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The Bahrain International Circuit is a 5.412kms long track. It’s both a Hermann Tilke design and very much a typical modern F1 track with lots of run off area and fantastic facilities.
There is a wider selection with all kinds of corners here, especially when you compare it to Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia. This will allow us to get a truer sense of which cars are looking good for the year.
One thing that is clear from Australia that will translate here in Bahrain, both Mercedes and Ferrari are out in front by a bit. They had a great battle last year when Kimi Raikkonen almost took the win from Lewis Hamilton. So could we see that again this year? I certainly think it’s possible, and am sure Ferrari will be close to Mercedes this weekend.
Behind these two teams, it’s very hard to call. From what I saw in Australia, I think we will see quite a few teams take the “best of the rest” mantle during the year. With such a competitive midfield battle, different circuits and weather can change the order there.
What we have seen over the last two years in Bahrain, Mercedes powered cars go well here. With four long straights here, it’s not unexpected because it is a power track. So I expect that Williams and Force India to lead the battle for third best team, with Torro Rosso and Red Bull Racing nipping at their heels.
Another interesting thing that we saw in Australia – having three compounds to choose from Pirelli, really spiced up the action. I was excited to watch the different strategies come into play – as teams reacted to the track, the red flag and each other.
Bahrain is a good track for overtaking, so this, along with the fact that we will have teams on different strategies means that it should be a thrilling race.
Look out for Haas this weekend too. They had a dream debut in Australia when Romain Grosjean drove magnificently to finish sixth. They were helped by the Red Flag in the race, however, their pace after that was genuine and they deserved the result they got. Because they are a new team, they will be nowhere near the others in being ready for the year. That said, there is more to come from them and I’m optimistic that we’ll see another good showing this weekend.
While Bahrain is held during the night, it’s still a hot race – making this the first time that the teams run their new cars in such heat. It usually means we will see some of the teams get caught out with cooling for their cars, so this should also lend another bit of unpredictability this weekend. Whatever the case, the racing will close and the drivers will have to stand up to the heat on and off the track if they want to do well.
Catch the F1 Bahrain GP LIVE on Sun, Apr 3, 10:00PM (HKT) on FOX Sports 2