It's round two of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship and we are off to the Persian Gulf and Bahrain. The team endured a challenging first race of the season down under in Melbourne, but everyone at Grove is fully focused on finding improvements beginning with this weekend's race which is run under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
Unlike Australia, Bahrain is a track that George has prior experience of having driven the circuit during his title-winning FIA Formula 2 season in 2018. The circuit holds fond memories for Robert meanwhile, as he claimed a third-place podium finish back in 2008 the day after he scored his maiden F1 pole position.
The track action will continue in the week following this year's Grand Prix, as Bahrain hosts the first in-season test of 2019 where we will see the team's Reserve Driver, Nicholas Latifi make his debut behind the wheel of the FW42.
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: Following the opening race of the 2019 season at Melbourne's Grand Prix Circuit, we head to a more conventional track for round two. The circuit at Sakhir is a challenging combination of four evenly spaced straights and demanding corner sequences, including the high-speed chicane at turns five, six and seven, and the downhill hairpin at turn eight. Qualifying and the race take place in cooler conditions, despite the circuit being traditionally very tough on the rear tyres, with a constant threat of overheating.
For 2019, Pirelli take the hardest of their available compounds which will offer additional challenges for the drivers and engineers alike. We look to build on our learning from Australia as we aim to maximise the performance of the current car whilst also continuing to investigate the most fruitful areas for future car development.
Both drivers are familiar with the Bahrain International Circuit, with Robert racing there in 2010 and scoring a podium finish in 2008. George raced there last year in the opening race of his Championship-winning FIA Formula 2 season.
Robert Kubica: Bahrain is a very different track to Australia, so we will face new challenges, including the increased temperature and track layout. There are a few things to discover but I know the track pretty well. There is a lot of stop and go so the car has to be very stable under braking and have good traction. I have good memories of Bahrain as I got my first and only pole position there in 2008 so I am looking forward to it. It can get very hot, so tyres will be an important topic to understand and how to best cope with them so let's see how we go.
George Russell: I am excited to go to Bahrain as it is a track I really like. I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a Formula One car for my second Grand Prix. Racing in Bahrain is tough as it is a very aggressive circuit, with high tyre wear and temperatures which puts a lot of stress on the cars. All in all, I am ready for the challenge and eager to get back in the drivers' seat.