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Bahrain GP: Preview - McLaren


Fernando Alonso: "I'm looking forward to going back to Bahrain, especially as I missed last year's race - I have good memories from my three victories there, and racing in twilight is always a fun experience. The Bahrain Grand Prix is always a pretty long race, so our first priority is to ensure we have reliability against the heat and harsh conditions of the desert before we can start thinking about performance.

"On the performance side, before retiring the car in Shanghai I was running in a very promising position, and our pace was much stronger than anticipated, so I'll be pleased if we can have some more good surprises in Bahrain!

"It will be another challenging race for us; the long straights don't make it easy and there's a lot for the engineers to work on. Brake wear and fuel consumption is high, and set-up is tricky as the track temperatures change a lot during the weekend, as we race later into the evening compared to the usual schedule.

"I'm pushing hard to get the absolute maximum out of our package every time I leave the garage, and in Bahrain I'll approach the weekend in exactly the same way."

Stoffel Vandoorne: "I have lots of good memories from the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend in 2016. We're a year on now, I'm a full-time McLaren-Honda driver, and I've already gained a lot more experience in the past 12 months, so of course my aim is to work hard and improve every time I arrive at a grand prix. This year will be difficult for us, but we'll be racing hard as always.

"The most important thing for me is mileage, and the weather will surely be better in Bahrain than it was in Shanghai, so I'm hoping to do as many laps as possible over the weekend. It helps that I know this track well and I won there twice in 2015 in GP2, so I'm already comfortable with the layout and therefore it's a case of building on what I already know.

"We were always expecting a difficult weekend in China, and I don't know if it will get a lot better in Bahrain - it's only one week later and there's obviously a limit to how many changes we can apply in that time, but we'll do our best as usual. The car is definitely improving and both Fernando and I feel confident and competitive, especially in the corners, so we'll have to wait and see what's possible at this track."

Eric Boullier: "Of the dozen Bahrain Grands Prix that have been held since the event's inception in 2004, McLaren has surprisingly never managed to win a single one. By contrast, Fernando has won the race no fewer than three times, a victory total that eclipses the efforts of any other driver [Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa have all won it twice].

"Sad to say, however, Fernando is extremely unlikely to add to his impressive victory tally next weekend, and neither will McLaren break its Bahrain duck on Sunday. But the weather will be much better than we suffered in Shanghai, where it was dull, wet and chilly, and as a result we can expect a lot more running than we managed last weekend.

"The race will mark the one-year anniversary of Stoffel's first Grand Prix, which was a highly creditable one. He duly scored a point on his Formula 1 debut. Both he and Fernando will be striving for points finishes again next weekend - and, although we never make rash promises or predictions, we hope their efforts will be successful. After all, Bahrain has been a happy hunting ground for Stoffel in GP2; indeed he won well there on his series debut three years ago.

"Last but far from least, Bahrain is one of McLaren-Honda's three home Grands Prix, Silverstone and Suzuka being the other two. As such, it would be fitting it we could score our first points of the year there, and you can be well sure that we'll be doing our best to do just that."

Yusuke Hasegawa: "After a wet and cold weekend in China, we are now heading off to Bahrain where we expect the conditions to be the complete opposite, dry and hot.

"The race result in China was a big disappointment; despite the result, however, we took away a number of positives and, up until the retirements, we had an encouraging race in tricky conditions.

"I have more confidence in the progress of our PU reliability after the first two grands prix of the season, and I am now looking forward to seeing our performance in Bahrain, where hopefully we can continue to build on our momentum at what is something of a home race for McLaren-Honda.

"The hot conditions and two long front and back straights of the track will be strenuous on the power units, so we are not expecting this weekend to be easy for us. We will concentrate to find the best set-up during practice together with McLaren, as well as working on ensuring our reliability. We hope to show fans a good race here and we'll make our best effort to collect some points."

History lesson The Bahrain Grand Prix was first staged in 2004, since when it's been held every year except for 2011. There have been various iterations of the race and the circuit layout: in 2010 the longer, endurance layout was used and in 2014 the start time was delayed until 6pm. This year's race will be the fourth to be staged under floodlights.

Track length: 5.412km/3.363 miles (11th longest track of the year - longest: Spa-Francorchamps, shortest: Monaco)

Lap record: 1:31.447s (Pedro de la Rosa, 2005)

Tyre choice: Red Supersoft, yellow Soft and white Medium compounds

Distance to Turn One: 400m/0.249 miles (longest of season: Barcelona, 730m/0.454 miles)

Longest straight: 1.09km/0.677 miles (longest of the season: China, 1.17km/0.727 miles)

Top speed: 335km/h/208mph, on the approach to Turn One (fastest of season: Monza, 350km/h/217mph)

Full throttle: 64 per cent (highest of the season: Monza, 75 per cent)

Brakewear: High. There are eight braking zones around the lap, the biggest coming at Turns One and 14

Fuel consumption: 1.8kg per lap, which is high. The engineers will need to monitor fuel consumption during the race, especially if there isn't a Safety Car

ERS demands: Medium

Gear changes: 52 per lap/2964 per race

Laps: 57 laps

Start time: 18:00hrs local / 16:00hrs BST / 17:00hrs CET

Grid advantage: Pole position is located on the racing line, on the left side of the track. Traction is better there, but it's not a given that you'll make positions on the approach to Turn One - as pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton discovered last year when he was beaten away from the line by his team-mate Nico Rosberg

DRS: There are two DRS zones, on the approaches to Turns One and 11. The first zone is the most likely overtaking place because the cars slow from 335km/h (208mph) for a 50km/h (31mph) right-hander

Don't put the kettle on: At the start, which usually has high drama. The cars are flat-out for 10s before braking for Turn One. Any driver who misses his braking point by just a few metres can end up running into another car. The result is carnage

Pitlane length/Pitstops: 420m/0.261 miles (longest of the season: Silverstone, 457m/0.283 miles). Estimated time loss for a pitstop is 21s, which is relatively short

Safety Car likelihood: 20 per cent, which is very low. There is lots of run-off around the track, meaning the barriers are a long way back and there's plenty of space for a driver to park a car in the event of a technical problem. There have been only two Safety Car deployments in the history of the race, most recently in 2014

Watch out for: Turns Nine and 10. This is a key combination because it's very tricky to get right and it's followed by the second DRS zone. It's easy to lock an inside wheel on the downhill approach to Turn 10, which, if done, pushes you wide at corner exit and makes you slow down the next straight.


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1. Posted by NS Biker, 12/04/2017 3:09

"As usual ... McLaren Honda does THE BEST at summarizing the race details in their preview.
This is great information and really gets you into a good mind-set for the race.
No mention of rain .... wonder why.?

Your efforts are appreciated.

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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