Bahrain Grand Prix Preview: Duel in the Desert part two?

The new look Bahrain paddock, Charlie Wright, Kettle Mag
Written by F1_Charlie

Just one week removed from the Chinese Grand Prix, the Formula 1 circus heads to the desert for the tenth running of the Bahrain Grand Prix, If this year’s edition of the race is half as good as last season’s race we should be in for a thrilling encounter at the first night race of the season.

Judging by the form book thus far in 2015, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg could reignite their titanic battle from last season once again. Hamilton has won two races this season and has the championship lead after the first three rounds, coming out on top in Bahrain last season after him and his team-mate fought tooth and nail for the win.

Hamilton has gotten under Rosberg’s skin. Last weekend in China, Hamilton lead from the start and drove the race at his own pace, only pushing the limits of the car when he had to. This, much to the displeasure of Rosberg, put him under unnecessary pressure from third placed man Sebastian Vettel. The German caused quite a stir in the post-race press conference and made his feelings clear. 

Tensions are running high in the Mercedes camp; last year was a fair fight between the pair. This time around Mercedes have competition in the form of the Ferrari, perhaps there is a chance of a Ferrari victory under the lights if it all ends in tears between Hamilton and Rosberg. It wouldn’t be the first time that the pair have come to blows on track.

With Mercedes and Ferrari seemingly the two fastest cars, Williams find themselves in what seems like no man’s land. They are currently not fast enough to challenge the two teams ahead but too fast for the teams behind to be catch them. Williams are currently in third place in the constructor standings, some twenty-seven points ahead of Sauber. Williams are still to score a podium this season and it could take a little bit of luck to break into the top three this weekend.

The heat can play a big part in deciding who will take the victory on Sunday. As well as high temperatures, the track is notorious for being tough on the brakes. With four long straights coming down from speeds just shy of 200 mph, Red Bull could find themselves in danger this weekend of perhaps not seeing the chequered flag at all on Sunday.

McLaren have made huge progress over the last three races. After what was a torrid winter for the team, the bad form carried over to Australia. The team are yet to score a point this season, but there is no doubt that they are a team on the up. Last weekend McLaren managed to get both cars to the finish, something that going by their winter performance seemed highly unlikely, a sign that they are headed in the right direction. Now that they seem to have reliability the team can now focus on getting the most out of their Honda engine and find some performance. 

Force India last season managed to get on the podium with Sergio Perez but unfortunately for the Silverstone based team a podium finish seems a million miles a way as the VJM 08 still lags behind the likes of Lotus and Sauber. Force India currently occupy seventh place in the constructor championship with a disappointing tally of just seven points.

Williams feel as if Lotus had the upper hand on Valtteri Bottas last weekend. Lotus finally scored their first points of the season thanks to Romain Grosjean’s seventh place last time out. Lotus have had a much stronger start this season as opposed to last, although it did take them three races to score points. They stated in the buildup to the Chinese Grand Prix that they felt as if that once they achieve one points finish that more will follow. Pastor Maldonado will be desperate to get off the mark after seeing the potential of the Mercedes powered Lotus E23 last weekend. Grosjean has enjoyed great success in Bahrain in the past; the Frenchman is a good bet for a second consecutive points finish.

The lap starts with a heavy braking event at Turn One. The right hander quickly swings left to open up Turns Two and Three. At the end of the second straight on the circuit the drivers are once again met by a heavy braking zone where the circuit really springs into life. Turns Five, Six and Seven is a fast left-right-left combination where the overall downforce of the cars is called into question.

The downhill hairpin of Turn Eight is a potential overtaking spot. Following the hairpin the elevation changes as the cars charge up the hill to tackle the double apex left handers of Nine and 10 and along the long straight. The high speed corners of 11 and 12 are where the drivers can afford to really let the car go, followed by the swooping left hander of Turn 11 then the right hander of 12. Turn 13 is a medium speed tight right hander before being catapulted along a third long straight. The final two corners are trick medium speed right handers where all the hard work can easily be undone.

The DRS zones for this weekend remain unchanged for the 2015 edition of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The first detection point on the track is on the exit of Turn Nine with the first activation point coming along the straight between Turn 10 and 11 which should provide a good overtaking opportunity come race day on Sunday. Unsurprisingly the second activation point is on the main straight on the run down to Turn One where Rosberg and Hamilton diced for the lead on a number of occasions last year.

Pirelli have opted to keep the same tyre compounds as last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix with the soft and the medium.

Are you looking forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix? Leave your comments below.