Sakhir GP: Preview - Ferrari


Just one week on from the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Formula 1 world championship stays in the same Middle East country and Sakhir facility. It's not a first, as it has already happened twice in this unusual season for races to take place on consecutive weekends at the same venue, in Austria for the first two rounds and then at Silverstone for rounds four and five. Now, having pioneered Formula 1 night racing in 2004, Bahrain is pioneering using two different layouts of the same circuit in the space of 8 days.

The first Sakhir Grand Prix will take place on the Outer Track of the Bahrain International Circuit. The layout starts on the track used last Sunday and then, after turn 4 the cars switch to a very fast section with five slight turns that rejoin the original on the straight after turn 13, with the final sector being the same as usual here. This will be the third track Formula 1 has raced on at Sakhir, having also tried the Endurance layout in 2010 and it will also be the shortest on the calendar at 3.543 kilometres, as Monaco (3.337 kilometres) has no race this year, with lap times expected to be under a minute. The only time that has happened before in Formula 1 was at the French GP at Dijon in 1974. Last weekend there were three DRS zones, this week just two, on the main straight and between turns 3 and 4. The race will be run over 87 laps and average speeds are expected to be very high.

The other difference between the Sakhir Grand Prix and last week's race is that the timetable is different, postponed towards the evening. On Friday, free practice will be at 16.30 local (14.30 CET) and 20.30 (18.30 CET). On Saturday, the last practice prior to qualifying will start at sunset at 17 (15 CET) with the grid decider taking place at 20 (18 CET). The race gets underway on Sunday 6 December at 20.10 (18.10 CET).

Sebastian Vettel: "The second race in Bahrain will be held on the Outer Track - a very different layout from last weekend's race. Cutting out the infield section, from turn 4 to turn 13 and replacing it with two sweeping high-speed corners and a slower part means it will have a very different feel.

"We will need to run with lower downforce to match the high-speed nature of the circuit, but with the same tyre selection as last weekend it will be a challenge to find the right set-up.

"Of course, many of the corners will be familiar to us but with such a short lap, traffic will be an issue and the sessions will feel hectic. Qualifying is likely to be much closer and who knows, maybe a new track will bring some surprises on Sunday."

Charles Leclerc: "In this unusual season, it's not the first time that we find ourselves racing for two consecutive weekends at the same place. But this is the first time we will be at the same circuit but using a different layout. A few years back, they ran on the longer version here, but this time we will be on a short and very fast layout with just eleven corners.

"I think that on a track like this the difference between the cars, especially those in the midfield, will be minimal and every thousandth could make a difference. The race is over 87 laps, a much higher number than we are used to and I'm interested to see how certain phases turn out in terms of traffic, especially in qualifying and during the race."

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Published: 02/12/2020
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