tyres were falling off the cliff.”

Sebastian returned to the track in 17th and quickly began to make inroads to climb up the order once again, and he soon moved to the fringes of the top 10.

But an unfortunate collision with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon at Turn One on lap 45, combined with fading tyre life, ended any hopes of finishing the top 10, going on to finish 15th.

"In the end, it just wasn’t possible to score points today. Even though it has not been the best weekend, we have continued learning together and understanding where we can improve.

“There is definitely the potential to take some good steps forward in the races to come.”

Otmar added: “Sebastian’s race was always going to be tricky with having to recover from the back of the grid and we switched him to a one-stop strategy to give him the best chance of scoring points.

“In the end, it was too much of a stretch and his tyre performance fell away quicker than we had anticipated.

“We will take the positives and negatives from the first weekend of the season and work hard over the next few weeks to be more competitive at the next race in Imola.”

Next up

Emilia Romagna GP

Head-to-head

Lance vs Sebastian