Sebastian Vettel says that it can be hard to find a “rhythm” around the Bahrain International Circuit – the second stop on the 2019 Formula 1 calendar.
Vettel has won the Bahrain Grand Prix a record four times, including the last two for Scuderia Ferrari, one more than his nearest rival Fernando Alonso.
Vettel and Ferrari need a third successive victory in order to keep championship leaders Mercedes AMG Motorsport in touching distance after a troubling Australian Grand Prix weekend, with Vettel only managing fourth at Albert Park – nearly a minute behind race winner Valtteri Bottas.
New team-mate Charles Leclerc came close to overtaking Vettel, who was nursing a slight mechanical problem, but was advised against battling for position.
The German explained that extraneous conditions make the Bahrain circuit trickier, with the potential for sandstorms posing a threat to the track’s grip level.
He highlighted the importance of this, especially in qualifying conditions.
“From a driver’s point of view, I would describe the level of difficulty for this circuit as basically normal,” said Vettel.
“However, it is hard to find the right rhythm in the desert, mainly because of the sand that the wind blows onto the track.
“Every lap is different, which can be a decisive factor, especially in qualifying.
“If you move just a few inches off the ideal line, you start to slide and you can throw your lap in the bin, because you just can’t make up the time you lose at this point and the rate of mistakes is significantly higher than at other circuits.”
Vettel added that patience is a virtue in Bahrain, with minimal clear overtaking opportunities present on the circuit, set to host its fifteenth Grand Prix this Sunday.
The four-times champion managed to hold off Mercedes and Bottas in 2018, despite his tyres allegedly being “done” in the final stages of the 57-lap race.
“You need to be patient before overtaking, maybe waiting for the driver in front of you to have a small slide,” Vettel continued.
“There are two very good overtaking opportunities: at the first corner and at corner 14, after the long straight.”