After three incredibly close and unpredictable races, which have seen three different race winners and three different drivers lead the championship, Formula One heads to Bahrain. (Personal Disclaimer: I am fully aware of the situation but I don’t want to get into whether it is right or wrong that there is a race on this weekend. The fact of the matter is the race is going ahead so I will continue to provide previews and reviews of this weekend’s action). The 2011 race was cancelled and the last time F1 raced at Bahrain it was on a different circuit configuration. For this weekend’s Grand Prix, the pre-2010 configuration will be used. The ‘new’ one proved to be unpopular as it added distance to the race somewhat pointlessly.
Bahrain GP Stats
Circuit Name: Bahrain International Circuit
Number of laps: 57
Circuit Length: 5.412km
Lap Record: 1:30.252 M Schumacher (2004)
2010 Results: 1.Fernando Alonso 2.Felipe Massa 3.Lewis Hamilton
All four winners of the Bahrain GP are currently on the grid: Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher. Ferrari are the most successful team with four wins and Alonso and Massa are the only two drivers to have won it more than once.
Last Time Out
It wasn’t a McLaren lock-out for the Chinese GP although it was still Mercedes who took the honours. Nico Rosberg qualified on pole position – his first ever pole – ahead of Lewis Hamilton. However, Hamilton was given a five place grid drop for his gearbox change meaning that Rosberg lined up alongside his team-mate Michael Schumacher. Rosberg converted his pole into a commanding win over Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. The race proved to be exciting right down to the last few laps. Tyre degradation and strategy were key and a number of drivers found their tyres ‘falling off the cliff’ such as Kimi Räikkönen who dropped from second to 11th in a matter of a lap. Schumacher was unlucky not to finish when his tyre was not fastened to his car correctly. He was the only retirement, however, demonstrating the excellent reliability all of the teams are showing this year. DRS did not have much of an effect on the race and instead a lot of the moves were down to the driver and the help of KERS.
Despite being the most successful team at the BIC Ferrari do not have high hopes for this weekend. Felipe Massa, two-time winner in Bahrain, has been improving in relation to his team-mate but will it be enough to get him into the top ten in qualifying and a points scoring position in the race? Lotus and Sauber had varying fortunes in the race: Romain Grosjean kept it on the track and finished the race in sixth, but strategy caught Räikkönen out while Kamui Kobayashi dropped from third on the grid to tenth while Chinese GP hero Sergio Perez was just outside the points. Expect both teams to continue to be strong in Bahrain. Both Williams drivers continued their strong form to finish in the points with Pastor Maldonado another driver to have better luck than his first two races. This is also the first time both Pirelli tyres and DRS will be used at the circuit so it will be interesting to see how they play out. After the pole in China for the Mercedes, the team have said they are keeping their feet on the ground, but they could secure another pole position this weekend, probably challenging McLaren for it.
Free Practice 1: 10:00 Friday
Free Practice 2: 14:00 Friday
Free Practice 3: 11:00 Saturday
Qualifying: 14:00 Saturday
Race: 15:00 Sunday