Three races into the 2013 Formula One season, things are looking to really heat up in Bahrain over the weekend.
The scorching heat and accompanying sand at the Bahrain International Circuit will be the major focus of drivers as they navigate through the 15-turn track and fourth race of the F1 season, with an eye on both the team and individual driver standings heading into this weekend's action.
Nico Rosberg is on the pole after the fastest lap in the three qualifying rounds, and he'll be looking to pick up steam after three disappointing finishes in the first three races of the season (via ESPN).
While Rosberg will look to kickstart both his season and his Mercedes team with an eye toward the points, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing will start No. 2 on Sunday.
Vettel is the defending champion from 2012, while his team sits atop the points standings over the Ferrari and Lotus teams. The qualifying session was another success for Vettel, who already has a win (Malaysian Grand Prix) and a top-three finish (Australian Grand Prix) this season.
The many twists and turns that the track offers should be quite the challenge for these opening two drivers and the rest of the 22-man lineup, so let's take a look at the different aspects of the race you should be following on Sunday—as well as television and other viewing information for the event.
When: Sunday, April 21, at 8 a.m. ET
Where: Bahrain International Circuit; Bahrain
Listen: SiriusXM, BBC Radio 5 Live
Live Timing: Formula 1 official website
Live Stream: NBC Sports
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||2||1|
|5||Paul di Resta||Force India||7||10|
|6||Adrian Sutil||Force India||8||12|
|7||Mark Webber||Red Bull||5||6|
|13||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||13||11|
|16||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||16||15|
|20||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||21||21|
Team Standings Heading Into Race (as of 4/20/13, h/t F1.com)
|1||Red Bull Racing||78|
Drivers To Watch
On the pole when things begin, the 27-year-old German is eager to put the first three races behind him and get focused on the rest of the season.
He's off to a great start in Bahrain, as other drivers have already noted that the perfect lap wouldn't have beaten the qualifying lap he ran in the third session (h/t ESPN intro link).
In six career starts at Bahrain, Rosberg has never finished higher than fifth (2010, 2012). To accomplish things you want, you often have to do something you've never done, and for Rosberg, that will include a top-three finish in this for the first time in seven tries.
Currently seventh on the driver ranking list, Rosberg can gain some serious points and move up the leaderboard with a win on Sunday.
The defending champion, Vettel is off to a great start to the 2013 season.
He didn't run quite as well in the 2013 Chinese Grand Prix as he did during the first two events of the season, but the 25-year-old German racer did finish fourth—capping the ninth time in the last 10 events (dating back to last season) that Vettel finished in the top five of a race.
With the experience of winning on this track in 2012 and his car running very close to what Rosberg's was in the qualifying round, Vettel will be a heavy favorite if he can withstand the early pressure from the field and force Rosberg into an unfamiliar position.
Another former winner, Felipe Massa was a two-time Bahrain champion in back-to-back seasons (2007, 2008).
Somewhat of an elder statesman on the driver list at age 31, Massa hasn't won a race since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix but continues to flirt with the checkered flag with three-straight top-six performances to start the 2013 season.
Who wins on Sunday?
Is this the week he finally breaks through?
After penalties were enforced to Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton, Massa will also get the favorable position of starting No. 4 on the grid. He needs to take advantage early with a slew of talented drivers right behind him.
Overall, the heat and the sand won't stop any of these 22 drivers from going all-out on Sunday, so make sure to tune into whatever network is broadcasting the coverage for this fourth event of the F1 season.
*Information from ESPN, Formula 1.com and James Williams of B/R was used to complete this report.