What did they have to say? All 20 drivers reactions to the Bahrain GP season opener

From top to bottom: F1total.ca has compiled quotes from the whole grid about the first race of 2021

By F1total.ca staff

“It was one of the hardest races I’ve had for a while,” said race winner Lewis Hamilton (Photo: F1/Twitter)

The exciting Bahrain Grand Prix season opener on Sunday pointed to Red Bull contending for the championship and an extremely tight middle of the pack.

Check what all 20 drivers had to say after the first race of the 2021 season below and click here to see the 2021 Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championship Standings.

Lewis Hamilton, 1st: “Max was all over me right at the end, it was one of the hardest races I’ve had for a while, so I’m really grateful for it.”

“I loved every minute of it. Every minute of the weekend I’ve loved and [more so] knowing, I think for us as a team, we knew we were behind in performance.”

Max Verstappen, 2nd: “It’s disappointing not to win, but we have really taken the fight to Mercedes and we have to be happy overall.”

“It was close in the end but we’ve scored some valuable early points here”.

“I knew that I ran out of the track limits and then immediately at Turn 8, I think, they told me so I gave the position back out of 10. It’s what it is. Then it was just impossible anymore to really go for it, I was always just too far behind.”

“Last year we would have been super-happy with this result but now we are super-disappointed so we definitely really made a good step forward! Now we just have to get on with it and try and be better.”

Valtteri Bottas, 3rd: “I’m disappointed with how it went. Lewis and I had different strategies today – from my side things could have been better.”

“It’s disappointing for sure – the team got good points, which is a good thing, but from my side, the strategy was too much on the defensive side instead of attacking, which I was quite surprised of,” said Bottas during his post-race interview.

“We will review everything, but I feel we were more passive than aggressive with the strategy in the end. I wanted to stay out longer in the middle stint on fresher tyres but it wouldn’t have made much difference in the end.”

“I also had a slow pit-stop, which took away any opportunities, and in the end P3 was the maximum. But the pace was quite good at times.”

Lando Norris, 4th: “Something happened with Bottas in his stop, I was hoping that was him out of the race, to be honest! I don’t wish that upon anyone obviously but I thought for a minute something might be coming from it. Last year started to flashback a bit.”

“But no, I’m very happy with P4. I think we had a good pace, to be honest. The car was nice, I was maintaining a good gap, but I also had to get past Daniel, past Pierre, past Charles, so it wasn’t easy.

Sergio Pérez, 5th: “Considering how my race started, I think we can be pleased. The most important of today that I was able to do the race, you know? And yesterday I missed out in Q3. I missed a lot of mileage, so that wasn’t ideal.

“Today I did the race and I think I had a lot of understanding and a lot of data to go through with the engineers and a lot of work ahead of us but we can see that things are… clicking better. Everything was feeling better in the race, so I’m pleased with that.”

Charles Leclerc, 6th: “It’s been a good race overall. We were lacking a little bit of pace in general compared to Lando but otherwise it’s been quite a good race, and especially a good progress compared to last year, which is what I want to keep in mind for this race.”

“It’s only a sixth place, but compared to last year, it’s a good result, so I’m really looking forward to the next races now.”

Daniel Ricciardo, 7th: “I did make a nice step today and that’s what I’m most satisfied with. I think I just made progress in each session, didn’t overcomplicate it… We started a bit off the pace yesterday, but I know it’s a process and to kind of make a good difference tonight, I was really happy.”

“So it’s a good start… I’ll sleep a little better knowing I got a bit more out of the car today.”

Carlos Sainz Jr, 8th: “It’s pretty good, especially because, all things considered, I had a very strong end to the race. I was very quick on the medium and the hard tyres. I had a poor start, basically due to a couple of mistakes, but also me consciously taking it maybe a bit too easy in Lap 1, just wanting to make sure I made it through that Lap 1 and making sure that I was getting to know the car in dirty air conditions.”

“It’s a completely new experience, a completely new car, so I wanted to take it easy and wanted to make sure I did the whole race. Then once I got myself into clean air, honestly I was very quick, so I’m not going to complain, I’m going to take it and take it as a learning curve and keep improving.

Yuki Tsunoda, 9th: “I’m glad to get points. I lost quite a lot of positions on the first lap. That was my big mistake and I had to recover from there. I’m happy 50 per cent, but still 50 per cent it was my big mistake.”

“It was possible to go more forward for positions, so first points feel ok, but I think there was a lot of space to improve this race in Imola.”

“The last time I saw Alonso racing was 13 years ago – I was watching at Fuji Speedway when he was driving for McLaren and Renault. I’m really proud. I was really happy that I overtook him, of course it’s not the same car, but yeah, I was happy.”

Lance Stroll, 10th: “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. 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 tires, but there are plenty of positives to take away.”

