2014 Bahrain Grand Prix: Weekend Preview

Who doesn’t love a back to back Formula One weekend! After Lewis Hamilton’s cruise to an ominous victory in Malaysia, the circus has arrived in Bahrain for the third race of the season. The Sakhir International Circuit will host its first twilight race this weekend, as it joins Singapore and Abu Dhabi in staging a race in the darkness, (at least in part.) The lights will inevitably add to the spectacle, but will the racing deliver. If the past two events are anything to go by, then most certainly.

Image Credit: _RYN3693 (via Flickr)

 

The Facts

  • The Bahrain Grand Prix was the first race to be held in the desert, at the pioneering Sakhir International Circuit.
  • The circuit has 15 corners and in clockwise in direction. 
  • The race on Sunday will be 57 laps in length
  • The inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix was held in 2004 and won by Micheal Schumacher in the Ferrari, with Ruberns Barrichello and Jenson Button joining the German on the podium. 
  • Drivers experience 3.57G at the apex of Turn six – the highest force the drivers face anywhere on the circuit.
  • The Bahrain Grand Prix marked the start of the season in 2006 and 2010. Where it was meant to host the first race in 2011, the event was cancelled.

Rewind 12 Months…

Sebastian Vettel claimed his second consecutive victory at the circuit, while Raikkonen and Grosjean followed the German home to make it an identical podium to the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix. A case of Deja Vu for all involved. Vettel was unbeatable on the day, demonstrating the sublime potential of the RB9, after making some spectacular manoeuvres early on too secure his place at the head of the field. After initially falling to third, Vettel immediately scythed his way back past Fernando Alonso heading into the high speed apex of turn five. Just a few laps later, he performed a similar overtake on a struggling Nico Rosberg to take a lead, which he was never to concede. 
Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean began with a mediocre opening stint, yet managed to impress with their pace in the middle part of the race. Raikkonen inherited second place, while Romain Grosjean closed down Paul Di Resta on the medium compound, to snatch the final spot on the podium in the final stint. If Raikkonen had managed to Qualify closer to Sebastian, it is highly likely that he would have challenged the German in similar fashion to the way in which he did in 2012. Nevertheless, Lotus were ecstatic at the result. 
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez drove a fantastic race, responding to the criticisms he received throughout the build up to the race, with aggressive defending. Despite this, Whitmarsh and McLaren stole the headlines following the race, as Jenson Button complained that Perez was “too aggressive”. The two battled throughout the middle stint, with Perez colliding with the right rear tyre of Button’s car on lap 30. The damage caused did not hamper either driver, however, Button expressed his displeasure with the Mexican’s tactics and the two were supposedly spoken to by the team’s management.

Weekend Schedule

Times in GMT

Thursday
Driver’s Press Conference (1pm)  featuring:
  • Jenson Button
  • Romain Grosjean
  • Nico Hulkenberg
  • Jean-Eric Vergne
  • Marcus Ericsson 
  • Jules Bianchi
A great press conference line up – The first to feature a large contingent of drivers from down the field so far this season. It will be interesting to see how Bianchi and Ericsson evaluate their credentials, while Grosjean may have some intriguing analysis of the situation at Enstone. Meanwhile, with Jenson Button celebrating his 250th race this weekend, it could be a time to reminisce for the Brit.
Friday
Free Practice 1 (12pm)
Free Practice 2 (4pm)
Team Principal Press Conference (7pm), featuring:
  • Adrian Newey
  • Paddy Lowe
  • Rob Fernley
  • Pat Symonds
  • Remi Taffin 
The top two names are of particular interest here, as the first two races suggest that the battle for supremacy will be between Red Bull and Mercedes. With the latter currently ahead, it will be interesting to hear how Newey are mitigating for a strong season of development. Meanwhile, I imagine Pat Symonds may take a question or two on Williams’ seemingly lacklustre mechanical grip hampering an otherwise excellent FW36. Oh, and it wouldn’t be a Team Principal’s Press Conference without a reference to the potential cost cap.
Saturday
Free Practice 3 (1pm)
Qualifying (4pm)
Sunday 
Race (4pm)
This weekends action is exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, with Highlights on BBC.

Prediction Corner

Well, the pressure is on now, as my predictions have been accurate for a change so far this season. After predicting a Rosberg victory in Australia and a Hamilton victory in Malaysia, I hope to keep my 100% record going this weekend. My prediction for success on Sunday is once again Lewis Hamilton. Following his remarkably strong performance just four days ago, he is on the crest of a wave. The Brit could easily record his third straight Pole Position as well, especially considering that this weekend will surly see the first dry qualifying session of 2014 – conditions which Mercedes should embrace. However, it will be important to watch Ferrari this weekend, as they believe that superior fuel saving will see them beat Red Bull to best of the rest this weekend.  

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