Bahrain Grand Prix Formula One preview
Today’s report from Formula One teams & drivers at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
Red Bull Racing
AHEAD OF THE BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX
What’s the benefit of back to back races?
We like racing and it’s another opportunity to go racing again soon, so that’s a positive. We’re already roughly in the same part of the world, so back to back races can be an efficient way for us to go racing; as an industry it’s good organisation.
How do you adapt your preparation and training with back to back races? It’s important to make sure you get ready for the next race off the back of the first one, so travelling as soon as you can is important. If you have a very big result at the first race then you’re not going to stay in the night club too long that evening celebrating, as you need to make sure you’re ready for the next event. It’s a short turnaround; you want to make sure that the training is sensible and you’re keeping yourself healthy.
Do you prefer to go from one race to the next or to have a longer gap between races?
It’s good to have a back to back, then a bit of a break, and then back to back again. When we’re off we have a bit of a chance to regroup.
What’s your favourite corner of the Bahrain Circuit?
I quite like the last sector, Turns 12 and 13, up over the crest, that’s a nice part of the lap. It’s a little bit quicker, because the rest of the track is quite slow and not super exhilarating. There are some quick-ish corners, which are quite rewarding.
What’s the benefit of back to back races?
The positive is that on the Friday of the second race, you get into the rhythm quickly. You save time by travelling direct from one race to the next and can adapt to the time zone a bit quicker, as you don‘t have to travel so far. The only thing is that there‘s not much time for physical and mental recovery after the first race.
How do you adapt your preparation and training with back to back races?
I make the most of the Monday after the first race, in terms of relaxing and recovery. On the Tuesday, I do some easy training in the gym or some badminton, to keep the body and mind in correct mode.
Do you prefer to go from one race to the next or to have a longer gap between races?
It‘s important that the race calender is well balanced so that drivers can get proper rest periods in order to be able to push 100 percent at each event. This means that sometimes it is good to have back to back races and then some longer breaks.
Tell us something of the circuit in Bahrain
The corners can fool you and lead to errors because the track is very wide and quite often the apex of the corner is not obvious. For example the apex of Turn 14 is hidden as you approach it.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
2013 Bahrain Grand Prix preview
Bahrain International Circuit facts & stats
The Bahrain International Circuit was the first Formula 1-spec track to be built in the Middle East. Located at Sakhir, 30km south west of Bahrain’s capital city Manama, the track was completed in 2003 and it’s one of seven circuits on this year’s calendar to have been designed by German architect Hermann Tilke.
The 5.4km layout is made up of four long straights, all of which funnel into heavy braking zones and clear overtaking places. There are also some tricky medium-speed corners that require a good car balance, and a demanding off-camber second-gear left-hander (Turn 10), where it’s easy to lock the loaded inside front wheel. Car set-up is a compromise between straight-line speed and cornering grip, and with ambient temperatures expected to exceed 35 degrees this weekend, teams will also need to be mindful of cooling.
The abrasive asphalt, which is made from granite imported from Wales, has prompted Pirelli to take its Medium and Hard compounds to the race – the same specifications that were used at the Malaysian Grand Prix last month, at which Sergio Perez scored his first World Championship points for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
- Race distance 57 laps (308.238km/191.539 miles)
- Start time 15:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)
- Circuit length 5.412km/3.363 miles
- 2012 winner Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing RB8) 57 laps in 1hr35m10.990s (202.151km/h)
- 2012 pole Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing RB8) 1m32.422s (198.739km/h)
- Lap record Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m30.252s (216.074km/h)
McLaren at the Bahrain Grand Prix
- Wins 0
- Poles 0
- Fastest laps 2 (2005, ’08)
Car 5: Jenson Button
- Age 33 (January 19 1980)
- GPs 231
- Wins 15
- Poles 8
- FLs 8
“The Sakhir circuit requires a good overall car balance. There are some tricky and technical low-speed changes of direction; you need to place the car really precisely at the corner entry in order to maximise traction at the exit. And there are also some high-speed sweeps – Turns Six and Seven, for example – and some fast corners, such as the uphill left-hander at Turn 11. You need a good front-end, but also good traction, to get the best from those corners.
“It’s a place where the grip levels can be quite hard to anticipate, and where the wind direction can play quite an important part in determining the car’s balance. The wind can affect top speed and cornering performance, so practice will be more important than ever in enabling us to take the best overall package into qualifying and the race.”
Car 6: Sergio Perez
- Age 23 (January 26 1990)
- GPs 40
- Wins –
- Poles –
- FLs 2
“The Bahrain Grand Prix circuit has plenty of run-off and a good combination of high- and low-speed corners. The challenge for the drivers comes from the constantly evolving nature of the corners, and dealing with the sand – which gets blown onto different areas of the track from the surrounding desert.
“With two DRS zones, I think we should see some decent racing: the two best overtaking opportunities are into the Turn One and Turn Four hairpins. They’re both good places to attack – you can force another driver onto the inside line and then attack on the exit, when they’re more vulnerable. The second DRS zone will mainly be used to close the gap down to the car in front, before attacking again along the pits straight.”
Martin Whitmarsh Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Bahrain marks the end of the opening fly-away leg of the 2013 world championship. That being the case, following on in quick succession from last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, we’ll look to consolidate our achievements in Shanghai with further solid points finishes this weekend.
“While the first three races haven’t been the easiest for us, there’s been a little progress at every round, and we’ll be looking for another improved showing, as well as the opportunity to increase our understanding of MP4-28, in Bahrain this weekend.
“The work that goes on at the track is only the tip of the iceberg, though. There’s been an incredible amount of effort expended back at the McLaren Technology Centre [Woking, UK], so as to ensure that the delivery of new parts, and the evaluation of fresh ideas, remain constant.
“I therefore want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s contributed to that work. Your efforts never go unnoticed, and the development trend is in the right direction.”
A McLaren 50 classic moment
Lewis Hamilton finishes second to become the first driver in history to finish on the podium in his opening three Formula 1 races.
He qualifies cond and makes a strong start to hold off team-mate Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen into the first corner. As he starts to line up pole-sitter Felipe Massa, the Safety Car is deployed following a first-lap collision between Jenson Button and Scott Speed. At the restart, Massa holds off Lewis into Turn One and that’s how the order remains during the early laps.
