Formula 1 comes to Bahrain after the dull Chinese GP, with most of the action taking place from positions seventh and above. The race was mostly remembered by the post race interviews due to accusations exchanged between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
I believe this will be the real stage of the championship which will reveal where Ferrari is in relation to Mercedes. The heat is active, the degradation of tires is very similar to Shanghai, but the dampening is the time of the dispute: beginning at dusk and ending at early evening.
Among the top teams, Mercedes and Williams used aerodynamic updates in China, but Ferrari did not. For Williams, updates served for nothing. Mercedes also already failed to obtain a high advantage to Ferrari in the race. As this is the last race before the European part, the Italians may be with an even hidden strength that can bring surprises in Spain. That means that if Ferrari repeat performance of China in Bahrain, will be in a very comfortable position at this point of the championship. And again, if win, will think seriously about the title.
McLaren decided to dare and release more power to the Honda engine. The chassis is great, and if it resists the race, there are excellent chances to score.
The Lotus development is evident as well as the decline of Force India.
The STR still struggles with the Renault engine, but it’s still better than the RBR.
The positive highlights of this early season are Max Verstappen and Felipe Nasr, newcomers with an above average driving. The thumbs down goes to Jolyon Palmer, who complained about getting a “chance” in F1, and then, showed nothing.
The teams will be using soft and medium tires, as in China and once again tires will play a decisive role in the outcome of the race.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director, stated to Formula One official website: “We have the same tyre choice as we did in China for Bahrain, although there will obviously be a bit more temperature involved. However, with the race taking place in the evening, conditions won’t be as aggressive as they were in Malaysia – or even Bahrain two years ago, when the race was still running during the day. A defining characteristic of Bahrain now is that tyre performance changes over the course of the weekend as we slowly edge towards afternoon sessions. Last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix had a thrilling finish because of the safety car with ten laps to go, leading to a great battle between the two Mercedes team-mates. It’s harder to know what to expect this year – apart from the fact that it’s very unlikely to rain!”
GP of Bahrain 2015 at Bahrain International Circuit
Start time – 1800 (local) / 1600 (BST)
Race distance – 57 laps
(full world championship points awarded after 75% distance / 43 laps)
2014 winner – Lewis Hamilton
2014 pole position – Nico Rosberg 1m33.185s – 209.080km/h
2014 fastest lap – Nico Rosberg 1m37.020s – 200.816km/h
Chances of a Safety Car
Low, due to the vast expanse of run-off. There was a late-race Safety Car in 2014 after Esteban Gutierrez flipped his Sauber.
Don’t put the kettle on between laps 13-18 and 35-41. Last year’s race was won using a two-stop strategy, but there were different ideas about when to use the Soft and the Medium compounds. The same could well be true this year.
After the relative cool of Shanghai, Bahrain will feel hot. Ambient and track temperatures have been much reduced since the race was given a 6pm start time last year, but the teams can still expect some of the highest ambient temperatures of the year.
First race – 2004
Circuit length – 5.412 km / 3.639 miles
Run to Turn One – 265 meters
Longest straight – 1.09km, on the approach to Turn One
Top speed – 330km/h on the approach to Turn One
DRS zones – Two – the first on the approach to Turn One, the second on the approach to Turn 11
Key corner – Turn 10, a tricky downhill left-hander. It’s off-camber, so it’s very easy to lock the left-front tyre – and it’s vital to make a clean exit because the second DRS zone is located along the ensuing straight
Pit lane length – 480 meters