Fernando Alonso retired from his first Formula 1 race since 2018 after a sandwich bag entered a rear brake duct, causing terminal overheating.
The Alpine driver ran seventh in the early stages of the race, but was forced out on the 32nd lap of 56 when the team noticed his brake temperatures had suddenly climbed.
Alonso was already experiencing problems with energy deployment in his power unit and slipping down the order when the race-ending problem struck.
“After his first [pit] stop we had a small issue that forced us to reduce the performance of the car,” Alpine’s executive director Marcin Budkowski explained.
“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 said it felt emotional to be back in Formula 1 following his two-year absence.
“It was a shame that we could not see the chequered flag today, because I really enjoyed the whole thing,” he said. “It was nice to be back at the racing, it was nice to feel again the adrenaline on the starting grid, the national anthem. All these procedures felt very emotional today for me.
“The race itself was fun at the beginning with the start, a couple of good battles on 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 than thinking now into Imola, and hopefully get some some points there.”
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2021 Bahrain Grand Prix