Bahrain Grand PrixView

By on Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Just a few days after the chequered flag fell in China, Formula 1 finds itself in Bahrain for the fourth round of the championship, the last of the early season ‘flyaway’ races prior to the sport’s return to Europe.

Mercedes responded to Ferrari’s Malaysian victory by claiming a 1-2 finish in China, though Nico Rosberg was agitated by the perceived approach his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, took at the front of the pack, believing that his race was compromised.

Last year, the duo embarked on an epic scrap for victory around the circuit and spectators will naturally be hoping for a repeat.

Last season’s Bahrain Grand Prix was held at night and this year’s edition continues on that path.

The circuit has the highest degree of asphalt roughness seen all year and this accelerates thermal degradation on the tyres. However, as track and air temperatures fall as the race goes on this has an affect on tyre wear and consequently strategy. The demands on traction means that rear tyres can get quite the workout – could this play into the hands of Ferrari?

The circuit

Construction of the Sakhir circuit on the island of Bahrain took place in a short space of time between 2002 and the inaugural race back in 2004 was won by Michael Schumacher, after whom the first corner is named.

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

The circuit features several long straights but is punctuated by slow corners as well as high-speed turns, meaning that most parts of a Formula 1 car receive a strenuous test.

Fuel consumption – at 1.8kg per lap – is one of the highest of the year while brake wear is also high.

“The track is quite tricky to master, especially as the sand blowing on the track can make it really dusty, so grip doesn't always improve throughout the weekend,” says Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg.

“There are a few very nice corners, especially the double left-hander before the back straight: it's difficult to get it right and it is very easy to lock the inside front wheel. It's a very technical track with a few good overtaking opportunities, and at the same time it's a challenge from a mechanical point-of-view as well, taking a lot from your rear tyres and from your brakes.”

“On paper it is not the most amazing circuit, but when you drive it’s pretty cool,” says Romain Grosjean, who finished on the podium at the circuit in 2012 and 2013. I like the long straights followed by the hairpins and then the twisty middle section with a lot of G-force which makes it exciting. It gives the driver plenty to do behind the wheel and it gives you quite a lot to do in the debrief as well. It’s always rewarding when you balance all the different demands on the car to get the lap as fast as possible.”

The race

Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

Hamilton heads into the Bahrain Grand Prix with a 13 point advantage over Sebastian Vettel in the championship, with Rosberg a further four behind. The Briton won at Sakhir last year while Vettel is a two-time victor of the event, having claimed top spot in 2012 and 2013.

But it is Fernando Alonso who has had the most success at the circuit, having taken wins in 2005, 2006 and 2010, while Felipe Massa is a double winner at the venue after triumphing in 2007 and 2008.

Pirelli has nominated the Soft (Yellow) and Medium (White) as the two tyre compounds for this weekend’s race, while the DRS zones will be on the pit straight and the back straight – between Turns 10 and 11, each with a separate detection point.

The driver stewards for this weekend’s event is Mika Salo.

Timetable (GMT +3):

Friday 17 April

  • Practice One: 14:00 – 15:30
  • Practice Two: 18:00 – 19:30

Saturday 18 April

  • Practice Three: 15:00 – 16:00
  • Qualifying: 18:00 (60 minutes)

Sunday 19 April

  • Race: 18:00 (57 laps or two hours)

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