Charles Leclerc returns to the Bahrain International Circuit for the first time since the painful conclusion to the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, a race where the Scuderia Ferrari driver lost out on his maiden victory due to a technical issue late in the day.
The Monegasque racer had dominated the weekend, taking pole position, and leading comfortably up front until his engine lost power, and he ultimately slipped to third behind the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
It could have been worse for Leclerc but for a late safety car period, which prevented him from falling off the podium, but despite the loss of the win, it was still a good weekend for a driver aiming for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship this year.
“The Bahrain Grand Prix is quite unusual in that, because of various factors, the situation changes continuously over the course of the weekend,” said Leclerc. “In the first sessions, the track is very dirty from all the sand that blows across its desert location. Bit by bit as the track cleans up, its abrasive nature gives the tyres a hard time.
“The light and temperature also change all the time, starting at dusk on a very hot track and the sun low in the sky, but as the race goes on, the track temperature drops and you have to adapt your driving style.
“I’ve got good memories of last year, even if it didn’t end as well as it could have done. I hope we can continue the trend of the last few races in which we have been more and more competitive.”
“I’m keen to see how competitive we can be at this track” – Sebastian Vettel
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel will arrive in Bahrain knowing he only has three races left of his Ferrari career before he moves to Aston Martin Racing in 2021.
The German will have been relieved to finally take his first podium of the year last time out in Turkey, and he is keen for the recent upturn in performance in the SF1000 to continue this weekend in Bahrain, a track on which Vettel has twice tasted success with Ferrari.
“The Sakhir circuit has always been very demanding for the drivers and the cars,” said Vettel. “From inside the car, the ambient temperature is a feature, because in this desert location, at some parts of the day the heat can be very high.
“The characteristics of the track put a premium on traction and also provide a stern test for the brakes, which come under a lot of stress over the course of a lap. It’s what we drivers call a stop-go track because you are continually having to brake heavily and then accelerate hard. We never raced in Bahrain this late in the year, but it won’t change very much in terms of the temperatures.
“We’ve seen that the car has improved over the past few races and I’m keen to see how competitive we can be at this track.”