- Round 15 of the 2020 Formula 1 season takes place in Sakhir for the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend
- Lewis Hamilton sealed record-equalling seventh F1 title fortnight ago in Turkey
- First of three races in desert to conclude campaign
SAKHIR, BAHRAIN – With the title having been sewn up in Istanbul, attentions will shift toward the battle for placings, as racing hots up at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
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Human rights on agenda for Hamilton
For Lewis Hamilton, this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix will see his first race as a seven-time Formula 1 champion.
After sealing his fourth successive crown at a greasy and wet Istanbul two weeks back, the 35-year-old wrote the latest chapter in his own individual record book.
This weekend however, the Briton has this weekend turned his attentions to F1’s return to the Middle East, where concerns continue over human rights.
On Wednesday, 30 MPs raised issues over possible violations linked to the Bahrain GP. Hamilton, having once more assumed his position as trumpet-blower-in-chief for world activists, agreed. Despite the risk of courting the ire of race organisers, Hamilton suggested that more need changes needed to seen in terms of attitudes in the Gulf region.
As he told BBC Sport, he stated:
“It is very important for all sports to use the platform they have to push for change. The human rights issue in so many of the places we go to is a massive problem. We are one of the few sports that go to so many different countries and I do believe as a sport we need to do more. We have taken a step in the right direction but we can always do more.”
Delayed stop-over in Bahrain
After being forced to postpone from its initial and customary slot in the spring, this weekend finally sees the re-arranged Bahrain GP.
In Round 15 of the 2020 season, it will also be the 15th visit to the Gulf state GP, won four times by Ferrari’s outgoing Sebastian Vettel in consecutive years between 2012 and 2013, coupled with further wins in 2017 and 2018.
It also signals the final run-in for the season’s finale, with a short hop across to the UAE for the traditional season finale in Abu Dhabi to come, over the weekend of December 11.
Before then however, Bahrain becomes the fourth venue for a double shift this season, with next weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix, set to be raced on the new shorter and quicker outer track.
Placings battle hots up
Swapping the rain and hazardous conditions experienced last time out, Bahrain is set to greet the Paddock with the heat of the desert, but most importantly, dry tarmac.
Hamilton, as documented, has been champion-in-waiting for some time, but behind the Briton, the field is beginning to bunch up. Conditions in Sakhir over the coming fortnight are set to be decidedly steamy, and the competition on the track is becoming no different.
For Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, the Finn retains a 27-point over Max Verstappen, but the Red Bull driver is breathing down his rival’s neck for second spot.
A further 70 points then separate the pack, but after that, no less than six drivers are divided by just 30 points; almost only a single race win.
Led up by Sergio Perez on 100 points – still without a drive for next year as it stands – the Mexican has both Charles Leclerc and a resurgent Daniel Ricciardo squarely in his rear-view mirrors.
But even McLaren duo Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris could yet bridge the gap to fourth spot, with an almost forgotten Alex Albon a mere point behind the Bristolian also. Yes, the title may have been decided already, but realistically, Hamilton was always destined to continue his F1 monopoly in 2020.
And, as we have seen this season, the best racing has been in midfield; something which we will again no doubt see play out, with still 75 points to play for this term.
The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix takes place this weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir.
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