The first round of pitstops produces no change at the front and when Massa makes his second stop, Lewis stays out for four more laps. He finds himself seven seconds behind the Brazilian when he emerges from his pitstop and an exciting climax to the race follows as he reels in the Ferrari every lap.
In the end, Lewis runs out of time to challenge for the lead and he crosses the line 2.3s behind the Brazilian. This is his second consecutive second-place finish and leaves him equal on points with Alonso and Raikkonen at the top of the drivers’ championship.
Lotus F1 Team
Kimi Räikkönen: “I’ve never won in Bahrain before, so maybe
this year I’ll change that.”
After taking his second podium finish of the year in China our Iceman heads
to the desert heat of Bahrain cool, calm and collected
You must be in good spirits following your podium in Shanghai?
It was a pretty okay weekend, but it wasn’t the win and it’s still early in
the season so we’re not celebrating too much yet.
What are your thoughts on the next race in Bahrain?
Obviously, it was a good race for us as a team last year. It was my first
podium for Enstone, and we had a good fight all the way. We took a gamble during
qualifying, and it didn’t work out well for us. This meant we missed out on the
top ten, but we managed to use our tyres pretty well in the race and we ended up
fighting for the top step of the podium, which is always a good thing.
You fought for the win with Sebastian Vettel last year; with the benefit of
retrospect, was there anything different you could have done to get past him?
I could have tried to overtake him on the other side! I only had one shot and
I picked the wrong side. After that I was unable to fight back and second was
still a pretty good result, but it’s always better to finish on the top step of
How do you rate the Sakir circuit?
I like it. I’ve had some nice races there and picked up some good points
although I’ve never won. It’s a little bit different from others we visit and
it’s quite nice to be out there in the sand! Wherever you look around the track
you can just see sand in the distance and you notice it in the paddock too. It’s
a circuit where I’ve never won before, so maybe this year I’ll change that.
How difficult is it to get the car as you want it in Bahrain?
It is not easy to find a good set-up as you do experience the track surface
changing over the weekend and sometimes the wind can affect the balance of the
car too. It’s one of the more tricky places to get the car exactly right, but at
least you don’t often have to worry about rain!
Is there potential for another good result?
Apart from Malaysia we’ve had good races this year, but that said there have
only been three races so it’s too early to say anything. Just because we had a
good result there last year, it doesn’t mean Bahrain will be good for us again
this year. We have to try and do the best we can in every race and try to score
some points to keep us in the fight. If everything goes our way, it will be a
good result again. However, it is useless to promise anything beforehand. This
is motor racing and whatever can happen, will happen.
How was it to get second place in China?
Second wasn’t quite what we wanted, but in the circumstances it was the best
that we could manage. I wasn’t 100% happy because we didn’t win, but it is what
it is and second place was a good result after a bad start and the incident with
Do you think you will start modifying the bodywork of your car in the future?
It’s unfortunate when a slower car gets in your way like that and you never
know if it could happen again. Obviously the car is not designed like that
otherwise we would use it all the time, but I was surprised how good it was
still. Obviously we had some trouble with understeer and some other handling
issues, but we had to try to live with that and the pace was still pretty okay.
Tyres seem to be quite a talking point again; what does Kimi Räikkönen think?
I think you can push on these tyres, but it’s never perfect. You cannot
always push 100%. I think they are very good in qualifying and have good grip,
so it’s up to you and you have to look after them a bit more in the race. It’s
not really any different from last year – at least for us anyway – so I don’t
really understand why people are complaining.
Romain Grosjean: “I want to return to the podium in Bahrain”
After a tough Chinese Grand Prix weekend, Romain return to the scene of first
Formula 1 podium in a determined mood; eager to garner a good points tally
What are your feelings heading to Bahrain?
I have good memories after a strong race there last year that’s for sure! Our
car worked well and we seemed to like the heat so it’s a race I’m looking
forward to. We should see some consistent weather too, which always helps when
you are trying to set up the car for the weekend.
Finding the right setup and getting the car exactly as you want it seems to
be quite a challenge at the moment?
I would be lying if I said the car is exactly where I want it and we are
having quite an adventure to get the setup and feeling from the car how we want
it. This is very frustrating for a driver, as you want your car to be obedient –
to do what you want it to do – and to do it in a consistent manner. Certainly,
we’re not the only team who are having a difficult time early in the season, but
it’s something we really want to get on top of as quickly as possible. I’m
spending a lot of time with my engineers and we’re all working hard to make
What worked so well for you in Bahrain last year?
It’s a track I knew from before Formula 1 and it has characteristics that I
like in a circuit; some big braking into certain corners, some good change of
direction with the double-left in the middle of the racetrack and it all flows
quite nicely. Last year we got a good balance with the car and were able to make
use of the E20 being kind to its tyres. The E21 shares that characteristic, so
let’s hope we have more of the same this year.
How did it feel to get your first podium here twelve months ago?
It’s was a great feeling to get my first podium, and a really proud day for
the whole team who did an incredible job. I think we got everything right that
It’s fair to say that your weekend in China wasn’t exactly what you wanted?
I wasn’t happy with ninth place, but at least it was points finish. It was a
long, tough race and again we not able to make it work quite as well as we
wanted. We started sixth on the grid and I thought we had a good chance to end
up within the top five, but unfortunately we could not manage it.
Where do you think your race unravelled?
We struggled all weekend to get the balance right. It felt a lot better in
qualifying but in the race I just couldn’t find the performance. I made a good
start, climbed a few places and was sitting close behind Kimi for a short while,
but then the tyres just fell off the cliff and I dropped right back. As the race
went on I ended up getting stuck in traffic which obviously didn’t help, but I
still have some work to do to try and find more from the car.
What’s the target this weekend?
The priority is to find that connection with the car. I want to be right up
there fighting for podiums and showing the speed I showed last year. Hopefully
we’ll get there soon, and I think Bahrain would be the ideal place to really
start getting some good points or even a return to the podium. We’ve been quick
there before, so there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.
