Monthly Archives: March 2016

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix Drivers Press Conference Transcript


Here is the official transcript from the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

Pascal Wehrlein (Manor), Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso), Romain Grosjean (Haas), Felipe Massa (Williams), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) & Fernando Alonso (McLaren)

Fernando, we have to start with you: three times a winner here in Bahrain, but clearly we have to deal with the accident in Melbourne and the aftermath. You aren’t racing here this weekend. Tell us the process that led to that decision and how disappointed you feel?

Fernando Alonso (referred hereafter as FA):- Well, yeah, a little bit disappointed obviously. We want to race. We are competitors, drivers and we like competition, and we love the sport. So when you come here and you cannot even try it’s always sad, but it’s understandable and I respect the decision. I try until the last moment to be able to race, at least to try in the practice.

There has been some painful days, with some pain at home, but I was ready to go through this pain somehow in the car and make sure I could race, because at the end of the day the pain is manageable if you don’t think too much probably and [with] the adrenaline of driving, but there are some other risks that the doctors they think. So it’s a risk management that I understand, to minimise everything is the logical thing to do, so a little bit sad for that but it’s the only way to go.

So, looking forward, how optimistic that it will be fixed and that you will be able to race at the next round in China?

FA:- Well, you know, it’s not 100 per cent. There will be another test that I need to do in the next eight or ten days and after that test the FIA will evaluate again, as they did now. First of all is the safety and then the performance, so hopefully everything is OK but it’s something we need to see with the next test.

Thank you for that. Romain, coming to you, you’ve had some great days in Formula One, some emotional podiums and so on, including two right here in Bahrain, but where does that sixth place on Haas’ debut rank for you?

Romain Grosjean (referred hereafter as RG):- Well, it was a special race for us. We got a bit lucky with the red flag but we were unlucky on Saturday with the new qualifying format. It was a great debut, better than what we were expecting. It’s been one of those races that I will probably always remember, when I’m getting older and I tell the kids of my kids my stories. But I think it was good for everyone.

It was good for Formula One. It was good for the team. I think a brand new team coming and showing that it’s possible to score points at the first venue, it was a very good thing. And for all my guys and everyone that has been working so hard in the last two months, it was just a good morale boost and a confirmation that the car we are driving is probably one of the best I’ve ever driven.

Really? Because you did seem to have the pace to comfortably stay ahead of the Force, particularly after the restart. Is that about the level you think the team is at or will it fluctuate depending on circuit?

RG:- I think there is a lot we need to learn, there are a lot of things we could do better. We didn’t have any practice in Australia because of the rain and then the crash in the pit lane in FP3, so you know we put the car on track with barely any set-up work and guess where we should be, so I’m sure that whenever we get more running, more time in the car, there is more potential to be coming.

I’m not saying we’re going to be in the top five here this weekend, I’m just saying that it’s the beginning for the team. But generally I think we will have up and downs, but the potential is big.

Thank you. Pascal, welcome. You made your long-awaited Formula One debut in Australia, running as high as 13th for a while. Do you feel this car can get among the points this season?

Pascal Wehrlein (referred hereafter as PW):- I think so. I think it’s really depending on the track. Australia was great, especially in the race, my first lap was amazing and also the next few laps at the beginning were great. I could follow the other cars easily, so that was good, definitely, yeah.

It’s interesting looking at the tyre selections for each race weekend from Pirelli, once again you’ve gone for a large quantity of medium tyres. What’s the strategy behind that?

PW:- I think the first things is that we want to drive a lot in free practice because we still have to learn a lot about the car and you know that’s easier with the medium tyres.

OK, thank you. Felipe, coming to you, fifth place in the opening round in Melbourne, behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Is that about where Williams are at at this stage? Do you think you might get ahead of Red Bull this weekend, on this track?

Felipe Massa (referred hereafter as FM):- Well, I think it was a good start for us. It was more or less where we expected to be. It’s also true that Red Bull was quite strong in the race and even the Toro Rosso; they were pretty strong. It was quite a big fight with them, including qualifying. I really hope here we can be in front.

I hope we can be more competitive on this track, because we know that we are going to have a big fight with these two teams and maybe some other teams as well. I think we saw that Mercedes and Ferrari they were pretty strong, as expected. I hope this track can be better for us.

