The new Formula 1 campaign opened in style earlier this month, with Valtteri Bottas coming out on top in Australia. After a pre-season which has seen the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel hyped up once again, that was a surprising way to start. Can the Mercedes man continue to stay in front of the two favourites in this weekend’s race?
Hamilton will be hoping to make it two from two for Mercedes here, after finishing up in second last time around. However, this is a race which has been kind to Ferrari over the years. Sebastian Vettel comes in with some good form behind him at the track, so could he be about to step up with a victory on Sunday? We can certainly see the German delivering here.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is back for the eighth year running, having been almost ever-present since the first race in 2004. All renewals of this race – bar the 2010 edition – have been held at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. It makes for an interesting test for the drivers, following the opener in Australia.
|2/21||Bahrain||Bahrain International Circuit||308km / 57 Laps|
|Date||Start Time||Finish Time||Forecast Conditions||TV Coverage|
|Practice 1||Fri 29th March||11:00||12:30||Dry / 25°||–|
|Practice 2||Fri 29th March||15:00||16:30||Dry / 22°||–|
|Practice 3||Sat 30th March||12:00||13:30||Dry / 26°||–|
|Qualifying||Sat 30th March||15:00||16:00||Dry / 24°||Sky F1|
|Race||Sun 31st March||16:10||18:10||Dry / 26°||Sky F1|
Last Season’s Result (2018)
Last year’s race was won by Vettel, who edged out Bottas to make it two wins from two. Early on last term Vettel was the pacesetter, building up hopes of a real title fight. If he’s going to pose a similar threat in 2019, he’ll surely need to pick up maximum points this weekend as he looks to leap above the Mercedes pair in the standings.
This race didn’t go down without incident last year. Lewis Hamilton had a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, while Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo retired early, lasting a combined four laps as a difficult season got underway. However, Hamilton was able to rally back, which brought him a third place finish by a considerable distance in a weakened field.
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India||8||1|
Race News: Hamilton Switching Focus
Fresh from wrongly presenting Ferrari as the pace-bogeyman in the 2019 field, Lewis Hamilton has a new target. There was a lot of surprise when Mercedes upstaged a Ferrari side who they claimed to fear on the opening weekend of the campaign, but their advantage over the Italians doesn’t seem to be that big.
Now, Hamilton has picked out Red Bull as a side to fear. Hamilton claimed that Red Bull pose a real threat to him and his team. The champion claimed that we’re set for a three-way battle between some equally matched teams. It’s yet another sneak attempt to distract from the expectation on Mercedes after their first showing, ahead of a race where they tend to struggle.
Analysis: Vettel Pushing Forward Under Pressure
While Hamilton is busy pushing the big threats for F1’s dominant force, Ferrari are looking inwards ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix. That’s not surprising for a team who have a brilliant record here, while they are going through an internal change after making Vettel the main man over the last few years.
Ahead of the second race of the season, Vettel has been talking up his new teammate Charles Leclerc. The new signing is just 21 years of age, and clearly a talent for the future. However, Vettel says that the youngster is already a threat, while he expects Leclerc will put pressure on him across this campaign. Vettel has never excelled as part of a two-pronged attack, and this feels like he’s the main man who has to justify that position. That kind of motivation may just help him to kick on.
Final Verdict: Sebastian Vettel To Win
Vettel comes into this race with a team who have won this race six times, double the number of anyone else. That includes the last two renewals of this Grand Prix, which have each been won by Sebastian Vettel. The German has won this race on four occasions since 2012, but he’s priced out at 5/2 to win here. Given his great record, we expect him to deliver this weekend, and that seems like a great price for the most successful driver at the Bahrain GP.
Alternatively, we’re also looking at one huge option. Last year saw Pierre Gasly claim a spot in the top four. The Frenchman should be a contender again here, especially as the top three are by no means a closed shop. Gasly may not be able to go all the way, but there’s potential podium place for him here. We’re backing Gasly each-way at 40/1 ahead of this race.
