Dave Robson, the Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams Racing, says this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix should see a more familiar event, with the last few races being held in autumnal conditions on unexpected European circuits.
The past three events have been at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal, Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Italy and Intercity Istanbul Park in Turkey, none of which were on the original 2020 schedule. All were added due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the cancellation of a number of events across the globe.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was initially set to race in March, but it was rearranged for this coming weekend as part of two races at the Bahrain International Circuit.
“After the recent run of races at unexpected tracks and in the cool conditions of the European autumn, we now return to more familiar territory in Bahrain,” said Robson. “The weather and the track surface should be more predictable than at the previous event in Turkey, and it should be possible to work through more testing than was practical at Istanbul. That said, there could be some rain around over the weekend.
“The first of the two races in Bahrain is on the familiar Grand Prix circuit with qualifying and the race both taking place in the early evening. The tyre compounds are from the middle of Pirelli’s range and should be well suited to the cool evening conditions.
“As always in Bahrain, FP1 and FP3 are a little more challenging as they take place in the afternoon, meaning that FP2 is the most important test session of the weekend.”
Robson is hoping for a more straightforward weekend for the team in Bahrain as they bid to secure their first top ten finish of 2020. They will give test driver Roy Nissany a third free practice session of the year on Friday, with the Israeli driver taking over the car of George Russell.
Russell will resume his regular seat from Friday afternoon alongside Nicholas Latifi, but Robson is expecting Nissany to provide further good feedback and perform to a high level as he did at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
“Having struggled two weeks ago in Turkey, we are looking forward to a more straightforward weekend as we look to build on our recent performance improvements,” he said. “As well as the usual qualifying and race preparation, we have some test items to work through on Friday, which should help us with future car development programmes over the coming months.
“We welcome Roy Nissany back for his final FP1 running of the season. Roy has done an excellent job in his previous outings, especially given the complexities of the season that have arisen as a result of the COVID outbreak. We look forward to hearing Roy’s feedback on how the car has changed since his previous outing in Monza, and to his feedback on the test components.
“Not only will Roy contribute to the programme this weekend, but his time in the car will also serve as a useful precursor to his full day of running at the post-season track test in Abu Dhabi.”
“Bahrain is a very special track for me” – Roy Nissany
Nissany is looking forward to the experience of running in a Formula 1 car in Bahrain for the first time, although it won’t be the final time he runs in the FW43, with the Israeli set to participate in the post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix young driver test next month.
“Bahrain is a very special track for me, driving a Formula 1 car around it for the first time means a lot,” said Nissany. “It is always a great opportunity to develop on such a technical and demanding track.”
Russell, who is still seeking his first points in Formula 1 as he heads towards the end of his second season, says he is looking forward to the final three races of the season and he wants to end the year on a high.
“I am really looking forward to these final three races, it has been a very intense season and it has absolutely flown by,” said Russell. “Bahrain is a circuit that I always enjoy and is a race that takes place at dusk which is an exciting dynamic to experience again.
“There is plenty to look forward to and we want to end this season strong, to be satisfied and pleased with the job we have done before heading into the winter break and 2021.”
Latifi is looking forward to returning to Bahrain having participated in his first test with Williams at the track back in 2019, something he hopes will benefit him to get up to speed quickly.
“I am really excited to head to Bahrain for the next round of races,” said the Canadian. “The first Bahrain track is one that I have plenty of experience on, it is also the track where I had my first test with Williams last year, hopefully that will help me get up to speed better.
“It will be good to race in some warm weather, especially coming off the back of a tricky race in Turkey.”