Like Fernando, you have a good record here, you are a two-time winner on this racetrack. Tell us what you like about it, tell us about the challenge of this place?

FM:- Well, it’s a very nice track. I like to drive here. You have some nice corners but also some very tricky corners that you need a good car in terms of braking, in terms of traction as well. But it’s a nice track. I had some good races. Always when you have good races on a type of track, you enjoy, so this is what I’m looking forward to have another one on Sunday.

Coming to the championship leader, Nico Rosberg: celebrating the 10th anniversary of your Formula One debut right here in 2006. Melbourne made it four wins in a row, how big a psychological boots was it to get off to such a good start?

Nico Rosberg (referred hereafter as NR):- Yeah, of course it was a great start but it’s one race out of 21, so it’s really early days. But I’m really pleased with the car that we have. The team has done an incredible job to give us such a car again this year. It will be a great couple of races coming up for sure, but of course we are also looking closely at the battle with Ferrari.

Well, one possible weakness appeared to be the race starts. Once again a problem for both Mercedes cars, the Ferraris got ahead. What steps have you and the team taken to address that?

NR:- Yeah, for sure we’ve worked on it, but it’s a challenge this year, because it’s one clutch lever that we’re only allowed to use due to the rule changes. So it has made it more difficult but it’s definitely an area we are focusing a lot.

Max, coming to you finally. Positives from Melbourne: you were the first teenager for 55 years to qualify in the top five and also you personally went past the 50 championship points mark. But the negative, obviously, was the dispute over the Toro Rosso pit stop strategy. What lessons did you and the team take from that?

Max Verstappen (referred hereafter as MV):- First of all, I think we had a great qualifying, so we could be very happy with that. But of course the race didn’t pan [out] like we wanted to. But, yeah, we analysed a lot of things and hopefully we can try to come back stronger here even though I think this track hasn’t suited us so far in the history but we try to make the most of it that’s for sure.

Both the Toro Rossos were right up the front in qualifying in Melbourne. Has the pace of this year’s car exceeded your expectations after testing?

MV:- Well, I wanted to be there, so yeah, we just kept working hard, we saw the improvements during the winter time of course but you still want to see how it goes on track and in winter testing you don’t know exactly where you are. But I think in the end to be P5 in qualifying was definitely a great achievement by the whole team, especially with such a short winter for us.


Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports) Fernando, what are the extent of your injuries that have prevented you from driving this weekend and what are the risks that you mentioned that the doctors brought up about keeping out this weekend?

FA:- Well, just to summarise a little bit. Last week I was OK Sunday – some knee pain but not big things. I had the green light from the doctors to leave the track and everything was OK. On Monday, I had a little bit of overall pain but nothing too serious. I flew back. I arrived in Spain and the pain was similar or a little bit more, so we decided to do a proper check – a CT scan. I had a small pneumothorax on the lung.

So we took the advice from the doctors to relax at home and make everything come to normal and we repeat the scan last Monday. The pneumothorax is gone more or less but I have some rib fractures, so because of that there are the risks of driving, because Formula One is a very unique sport, a unique position on the car, and the G-Forces that a fracture could move into the lung as well, so yeah, it’s not like a broken leg or broken arm, that you can deal with the pain, this is in the chest where some organs are there and we cannot do much more.

Q: (Alex Popov – NTV/Match TV) For all the drivers, about the start in Australia. How much it was different to last year considering it’s just one clutch lever and slightly less preparation for a bite point on the starting grid. And for Pascal, if you can compare the start to DTM.

PW:- DTM is completely different. We have the clutch pedal with the left foot, so it’s different, that one. Starting an F1 race, I only know this system. My start in Melbourne was really, really good and I made up seven positions – so I cannot complain about it!

MV:- I think quite similar. I had a good start so I was very happy about it but in general it just asks a bit more practice – but you can deal with it.

RG:- I think I prefer the old-style one. Why? Because it was more about the precision of the reaction time and at the end it didn’t change much of the procedure. I think some teams have done it better than others. We’re a brand new team and still have some work to be done. We didn’t have a great start but at the end it won’t change much.

FM:- I think it’s a little bit more difficult to do but I would say that after one or two, three races it will be similar to before.

Nico, you spoke about the single clutch in your previous answer. Anything more to add?

