Renault Sport Formula One Team chief race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam suggests that the 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix start time renders two of the weekend’s three practice sessions reasonably useless.
The race takes place as dusk hits the desert and sees a dramatic change in temperatures which affect a car’s tyre performance. According to Pilbeam, this means there is a greater reliance on the Practice Two session as it’s the only chance the teams have of running a representative programme.
“The extreme, dry heat used to be a contributing factor in Bahrain, but since the change of timings to the schedule in 2014, and the race being held in the evening, that factor has taken a back seat,” says Pilbeam.
“Having said that, track temperature just after sunset falls through these sessions, affecting tyre warm-up and grip level.
“Temperatures are much higher in P1 and P3 Free Practice sessions that are held in the afternoon. Therefore, these sessions are less representative of qualifying and race conditions than normal, which places a greater emphasis on the P2 Free Practice session, the only one of the three that is held in similar conditions to qualifying and the race.”
Pilbeam and his two drivers, Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr., will look to get on top of tyre temperatures and performance across the race weekend as they look to back up their good result at the opening round in Australia.