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Bahrain GP: Preview - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
17/04/2012

Bahrain will be one of just three circuits that Pirelli is yet to visit in competition this year, but unlike Hockenheim in Germany and the United States Grand Prix, the Italian firm has experience of the Sakhir track through two tyre tests that were carried out there in December 2010 and January 2011, as Pirelli geared up to its Formula One return. On the first occasion, the test was interrupted by a sandstorm that blew sand onto the track and stopped the test car running: a situation that highlights one of the most prominent characteristics of the Middle Eastern circuit, which is located in the middle of the desert.

Sand frequently gets onto the track and reduces grip, but it is very hard to predict when and where. Pirelli will bring the P Zero White medium tyres and P Zero Yellow soft tyres to Bahrain: the same combination used in Australia and China.

The Sakhir circuit will revert to its original 5.412-kilometre track layout in 2012, having used an extended loop the last time that the race was run in 2010. The 15 corners and variable track width provide ample opportunity for overtaking. Traction and braking form the main challenges of the circuit, with the cars going from 315kph to 65kph in just 130 metres and three seconds at turn one. This generates forces on the tyres equivalent to 5G. The surrounding sand means that the track can be very dirty, especially at the beginning of the weekend, so it is very important for drivers to stick to the racing line, particularly on the fast but twisty section from turns four to seven.

Paul Hembery: "There are a number of technical challenges that we are anticipating for Bahrain, with the hot conditions in excess of 30 degrees centigrade putting the compounds into a different working range. We've gathered some data from the track as the result of our tests there in the past, but the tyres and cars have changed so much since then that it is almost like starting again with a blank sheet of paper. However, we're expecting a notable degree of degradation that should certainly test the teams in terms of strategy. With the circuit not having been frequently used, we are anticipating quite a high degree of track evolution over the course of the weekend. The risk of sand on the track can be an issue, as it takes time to clear and can cause graining. So tyre management will again be crucial in Bahrain, with rear traction in particular the key to a strong qualifying and race pace."


Technical tyre notes:

The asphalt surface, made up of 60,000 tonnes of imported granite from England, offers good grip when clean and is classified as medium in terms of abrasion.

Fernando Alonso is the most successful driver in Bahrain with three victories to his name, followed by his Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa. Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button are the only other winners.

The first corner is a critical one. It's important to exit turn one cleanly in order to make the most of the left-hand kink that follows and get a good drive onto the straights. Many places are won and lost here at the start.

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