NR:- It’s a good challenge. It makes it more difficult, there will be a bit more variability in the starts.


FA:- The same comments. More challenging, so it’s good. There will be some random performance so it’s good for the show.

Q: (Abhishek Takle – Mid-Day) Question to Fernando. Fernando, I just want to get your thoughts… every time you step into a Formula One car you take a risk. At what point does the risk outweigh the reward? In terms of the risk you’re taking and the performance you’re getting back for it. If I could have your thoughts on that. Thank you.

FA:- I think we don’t think about the risk at any point. Even you see it now, I have broken ribs and I’m here with some pain, not easy to sleep sometimes, depending which movements. I would like to sit in the car and see how is the pain in the car and how to enjoy driving the car. So you understand that this is motorsport and anything can happen. Everytime you jump in the car. But yeah, you love it so much it’s completely transparent, the risk, when you jump in the car.

Q: (Marco Canseco – Marca) For Fernando. You have started last season and this season with two accidents. Are you worried by that?

FA:- No, not really. I’ve been very lucky all my career. This is my sixteenth Formula One year and it’s normal that you have accidents here and there. It happened unfortunately in the last two years, two accidents that I miss one race. The last one in Australia that probably you all saw. It was quite a big impact, so I knew that it was risky, my possibility to race in Bahrain because it was only ten days from the big shunt.

I tried my best, as I said, the team did a fantastic job preparing the car for this race, so I wanted to try until the last moment. I flew last night, I arrived this morning, I wanted to at least try to practice but I understand also the position. But now, yeah, I want to stay here for the weekend, help Stoffel because it’s a good opportunity for him and help the team – because I love what I do. I love Formula One and racing and I will miss this race but I want to learn from the outside also, how the team prepare the race and how are the actions around the new qualifying system, the race itself, the strategy, the pitstop moments.

I want to get involved in everything from the outside because it could help me on the inside at the next race. It’s a step forward that we need to do together and yeah, hopefully help the team because I’m very thankful for the job they did last week.

Q: (Ralf Bach – Auto Bild) A question to Fernando, and then a question for Pascal. Fernando, your broken ribs, have they something to do with the g-forces of the accident or maybe with the broken seat?

FA:- Just the g-forces of the accident. The impact.

And Pascal, you see how quick it can be that a second reserve driver has to make the race. Would you be prepared in the Silver Arrow case to drive in this car at once from the mental side?

PW:- In general. Of course, I’m a member of the team since 2014 and I’ve done many days in the simulator and also a few tests and I was travelling to all the races last year so of course, I’m prepared.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) After the Australian Grand Prix the GPDA published a fairly hard-hitting open letter. To all of you, are you members of the GPDA, do you agree with the contents and, if so, what would you like to see changed?


FA:- I think the letter says everything. We love the sport. We love it so much that maybe we think the last couple of years we’ve been a little bit moving left and right with not a clear direction and we want to help in any of the things the fans want, the drivers want, the sponsors want, that are quite clear in some of the things we’ve been searching in the last couple of years.

Yeah, it’s just a letter of… a supporting letter from all of the drivers that we do care about our sport and we would like to get involved in some of the decisions or in some of the things that we could help somehow. It’s a start. It’s the way the sport is moving in the last couple of years, maybe we don’t see it completely right.


NR:- Yes, we’re all united on this opinion because we love the sport and can see the fans are criticising some aspects that we could do better. We could be even more exciting as a sport and we want to question whether or not the F1 governance cannot review the process in which decisions are made in all these things to try to get it to a point where we can get some better decisions done and become a more exciting sport.

There’s recent examples, with this qualifying where the fans are just at home and they’re not happy with it. We’re racing for the fans. Mostly for the fans. That’s the examples that are now the recent cases. Even the rules for next year. We’re putting on more downforce although actually we should be trying to help overtaking.

More downforce is known for making overtaking and following other cars more difficult. It’s not necessarily the right way. With all of these things we are saying that we would like to be more involved, have more of a say, us drivers – so let’s see where this takes us.


FM:- The same. I totally agree with both of them. All the drivers are united on this letter that you guys saw. We just want to be part of… changing. To improve the sport.