Eric Boullier: “We need to maintain momentum”
After another podium result, Team Principal Eric Boullier knows the key to a
successful championship campaign is maintaining that all important momentum
The team must be pretty upbeat heading to Bahrain?
We left Malaysia a little downcast after the high of Australia, so having
Kimi back on the podium in Shanghai was the perfect antidote to that. There’s
nothing like a Grand Prix podium to make you feel good.
What’s your evaluation of the race in China?
It was great result, but not a perfect one. Kimi showed once more why he’s
one of the very best drivers in the world by being one of the fastest on track
despite sustaining damage to his car. As a team we were able to give him a
strong strategy allowing us to beat Lewis [Hamilton] and Mercedes in a close
battle. Were it not for a poor getaway from the line at the start of the race
and the damage caused by the incident with Sergio [Perez] he could have been
fighting Fernando [Alonso] and Ferrrari for the win. That’s where we want to be.
Romain had a more difficult day, but he scored points which is positive and we
feel he’s reached a turning point now where things will start coming together.
Heading straight to Bahrain, can another strong result be achieved?
We’ve started the season with a strong car so there’s no reason why not. The
Bahrain Grand Prix is just seven days after the Chinese race and we performed
well there last year so we have everything on our side. However, you can never
take anything for granted in this sport so we’ll be approaching Bahrain as we do
any Grand Prix.
There has been a lot of talk about tyres again this season; is this a good
As a sport we asked our tyre supplier, Pirelli, to provide us with tyres
which encourage different strategies and adapting to this is part of the
competition. We’ve seen some great racing so far this year and Pirelli can take
some of the credit for this. We are all allocated the same tyres so it’s up to
us as teams and the drivers in the cars to make the most of them.
Kimi seems to be at the top of his game at the moment, but Romain seems to be
struggling a little?
Romain faces the very tough challenge of driving the same car as one of the
most gifted driver around in Kimi; a driver with tremendous experience who
returned to the sport last year and was very good straight away. If he was very
good from the start of last season, Kimi’s been excellent from the start of
2013. He gives everything you want from a driver at every moment on track. This
will be frustrating for Romain at times as it’s very, very difficult to beat the
Kimi who arrives at the track this season, but it’s also a tremendous
opportunity as he’s learning from the very best. If he can learn these lessons
whilst bringing home points for the team, then he’s doing the job we want from
Can the team sustain its championship charge?
Once again, we’ve shown that we can fight for podiums, but nothing stands
still in Formula 1 and the challenge is ongoing. Maintaining momentum is what we
need to do, and we’ll leave no stone unturned in our quest to do this. Our
competition is strong and they have a lot of resources at their disposal. We
have to maintain the relentless pace over the course of all 19 races this
season. Everyone at Enstone is up for this challenge and celebrate every success
we see on track. We hope to celebrate many more.
James Allison: “There are things that are special about Bahrain which might
make us more optimistic”
Technical Director James Allison talks us through the difference between Kimi
and Romain’s cars, how changing the damaged nose in China wasn’t worth it and
why he’s cautiously optimistic about the forthcoming Bahrain GP
We’re 2nd in the Drivers’
Championship and 3rd in the
Constructors’ Championship which isn’t a bad place to be; talk us through China
from your perspective.
It’s not as good as 1st
but it’s definitely ok! The race was
good. Considering we had a grim start and were then involved in a tangle with
[Sergio] Perez on lap fifteen, it was a reasonably strong second place so we can
be quite happy with that. It’s also satisfying to see that the cars have gone
adequately well at a number of tracks now; albeit slightly masked by the rain in
Malaysia. Having said that, I think we’ll only be properly happy as a team when
we’ve got both our cars up where they need to be, and that’s really the main
Tell us about Romain and the problems he’s having with the car.
The truth is that it’s certainly not Romain causing the problem. Romain is
fast, smooth and good at looking after tyres, however we have not yet managed to
give him a consistent car that lets him bring his talent to bear. It’s not him;
it’s that we haven’t got it quite right for him yet and what seems to be clear
from Kimi’s weekends is that the car is a tricky little beast to get just right.
We have managed that with Kimi in two of the three races and we need to make
sure we’ve giving Romain all the opportunity to shine as well.
Some people might ask why you wouldn’t set up the car exactly the same as
Kimi’s if it seems to be working for him. What are the complications between the
two different cars?
First of all, both drivers don’t want the exact same thing out of the car.
Kimi has a driving style which uses the front tyres a little heavier than
Romain, while Romain uses his rear tyres slightly more than Kimi, so they need a
different set up anyway. Secondly, we’re not completely certain that even if we
were to bolt the same setup onto both cars that we would get the same result in
any case, so it’s not just as straightforward as saying we’ll put the same set
up on and everything will be fine.
Kimi had a bit of trouble with his nose in China too after that tangle; did
it affect his performance and why did we decide not to change it?
We definitely shouldn’t have changed his nose. It probably cost around a
quarter of a second a lap and he did it on lap fifteen, so if we multiply that
by the remaining forty laps then we lost about ten seconds by the end of the
race. A pit stop with a nose change would have cost and extra seven seconds over
a standard stop, so you might say we should have changed it and saved ourselves
3 seconds to Fernando [Alonso]. The reality however, is that with Kimi’s
position in the race a pitstop would have dropped him down into all the traffic
and we would have paid a much heavier penalty than the three seconds difference.
The best option was what happened; Kimi adapted his race to make the most of
what he had and drove very strongly with a damaged car to come second.
Based on recent form, Bahrain is potentially a strong track for us; do you
think it will suit the E21?
We certainly went well there last year and I hope it will be good for us this
year as well! There are things that are special about Bahrain which might make
us more optimistic. For example, it is one of the most aggressive tracks on the
rear tyres and if we have a particular strength it does seem to be that when we
get the car set up just right it does seem to use the tyres rather gently.
Secondly, in Kimi in particular, we have a driver who is able to get the car to
go quickly without really burdening the rear axle. While we are looking forward
to the weekend, it is abundantly clear that there are several very strong teams
this year, so we can expect a tough fight as always.
What’s in the Bahrain goodie bag?
