After what feels like a long three and a half months, Formula 1 finally returns with the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
The season will start a little differently than normal this year. Instead of the season opener being the Australian Grand Prix, we are returning to Bahrain for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are tied on the most wins at the circuit with four a piece. If Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team were to win this year, they would tie with Scuderia Ferrari on six wins.
What happened at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix?
The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix brought us one of the most horrific accidents we’ve seen in the modern era of F1. Romain Grosjean’s car collied with a crash barrier just after turn three on the first lap of the race. The impact split his car in half and engulfed his car in flames. Grosjean was able to walk away from the crash and suffered from second degree burns on his hands.
The race was red flagged and suspended for eighty minutes while debris was cleared off the track and the crash barrier was fixed.
The race resumed one hour and thirty-five minutes after the incident. Immediately after the restart, Daniil Kvyat and Lance Stroll collided, flipping Stroll’s car upside down. Stroll was uninjured from the incident and Kyvat was handed a ten-second time penalty for his part in it.
Sergio Pérez was on course for his second podium of the year, but everything went wrong for him come lap 54. Pérez engine failed and caught fire, ultimately having to retire from the race.
The incident marred race was eventually won by Hamilton, claiming his ninety-fifth career win. Hamilton was shortly followed by Max Verstappen, who also took home the fastest lap of the race award. Alexander Albon was the final person on the podium with his second podium in his F1 career in third place.
The Bahrain International Circuit consists of fifteen corners, none are named bar one. Turn one is dedicated to seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.
The track is a total length of 5.412km with fifty-seven laps making a total race distance of 308.238km.
A track record from 2005 is still the one to beat. Pedro de la Rosa set the fastest time of 1:31.447 and no-ones been able to top it since.
Sectors, corners and DRS zones
Sector One consists of Turn 1 to Turn 4. Included is the pit lane straight and a DRS straight from Turn 3 to Turn 4.
Sector Two has the most corners. Starting just before Turn 5 and finishing after Turn 12. The second DRS zone is in this sector and is between Turn 10 and Turn 11.
The third and final sector has the less corners, running from Turn 13 to Turn 15. The final DRS Detection Zone starts just before Turn 14, ready for the cars to bomb it down the pit lane straight.
Pirelli have chosen the mid-ranged compounds for this race, the same tyres they used at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix. In previous years, the drivers used slightly hard compounds but found the C1 hard was hardly usable.
C2 will be the white-striped hard tyre, C3 the yellow-striped medium and C4 the red-striped soft.
Drivers will still have thirteen sets of tyres in total this year, even though practice has been reduced to three hours total, not four like previous years.
What should we look out for this year?
Testing didn’t really give us any clear indication, like most years, of who are going to be the stand outs. Mercedes had a sub-par three days of running but expect them to have all guns blazing come lights out on Sunday.
Red Bull Racing had a promising time at testing and showed that they could have the power to take it to Mercedes this year. New addition Pérez looked right at home in the RB16B and could be a strong contender, alongside Verstappen, for the world championship.
Rookie Yuki Tsunoda surprised us all when he put in some hot laps during his testing time. Being paired up with race winner Pierre Gasly at Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, he’ll want to show that he has got what it takes.
Not only is Tsunoda a rookie, but so are the two new additions at Uralkali Haas F1 Team. Haas have opted for a completely new duo and went to feeder series FIA Formula 2 to find them. Mick Schumacher joins the grid, following his dad’s footsteps. Nikita Mazepin was also promoted to Haas, completing their new look line up.
Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and Carlos Sainz Jr. also switched teams for the 2021 season. Ricciardo is joining Lando Norris at McLaren F1 Team, Vettel has moved to the rebranded Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team, pairing up with Stroll and Sainz Jr. swapped the papaya for red, joining Charles Leclerc at Ferrari. There’s going to be some hot team battles in the midfield this year.
What’s the schedule?
Friday 26 March
11:30 GMT / 14:30 Local Time – Free Practice one
15:00 GMT / 18:00 Local Time – Free Practice two
Saturday 27 March
12:00 GMT / 15:00 Local Time – Free Practice three
15:00 GMT / 18:00 Local Time – Qualifying
Sunday 28 March
16:00 GMT / 18:00 Local Time – Race
How can I keep up with all the action?
Follow all the action at the Checkered Flag with our extensive coverage, quotes and analysis of every session of the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.