RG:- I think Fernando resumed it pretty well: he has broken ribs and he wanted to race because we love the sport. We are fans of Formula One. We want it to be the best that it can be with the best drivers, the best car, the best shows. As Nico says, right now the decisions haven’t been so good in terms of fans replies, or media or the sponsors. We just want to help the sport that we love more than anything.

Max – did you play a part in this?

MV:- I have nothing to add. I think it’s all explained very clear. I’m not a member.


PW:- I just joined Formula One. I always dreamed of Formula One, then when you join it you want it to be on the best peak it could be. Definitely everyone is not 100 per cent happy today and we just have to improve that.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, it was obvious that after such an accident you wanted to leave the car as soon as possible.  Two questions on that: first of all, in such a moment, do you have the time and the nerves to watch whether the car could be under electrical power, because we saw this totally destroyed car, cables hanging out, hydraulic lines hanging out? Maybe there was still high voltage in the car? And the second thing is, do you think that with the halo fitted, you would have still been able to escape as quickly as you did in Melbourne?

FA:- First question: I didn’t see anything. You just want to get out of the car and at that point you just want to put your feet on the ground and walk away. This is the only thing you are thinking at that moment. The halo system? I don’t know if I could have got out of the car as quickly as I did.

I guess so, because I’m sure the system is designed to look at all the scenarios but probably my only concern when I was rolling over was just to avoid hitting the head, because obviously I was very tight from the belts and I was flying but I didn’t feel any risk at all in the middle of the accident, apart from to my head, that I wanted not to crash with anyone, so the halo was probably very welcome in my accident as well. I would avoid that concern, when I’m flying.

Q: (Daniel Johnson – The Telegraph) Fernando and Nico, just going back to the GPDA letter, you talked about the processes and the governance structure, what about the people at the top, because there’s a structure we work within but there’s also the people trying to bring in new rules? So can I just ask you specifically, do you both have your full confidence in Bernie, Jean to move the sport in the direction that you think it should go in?

NR:- It would be inappropriate now to mention any names or criticise any individuals or even compliment individuals, it’s just that we know that it’s not perfect the way it is, it could be better and so it needs to be reviewed and that’s what we’re trying to encourage.

FA:- Yeah, as Nico said, it’s not a problem of any names. Actually I think Bernie has been looking to protect the sport all the time and to improve the sport and to improve the show. I think Bernie, Jean, everyone is doing their best but the system is somehow a little bit old in terms of decisions.

As Nico pointed out before, the new qualifying system, also the new rules, these radio restrictions now that seem very attractive for you guys and from the outside, it’s a little bit contradictory when we have a very complex car, very complex technology with hybrid engines, with everything to manage and now we cannot have any information about the cars.

You cannot give us a spaceship and then not tell us anything when we are there. These kind of things are making drivers a little bit confused and a little bit… we need to help in the future for Formula One.

Q: (Jon McEvoy – Daily Mail) Fernando first, have you re-run the accident in your mind? Do you get nightmares about it?

FA:- No, I don’t have any nightmares, I just have pain sometimes. As you all know, a broken rib is painful when you make some movements but apart from that, zero nightmares and really looking forward to jumping in the car and sad to miss this opportunity. The team told me ‘you will fly back home’ and I said no way. I want to hear the cars, I want to help Stoffel, I want to see the new updates in the car, how they work so this completely fine on that.

Q: (Jon McEvoy – Daily Mail) And to the three drivers in the front row, not linked to that, do you feel that all the drivers should be members of the GPDA and that there would be a greater solidarity if everyone was a member?

FA:- Yes, it would be nice to have all the drivers inside the GPDA but I have to say also that in all the important decisions that we make in the last couple of years we are all united, it’s not that being part of the GPDA doesn’t make the group united in the important things. Yeah, it would be nice but we will see.

NR:- Yeah, this letter was signed by the GPDA but it is all the drivers, the whole grid, and that’s what counts.

FM:- Yes, I’m not a member but I totally agree with the letter and the help that the drivers can give to Formula One.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Back to the GPDA situation, I’m sorry gentlemen, but on the Friday before Melbourne, Charlie Whiting suggested that the drivers weren’t using every single platform and forum available to them to voice their opinions and he gave examples, for example a visit to Pirelli to which not all the drivers went, to a meeting at testing in Barcelona, not all the drivers went. He also said that on the Friday in drivers’ briefing you have plenty of opportunities to voice your opinions. So what other platforms do you actually need, why aren’t these enough?

