The tenth season of the GP2 Series begins this weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit. The 5.412 kilometre track will host the Feature race on Saturday, followed by the Sprint race Sunday. And for the first time in the series’ history, qualifying will take place at night-time on Friday.
The fifteen-turn BIC in Sakhir, Bahrain first hosted GP2 back in 2005 when it was held as the season finale. The current lap record is help by the 2013 GP2 Series champion Fabio Leimer, with the then Racing Engineering driver setting a lap time of 1:39.427s.
In 2013, Leimer won the feature race from pole position, while Sam Bird won Russian Time’s first race in the sprint race on Sunday, just holding off Carlin’s Felipe Nasr by 0.080s.
The first 45 minute practice session of the 2014 season kicks off at midday local time, and sees the thirteen teams and 26 drivers making their first official laps of the season, having spent some time testing here last month.
Qualifying follows on Friday evening at 8pm local time, while the 32-lap Feature race with its mandatory pit stop is due to commence at 1:10pm Saturday afternoon. The drivers are now mandated to run both compounds of tyre provided each weekend by Pirelli during the feature race. In Bahrain that will be the Orange-banded Hard prime tyre and the Yellow-banded Soft option time.
The 23-lap Sprint race with the top eight finishes from the feature race reversed is due to start 2:15pm on Sunday, just prior to the Formula 1 race.
Nine rookies will be making their series debuts in Bahrain, with Artem Markelov (Russian Time), Raffaele Marciello (Racing Engineering), Takuya Izawa and Stoffel Vandoorne (both at ART Grand Prix), Facu Regalia (Hilmer Motorsport), Andre Negrao (Arden International), Axcil Jefferies (Trident Racing) and Arthur Pic and Kimiya Sato (both at Campos Racing), all making their first starts this weekend.
There are also seven former race winners racing in Sakhir in the form of Stefano Coletti (Racing Engineering), Jolyon Palmer (DAMS), Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (Rapax), Alexander Rossi (EQ8 Caterham Racing), Jon Lancaster (MP Motorsport), Johnny Cecotto Jr (Trident Racing) and Nathanael Berthon (Venezuela GP Lazarus).
Also, Mitch Evans (Russian Time), Felipe Nasr and Julian Leal (Carlin), Stephane Richelmi (DAMS) and Rio Haryanto (EQ8 Caterham Racing) have all previously stood on a GP2 Series podium.
Let the 2014 GP2 Series season commence!
Weekend Schedule (All Times Local)
Friday 04th April
12:00-12:45 – Practice Session
20:00-20:30 – Qualifying Session
Saturday 05th April
13:10 – Feature Race Start (32 Laps / 60 Minutes)
Sunday 06th April
14:15 – Sprint Race Start (23 Laps / 45 Minutes)