The Bahrain International Circuit is a 5.412km long track. It’s Hermann Tilke designed and is very much a typical modern F1 track with lots of run off area and fantastic facilities.
There is a wider selection of all kinds of corners here, especially when you compare it to Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia. This will mean we will get a truer sense of which cars are looking good for the year.
One thing that is clear from Australia that will translate here in Bahrain is that Mercedes and Ferrari are out in front by a bit. They had a great battle last year when Kimi Raikkonen almost took the win from Lewis Hamilton. So could we see that again this year? I certainly think it’s possible, and am sure Ferrari will be close to Mercedes this weekend.
Behind these two teams, it’s very hard to call. From what I saw in Australia, I think we will see quite a few teams take the “best of the rest” mantle during the year. It’s so competitive in that midfield battle that different circuits and weather will change the order there.
What we have seen over the last two years in Bahrain is that the Mercedes powered cars go well here. It’s not unexpected because with four long straights here, it is a power track. So I expect Williams and Force India to be leading the battle for third best team with Torro Rosso and Red Bull nipping at their heels.
Another thing that we saw in Australia was that having three compounds to choose from Pirelli really spiced up the action. I was excited to watch the different strategies come into play as teams reacted to the track, the red flag and each other.
Bahrain is a good track for overtaking so this along with the fact that we will have teams on different strategies means that it should be a thrilling race.
Look out for Haas this weekend too. They had a dream debut in Australia when Romain Grosjean drove magnificently to finish sixth. They were helped by the Red Flag in the race, but their pace after that was genuine and they deserved the result they got. They are a new team and will be nowhere near the others in being ready for the year. So there is more to come from them and they will be optimistic of another good showing this weekend.
While Bahrain is held during the night, it’s still a hot race and it will be the first time that the teams run their new cars in such heat. It usually means we will see some of the teams get caught out with cooling for their cars, so this should also lend another bit of unpredictability to this weekend. Whatever the case, the racing will be close and the drivers will have to stand up to the heat on and off the track if they want to do well.