RG:- I was in the Barcelona meeting, I couldn’t make it to Pirelli for sponsors’ event. I think that’s unfortunately our lives and it’s going to be very hard to get all the drivers to come to meetings outside the paddock. I think we have been trying to raise our voices through different methods and I think Alex and the directors of the GPDA have been trying different ways before the letter was sent.

I think again, all the drivers have been united on that subject and everyone is willing to help things to get better. We’re not saying we’ve got a magic fix, we’re not saying we’ve got the solution but we’re just trying to help the best we can.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Fernando, which side are your broken ribs? On your left side. And I just wondered if there were any concerns whether you would recover from this? There are no worries that you won’t recover from these ribs?

FA:- No, I will recover. I am already recovering from the pneumothorax and the problem is that the rib is just too fresh, it’s still not completely ‘glued’, let’s say. This thing could be a potential problem, very very low risk, also I didn’t have any respiratory issues at any time, so the risks are very very small but I understand that we all want zero risk. It’s just a question of time that the rib goes a little bit together and with that we will be OK. The next ten days should be OK for this but we cannot guarantee;  maybe ten, maybe five, maybe twelve. It’s just a normal rib.

Q: (Ralf Bach – Auto Bild motorsport) Me Again …Question to all the drivers: normally if you write a letter you want to see a reaction but what will you do when there’s no reaction at all?

NR-: Well, let’s see. It’s a process. It’s a process where we want to try and integrate ourselves a bit more into the whole thing. Let’s see, step by step.

FA:- Yeah, it’s a process and I think it’s very early days and I’m sure that in the next couple of steps or in the next decisions, I’m sure that we will have a part.

FM:- As they say, it’s a process. I was in every meeting that happened before, even with the FIA, with Pirelli, I was everywhere and I think we need to try and give our opinion and this is part of trying to be closer to the decisions in the future. It’s a process. I hope it will work and I believe it will.

Q: (Christopher Joseph – Chicane) Nico, you mentioned in some of your previous answers the fact that you feel that the decision-making process is flawed. Do you think then that this letter is the first step perhaps in integrating the drivers’ opinions and perhaps giving the drivers more say in the governance of Formula One?

NR:- First of all, I didn’t use those words. I think I just said ‘for sure it can be done better.’ We’re driving those cars, we know, we have a really good opinion on what would be best to make the racing more exciting. It makes sense for us to be more integrated into the whole process.

Alonso respects the FIA decision that allows him not to race in Bahrain


In an interview with the media today, Fernando Alonso says he was willing to drive through the pain of several rib fractures in Bahrain but understands why the FIA has not allowed him to race this weekend.

Alonso has been ruled out of the desert race on medical grounds after two sets of CT scans on his chest, a mandatory test which followed his huge accident at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

In his interview with the media today, Alonso revealed he suffered broken ribs in the accident but wanted to try and race regardless. Alonso said the following:-

‘A little bit disappointed, obviously. We want to race, we are competitive drivers and we like competition and love the sport. So when you come here and you cannot even try it is always sad.

‘It’s understandable and I respect the decision. I tried until the last moment to be able to race and at least to try in the practice. There’s been some painful days, with some pain at home, but I was ready to go through this pain in the car somehow and make sure I could race.

‘At the end of the day the pain is manageable if you don’t think too much and the adrenaline of driving. There are some other risks the doctors think about. It’s a risk factor I understand and to minimise everything is the logical thing. I’m a little bit sad for that but it’s the only way to go.’

Even though Alonso was ready to go through the pain this weekend, he simply cannot ignore the medical advise he has been given and has got to properly recover from his injuries. Of course Alonso will not be happy to be racing this weekend but he has to do what the doctors tell him in order to get back into the car as soon as possible.

Further on in his interview, Alonso also revealed he had a pneumothorax (which is air in the cavity between the lungs and the chest wall) and this means that he risked serious injury if he crashed again this weekend. The Spaniard will have another test ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix but there is no certainty he will pass.

