Joe’s Track Preview – The Bahrain International Circuit

Well, well, well, what an opening weekend Australia gave us.

From Mercedes’ ‘software bug’ which afforded Sebastian Vettel to sneak in for the win to Williams’ somewhat shocking showing towards the rear of the pack, the Melbourne Grand Prix served up a scintillating few days.

However, there’s no time to let the dust settle, as this weekend sees F1 hit the desert. This, of course, means it’s time for Joe’s Track Preview.

The Bahrain International Circuit played host to Formula 1’s first Middle Eastern venture in 2004, and bar 2011, it has welcomed the Grand Prix world to its door every year since.

The 15-turn, 5.4km ribbon of tarmac is built on an old camel farm, and offers a tasty mixture of long straights and slow corners; meaning the opportunity to overtake is never too far away – particularly at Turns 1, 3 and 11.

However, if you are into your high-speed barrier collisions, you probably won’t want to tune in on Sunday, as the tyre walls are about as close to the track as the Qatari state.

The excessive run-off areas bring a different obstacle, however; the infamous track limits. Cue some interesting in-race radio chatter and most likely a deflating ending as the anoraks rule supreme.

But, despite the structurally forgiving circuit, a lack of grip is expected to be a significant issue this weekend; more so in Friday practice. And although by Sunday’s race the rubber will have well a truly bedded in, the drop in temperatures as twilight hits and the lights go out could provoke some rather spectacular mistakes.

Due to the expected lack of traction, Pirelli has nominated the same tyre choices for that of last season; medium, soft and supersoft – although each compound is one step softer this year.

“Bahrain provides a very different challenge to Australia, but one of the things it has in common is that is quite a stop-start circuit characterised by longitudinal rather than lateral loads, which also means that it is rear-limited in particular”, Pirelli’s Head of Car Racing, Mario Isola, told F1’s official website.

“Because of the abrasive surface and also thermal degradation we would expect more than one pit stop for most drivers, especially as the entire tyre range is softer this year and Bahrain has produced a variety of interesting strategies in the past.

“The race schedule, with track temperatures that fall considerably during the evening, means that teams need to maximise their learning from the sessions that are most representative and draw the most effective conclusions from the unusual track conditions in the evening.”

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