We won’t be bringing anything particularly revolutionary on top of the China
upgrades, but we will trial a suspension modification – internal rather than to
the wishbones – which is an evolution of something we ran to good effect during
pre-season. You’re always trying to find the right compromise between the
mechanical grip that the suspension’s articulation offers to the tyres and
holding the aerodynamic platform at the optimum height from the road, and we
believe this is a step forward in helping us achieve that.
When could we see the DDRS making an appearance?
Not for this race as we still have work to do with it. We’ll be trialling the
DDRS again between the first round of flyaways and the start of the European
season when we have an opportunity to do some straight line testing.
Succeeding in Sakhir: An Engineer’s Guide to the Bahrain International
Heavy braking into turn 1 provides a good overtaking opportunity. No
penalties for overshooting the corner so over-optimism is not unduly curtailed.
Exit of this corner calls for driver delicacy on the throttle when tyres are
The more kerb you can take at turn two, the more speed you can take down the
straight which follows.
Turn 4 is another overtaking opportunity, with heavy braking from the
preceding straight, wide entry and plenty of space on exit.
TURNS 6 + 7
Front wing is set to balance the car through turns 6 and 7
The entry to turn 10 is difficult. You need to be in the correct track
position after turn 9 and the un-weighted inside wheel can easily lock.
Sufficient speed needs to be carried on entry, but it’s easy to out-brake
yourself here. There is a long serrated kerb at the exit to turn 10 which is
TURNS 14 + 15
Another heavy braking zone into the final corners, with any mistakes on entry
penalised heavily by a lack of exit speed onto the main straight. Snap oversteer
is a possibility through here, which again will damage speed onto the main
START / FINISH STRAIGHT
Gearing for the straight is always a difficult call in Bahrain, as the wind
can affect matters here.
Front wing settings are optimised around turns six and seven.
Relatively high levels of downforce are required for Bahrain, so the car runs
with a lot of rear wing. Not to Monaco levels, but comparable amounts to Albert
Park and Malaysia. High temperatures mean less dense and aerodynamically
effective air to cleave.
There are reasonable traction demands here, so the suspension needs to
sufficiently compliant for these requirements. Traction demands from the lower
speed corners mean a focus on enabling maximum usage of the mechanical grip from
the tyres. Kerbs are used in turn two in order to maximise straightline speed
before turn three. The long kerb at the exit of turn 10 is generally avoided
because its harshness can hurt traction.
Bahrain represents the first proper test of the season for braking systems.
Long straights lead into slow corners, meaning brake temperatures and wear
levels need close monitoring.
Sand and speed summarise Sakhir from the engine point of view. Dust from the
desert is blown onto the track and sand particles in the engine can cause
significant wear to the internals. The four straights demand good top end power.
Pirelli’s hard [orange] and medium [white] compounds are nominated here.
Despite the circuit’s desert domain, the track is not as sandy as you may expect
due to the circuit’s impressive track cleaner! The asphalt is has a high level
of abrasion which gives good grip, but can lead to high tyre degradation.
Looks Who’s Talking: Social Media in Action
The Lotus F1 Team fan base has been fantastic as ever during the Chinese
Grand Prix week, with high engagement levels and plenty of humour keeping up the
entertainment for hours on end.
Kicking off with Twitter, a day out in Shanghai brought Chinese culture to
the masses with a somewhat unorthodox tour of the local sights. Combined with
our now traditional (and classically accurate) track walk, plus the return of a
rather popular miniature Finn, the conversation just kept on growing.
Both Facebook and Google+ saw some stunning images taken throughout the
weekend, coupled with a selection of our favourite memes submitted by the fans;
all of which went down a treat with some hilarious responses to boot.
Speaking of captivating images; a host of beautiful pictures on Pinterest and
Instagram grabbed the attention of Formula 1 aficionados across the board; Kimi
of course proving popular as ever with some spectacular on-track and
behind-the-scenes shots also thrown into the mix.
Never ones to shy away from a bit of bare faced cheek, the team YouTube
channel featured an edited blend of our E20 teaser trailer from last year and
the latest commercial from Peugeot. As the clip itself states, imitation may be
considered the highest form of flattery, but we’re much more impressed by
Adding yet more visibility to our social media activities, we’ve added
Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram feeds categorised by each Grand Prix hashtag to
the team website; allowing fans to look back through their favourite moments
from each race weekend.
Inside Line: The Latest News from Enstone
Joyeux Anniversaire Romain!
This week sees Romain Grosjean celebrate his 27th
birthday, so we’ve put together a
montage of the very best moments we’ve shared with the loveable Frenchman so
far. From the shaggy-haired raw talent who first graced the factory as a test
driver in 2008, to the beaming three-time Formula 1 podium winner we now see
before us, few drivers have become such a part of the Enstone furniture than
Romain. So from all of us it’s a big Joyeux Anniversaire! Let’s hope he can
celebrate it in style this weekend in Bahrain…
01 – Testing at Jerez in 2008
02 – Facing the media after his Grand Prix debut at the 2009 European Grand
03 – Preparing for a free practice run out at the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix
04 – Celebrating with the team after taking his first Formula 1 podium at the
2012 Bahrain Grand Prix
05 – Embracing a mechanic following a career best Formula 1 finish; P2 at the
2012 Canadian Grand Prix
06 – Taking to the podium once again at the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix
07 – Lifting the winner’s trophy at the 2012 Race of Champions
08 – Sharing a joke with race engineer Ayao Komatsu at the 2013 Australian
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Formula One heads straight from Shanghai in China to the Middle East this week with Round Four, the Bahrain Grand Prix, taking place at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on Sunday 21 April.
The Bahrain International Circuit sees the cars exceed 300 km/h on four separate occasions
11 of the circuit’s 15 corners are taken at 200 km/h or less, in fourth gear or lower
There are eight braking events around the lap, with five of them classed as heavy braking zones
I’ll be really happy to get back in the car again on Friday after a tough weekend in Shanghai. The first three races haven’t quite worked out as we had hoped on my side but the positive is that we have a car that we can really work with. So I’m looking forward to getting on with this weekend and the circuit at Sakhir is one that I like very much. It’s going to be very tough on the rear tyres and our biggest challenge will be to make the most out of the situation. We’re better prepared than we were last year and we have shown that the car is much stronger so I really hope that we can achieve a great result in Bahrain.