When Alonso was asked about the next test before the Chinese GP, he knows that this would be happening and is more concerned about his safety right now. Alonso added the following:-

‘It’s not 100 percent, it will be another test I need to do in the next eight or 10 days. After that test the FIA will evaluate again as they did now. First of all is the safety.’

And I would have to agree with Alonso here, the first thing that is important for Alonso is that he is medically safe to race and do the job that he loves so much. At the end of the day, he is accepted to do whatever it takes to race but it shouldn’t be to the paramount of his safety which at the end of the day is all that matters. I wish Fernando a speedy recovery.

Stoffel Vandoorne to make F1 debut this weekend in Bahrain


It has been announced via Twitter this morning by the McLaren-Honda team that their reserve driver 2015 GP2 Champion Stoffel Vandoorne will replace Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain GP and making his debut in F1 after Alonso was not cleared by doctors to race on medical grounds.

With Alonso being told by the doctors not to race this weekend after there was “insufficient signs” that stopped him to compete in the race this weekend, the McLaren Honda team issued a tweet stating that Vandoorne will be making his F1 debut this weekend at the Bahrain GP as follows:-

Even though it is a shame that Alonso will not be racing this weekend in Bahrain and I hope that he recovers quickly from the incident in Melbourne, it is great news for Stoffel. He has been working so hard for this and he will grab this opportunity with both hands and give the best performance that he can as well.

If you didn’t already know, I am big fan of Vandoorne and I truly believe that he is more than talented enough to be in Formula One and will do as well as possible this weekend when he makes his debut in F1. We have seen how quick, consistent and fast he is as a driver in GP2 after winning the title last season and I think he might just surprise a few people this weekend with how quick he truly is.

I do wish Stoffel the best of luck this weekend and I will be watching him very closely indeed.

Alonso not cleared to race in Bahrain


It has been announced this morning that McLaren Honda driver Fernando Alonso has not been cleared by the FIA to race in Bahrain this weekend.

In an statement issued to the media this morning, the FIA confirmed the news as follows:-

“Following an examination undertaken this morning at the Bahrain International Circuit Medical Centre, it has been decided that McLaren Honda F1 team driver Fernando Alonso should not take part in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

“Two sets of chest CT scans were compared and it was decided on safety grounds that there was insufficient resolution of the signs that allowed him to compete on safety grounds.

“A repeat chest scan has bee requested before the Chinese Grand Prix and the results will be considered before allowing him to race there.”

With this announcement, it is to be expected that McLaren Honda reserve and test driver Stoffel Vandoorne will take Alonso’s place this weekend in Bahrain, even though an announcement hasn’t been made as of yet.

2016 Track Preview; Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir

All rights reserved to F1 Mix.

All rights reserved to F1 Mix.

Nico Rosberg wins the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. Also Grosjean, Ricciardo, Bottas, Massa, Verstappen and Sainz Jr managed to score some much needed points for their respective teams.

The Bahrain International Circuit which is located in Sakhir in the southern part of the Kingdom of Bahrain, was purpose built for Formula 1 and is considered to be one of the safest tracks in the world thanks to the giant run-off areas.

The track’s width and layout also encourages safe overtaking. The track is 5.41 kilometers long, the race consisting of 57 laps, giving a total distance of 308.24 kilometers. It is a curvy circuit with lots of kinks and gradient changes that are quite large in some areas. Braking late at the end of a long straight into the right-handed hairpin turn 4 might provide the best overtaking opportunity. Also, turn 1 after the start/finish straight is a great overtaking point.

The Bahrain circuit has one of the most unique surroundings on the Formula One calendar due to its location in the middle of a desert. Sand on the circuit can result in loss of grip in the turns and additional thermal problems, if it gets into the car.

The engines air filters are thoroughly checked and more often changed than usual to avoid the intrusion of sand particles. Rumours says that organizers are trying to keep the sand away by spraying an adhesive on the sand around the track. Surprisingly the gravel used for building the race track was imported all the way from Wales.

The 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix, won by Michael Schumacher for Ferrari just 1.3 seconds ahead of his Brazilian team-mate Rubens Barrichello, made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East.

Drinking alcohol is not banned in Bahrain, but in deference to the Bahrain’s Islamic rulers, winners of the Bahrain Grand Prix do not get to spray champagne on the podium. Instead the race organisers provide the drivers with Waard, a local non-alcoholic beverage made from rosewater and pomegranates.

