Reaction from Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri in Austria.
After more than 200 days with no real-world Formula One action, the 2020 season finally saw the red lights go out and fans across the world celebrated, as the sport mades it return while surrounded by the stunning Styrian countryside at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.
Pierre Gasly reaped the rewards for a calm and professional performance amid an incident-packed first race of the Formula One calendar at the Red Bull Ring. The Frenchman finished in seventh, moving up five places from his grid position of 12th, to register AlphaTauri’s first championship points on their racing debut.
However, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Alex Albon and Gasly’s team-mate Daniil Kvyat were among the nine drivers who did not finish the race.
Verstappen was the first to bow out as a power failure on lap 14 saw him forced to retire from P2, as he looked to be set to take advantage of a long first-stop strategy on the medium tyres.
Albon’s hopes of a first podium finish – and potentially a first victory – were dashed after a coming together with Lewis Hamilton, which saw the Mercedes man suffer a five-second penalty, but sent Albon off the track and to the back of the pack. The incident occurred as he attempted to pass Hamilton and take second spot after a late-race safety car. A power failure on lap 69 then saw Albon forced to retire.
Kvyat had also looked set to put AlphaTauri on the board after a measured drive saw him comfortably in the points, before a puncture suffered during contact with Esteban Ocon’s Renault forced him out with just two laps remaining.
RED BULL RACING
Max Verstappen– Position: DNF
“I’m not quite sure what happened yet, we’ll investigate and find out, but of course that’s not how you want to start the season. I had a good start, unlike last year, and quite early on I could see that Valtteri was quick, so fighting for the win was always going to be a big challenge. I think it would have been an easy podium and third would have been a decent start to the season, but what can you do? This is racing and it is what it is, you can’t change the result now. It is a shame for everyone who worked so hard to get us here this weekend, but we will just focus on the race next week and hope for something better.”
Alex Albon– Position: DNF (13th)
“It’s still quite fresh, so I’ve got to be careful what I say, but there’s nothing to add apart from how frustrating that is. I really think we could have easily won that race. We had a great strategy, the guys did a great job in the pit stops, yes we had a little bit of fortune with the safety car, but the car was feeling good. The hard tyre wasn’t very strong today and I knew the Mercedes would have cold tyres on the restart, so I already planned to get past them within a few laps of the safety car coming in. I feel like I had completed the move on Lewis already, and I was thinking about getting Bottas on the next lap. The contact with Lewis was so late in the corner that it surprised me. I was right on the edge of the track and I knew if I gave him all the space I could it would be up to him if he wants to crash or not. This time I was the one on the attack and he was defending. I wouldn’t say this one hurts more than Brazil, but that incident was maybe 50/50, whereas this one isn’t. Obviously we’ve got next weekend to focus on now, we’ll need a bit of luck to have the same opportunity as today, but let’s see.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“It was a very frustrating first race and I’m almost lost for words. Losing Max early on whilst he was running in second place on a better tyre was obviously painful, but we still had Alex in a good position. Alex was putting in a very strong performance, strategically we got the call right to concede a position to the Racing Point but take on a new soft tyre. At the restart Alex passed Lewis and inexplicably for the second time in three races Lewis has hit him and taken him out of the race. It was clearly a misjudgement by Lewis which he received a penalty for, but that still cuts deep for Alex. We then had to retire the car with what looks like a PU issue, which will now be investigated. It’s hugely frustrating to come away from this race with a double DNF and no points, when we could have been in a position to win. The positives are that we looked to be having a competitive race, but we still have a bit of pace to find ahead of next weekend.”
Pierre Gasly– Position: 7th
“It felt amazing to get back racing after such a long break and I think we started the season with a really exciting race. I think if someone had told us that we would have been P7 on Sunday we would have signed straight away, so I think we can be very happy with my result today, after a difficult start to the weekend. We knew the race was going to be a challenge because the Renaults, McLarens and Racing Points are really strong, but I had some good fights on track and managed to stay out of trouble until the end. It was really a good one for us today!”
Daniil Kvyat – Position: DNF (12th)
“The race was going really well for me until the contact with Ocon, I had a very good pace and fresher tyres. After the collision, my front wing and a suspension broke, I also had a puncture, so my race was over. This moment cost me a lot of points today, so it’s a real shame and very disappointing to finish the day like this. Today it could have been a very strong race for me.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“What an afternoon. Today’s race has been very action packed and full of incidents. We have come away with some good points with one car and the other one had the opportunity for a similar result, but was not able to execute on this occasion. The entire team trackside and back at base has performed really well today and the result is a credit to all of them. We have some work to do with our package to move it forwards, but we have good base car and we have developments on the way, so are looking forwards to the next races. Overall, it’s been a good start to our life as Scuderia AlphaTauri in Austria.”