Formula 1

PREVIEW: 2020 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit

5 Mins read
Credit: Steve Etherington

The 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship heads to the desert for three races in a triple-header finale. 

We first start at Bahrain for the Bahrain Grand Prix. This is the first of two races to be held at the Bahrain International Circuit in 2020. On the weekend 4 – 6 December, drivers will race on a different, shorter layout at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

The Bahrain Grand Prix has been held at the circuit annually since 2004, besides a late cancellation of the race in 2012.

Bahrain made history when it became to first Middle Eastern country to hold a F1 event weekend. Originally the race was held during the day but in 2014, the race was held at night to celebrate ten years of the event. Since then, the Grand Prix has been held at night.

Between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, they have won seven of the last eight races at the track with Nico Rosberg stealing one win.

With the race being held at night, under floodlight, F1 has scheduled two of the three practice sessions to be held in the day.

What happened at the Turkish Grand Prix?

Hamilton won his seventh championship with a stunning win. The weekend had been a struggle for most drivers due to wet weather conditions.

The track had been resurfaced before the weekend which hindered the conditions even more. After three practice session, no-one was a clear standout with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers of Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton no-where to be seen.

Come qualifying, it was a surprise pole-sitter in Lance Stroll after stealing the top starting spot from his BWT-Racing Point Formula One Team team-mate Sergio Pérez

The race continued to fall going into the race start. Antonio Giovinazzi crashed his car before the race even started when he was driving his car to his spot on the track.

At the start, most cars managed to avoid any major incidence besides Esteban Ocon and Bottas colliding, sending both cars tumbling down the order after a spin.

Stroll and Pérez were able to keep their positions of first and second on the start and by a couple of laps in, they had managed to distance themselves from the rest of the pack.

Stroll’s lead lasted 36 laps before he eventually came in for his pit stop. He wasn’t able to control the new tyres as well and found his first race win slip through his fingers as he started to get overtaken by his peers. He eventually finished ninth and his team found front wing damage.

Hamilton managed to take advantage of most of the top runners taking a second stop when he was on a one-stop strategy. Hamilton managed to overtake Pérez when DRS was enabled to take the top spot and he crossed the line victorious, over thirty seconds faster than second placed Pérez. 

In the last lap of the race, Charles Leclerc, who was sitting in third, had gained on Pérez and was looking to pinch second place from him. Leclerc tried a lunge on Pérez but made a mistake which enabled his Scuderia Ferrari team-mate Vettel past to take the final podium spot.

What happened at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix?

Hamilton won the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix after front-runner Leclerc fell foul to car issues. 

Leclerc started in pole position for the first time in his career and had looked like he was going to take his first win.

His first lap was a little bit rough when he was overtaken by Vettel and Bottas. By lap 6, he had gained his position back with a couple of fine overtakes.

On lap 46, Leclerc was cruising in the lead but reported to his team that he was having engine issue and his car significantly slowed. Two laps later, Hamilton managed to overtake him for race lead with Bottas then getting by for second on lap 54. It was looking like Leclerc would tumble further down the order, but he was saved by a safety car which was brought out due to the retirement of the two Renault DP World F1 Teamdrivers Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg.

The race finished under the safety car, being only the eighth race in history to do so.

The circuit

The clockwise circuit consists of 15 corners. None of them are named besides Turn 1, which is was dedicated to Michael Schumacher in 2014 after his skiing accident.

The track is 5.412km and total race distance will be 308.238km consisting of 57 laps. 

Track record is held by Pedro de la Rosa of a time of 1:31.447, which hasn’t been beaten since 2005.

Credit: Pirelli Media

Sectors, Corners and DRS zones

Sector One consists of Turn 1 through to Turn 4. Sector Two has Turn 5 to Turn 12 and Sector Three finishes off the lap with Turn 13 to Turn 15.

On the pit lane straight, drivers can reach up to 330kmph, the fastest section on the track. Turn’s 5,6 and 7 are flat out, with drivers reaching speeds of 290kmph.

There are three DRS Detection Zones on the track, the highest amount in a race this year.

The first one starts before Turn 1 with the DRS kicking in on the straight between Turns 3 and 4. The second Detection Zone is before Turn 9 with the straight between Turns 10 and 11 being the DRS zone. The final Detection Zone is just before turn 14, ready for action along the pit straight.

Tyre Strategy

Pirelli have chosen a step softer than the tyres they used at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix. Most drivers deemed the C1 tyres as two hard and they were hardly used.

For the race this year, the drivers will have C2 white-striped hard, C3 yellow-striped medium and C4 red-striped soft, the mid-range compounds.

Pirelli will also be testing their compounds for the 2021 season. Each driver will have to use the 2021 C3 compound for the first thirty minutes in their second practice session.

What should we look out for this year?

The Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships have already been wrapped up with Hamilton claiming the Drivers’ and his team Mercedes claiming the Constructors’, both their seventh win.

With the main prizes all wrapped up, there is still so much more to play for.

The battle for third in the Constructors’ has hotted up after Ferrari’s impressive performance in Turkey. Just twenty-four points separate Racing Point in third on 154 and Ferrari in sixth on 130 with McLaren F1 Team and Renault sandwiched in-between. 

Pérez, Leclerc and Ricciardo are separated by just four points in the battle for fourth place in the Drivers Championship. After a poor display at Turkey, Ricciardo will be revved-up to claim that fourth place back.

Williams Racing duo of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi are still yet to score a point yet this season. They have been improving their race pace in recent races but the closest they have got is eleventh.

Whats the schedule?

Friday 27 November

11:00 GMT / 14:00 Local Time – Free Practice one

15:00 GMT / 18:00 Local Time – Free Practice two

Saturday 28 November

11:00 GMT / 14:00 Local Time – Free Practice three

14:00 GMT / 17:00 Local Time – Qualifying

Sunday 29 November

14:10 GMT / 17:10 Local Time – Race

How can I keep up with the action?

Follow all the action at the Checkered Flag with our extensive coverage, quotes and analysis of every session of the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.

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