|2020 Bahrain Grand Prix|
Race 15 of 17[a] in the 2020 Formula One World Championship|
|Date||29 November 2020|
|Official name||Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2020|
|Location||Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||5.412 km (3.363 mi)|
|Distance||57 laps, 308.238 km (191.530 mi)|
|Driver||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing-Honda|
|Time||1:32.014 on lap 48|
|Second||Red Bull Racing-Honda|
|Third||Red Bull Racing-Honda|
The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix (officially known as the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2020) was a Formula One motor race that took place over 57 laps on 29 November 2020 on the 'Grand Prix Circuit' configuration at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. The race was the fifteenth round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship. It was the sixteenth time that the Bahrain Grand Prix has been run as a round of the Formula One World Championship.
This race was the first of two back to back Formula One races scheduled to be held in Bahrain. The second race, named the Sakhir Grand Prix, took place at the same venue on 6 December, but was held on a different circuit layout.
The race was suspended for eighty minutes following a serious accident involving Romain Grosjean, which resulted in his Haas VF-20 splitting in two and catching fire. Grosjean escaped with second degree burns. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the race from pole position ahead of Red Bull Racing teammates Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
The race was originally due to take place on 22 March 2020 as the second round of the championship, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to event organisers initially announcing that no spectators would be permitted to attend the race. On 13 March 2020 the race was indefinitely postponed. It was the second time in Formula One history that the Bahrain Grand Prix was postponed after the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, which was ultimately cancelled. In its place, an online virtual Grand Prix was held on the original race date featuring racing drivers, celebrities, and e-sport racers. The virtual race was won by Formula Two driver Guanyu Zhou. In August, the Bahrain Grand Prix was rescheduled to 29 November. Due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, organisers announced that the Grand Prix would take place behind closed doors. Local authorities gave special dispensation to allow local health workers to attend with their families.
The drivers and teams were the same as the season entry list with no additional stand-in drivers for the race. Roy Nissany drove for Williams in the first practice session, replacing George Russell, while Robert Kubica drove for Alfa Romeo Racing, in place of Kimi Räikkönen.
Sole Formula One tyre manufacturer Pirelli brought their C2, C3 and C4 compound tyres (the middle range of hardness) for teams to use in dry weather conditions. Pirelli also tested the 2021 tyre compounds during the first 30 minutes of both of Friday's two practice sessions. Drivers, particularly Lewis Hamilton, were ultimately unimpressed with the prototype tyres in practice.
The first of two practice sessions took place on Friday in unrepresentative daylight conditions and saw Hamilton top the timesheet from Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Racing Point driver Sergio Pérez.
Hamilton also topped the second session, with Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing in second and Bottas third. The second session was red flagged twice, the first time being for a crash of Alex Albon coming out of the final corner, from which the Red Bull driver emerged unharmed. The second red flag was for a stray dog that had wandered onto the track. The dog exited the racetrack unharmed, managing to escape through a gap in the marshal posts. Albon was given a new chassis for the rest of the event following his crash in the session.
Verstappen was quickest in the third practice session on Saturday, ahead of Hamilton and Bottas.
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing-Honda||1:28.885||1:28.025||1:27.678||3|
|4||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing-Honda||1:28.732||1:28.749||1:28.274||4|
|5||11||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point-BWT Mercedes||1:29.178||1:28.894||1:28.322||5|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point-BWT Mercedes||1:28.679||1:29.557||N/A||13|
|15||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren-Renault||1:28.975||No time||N/A||15|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari||1:29.491||N/A||N/A||16|
|17||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari||1:29.810||N/A||N/A||17|
|107% time: 1:34.527|
First lap and Grosjean's crash
The 57-lap race started at the scheduled time of 17:10 local time (UTC+03:00). On the first lap, Haas driver Romain Grosjean clipped the AlphaTauri AT01 of Daniil Kvyat on the straight after turn 3, causing Grosjean's car to ricochet into the trackside crash barrier. Grosjean impacted the barrier travelling at 220 km/h (137 mph) with an estimated force of 53 g (520 m/s2; 1,700 ft/s2).
The impact and angle of the collision caused Grosjean's car to split in half, wedging the front half of the vehicle (including the driver's survival cell) into the crash barrier and tearing off the rear half of the vehicle from the rest of the car, igniting the car immediately upon impact. The collision also caused the front of the car to penetrate through the crash barrier, subsequently causing the driver's compartment to slip through and directly impact the upper section of the barrier. The halo of the driver's compartment was thus credited for saving Grosjean from more serious injuries, and possible death, by sheltering his head and body from the impact. Speaking from his hospital bed, Grosjean said that the halo was "the greatest thing that we brought to Formula One, and without it, I wouldn't be able to speak to you today".