The weekend in China was really positive for both me and the team. With each race, I am becoming more settled in the team and more comfortable in my car, and we were very happy with the pole and podium finish. There are some areas where we need to improve to close that gap to the fastest cars and we’re working hard to identify and develop those. There’s a limit to what we can do before Bahrain but I’ll be talking to my engineers before we arrive at the circuit and seeing where we can improve in the short term. The Bahrain circuit is a real challenge, particularly for the tyres with overheating and also the sand on the track, but this helps to make it unique. The layout has a great combination of fast, slow and medium corners which make it tough for the drivers and the car, so it will be a true test for us. I can’t wait to get back in the car and see what we can do.”
With three race weekends under our belts, Bahrain will be the final race of the season-opening quartet. With very different track conditions at each venue, this should give us a good understanding of the car that we have to work with for the rest of the season. The performances so far have been pleasing and perhaps even beyond our pre-season expectations however there is work to be done. We have two main areas to focus on; we must improve the reliability and we have to lift our performance to find that extra couple of tenths to our fastest competitors. And of course, that’s a moving target to make the challenge even tougher. A strong two car finish will be our target this weekend, and we want to see both Nico and Lewis in a position to score not only points but podiums regularly. We’ve had a taste of success already this season and the slight feeling of disappointment with third place in China is our motivation.
After three races, we have an equal balance of reasons to be pleased and areas we need to improve. Two podium finishes in two races for Lewis represent a strong start to the season. That shows our car is competitive in different conditions and on different types of circuit. But two technical retirements for Nico in three races are not acceptable, and everybody is working flat out at the factory to make sure we hit our target of bringing both cars to the finish at every race. Inside the team, the atmosphere is calm and motivated, with Nico and Lewis pushing everybody forward with their strong performances. Bahrain will provide another new challenge, with the combination of high temperatures, dust conditions and heavy demands on the rear tyres. We will need a smooth and reliable weekend to collect the required data for making the right decisions on Sunday.
Sauber F1 Team
Preview – 2013 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix
4th Round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, 19th to 21st April 2013
Straight after the Chinese Grand Prix the Sauber F1 Team set off to the Middle East for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Located in the middle of the desert, heat will play a significant role yet again at this track. The team left Shanghai with mixed feelings. Although Nico Hülkenberg scored one championship point for the swiss race outfit, some disappointment remains as the race looked more promising for quite some time. Nevertheless, overall it was a positive weekend as the technical measures, which the team had taken before Shanghai, worked well. Esteban Gutiérrez will have to start the race in Bahrain with a five place grid penalty after his accident in Shanghai. That, however, does not change his motivation.
Nico Hülkenberg (car number 11):
“I’m looking forward to the race in Bahrain. In 2010 I drove my first Formula One Grand Prix there. I like the track, and there is always a One Thousand and One Nights atmosphere in the paddock. Other than high temperatures, the brakes will play a significant role. There are a couple of long straights where we drive at over 300 kph and then we need to brake very hard into the corners, so it will be the usual balancing act between downforce and top speed.“
Esteban Gutiérrez (car number 12):
“To end the Chinese Grand Prix like that was disappointing. The mistake I made not only ended my race, but I also received a five place grid penalty. Of course, this will not make the race in Bahrain any easier, but it doesn’t change my approach or my motivation. I will fight and make the best out of the situation. However, China also had a positive side to it. The engineers took several technical measures, which saw an improvement. Bahrain is another hot place on the calendar. The conditions are not as humid as in Malaysia, but you still have to be in good shape to cope with the heat during the race. I know the track from my time in GP2, and I think it’s a nice one with challenging corners. It’s a very demanding track for the tyres, and I’m looking forward to driving there in a Formula One car.“
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering:
“From a technical point of view, China was a successful weekend for our team. We had taken some measures before that race, which proved to be effective. We now have a direction, and we know what has to be done. The Bahrain circuit is dominated by several long straights with mainly slow and medium speed corners. This places high importance on an efficient aero package and a car with strong low speed performance – in particular traction. The circuit layout is also very demanding for the brakes. The desert environment results in quite a dusty track – especially when the wind builds up. The chance of rainfall is low, and the typically high ambient and track temperatures make it a real challenge for the cooling level of the car and management of the tyres. Therefore, Pirelli has allocated the Hard and Medium compounds for this weekend.”
|Circuit||Bahrain International Circuit / 5.412 km|
|Race distance||57 Laps / 308.238 km|
|Schedule||Qualifying 14:00 hrs, Race 15:00 hrs local time (12:00 hrs GMT)|
|Driver||Nico Hülkenberg||Esteban Gutiérrez|
|Born||19.08.1987 Emmerich (DE)||05.08.1991 Monterrey (MX)|
|Height / Weight||1.84 m / 74 kg||1.80 m / 63 kg|
|First GP||Bahrain 2010||Melbourne 2013|
|Best race result||4th Spa-Francorchamps (2012)||12th Sepang (2013)|
|Best qualifying||1st Sao Paulo (2010)||14th Sepang (2013)|
|Points 2013||5 (currently 13th)||0 (currently 17th)|
|Points in total||90||–|
|The Sauber F1 Team has 5 points to its tally and currently holds 8th place in the Constructors’ Championship.|
Sahara Force India F1 Team
2013 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix Preview
Sahara Force India gets set for round four of the season in Bahrain.
Dr Vijay Mallya expects the team to realise its full potential in Bahrain.
“Last weekend’s race in China left us with mixed feelings: the pace of the VJM06 was evident throughout the sessions and we would have been on track to place both Paul and Adrian in the points had it not been for the unfortunate accident with Gutierrez in the opening stages.
Paul’s pace, especially when he had clear air, was indicative of the quality of the work done by the team. We were also very satisfied by the good job done in the pits with a clean and fast final stop helping Paul emerge ahead of Grosjean and Hulkenberg after a race-long battle.
We now head to Bahrain, where last year we had an excellent result with Paul finishing sixth. This track, with its high temperature and smooth surface, has generally suited our car and we hope this will be the case this weekend. With a bit more luck, we will be able to fully exploit the potential of our car and get some more points on the board before the European leg of the season.”
