The Incredible Island of Bahrain

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Posted on November 26, 2020 Tags:

Image courtesy of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The Formula One 2020 season is finishing up with a Middle East triple-header, beginning with this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, held on the usual Sakhir International Circuit layout during the balmy late afternoon and evening. While this is the very first time Bahrain has taken place so late in the season, temperatures at the start and the end of the year are quite similar, so Pirelli reckons data from previous races should still be relevant.

But remember, while Bahrain is now an incredible island, Sakhir is still a desert. It’s often windy with sand blowing onto the circuit making the surface dirty and seriously reducing grip.

The transformation of the island archipelago in recent years, like much of the Persian Gulf, has been simply mind-boggling. It barely resembles the dusty city I visited in 2006.  

And I’m sure the soon-to-be Sir Lewis Hamilton is being well advised to keep his political ideals to himself while visiting the Kingdom. Bahrain is probably not the place to be espousing those.

Daniel Recalls the Tough Times

While not rapt with his performance in Istanbul, Aussie gun Daniel Ricciardo reckons his year with the French outfit has been his most satisfying since 2016 with Red Bull when he finished third in the title, with eight podiums and a win in Malaysia.

The two years that followed were dismal and featured dreadful reliability issues, resulting in six retirements in the final 13 races of a miserable 2018 season.

Daniel surprised us all by switching to Renault and his first campaign could best be described as torrid.

Now, hot off podiums at the Nürburgring and Imola and with three races remaining, he sits just four points adrift of fourth in the standings. It will be a remarkable achievement for both driver and team if Daniel can improve from there.  

Both Renaults Failed to Finish in ‘19

Gone fishin’!

“In recent years, I haven’t had the best results in Bahrain, but I’m looking to set that right this weekend.

“The Sakhir circuit in Bahrain is a good one; I’ve always enjoyed racing here and night sessions are always fun to take part in.

“There are some decent overtaking spots, especially Turn 1, which is probably the best place to attack.

“I’m feeling much more on top of the car since we were last in Bahrain, so I think we should be in a good place.

“We also have a bit of unfinished business there after last season, so I’m pretty hungry and fired up.

“I know we’ve been to some awesome tracks across Europe recently, and while they’ve all been fun for various reasons, the weather has been too cold for me!

“I much prefer the heat and it’s still pretty warm in Bahrain during the evening, which is great.”

DANIEL RICCIARDO, November 26, 2020.

After some frigid temperatures in Europe and the frighteners of Istanbul Park, the teams are feeling the moderate heat of the late November/December desert of the Middle East in coming weeks.

Why Pirelli has Chosen the Tyres

The Bahrain International Circuit will host two distinct challenges on consecutive weekends, but using the same tyre choice: C2 as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the Yellow medium, and C4 as the Red soft.

The tyres are a step softer than last year’s, where the vast majority of the drivers at the Bahrain Grand Prix stopped twice.

At the first race the teams have two sets of 2021 C3 tyre to sample on Friday for each car, on top of the usual allocation for the weekend (two sets of the hard, three sets of the medium, and eight of the soft).

For the Bahrain Grand Prix, two of the three free sessions are held in the heat of the day, so aren’t especially relevant to qualifying and the race.

MARIO ISOLA – Head of F1 and Car Racing:

Mario Isola courtesy

“We get to experience something quite different during both weekends in Bahrain.

“While there’s some simulation data already, we need to wait for real data from free practice to understand the exact effect on wear, degradation, and therefore strategy.

“On top of that, we’re bringing tyres that are a step softer than last year, which open up more opportunities in terms of strategy.

“During this weekend drivers will run the new 2021 tyres on Friday with the C3 compound, getting a first proper taste of the rubber they will use next year.”

Mario is back home in Italy, recuperating after being smashed with a dose of Covid hit in Turkey. He’s a good bloke, and we wish him well.

F2: What to Expect

The Formula 2 season will conclude with back-to-back rounds supporting the two F1 races in Bahrain. The P Zero White hard tyres are nominated for both events, alongside the Yellow medium for the first round and Red soft for the following weekend.

This gives teams and drivers another variable to adapt to between events, in addition to the change of circuit layout.

And gives Michael’s boy Mick the chance to strut his stuff on the grand stage!


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