Grosjean endured the flames of the wreckage for approximately 28 seconds, while extracting himself from the vehicle unaided. Medical car driver Alan van der Merwe and medical delegate Ian Roberts provided treatment immediately and initially reported that Grosjean seemed to have suffered minor burns on his hands and ankles (where gaps exist between the race suit and the driver's gloves and boots) and a possible broken rib. This was later confirmed not to be the case as Grosjean only suffered second degree burns on his hands and no broken bones. Roberts reported that Grosjean's helmet appeared to have been effective in preventing him from inhaling any smoke from the fire.
The crash led to the race being suspended for 80 minutes as debris was cleared and the destroyed metal barrier was replaced with a line of concrete blocks. Grosjean was taken to the track's medical centre, then to Bahrain Defence Force Hospital by helicopter for further treatment. Grosjean was discharged from hospital on the Wednesday morning after his crash.
When TV footage showing Grosjean sitting in the Mercedes C63S AMG Estate Medical Car was shown, the remaining 19 drivers and all 10 teams gave a round of applause in the pit lane as Grosjean was able to escape the car.
Formula One managing director Ross Brawn said that the crash would be investigated, and credited the halo cockpit protection device with protecting Grosjean. The most recent two crashes involving spearing a crash barrier in this way were in the 1973 and 1974 United States Grands Prix, where François Cevert and Helmuth Koinigg, respectively, were killed. The most recent similar crash fire prior to this occurred when Gerhard Berger crashed at the 1989 San Marino Grand Prix. At the 1994 German Grand Prix a comparable fire was started when 2.5 litres (0.55 imp gal; 0.66 US gal) of petrol leaked during a pit stop for Jos Verstappen.
Following the barrier repairs, the race restarted at 18:35 local time (UTC+03:00) on the third lap. Drivers restarted in the order they had crossed the second safety car line on lap one. Immediately following the restart, Kvyat and Racing Point driver Lance Stroll collided at turn eight. Stroll's car was flipped upside down but he was not injured in the crash. Kvyat was able to continue but was issued a 10-second time penalty, sending him down the order. Stroll's flipped car brought out a safety car, during which Bottas's car developed a puncture, forcing him to pit for new tyres. The safety car period concluded on the ninth lap, with Hamilton pulling clear of the rest of the field soon after. Hamilton committed to a two-stop strategy on the nineteenth lap, while Verstappen and Pérez behind changed to hard tyres for a one-stop strategy.
On lap 54, while running in third position, Pérez's Racing Point's engine failed and caught fire after turn 10, triggering a double-yellow caution in that zone of the track. As Lando Norris passed the scene, a track marshal, without permission from race control, crossed the track in front of him, carrying a large fire extinguisher. Norris was able to avoid hitting the marshal. Norris later commented on the radio "He's the bravest guy I've ever seen". Race director Michael Masi, while confirming the marshal acted contrary to instructions, defended the marshal's "acting on instinct" in light of the Grosjean fire earlier in the race. Following this a safety car period began which would last for the remainder of the race.
Hamilton won the race, with Verstappen in second position. This was Hamilton's eleventh win of the 2020 season. Pérez's retirement allowed Albon to inherit the final podium position, becoming the first Asian driver to score more than one podium finish. The two McLaren drivers finished in fourth and fifth, allowing McLaren to move ahead of Racing Point into third in the Constructors' Championship standings. Pérez's retirement also led to him losing fourth place in the Drivers' Championship standings to Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the race in seventh place behind Pierre Gasly.
Romain Grosjean released a video message after the race while in hospital. He attributed his survival of the crash to the halo device, a safety device which he had criticized in the past. Haas confirmed that Grosjean would remain overnight at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital for treatment, and later confirmed Pietro Fittipaldi would stand in for Grosjean at the Sakhir Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo was highly critical of Formula One Management (FOM) choosing to broadcast repeated replays of the incident; FOM later responded to this criticism defending their decision to show the replays as did Haas team boss Guenther Steiner. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also defended the use of replays whilst additionally stating that had Grosjean's injuries proved to be more serious then he would have considered withdrawing his cars and drivers from the race. Sebastian Vettel, also a senior director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, expressed concerns over the collapse of the guardrail involved in the crash; although the barrier is designed to deform and absorb energy from the impact in a crash. The Marshals, Dr Ian Roberts and Alan van der Merwe were awarded the FIA President's medal for their bravery and exceptional reaction to Grosjean's crash. In the next race, the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, Grosjean thanked his rescuers for saving his life.
- ^1 – Includes one point for fastest lap.
- ^2 – Sergio Pérez did not finish, but was classified as he had completed more than 90% of the race distance.
Championship standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
- The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic saw several Grands Prix cancelled or rescheduled. The revised calendar consisted of seventeen races.
- The Grand Prix was held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Bahrain.
- Racing Point was deducted 15 points after a protest from Renault was upheld regarding the legality of their car.
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2020 Turkish Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
2020 Sakhir Grand Prix
2019 Bahrain Grand Prix
|Bahrain Grand Prix||Next race:|
2021 Bahrain Grand Prix