Dr Vijay Mallya
Team Principal and Managing Director
Paul on Bahrain
You were back in the points in China with a great drive – tell us how it felt in the car…
Overall it was a good result when you consider how the first half of the race went. I was stuck in traffic, my tyres were graining and I couldn’t move forward. Fortunately we got ourselves into some clean air after my second pit stop and I think we showed that the potential of the car is very strong. We thought we would have to go on the softs at the end and overtake some cars, but we had such good speed that we managed to jump them with our strategy. In the end we left China feeling pretty satisfied, but knowing that there is more potential to come.
What are your thoughts on Bahrain?
I’m looking forward to it. We’re back in the hot weather and we were strong in the heat of Malaysia so there are no real worries. Last year the car worked well in Bahrain, which gives us confidence heading into the weekend. We’ve got a few things to understand and I think we can go forward a bit more. We’re back to the medium and hard, the same as we had in Malaysia, where we were strong.
What do you need from the car there?
A bit more speed, as we always do! We need a clearer weekend; we don’t need things to go wrong, as they did in FP3 in China. It lost us a session, lost us a few hundredths, and that would have made the difference to put us out of position in qualifying to have an easier first lap. So that will be the plan – to be more consistent.
Adrian on Bahrain
Adrian, sum up your feelings after China…
The race was very short. I had a little incident with Paul early on, but we spoke about it, and there’s no problem. For the next few laps I was catching up the cars in front and then Gutierrez just missed his braking point and crashed into my rear. It’s frustrating, but what can you do? He will learn so there are no hard feelings. Hopefully he will not do it again.
Looking at where Paul finished would it have been easy to get some good points?
It’s never easy, but I think we can learn quite a lot out of the race. The pace was not so good at the beginning, but much better at the end. We have to understand why. Paul got some good points for the team, but we lost some pace this weekend in general, and there were quite a few quick cars who didn’t finish the race. So we have to get a move on in Bahrain! It should be better for us there.
Is Sakhir a track you enjoy?
I like it, yes. With a good car I like almost every circuit. The track is not one of the most difficult ones, but it has a lot of big braking points, so you need a strong car on the brakes. The heat is very different to China, with very high temperatures, and also there’s a different combination of tyres.
Bahrain GP Preview
- When: Friday 19th – Sunday 21st April, 2013
- Where: Sakhir, Bahrain
- Round: 4 of 19
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: Bahrain is a circuit that has some key characteristics that will present new challenges for the teams. It’s a high braking circuit so brake wear will be a factor, it is tough on rear tyres and it has a high ambient temperature. We feel that the current car, whilst not as competitive as we would like, will be more competitive in Bahrain because of these factors. For engines it is a high power, high efficiency circuit that places a premium on straight line speed and the Renault engine should be robust at this sort of circuit. It’s been disappointing not to score points in our first three races, but we can be pleased with the fact that Valtteri has managed to bring the car home in every race so far with very solid drives.
Pastor Maldonado: Because the Sakhir Circuit is in the desert the track conditions can change quite a lot during the weekend, especially with the sand being blown across the surface, so the teams will have to be ready to react to the different conditions. The temperatures in the cockpit are also going to be very high so as a driver you have to be prepared both physically and mentally to deal with that and I’m expecting to lose between 2 and 3kg during the race. Tyre degradation is also expected to be quite high at this race which can always throw up some interesting challenges for the teams.
Valtteri Bottas: It’s been a very busy start to my career with two back to back races in a row, but it has meant that I have had a lot of time in the car and the chance to try and understand its characteristics. The track in Bahrain isn’t used much throughout the year so can be quite green and the dusty surface means that the conditions can change quite a lot from one session to another, so it will be important to keep searching for the best grip on each lap. The tyres also tend to drop off quite a lot at this circuit so in Friday practice we need to try and find a good car setup to maximise the long run performance for the race so we can keep the tyres alive longer than others.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations: Sakhir sits in the middle of the table for the demands put on the engine, with drivers at full throttle for 50% of the lap in the race and 57% in qualifying. However the high ambient temperatures and low humidity are the main challenges for engines in Bahrain. The hot conditions mean that the bodywork may have to be slightly opened to aid the cooling configuration, while the aridity increases pressure within the cylinder chamber, which can cause internal failure. We can counteract this by tuning the engine.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: Bahrain is one of the few circuits on which we will be competing for only the second time and we’re bringing the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium: the two hardest tyres in the range, which was a combination last used in Malaysia. The big challenge in Bahrain is normally the heat, which can be in the region of 30 degrees ambient and 45 degrees on track, and this accentuates the amount of energy going through the tyres. The grip in Bahrain can be very variable, due to the sand that gets blown onto the surface from the surrounding desert and this makes track evolution quite hard to predict. Traction and braking are the two key aspects of Bahrain, both of which are very demanding on the tyres, and I would expect to see a three-stop race from most teams, as was the case last year. Degradation rather than actual wear will decide the strategy.
Scuderia Toro Rosso
2013 Bahrain Grand PrixView
Bahrain – 17th April 2013
Race Laps: 56
The track surface is usually sandy at the start of each session
Lots of marbles off the racing line
Elevation is relevant out of T11
Bumps and kerbs are not an issue
High brake energy circuit
Usually quite windy, affecting car behaviour in high speed corners
High ambient temperatures and very dry
Braking and traction instability are usually the main issues
First gear is used in T1 and usually a short first gear is used for launch due to high grip levels of the track
Seventh gear requires particular attention due to strong tail or head winds
2012 Race Weather
Air/Track temp ( C): 34 / 49
Altitude (metres ASL): 20
ATM Press (HPA): 1012
Hum (%): 20
Wind (kph): SW 10
P1: Vettel, 1.32.422 (Q3)
P2: Hamilton, 1.32.520 (Q3)
P3: Webber, 1.32.637 (Q3)
CF1T best: Kovalainen, 1.34.852 (Q1)
P1: Vettel (1.36.379 L41)
P2: Raikonnen (1.37.116 L41)
P3: Grosjean (1.36.928 L42)
CF1T best: P16 Petrov (1.38.305 L42)
Bumpiness: low (T14 bumps in braking zone)
Overtaking chance: T1
Kerbs: smooth / medium
Ride height setting particularity: usually low
Engine severity: high
Gearbox severity: medium
Lat/Long grip: longitudinal
Aero eff ratio: medium / low
Safety car history: 2012 – none, 2011 – n/a, 2010 – none
Track grip evo during w/e: high
Aero settings: high
Brake wear severity: high
Brake cooling necessity: high
Driver Preview Quotes
Charles Pic: “I left China on Sunday night and headed straight to Dubai for a couple of days off before going to Bahrain for race four. I was pleased with my performance in Shanghai and now the aim is to take that on to the race in Bahrain and keep making decent progress before we get back to Europe.
