Bahrain Grand PrixView

By on Thursday, April 18, 2013

Photo credit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

After a thrilling race in Shanghai, where Fernando Alonso scored his first victory of the 2013 season, Formula 1 moves swiftly on to Sakhir for the fourth round of the championship in Bahrain. The weekend will provide a big challenge for the teams team due to a combination of high temperatures, dusty conditions and heavy demands on the rear tyres.


Bahrain held off competition from Egypt, Lebanon and UAE to become the first Middle Eastern country to hold a Grand Prix. The circuit was built in the desert - 30 km south of Bahrain’s capital city, Manama - in less than a year-and-a-half, at a cost of $150 million. The inaugural event was held on April 4th, 2004 and was won by Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher.

The Bahrain GP has usually been the third or fourth race on the Formula 1 calendar. However, for the 2006 and 2010 seasons Bahrain swapped places with the traditional opener, the Australian GP. In 2011 the race was scheduled to be held on 13th March but was cancelled before the season started due to political protests. Formula 1 returned to Bahrain in 2012, despite the civil resistance campaign being far from over and human rights activists calling for a cancellation of the race.

The track

The circuit features 15 corners (nine right handers and six left handers), connected by four straights, with a height difference between the lowest and highest points on the circuit of 18m. Bahrain has a reputation for being one of the safest tracks in the world because of its giant run-off areas – not aesthetically pleasing but it tends to prevent sand from getting onto the track. Bahrain International Circuit has several layouts, the longest of which was used in 2010 to mark F1's Diamond Jubilee. However, that layout proved unpopular and has not been used again.

2009 winner Jenson Button believes the circuit requires a good overall car balance. “There are some tricky and technical low-speed changes of direction; you need to place the car really precisely at the corner entry in order to maximise traction at the exit,” he says. “There are also some high-speed sweeps - Turns Six and Seven, for example - and some fast corners, such as the uphill left-hander at Turn 11. You need a good front-end, but also good traction, to get the best from those corners.”

“It’s a place where the grip levels can be quite hard to anticipate, and where the wind direction can play quite an important part in determining the car’s balance. The wind can affect top speed and cornering performance, so practice will be more important than ever in enabling us to take the best overall package into qualifying and the race,” the McLaren driver added.

Nico Rosberg scored points on his Formula 1 debut here in 2006, while racing for Williams and is concerned about the abuse the rear tyres will take. “It's going to be very tough on the rear tyres and our biggest challenge will be to make the most out of the situation,” says Rosberg. “We're better prepared than we were last year and we have shown that the car is much stronger so I really hope that we can achieve a great result in Bahrain.”

Unusual Facts…

Bahrain International Circuit was built in 8,265,000 hours during which the workforce had to excavate 968,459m3 of rock, to lay 120,000 tonnes of asphalt, pour 70.000m3 of concrete and construct 12.000m of guard rail, 4.1km of it being protected by 82.000 tyres.

Ferrari, BMW and Toyota had their 2009 pre-season tests delayed after a sandstorm hit the circuit. Organisers actually spray the sand around the track with an adhesive to stop it from blowing onto the circuit during the race.

Drivers do not spray the traditional champagne on the podium but a non-alcoholic rosewater drink known as Waard.

2012 vs 2013 Bahrain GP

Having started from pole position and battling against the Lotus drivers, Sebastian Vettel took his first win of the 2012 season in Bahrain. Lewis Hamilton joined Vettel on the front row of the grid but a pair of disastrous pit stops left him languishing in eighth.

Kimi Raikkonen hauled himself up from 11th on the grid to second, taking the chequered flag right in front of team-mate Romain Grosjean, who took to the podium for the first time. It was Raikkonen’s first podium finish since his comeback to Formula 1, while ‘Lotus’ scored their first podium since 1988.

Ferrari arrives with confidence in Sakhir this week-end not only due to Alonso’s win in China, but also because they have won in Bahrain on four visits. Alonso has scored the most wins of any driver here (2005, 2006 and 2010) while his team-mate also won the race twice.

The DRS zones in Bahrain this year will be on the pit straight and on the straight between turns 9 and 10, with separate detection points. Pirelli will bring its Hard and Medium tyres, which replaces the original choice of Hard and Soft tyres for this race.

Valtteri Bottas is the only rookie on the grid who has driven an F1 session here before this week-end. The Williams driver took part in FP1 in 2012. However, the other four raced in Sakhir in GP2 or GP2 Asia series.

Timetable: (GMT+3)

Friday 19 April

Practice 1: 10.00-11.30

Practice 2: 14.00 - 15.30

Saturday 20 April

Practice 3: 11.00-12.00

Qualifying: 14.00-15.00

Sunday 21 April

Race: 15.00

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