“I enjoyed some good battles too, especially with Fernando (Alonso) early on. 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.”

Kimi Räikkönen, 11th: “It wasn’t a bad race, we had some good fights and the car behaved nicely, but it’s disappointing not to bring home points when we were in the top ten nearly all night. Had the race been a few laps longer, we probably would have been able to catch the cars in front but we will keep trying. The car felt good, as it did in testing, so it is clear we have made a step forward compared to last year: we still have a bit to work to close the gap with the top five teams, but we keep fighting to find that little bit extra.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 12th: “Compared to the start of last season, we are much faster and have a much better car so we can be happy about the step forward we have made. It wasn’t enough to bring home points today, but we are very close to the top ten and we can consistently fight for the points. My race was good, I think I got everything I could out of the car, but of course we lost time at the first pit-stop.”

“In the end, mistakes do happen and we have to learn from them and make sure we don’t do them again next time; without the issue, I would have probably been close to where Kimi ended. Now my focus is on Imola, racing again in my home country and hopefully achieving a good result to make the Tifosi at home happy.”

Esteban Ocon, 13th: “It wasn’t the result we wanted today, but there were certainly lots of positives. We were fighting for most of the race with a number of cars with fun, wheel to wheel battles. Even with Seb (Vettel) at the end, he locked up and went into me. He apologised, we all make mistakes, and that happens sometimes.”

“We were just a little bit short overall today. Qualifying didn’t help us as it meant we always had places to gain. We showed our fighting spirit during this race and that’s quite important. We move onto the next race as a team, aiming to get back to scoring points.”

George Russell, 14th: “It was nice to be racing and I had a good little tussle at the beginning, making a few places and losing a few places. I thought it was a well-executed race. The first stint was tricky but the second and third were as good as can be and our relative pace was quite strong. That was the maximum today and I think our relative pace was good. I’m now looking forward to Imola and assessing where we are there.”

Sebastian Vettel, 15th: “It was quite a tricky race. 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 tires were falling off the cliff.”

“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.”

Mick Schumacher, 16th: “In general, I’d say I was 90 percent happy and 10 percent not – because of the mistake I made, the spin, at the safety car restart. Luckily the car was still drivable, everything was alright so I could keep going and continue to build on my experience through the race weekend. Obviously, after that, I went through the C3 and the C2, which felt really good.”

“It was a bit of a shame that I wasn’t in the pack to be able to at least try to be close to the guys for a few laps. Fortunately, I did get through things like blue flags and I caught up to Nicholas (Latifi) – so I was able to feel how it was to follow a car closely and have DRS. Overall, I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and hopefully, I’m able to convert that into something positive for the next race.”

Pierre Gasly, retired: “I’m obviously very disappointed right now because we’ve had a very strong weekend since we arrived. Starting from P5 I was hoping for some good points today, but my race was pretty much over after the contact with Daniel in lap one. I broke the front wing, I had floor damage and I was obviously very far behind after just one lap, so my race was almost finished from there.”

“It’s a big shame because we’ve shown some good pace all weekend and we haven’t managed to get the rewards of that today, but I think there are still quite a lot of positives to take-away from this weekend and that’s what we’ll look at for Imola.”

Nicholas Latifi, retired: “I was pleasantly surprised with how the handling of the car felt in the race. We were expecting something quite tricky to handle but, irrespective of the issue that caused us to retire, I was surprised with the drivability of the car. It’s still not where we want to be, but I think that was a positive going forward.”

“Straight away from the first laps, even with the laps to the grid, I felt we were getting some oscillations in the engine with power and it seems we had a suspected boost leak which is why we had to retire in the end. We tried to stay out for as long as possible, hoping that a few cars might retire, but in the last half of the race we were just circulating and not really racing. It’s not how you want the first race to go but that is just motorsport sometimes.”

Fernando Alonso, retired: “Firstly, it was great to be back racing in Formula 1. The start was fun, we gained some places and I had some enjoyable battles with old colleagues. However, it was disappointing to not see the chequered flag in the end. The issue we had after the second stop was a rear brake issue as some debris entered the brake ducts and overheated the temperatures of the car.”

“Looking at the race it was very close in the midfield, and just a couple of tenths seems to change the order quite significantly. I think it’s going to be a very interesting and competitive season to watch. We’ll go again and fight hard in Imola.”

Nikita Mazepin, retired: “It was very simple – I made a mistake. It was just one of those things. My start had been good, I got into turn one taking the outside line. I was then going through turn two and I was really trying to avoid Mick (Schumacher) as he was close and got too much on power – the tires didn’t take it. They were cold, I got on the kerb, took too much throttle and spun. It was totally my mistake, it’s very disappointing. I’m very sorry for the team as they deserved to do much better than that. Obviously, there’s always positives you can take – the learning experience is obviously there.”

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