“I’ve raced in Bahrain a couple of times before and won the GP2 Asia race there back in 2010, so it’s a track I know well and one I like racing on. Technically it’s not too challenging but one of the main areas we’ll need to focus on is the brakes. It’s particularly hard on brakes, much more so than China for example, so we’ll look at that in the practice sessions as you can make up a lot of time in the braking zones if you can really push there. We’re also bringing some new parts to Bahrain so we’ll work on optimising their performance as much as possible in each session. This is only the first stage of the 2013 developments we’re bringing so we’re very realistic about what we might find this weekend, and we’re not going to make any predictions about what they’re going to bring in terms of laptime, but we’ll focus on integrating them into the package we’ve used in the first three races and see where we end up.”
Giedo van der Garde: “Back to Bahrain which is another circuit I have quite a bit of experience at, most recently last year in GP2 when I finished the feature race on the podium, so it’s a track that holds good memories for me. It’s quite a technical circuit that evolves a lot as the weekend progresses. It’ll be very sandy on Friday but with every lap that’s completed it rubbers in and the grip levels improve a lot – that’s important in each session, particularly quali as you need to time your run to make the most of the track evolution so strategy will be really important all weekend.
“Coming straight after China, the race in Bahrain is also a chance for me to get back to the performance levels I want to be racing at. China was a pretty tough weekend, but I’ve had a couple of days to recharge since leaving Shanghai and after the race we had a very good debrief and we’ve identified a few areas we’ll work on this weekend in Bahrain. Since announcing my F1 drive I’ve been really clear that the first few races were always going to be tough for a rookie, but it’s all part of the learning process so I’m as positive as ever and looking forward to getting back to work.”
Marussia F1 Team
What we’re saying about the 2013 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix
The Marussia F1 Team are up and running in Bahrain ready for Round 4 of the Formula 1 World Championship, taking place in the Kingdom this weekend within a week of the last race in China.
This race takes the sport to the third Hermann Tilke-designed circuit of the 2013 calendar – a challenge comprised not only of demanding circuit characteristics but also the intense heat, often gusty conditions out on track and the resulting fine layer of sand which contributes to a constantly evolving grip level.
This weekend the Team welcomes its Reserve Driver Rodolfo Gonzalez to the MR02 for the first foray of his scheduled FP1 participation at several races this season. On this occasion he will take over the MR02-02 of Jules Bianchi, who will return to the cockpit for FP2.
Jules Bianchi, Driver #22
“I learned a lot during the course of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend. It was a challenging race and in many ways it felt like I crossed the line with a much more complete understanding of the MR02 and the tyres. Although it’s still early days, I am really comfortable with my understanding of the car, the direction we are heading in as a Team and where I can continue to develop personally. There’s been a nice pace to the season so far, so although we’ve had just a week before this race, I think it will allow us the chance to consolidate the progress we have made with the interim updates and then catch our breath again ready for what we will bring to Europe. So Bahrain marks the end of the long-haul phase at the start of the season and this is a track I am looking forward to. There are some tricky features and also the conditions make it even more challenging with the high temperatures. It can also be also be quite windy. I’ve had a bit of experience here in GP2 so it’s good to be back and I’m excited to see what we can achieve here.”
Max Chilton, Driver #23
“It’s good to be heading into Bahrain so soon after China. We ended the weekend there on a more positive note, so I think the short gap between races will be useful in helping us to carry through that momentum. I’ve raced at the Bahrain International Circuit a few times so I know it to be a great track with quite a few challenging elements to it. It’s one of those circuits that seems to be constantly changing through the weekend, so it will be important to get a positive start in Free Practice to provide a good baseline for us to read the rest of the sessions. The updates we brought to China were a good step, so hopefully we can feel more of the benefit of those this weekend. All in all, I’m quite comfortable that things are heading in the right direction now and I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off.”
Rodolfo Gonzalez, Reserve Driver
“I’m really happy with this opportunity to drive in my first FP1 session of the season. It will be a nice feeling to be back in a car – especially to drive a Formula 1 car again – and with my previous F1 experience I feel more than comfortable and ready. I love this circuit; it will be quite dusty in FP1 but it’s also good fun and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve. I would like to thank the Team for their faith in me. They have made me feel so welcome and have bent over backwards to involve me in every aspect of the racing.”
John Booth, Team Principal, Marussia F1 Team
“A quick turnaround for the Team sees us up and running again in Bahrain this week and in good shape overall for the final long-haul race of the early part of the season. This track represents a different challenge from Shanghai but both drivers have raced here before in the junior formulae, so factors like the track conditions – the heat, the wind, the sand – are not a completely unknown quantity for them. From a team point of view we’ll need to work hard to achieve the right compromise of car set-up, to manage the grip level and cooling demands. The asphalt can also be quite abrasive here, so it will be interesting to see how the tyre story unfolds here through the weekend. We experienced a few frustrations in Shanghai which we are determined to iron out here so that we give ourselves the opportunity to properly showcase our developments and maintain a clearer picture of where we are in respect to the cars ahead. We are pleased to welcome our Reserve Driver Rodolfo Gonzalez to the car for his first FP1 session of the season. On this occasion he will take over from Jules for the morning but we will see him taking part in this session at several of the races this season and we will alternate between the two cars. We wish him well and look forward to getting our first opportunity to gauge his performance level in the MR02.”