Here are the facts and figures going into this race weekend in Sakhir…

Facts and Figures

  • Bahrain has hosted the Grand Prix since 2004 when it was added to the calendar.
  • Fernando Alonso is the most successful driver to win the Grand Prix with three wins
  • Ferrari are the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with four wins
  • Race distance: 308.23km (191.53 miles)
  • Number of turns:15
  • Top speed: 299kph
  • Lap record: Michael Schumacher- Ferrari (2004)- 1.30.252


Last Five Winners from the Bahrain Grand Prix:-

  • 2010-Fernado Alonso
  • 2012-Sebastian Vettel
  • 2013- Sebastian Vettel
  • 2014- Lewis Hamilton
  • 2015- Lewis Hamilton


My predictions for the top 5 finishers of the Bahrain Grand Prix:-

In no particular order, here’s my predictions on who the top five finishers of the Bahrain Grand Prix will be:-

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Felipe Massa

With regards to my prediction, I believe that the drivers I have selected have the best possible chance to finish in Bahrain. However, we could have a surprise if we get another race last year and if that is the case; then I believe either Nico Hulkenberg orSergio Perez could be in the top five.

All eyes will be upon Mercedes at the front who have shown in Melbourne that they have a fast, consistent and reliable car once again and are the favourites heading into this weekend in Bahrain. It is now up to Williams, Ferrari, Sauber, Red Bull, Force India and Toro Rosso to improve and catch up to them and let’s hope that McLaren have made small improvements during the winter and can finish the race.

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted coverage of every Practice session, Qualifying and race for the Grand Prix (and every race of the season) and Chanel Four also are showing coverage, details for both are below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 11.45am and 3.45pm [Replays throughout Friday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 12.45am and 3pm [Replays throughout Saturday], Sunday (Race) 3.00pm
  • Channel Four :- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 11.55am and 3.55pm, Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 12.55pm and 3pm, Sunday (Race) 3pm.

2016 Bahrain GP Press Conference Schedule

Formula 1 Grand Prix, Bahrain, Sunday Race

Here’s the official press conference schedule ahead of the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix as provided by the FIA as follows:-

Thursday, 31st March, 3pm (12pm GMT)

  • Fernando Alonso (McLaren),
  • Romain Grosjean (Haas)
  • Felipe Massa (Williams)
  • Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  • Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso)
  • Pascal Wehrlein (Manor)

Friday, 1st April, 8pm (4pm GMT)

  • Robert Fernley (Force India)
  • Paul Hembery (Pirelli)
  • Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber)
  • Dave Ryan (Manor)
  • Franz Tost (Toro Rosso)
  • Claire Williams (Williams)

Saturday 2nd April

Post qualifying press conference from top three qualifiers

Sunday 3rd April

Post race press conference from top three finishers

Alonso needs medical clearance to race in Bahrain this weekend


It was announced this morning that McLaren Honda driver Fernando Alonso still needs to be assessed by FIA doctors today before he is given the green light to race at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Alonso was involved in a heavy crash at the season-opening race in Australia two weeks ago after clipping the back of Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas, sending him into the gravel and causing his car to flip. Alonso walked away without serious injury, and it was confirmed on Wednesday that he would be travelling to Bahrain.

In a statement issued by the team, Alonso said the following about racing in Bahrain this weekend as follows:-

‘I’m very pleased to be heading to Bahrain after the crash in Australia. I’ve spent some time resting and I can’t wait to get back in the car.’

However, he will still have to be cleared by FIA medics before he can race as was confirmed by a McLaren Honda spokesperson as follows:-

‘As is always the case after a significant accident, Fernando will have a routine meeting with the FIA doctors in the Formula One paddock on Thursday morning.’

It is not expected that Alonso will have any trouble passing the medical, but reports in the British media have suggested that McLaren reserve Stoffel Vandoorne will be heading to Bahrain as a precaution which would make sense given the fact that Vandoorne is their reserve driver for this season.

F1 elimination qualifying system to remain at the Bahrain GP


It was announced yesterday that Formula One will retain the live elimination qualifying format, in full, for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The derided change to qualifying had a farcical debut in Australia, with team bosses agreeing to get rid of the current system for the second race in Bahrain. However, Thursday’s meeting of the Strategy Group failed to reach the unanimous agreement required for a rule change.

