Bahrain Grand Prix is a Formula One Championship race in Bahrain sponsored by Gulf Air. The first race took place at the Bahrain International Circuit on 4 April 2004. It made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East, and was given the award for the "Best Organised Grand Prix" by the FIA.
The Bahrain Grand Prix has usually been the third race of the Formula One calendar. However, in the 2006 season, Bahrain swapped places with the traditional opener, the Australian Grand Prix, which was pushed back to avoid a clash with the Commonwealth Games. In 2010, Bahrain staged the opening race of the 2010 season and the cars drove the full 6.299 km (3.914 mi) "Endurance Circuit" to celebrate F1's 'diamond jubilee'.
The 2011 Grand Prix, due to be held on 13 March, was canceled on 21 February due to the 2011 Bahraini protests after drivers including Damon Hill and Mark Webber had protested. Human rights activists called for a cancellation of 2012 race due to reports of alleged human rights abuses committed by the Bahraini authorities. Team personnel also voiced concerns about safety, but the race, nonetheless, was held as planned on 22 April 2012.
The 2014 race will be held as a night race under floodlights. It will become the second Formula One night race after the Singapore Grand Prix, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the first staging of the Grand Prix. The teams did a significant amount of pre-season testing in Bahrain this year, which will give them a good baseline understanding of the best way to attack this Grand Prix. Since this year the race is being held at 6pm local time as a night race for the first time, this will mean that the track conditions will be cooler than in previous races here and the temperatures will fall as the race goes on.
Track length : 5.41 kilometres
Race distance : 57 laps (308.23 kilometres)
Corners : 15 corners in total, mostly medium speed, with three long straights. Very tough on brakes.
Aerodynamic setup : Medium downforce
Top speed : 322km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 310km/h without
Full throttle : 64% of the lap
Time spent braking : 16% of the lap. 8 braking zones.
Brake wear : High.
Total time needed for pit stop : 23 seconds.
Pit lane length : 480 metres
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.38 seconds (average/high)
Last year’s race was very hot, taking place as it did at the end of April. Track temperatures were well above 40 degrees. This year the race is early April and is being held at night so it should be cooler. There is little chance of rain and in general conditions should be stable across the weekend.
Pirelli tyre choice for Bahrain: Soft and Medium
This is the second time this combination of 2014 Pirelli tyre compounds has been seen, after Melbourne. Last season for Bahrain Pirelli brought the medium and hard tyres. Last year the most common strategy was three stops, much will depend on the performance and degradation of the tyres in practice on Friday in the cooler evening temperatures, but indications from testing suggest more two stoppers this year.
The optimum two stop is to pit on laps 19 and 38, while a three stopper would be something like laps 14, 28 and 43. The choice of tyres and when to take them will be interesting and dependent on the difference in performance between the soft and medium tyres in practice.
The chance of a safety car at the Sakhir circuit is low, due to the vast expanse of run off areas around the circuit. There was a safety car in the 2007 race to clear away on track debris, but otherwise the races have been fairly clear.
The DRS sectors at the Bahrain International Circuit will be as last year. The detection point of the first zone is 10m before Turn Nine and the activation point is 50m after Turn 10. The second zone’s detection point is 108m before Turn 14, with activation occurring 270m after Turn 15.
Again, all eyes will be on Mercedes as they have shown so far to have the fastest car. Qualifying will be interesting as we will see the first dry qualifying of the year and should confirm Mercedes' real one lap pace. It will also show the other team's pace as most of them have run 2 tests here during testing and should have plenty of data to prepare for the race.
As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Bahrain, Fernando Alonso has won the race three times, Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel twice while Jenson Button has won it once. Lewis Hamilton has never won in Bahrain. As far as teams are concerned, Ferrari has four wins from the seven races held at the venue since the 2004 inauguration. Nico Rosberg took pole position in 2013.
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