The Bahrain International Circuit is a new track, first used in 2004 and designed by Hermann Tilke. Length of the circuit is 5.412 km and drivers will complete a total of 57 laps for a race distance of 308.238km.
Sakhir is a very wide circuit with big paved run-offs, allowing drivers can rush braking. It is a good track for overtaking; 51 moves were seen last year. It has 4 long straights, quite a few slow corners and just some high-speed turns. Cars can be destabilized by the heavy wind usually blows in Bahrain and brings sand on the track.
A bit of history
The most successful driver in Bahrain is Fernando Alonso, having won at the Sakhir Circuit at three occasions: 2005, 2006 and 2010. In second position, we find Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa with two wins apiece: 2012 and 2013 for the German and 2007 and 2008 for the Brazilian. Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have won once each. The Kaiser won in the first Grand Prix held at this circuit; Button in 2009 and Lewis last year. Kimi Räikkönen is the driver with most podiums but has never won here
Nobody has won in Bahrain from lower than fourth but pole position is not so important. Just in 4 of 10 years, the poleman was the winner.
Pedro Martínez De la Rosa holds the lap record since 2005, when he was driving in the place of Juan Pablo Montoya. He recorded a 1.31:447s.
The main straight is about 1090m long and it ends in the “Michael Schumacher” turn, a very close right hander where there is a very good overtaking opportunity as the DRS use is allowed. Braking point for that corner is about 100m before it and drivers shifts down to first gear, going from 340 to 65 km/h. They need to get a good grip at the exit of that corner because right after that is turn 2, to the left, and 3, to the right, both flat out where the more kerb they take, the better, as a straight follows. This second straight is 655m long and speed goes up to 300km/h again before corner number 4, to the right, another good overtaking point with a heavy braking and a wide run off that allows the risk.
Sector 2 starts with a left-right-left “S” section, with corners 5, 6 and 7. These are high speed corners in which kerbs must be used at maximum. Right after there is a slope which leads into turn 8, a hairpin to the right followed by another slope before the corner 9, taken at 250km/h and to the left. Second DRS detection point is located here. Followed by turn 10, this is a very tricky part of the track. Both corners are blind and drivers have to brake, downshift and turn at the same time. It is easy to lock up front tires. The speed at turn 10 is about 70km/h. A good traction and speed at the exit of the corner is highly useful as the third straight of the track comes, with 680m length, where DRS can be opened. Full throttle to get up to 250km/h before getting to the last part of sector 2, starting with a corner to the left, slightly sloped and taken at fourth gear. Right after, turn 12 is a fast and open one to the right.
Next corner, the first one of Sector 3, is a right-hander and medium speed in which drivers shift down to third gear and slow down from 260 to 130km/h. Again, as it is followed by the fourth and last straight, a good exit from it its necessary to gain speed. It is worth to start accelerating early and to use all the kerbs. Last straight is 750m long and ends with heavy braking to take the corner number 14, to the right, where the DRS detection point is situated. A little bit of oversteer is usual here. It is a medium speed corner, taken at second gear. Right after, drivers will find the last corner of the track, number 15, to the right, a soft one before the main straight.
Tyres and technical requirements
In general, the circuit is not too demanding on the tyres as it doesn’t have many fast corners but it is the hardest track for the brakes. The capacity of traction out of slow corners and brakes are vital, while the downforce ideally requires a compromise between having good cornering and not losing too much speed on the straights. Also a good refrigeration is very important. The throttle remains fully pressed 50% of the lap and fuel consumption is an important issue in Bahrain.
Pirelli will bring to Sakhir the medium and soft compounds. In a scenario where the temperature drops at night can bring surprises in performance, we shouldn’t forget that Bahrain has the highest level of roughness of the asphalt in the whole calendar.
Race local times
FP1 Friday 17 14.00h
FP2 Friday 17 17.00h
FP3 Saturday 18 15.00h
Qualifying Saturday 18 18.00h
Race Sunday 19 18.00h