2018 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit – Preview

Stoffel Vandoorne drives in Bahrain
Credit: McLaren Media Centre

This weekend we see the second of 2018’s twenty one Formula 1 races, with the circus leaving a wet Melbourne and heading to a decidedly dryer Bahrain.

What happened at the Australian Grand Prix?

The first race of the season followed a similar script to the previous season-opener – Lewis Hamilton led from pole, only to be jumped in the pit lane by Sebastian Vettel. Unlike 2017 though, Australia showed there’s potential for a fight over third place in the Constructors’ table.

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, Renault Sport Formula One Team and McLaren F1 Team all secured top ten finishes – though were it not for two consecutive wheel errors, Haas F1 Team would have joined them. Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Scuderia Ferrari may be out in front, but the battle for third was the main story of the weekend.

What happened in the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix?

Last year’s race was memorable for a number of reasons; Valtteri Bottas on pole, a turn one collision and yet more pit-lane dramas involving Hamilton.

Bottas started first, with team-mate Hamilton in second and Vettel in third, though a lightening start and bravery around the outside saw Vettel exit the first corner in second, demoting Brit.

With the pit window approaching, Ferrari, knowing the pit stops would be crucial, blinked first and brought in Vettel. Mercedes, not wanting Vettel to take the lead with an undercut, reacted, bringing in both Bottas and Hamilton. This is where things got tricky.

Hamilton, knowing he would have to wait for Bottas to clear the pit box and trying to hold off Daniel Ricciardo behind, deliberately drove slowly down the pit lane – travelling at 35mph down the 60mph pit lane – holding up the Australian and ensuring he kept his position.

Further back, Lance Stroll failed to finish his third (and third consecutive) Formula 1 race as Carlos Sainz Jr. exited the pit lane and, trying to beat Stroll into the first corner, drove straight into the side of his car. This damaged both of their cars beyond repair, leading both to retire from the race.

Back at the front, the stewards took a dim view of Hamilton’s delaying tactics and handed him a five-second penalty and two penalty points, though these reprimands made no difference to his race. He claimed second, beating Bottas, and leaving Bahrain on just one win to Vettel’s two.

For full reports of last year’s action, click below:

What should I look out for this year?

There’s two battles to keep an eye on – the ones between teams for third place, and the younger drivers for pride.

Haas will have presumably been practicing pit stops non-stop since Australia, so should these go without a hitch they could spoil Red Bull’s day. McLaren meanwhile could use their notoriously good chassis and improved Renault power plant to drag themselves up the grid.

On the driver side Lance Stroll will be keen to keep Williams Martini Racing team-mate Sergey Sirotkin behind him, lest the pay-driver attention turn back to him. Meanwhile Monegasque racer Charles Leclerc will want to further prove his worth in uncompetitive machinery having beaten Stroll and Brandon Hartley last time out.

Whether it’s the late start, the night lights, or the heat, there is always action in Bahrain. It’s where we saw arguably the closest fight of the hybrid era in 2014 when Hamilton and then-team-mate Nico Rosberg duked it out for first, it’s where we saw Stoffel Vandoorne take his first Formula 1 point, and it’s where we saw Pastor Maldonado literally flip Esteban Gutierrez. Its fast straights, tight hairpin first corner and flowing nature always create moments that always go down in either fame or infamy.

What’s the schedule?

Friday 6th April

12:00 GMT / 14:00 AST – Practice One
16:00 GMT / 18:00 AST – Practice Two

Saturday 7th April

13:00 GMT / 15:00 AST – Practice Three
16:00 GMT / 18:00 AST – Qualifying

Sunday 8th April

16:10 GMT / 18:10 AST – Race

Where can I watch the 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix?

Both Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1 will be showing the race and qualifying live, with coverage of practice sessions and more on Sky.

Unfortunately for streaming fans, F1’s streaming service still hasn’t been launched.

How can I keep up with the action ?

The Checkered Flag will be keeping you up to date with reports, commentary and quotes on every session over the weekend.

Where is the Circuit?

Bahrain International Circuit, Gate 255,Gulf of Bahrain Avenue,Umm Jidar 1062, Sakhir, Bahrain