This is the new qualifying format that F1 has at the moment:-

It had been suggested F1 adopted a hybrid format for the next race, keeping Q1 and Q2 in the live elimination format but changing Q3 to the rules that existed between 2010 and 2015. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who was all for the revised format and spoke highly of it confirmed the system will be reviewed after its second running in Bahrain.

In a statement to the media yesterday, Ecclestone confirmed that the system is staying the same for now as follows:-

‘The outcome I think is that we are going to stay as we are. After Bahrain, we’re going to have a look at it.’

The inability of F1’s decision-makers to implement change comes just a day after drivers wrote an open letter to complain about the “ill-structured and absolete” system of governance, which it said “reflects negatively on our sport”. On Thursday Ecclestone wrote back saying he agreed  with the criticisms and asked for drivers to propose solutions.

So what’s next in this saga? More changes that reflect badly on the sport we know and love? I would say more than likely, it’ll only get worse before it gets better.

Pirelli’s ultra soft tyre to make its debut at the Monaco GP


It was announced yesterday that Pirelli will debut its newest compound, the ultra-soft tyre, at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix.

This season Pirelli brings three compounds to races instead of two, a rule change brought in for 2016 to widen the scope of available strategies to teams and drivers. Unsurprisingly for F1’s famous Monte Carlo race; Pirelli has brought the three softest tyres in its range, which includes the purple-striped ultra-soft tyre designed primarily for street circuits.

Of the 13 sets available to drivers, three (one of each compound) are set aside by Pirelli. This means the ultra-soft will be set aside for qualifying and one set of soft and super-soft tyres will be set aside for use in the race.

Teams and drivers will pick the remaining ten sets themselves. Of the three compounds available, drivers must use at least two during the grand prix.

The ultra-soft had minimal running during winter testing as it did not suit Barcelona’s Circuit de Catlunya, meaning most teams have limited data of  running the new compound.

The Monaco race runs between May 27-29.

Sky Sports get exclusive deal to host F1 until 2024


It was announced this evening that Sky Sports has extended its deal to remain “the home of Formula 1” in the UK and Ireland until 2024 in a deal which will bring to an end live free-to-air coverage of the sport.

The subscription-based broadcaster originally secured the exclusive broadcast rights to Formula 1 for the 2012 season but agreed a deal with the BBC, which permitted the free-to-air broadcaster to show ten races live and the remainder as a delayed highlights package.

That same deal has now been taken up by Channel 4, with the UK broadcaster seeing out the remainder of the BBC’s original seven-year contract.

Sky’s new deal will eventually put an end to live free-to-air coverage once Channel 4’s deal ends in 2018 – though highlights from every race will still be shown on a free-to-air basis according to Sky. It’s not clear how exactly this will happen.

In a statement to the media this evening, Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports said the following about the new deal as follows:-

‘This is a brilliant deal that takes Sky’s partnership with F1 to the next level. Since 2012, we have demonstrated unrivalled commitment to F1, offering fans innovations including a dedicated channel and the very best broadcasting talent.

‘We are absolutely delighted that we are strengthening our coverage for viewers even further, with live and exclusive F1 from 2019 and the chance to watch in Ultra High Definition for the first time from next season. We are pleased to support F1 and look forward to working with them to progress, develop and enhance coverage of the championship during the agreement.’

In his own statement to the media this evening, Formula One Group CEO Bernie Ecclestone added the following:-

‘I am delighted that we will continue to work together. Sky’s commitment to the sport and standard of coverage is second to none.’

As I’ve grown up, I have been lucky to watch F1 on ITV, BBC and now Sky while others have had to rely on the free coverage that is just as good as Sky. And that isn’t a bad thing. End of the day, you should have the choice to either pay or watch for free and FOM need to realise that they will lose more fans yet again by what they have chosen today.

Overall, I will admit that even though Sky’s coverage is good and yes I do pay for it as an extra channel on my family’s Sky package, I do many people simply cannot afford to pay the price to get the channel on their televisions. And with the economic climate, people have other important utensils such as gas and electric and have to put them before this.

The message is clear to the FIA and FOM, this is the wrong decision and you will lose even more fans as a result of this; instead of attracting them, please reconsider.