About the Bahrain Grand Prix
As the second grand prix of the season and the first night race that takes place, the Bahrain Grand Prix has fast become one of the highlights of the F1 calendar. The race has been running since 2004 and in that time has seen some quality racing from within the 5.412km circuit.
The Circuit cost over $150 million to create and is another that has been masterminded by that of Hermann Tilke, a now infamous F1 track architect. With it, the circuit has been able to host a number of other motor sports events as well, including the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain, World Series Formula V8, V8 Supercars and the FIA GT, to name just a few.
The race takes place under the floodlights of the Bahrain International circuit, measuring 5.412km in total length. The tracks width varies at the end of different straight, allowing for diverse racing lines. With that creates up to 3 different racing lines that the drives are able to take, allowing for multiple overtaking manoeuvres where possible.
The track has been designed with spectators at the forefront of the track, resulting in plenty of vantage points around the circuit. The start of the race takes place down near the paddock, before drivers navigate up the hill towards turn 4, almost as if it were heading into the desert and the dead of night.
There are 2 DRS zones located on the start/finish straight and between turns 10 and 11, allowing for the biggest overtaking opportunities. The late-night race allows for some stunning views when the sun goes down and is easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing of all the tracks.
As driver’s head over the start finish line and head towards turn 1, they will be doing in excess of 330kmph. They have to then hammer the break peddle to slow down enough to make it round the tight corner, creating up to 5G in force.
The trick at turn 1 is to keep the car as tight to the kerb so that the driver can then get the best exit from turns two and three, which are taken at full throttle as the car works back up the hill to turn 4. The turn itself has a very short apex, so the driver will be hanging on as they try and get enough drive out to really attack the chicane at turns 5 and 6.
The car then drops back down the bank and drivers will be attacking the breaking zone into turn 8. The line through 8 isn’t all that important as drivers generally able to get a good drive out given how wide the track is. But, as they approach turn 9 it’s imperative that they nail the line as breaking in lateral mode all the way into turn 10 then allows a good drive out of the slow corner.
Drivers then head along the back straight and through the DRS zone where they will be flat out. Turn 11 is another short apex corner where the driver will take just a little bit of kerb before driving hard out and using as much as the track as possible.
Turns 12 and 13 are both two more corners that are high speed, but cars will often suffer from understeer here as they are put under immense pressure from both the lateral G Force and the subtle, but noticeable elevation changes.
Another long straight greets the drivers and again they are having to deal with subtle elevation changes along the whole of the straight. Many drivers state it’s much like a rollercoaster and whilst it looks flat on TV, it makes a big difference on the downforce that some cars are able to get.
Turns 14 and 15 are the final two corners. Drivers will be looking to head into these late and pretty much flat out. They will be short apex corners and drivers will then head full throttle through the start/finish line to finish the lap.
The construction of the circuit began in 2002 in what a widely anticipated development within the country. What was interesting is that no deal had been put in place to host F1 when the development started, but they were able to fend off competition from the likes of Egypt, Lebanon and the UAE to eventually be given hosting rights for the 2004 F1 Grand Prix.
2012 – NEARLY NO RACE
The 2012 Grand Prix was nearly a race that never took place. The year previously it was announced that the Grand Prix would be cancelled because of protests within the country. In 2012, it was called that it should also be cancelled due to the countries failure to adhere to basic human rights. The decision at the time was highlighted as “controversial” by many news and sports outlets.
The race was eventually won by that of Sebastian Vettel, although the whole race weekend was overshadowed by the protests, albeit small, from outside the stadium.
2014 – ALL OF THE LIGHTS
To celebrate 10 years of the Bahrain Grand Prix (albeit, its 9th running) the Bahrain added in numerous floodlights on the track and the race was run as the first night race in the country and the first on the F1 calendar. The inaugural race was won by Lewis Hamilton and it’s been run as a night race ever since, with great success as well.