Formula 1 | Bahrain Grand Prix Preview
By James Malleson
- The third race of the season commences
- Lewis Hamilton looking for second win of the season
SAKHIR, BAHRAIN – Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel look to commence battle once again, as the third race of the season starts.
Lewis Hamilton’s Previous Record
Bahrain has been a prominent circuit on the calendar since 2004. It is here that Lewis Hamilton has picked up two titles.
The first win came in 2014. The Brit started the grid in second place, behind current world champion Nico Rosberg. Yet it was Hamilton who started the quicker and overtook the German. Now leading, he oversteered on turn four but Rosberg could not capitalise. A cat and mouse sequence followed until Hamilton led with 17 laps remaining. After changes to tyres, with Rosberg on the faster ‘softs’, the former world champion held a defensive position to cross the finish line first.
Hamilton’s second win came in 2015 after starting in pole position with a lap time of 1:32.571. This was a straightforward win after a battle with Sebastian Vettel. The German struggled to attack Hamilton who crossed the finish line with ease.
Last year, Hamilton finished in a respectable third place losing out to Kimi Raikkonen and eventual winner Rosberg. This happened after Hamilton had started in pole position. He has featured on the podium five times in total and he will be hoping to add to this at the weekend.
How Does Sebastian Vettel’s Record Compare?
Vettel has a similar record to Hamilton, picking up two titles. These titles came in 2012 and 2013. In 2012 Vettel had started in pole position. He maintained his lead through the first lap by more than two seconds. Vettel still had a lead by lap 36 but was at risk as Raikkonen tried to overtake but was not successful. Vettel was a cut above the rest and dominated until the end, crossing the line in first place.
In 2013, Vettel started behind Rosberg, but on the second lap overtook the German. It was a comfortable victory as he finished ahead of the pack. The four-time world champion has stepped on the Bahrain podium three times in total. But will he step higher than Hamilton this weekend?
How Will the Environmental Conditions Affect the Race?
Set in the stunning Bahraini desert of the Sakhir city, the sun will be beating down on the drivers. With temperatures possibly soaring to 30 degrees Celsius, the drivers will be hoping for a cool breeze or a splash of rain. The hot dry conditions mean that supersoft tyres will be in use to aid gripping. But if the track is too hot then soft tyres may be the preferred option to avoid tears.
There are also the floodlights to contend with and much like the Singapore race, the drivers will need to be wary. This track carved into the desert rock provides a risk of artificial light interfering with drivers’ vision.
The scorching heat will be a challenge. Drivers will need to top up with plenty of water to avoid dehydration. And if that is not enough, the fact that the race takes place in the desert means drivers will need to be aware of the effects of sand, which could affect their vision especially when turning corners.
Whilst the sun plays its part, who will be getting a bit hot under the collar?
The Challenge of the Straights
The desert track of Bahrain plays host to the top drivers in F1. They will need to be at their best to contend with the straights here.
The track is not known as a power track but will place higher demands on the power units to previous races this season. The drivers will be relying on their brakes, as the four straights intertwined in this track will provide a stern test. This is because they are short and drivers will need to navigate them with a stop-start approach.
The traction demands of this track need attention as it does not flow as well when compared to other tracks. Getting the power down early out of the low-speed corners will be another factor if the drivers are to be successful here which means big lap gains.
If the drivers can navigate the straights well, then they could be heading straight to the finish.
Overtaking Opportunities Available
Bahrain with its idyllic views and home to over 1 million people, will hope to provide a race which reaches the same level as the spectacular views. Whilst the straights have to be navigated they can also serve as an opportunity to overtake. There are four in total and the sheer length of them allows for space to get past the car in front.
The first area to overtake and build some speed is between corners three and four. The next is the first DRS activation zone. This nestles between corners ten and eleven and this boost of speed could play a crucial role in deciding the winner.
The next area to overtake is between corner thirteen and fourteen. Again the length of the track and the fact it is straight means overtaking is very possible. The final area to overtake is the second DRS zone situated between the 15th and 1st corners.
These factors should provide a compelling battle of defense and attack. If you can get the balance right, you can really build up some speed.
The Bahrain Grand Prix starts at 16:00 GMT Sunday 16th April.
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