Alonso and Pérez’s car issues at the Bahrain GP explained

The Red Bull driver had to restart his car in the formation lap, while the Spaniard had his comeback race cut short

By Yuri Coghe
Sergio Pérez had a great recovery race, storming to fifth place after starting from the pit lane (Photo: Sergio Pérez/Twitter)

Fernando Alonso and Sergio Pérez both had quite unique races at the 2021 season opener Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Red Bull driver had to restart his car in the formation lap after a sudden complete shutdown of the system. The incident caused him to start from the pit lane, eventually storming to fifth in an impressive debut performance for his new team.

Returning to F1 after a two-year hiatus, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso wasn’t so lucky. A sandwich wrapper got stuck to his Alpine’s brake ducts, overheating the system and triggering the team’s decision to retire his car for safety reasons.

“After his first stop we had a small issue that forced us to reduce the performance of the car, then after the second stop, a sandwich wrap paper got stuck inside the rear brake duct of Fernando’s car,” said Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski as reported by Sky Sports.

“It led to high temperatures and caused some damage to the brake system, so we retired him for safety reasons. It was a very unlucky first race for Fernando considering how strong he looked.”

The Spaniard was putting up a fight for a point-finish despite Alpine showing a slower pace than McLaren and Ferrari, for instance. Before retiring on lap 34, he was part of some great battles for positions with fellow champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari’s new signing Carlos Sainz Jr. and rookie Yuki Tsunoda.

Laptop-style reboot

Sergio Pérez, on the other hand, was able to overcome a car issue that happened even before the start of the race.

“On the formation lap we started to have some difficulties,” said Red Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan as reported by Motorsport Week. “There’s a cut out on the car that protects it and it’s quite entertaining, the sequence of events.”

“The thing has lost all electrical power, Checo has the presence of mind like when your laptop has gone wrong you switch it off and back on again. The steering wheel bursts back into life and starts the engine, [he] gets back around to the end of the pitlane and waits for everyone else to form up and starts from the pitlane. As is often the case with these kinds of intermittent faults, the car then runs faultlessly of course.”

The Mexican driver then stormed to fifth in a great recovery race, his first driving for Red Bull.

“He was brilliant, he recovered, he didn’t get frustrated. He hasn’t lost his motivation, he’s got on with it and moved up the field and done a very decent race and he’s scored us a load of points from being on the side of the road on the formation lap and no power in the car,” Monaghan said.

“Thank goodness for him having the presence of mind. He had no radio comms, we didn’t tell him to do the ignition reset, he did it for us.”

Further reading: Ferrari team principal “finally able to count on both drivers”
Further reading: OPINION l Competitive grid, disappointing Aston Martin, Pérez on a mission: Bahrain GP takeaways
Further listening: PODCAST l The Chicane Crew Podcast reviews the Bahrain Grand Prix

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