2016 Bahrain Grand Prix Practice Review

Formula 1 Grand Prix, Bahrain, Sunday Race

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.

Heading into the weekend, 2015 GP2 Champion Stoffel Vandoorne is making his F1 debut this weekend to replace Fernando Alonso who has been ordered to recover from broken ribs sustained in Melbourne. To read more about this, please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/stoffel-vandoorne-to-make-f1-debut-this-weekend-in-bahrain/.

The race weekend begins now….

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP1.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP1.

Practice 1 saw Nico Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.32.294 followed closely by Lewis Hamilton with a gap of 0.505 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen was in third with a gap of 1.834 seconds behind, Daniel Ricciardo in fourth with a gap of 2.167 seconds behind and Daniil Kvyat in fifth with a gap of 2.247 seconds behind Rosberg.

Nico Hulkenberg is sixth with a gap of 2.307 seconds behind, Carlos Sainz Jr is seventh with a gap of 2.499 seconds behind, Max Verstappen is eighth with a gap of 2.566 seconds behind, Romain Grosjean is ninth with a gap of 2.706 seconds behind and Felipe Massa is tenth with a gap of 2.712 seconds behind Rosberg.

Practice 2 saw Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.31.001 followed closely by Hamilton with a gap of 0.241 seconds behind, Button was in third with a gap of 1.280 seconds behind, Max Verstappen in fourth with a gap of 1.405 seconds behind and Raikkonen in fifth with a gap of 1.451 seconds behind Rosberg.

Vetel is sixth with a gap of 2.307 seconds behind, Kvyat is seventh with a gap of 1.702 seconds behind, Bottas is eighth with a gap of 1.791 seconds behind, Ricciardo is ninth with a gap of 1.869 seconds behind and Felipe Massa is tenth with a gap of 1.872 seconds behind Rosberg.

With many teams and drivers choosing FP2 to define tyre choices and set ups for the race on Sunday, it was only during the last fifteen minutes of the session that Sebastian Vettel was going slowly around the track and informing his team via the radio “that he has lost drive.”

The Virtual Safety Car was then deployed as Vettel came to a standstill and helped the marshals push the car safely away from the circuit. We then also saw a front wing endplate coming off Romain Grosjean’s Haas which gave him a puncture after going too far off the rumblestrips and going off the track. This then called the Virtual Safety Car in order for the debris to be recovered off the track.

Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheets in FP3. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheets in FP3. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Practice 3 saw Vettel tops the timesheet with a time of 1.31.683 followed closely by Raikkonen with a gap of 0.040 seconds behind, Rosberg was in third with a gap of 0.421 seconds behind, Hamilton in fourth with a gap of 0.477 seconds behind and Bottas in fifth with a gap of 0.992 seconds behind Vettel.

Grosjean is sixth with a gap of 1.399 seconds behind, Kvyat is seventh with a gap of 1.430 seconds behind, Gutierrez is eighth with a gap of 1.654 seconds behind, Massa is ninth with a gap of 1.680 seconds behind and Ricciardo is tenth with a gap of 1.836 seconds behind Vettel.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Ricciardo, Kvyat, Vettel, Raikkonen and even Bottas or Massa also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Toro Rosso and Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

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