Fernando Alonso’s return to Formula 1 at Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix was ended prematurely by a sandwich wrap.
Alpine told Alonso that he had lost the rear brakes and would need to retire for safety reasons in the second half of the race, after what had been an encouraging opening stint. After analyzing the car once it was back in the garage, Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski said an unfortunate piece of debris was to blame.
“It’s not the best start to the season for us as we had our fair share of bad luck throughout the weekend; both in qualifying and the race,” Budkowski said. “Both cars made a good start and gained some places on the first lap with Fernando holding firm in the top 10.
“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, which 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.”
Alonso isn’t the first driver to hit such a problem in the opening race of the season: Sergey Sirotkin’s debut for Williams in Melbourne three years ago ended early for similar reasons.
While frustrated by the retirement, Alonso said there were plenty of positives to take from his first race in F1 in over two years.
“It was a shame that we could not see the checkered flag because I really enjoyed the whole thing,” Alonso said. “It was nice to be back racing. It was nice to feel again the adrenaline at the starting grid, the national anthem, all these procedures were very emotional today for me.
“The race itself was fun at the beginning with the start, couple of good battles on the track in the first stint and then unfortunately we had to retire the car with a brake issue… apparently there is some debris on the rear brake duct. Nothing we can do now. More just thinking to Imola and hopefully get some points there.”