Lando Norris says this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix around the outer track of the Bahrain International Circuit is going to be different to what everyone is used to, and he expects a crazy race on Sunday evening under the floodlights.
For a third time in 2020, due to the calendar reshuffle caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Formula 1 will race at the same venue for two consecutive weekends, but unlike at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone earlier in the year, they will be faced with a different track configuration this weekend.
The McLaren F1 Team driver had a strong Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, taking an excellent fourth place finish, and with the team fighting for third place in the Constructors’ Championship, Norris says it is important the team maintain their focus and push on again this weekend.
“We’re racing under the lights again in Bahrain, but with a completely new track layout,” said Norris. “The outer circuit is definitely going to be different to what we’re used to in F1 which is exciting.
“It could be quite a crazy race with not so many corners, several long straights and lap-times of less than a minute. I’m sure it’ll provide some great racing during the 87 laps.
“We had a good race last weekend that showed the hard work everyone in the team is putting in both at track and back home. We’ve got two more races to go, so we’re going to knuckle down, keep focusing on ourselves and keep pushing hard to perform as best as we possibly can.”
“The outer circuit in Bahrain is not your typical F1 track” – Carlos Sainz Jr.
Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. also enjoyed a positive Bahrain Grand Prix, with the Spaniard climbing from fifteenth on the grid following a technical issue in Qualifying to follow Norris home in fifth.
Sainz believed he could have scored an even better result had he not suffered the braking issue on Saturday, and he hopes for a cleaner weekend this time around on the shorter, sub-one-minute lap at Sakhir.
“The team had a good outing last weekend that saw us score a decent amount of points,” said Sainz. “I felt comfortable in the car since Friday and we carried that feeling all weekend.
“The comeback from P15 was great, but I really look forward to a weekend with no unfortunate surprises like in quali and especially no dangerous events like the one we saw on Sunday with Romain.
“The outer circuit in Bahrain is not your typical F1 track. Even though we just raced here, we’re going to have to adjust the set-up quite a bit for this new challenge. We never really race on circuits with mainly long straights and only a few corners.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out in F1 cars as I’d expect there to be consistent flat-out racing. Hopefully we can get to grips with things quickly and start the weekend strong.”
“It’s important for us to remain focused with no time to be complacent” – Andreas Seidl
Andreas Seidl, the Team Principal at McLaren, says it is important for the team to maintain their focus and avoid any complacency as they bid to improve their chances of finishing third in the Constructors’ Championship in 2020.
McLaren are involved in a tight battle that also involves the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team and Renault DP World F1 Team outfits, while Scuderia Ferrari cannot be ruled out despite sitting forty points behind them with just two races remaining.
Looking ahead to the Sakhir Grand Prix, Seidl says finding the right set-up on a track that is not the standard Formula 1 races on will be key, and he hopes that Norris and Sainz would be in position to capitalise on any opportunity that may come their way.
“It’s week two of the triple-header as we stay in Bahrain but face a completely new track,” said Seidl. “It’s important for us to remain focused with no time to be complacent, as we turn our full attention to racing on the outer circuit in Bahrain this weekend.
“The circuit looks to have interesting characteristics that differ from what we raced on last time out, with fast straights and fewer corners. The track’s short length and high-speed nature could see lap times of sub-60 seconds, which is something we’re not accustomed to in Formula 1. This also comes with the challenge of adjusting the set-up to find the optimum level of downforce for such a high-speed track.
“Our priorities remain the same as we head into the final two races of the season: continue to focus on ourselves, optimise the cars’ performance, stay on top of reliability and take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves.”
McLaren Offer Messages of Support to Grosjean and Hamilton
Days after the horror crash for Romain Grosjean, the McLaren drivers and Team Principal were all wishing the Frenchman well in his recovery. They also were quick to wish Lewis Hamilton a fast recovery from his positive coronavirus test, with the Briton missing this weekend’s race as a result.
“First of all, it’s great to see the messages from Romain and that he’s doing ok after his accident last Sunday,” said Seidl. “Everyone at McLaren is also wishing Lewis a speedy recovery after testing positive for COVID.”
“It’s really great to see that Romain is recovering well,” said Norris. “I’m also wishing Lewis all the best and a quick recovery after hearing the news that he tested positive for coronavirus. Hopefully, they’ll both be back racing soon.”
Sainz added: “I’m very happy to see that Romain is doing well and has been discharged from hospital, but saddened to read the news yesterday about Lewis testing positive for COVID. We’ll miss both of them this weekend at the track and I really hope they have a swift recovery.”