Bahrain Grand Prix Preview: Sakhir 19-21 April 2013
HARDEST P ZERO COMPOUNDS FOR BAHRAIN
Just one week after the Chinese Grand Prix, Formula One moves to Bahrain where the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres have been nominated. At the Bahrain International Circuit, high track and air temperatures are expected, along with a track surface that is frequently made dirty by sand from the surrounding desert. Bahrain is a fast, flowing and technically demanding circuit, which made it the perfect test venue for Pirelli when the Italian firm was preparing for its Formula One return. Traction and braking are the main demands of the 5.412-kilometre variable width track, with tyre degradation expected to be reasonably high – which is why the two hardest compounds of the range have been nominated.
Paul Hembery: “Bahrain was one of the very few circuits that was entirely new to us in competition last year, although we know it well from testing. It’s one of the most demanding tracks of the year for the tyres, mostly because of the high ambient and track temperatures. We expect about three stops per car, although we’ll have to wait to get some running in on Friday before we can look at the data and make a more accurate prediction. One of the main challenges of racing in Bahrain is that the track evolution is very hard to predict, depending on how much sand is blown onto the circuit. From what we saw last year though, there will be plenty of scope for different race strategies, which can even allow drivers who have not qualified as well as they hoped to recover during the grand prix.”
Jean Alesi: “Bahrain is a circuit that I never raced on during my Formula One career, but I did race there in the Speedcar series – similar to NASCAR – in 2009: in fact I won the race. After a change to the layout the track has now gone back to its original version and it’s a nice circuit that you definitely have to find a rhythm with. If you do this, it will bring you a good lap time but it will also make sure that your tyres stay in the best possible condition, which will be an important part of the race. It’s a circuit that is quite demanding on tyres, but this is an area where the driver always has an influence. Bahrain is also a physically demanding track, so a good level of physical preparation is necessary.”
The tyre from a circuit point of view:
- Bahrain is one of the most demanding tracks of the year in terms of longitudinal energy going into the tyres: especially under braking in turns one and 14, and traction in turn 10.
- Braking is in fact a key characteristic of the Bahrain International Circuit: in the first corner the cars decelerate from 315kph to 65kph in just 130 metres and three seconds. This places a force on the tyres equivalent to around 4.5g.
- Lateral energy is about average for the year, reaching a peak in turn 12.
- Last year, the medium and soft tyres were selected – but this year’s compounds are all much softer than their equivalents last year, meaning that the 2013 hard tyre is more similar to the 2012 medium. The top five finishers selected a three-stop strategy at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, all starting on the soft tyre. However, the way they used the soft and the medium was quite different. The top-placed two-stopper came sixth.
Technical tyre notes:
- The asphalt surface, made up of 60,000 tonnes of imported granite from England, offers good grip when clean and is classified as medium to high in terms of abrasion.
- The expected lifespan of the hard tyre, when it comes to wear, should be 15-17 laps, whereas the medium tyre should last for approximately 13 to 15 laps.
- The first corner is a particularly critical one. It’s important to exit turn one cleanly in order to make the most of the left-hand kink that follows and get a good drive onto the straights, while avoiding wheelspin and unnecessary tyre wear. Many places are won and lost here at the start.
The tyre choices so far:
|PZero Red||PZero Yellow||PZero White||PZero Orange|
Meet the Pirelli F1 Team: Stefano Gardini, Director of Consumer, OEM and F1 Activation
Stefano was born in Padova. He moved to Milan to go to Bocconi University to study economics. His first job was in the consumer industry where he worked for 10 years. In 2002 he joined Pirelli, initially to look after the motorcycle business unit. At the time he also looked after activation for the World Superbike championship, which for the first time ever chose a single tyre supplier: Pirelli. After this, he was responsible for the moto marketing and sales side of the business in Italy. In 2008 he moved to Pirelli’s truck business unit where he was in charge of B-to-B marketing operations. In 2011 he returned to consumer trade in Pirelli’s car business unit. From this year he is also responsible for the F1 Activation department, which organises all activities around Pirelli’s involvement in Formula One, with the teams as well as Pirelli customers and dealers. Stefano is passionate about model cars and he has been collecting them since he was a child. The collection now numbers more than 300!
Other news from Pirelli:
- The second round of the Italian Rally Championship, the Mille Miglia Rally – named after Italy’s most famous road race – got underway from Brescia the weekend before the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli-backed Peugeot privateer Alessandro Perico won the rally.
- Pirelli also supplied the opening round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Monza, just half an hour from the company’s Milan headquarters.
- Pirelli recently held the “Supplier Award 2013” ceremony in Milan, in recognition of the best suppliers who contribute in a significant way to Pirelli’s Premium strategy throughout the world. In total nine companies were given prizes, providing everything from synthetic rubber to IT solutions.
Renault Sport F1
Mark previews the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix
After spending a couple of days in Dubai, Mark flew into Manama on Thursday morning to begin his preparations for the Bahrain Grand Prix. It’s a big weekend because he’s celebrating his 200th grand prix start.
“It’s amazing to think it’s 200 starts already,” says Mark. “I can remember my first race like it was yesterday, but that’s the way it goes. Time passes very quickly. It’s a good milestone and I’m proud to have made the 200-club. There have been some good moments along the way too.”
Mark hopes to complete the round numbers this weekend by scoring his 100th career points finish, although the job will be made harder by the three-place grid penalty he picked up following a collision with Jean-Eric Vergne in China last weekend.
“The grid penalty is going to make my life more difficult this weekend,” he says, “but at least you can overtake on this track because there are several long straights with slow corners at the end. And you’ve got the DRS zones too.
“We hope the car will be competitive this weekend. We need to have a good, clean Friday to prepare for the weekend ahead; if we can do that, we’ll have the best chance of getting a good result come Sunday afternoon.”
Amazingly, given the track’s desert location, there was a light rain shower on Thursday afternoon – like there was on race morning last year. But Pirelli aren’t expecting to use their intermediate or rain tyres this weekend, only their medium and hard compounds.
“The asphalt is very abrasive here,” says Mark, “and the circuit characteristics are very different too. China is a place where the front tyres are worked hardest, whereas it’s the rear tyres here, due to the amount of accelerating we do away from slow corners. It’ll be interesting to see how that mixes things up.”