Bahrain Grand Prix 2014 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds
The Bahrain Grand Prix takes place this weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit, in the Sakhir region of the Gulf island kingdom. It will be the third round of the 2014 Formula One season.
For the first time, this year's race will be held under floodlights. It will start at sunset and end in total darkness.
F1's first visit to Bahrain was in 2004. With the exception of 2011, when it was cancelled due to the Bahraini uprising, the race has been held every year since.
Bahrain hosted two four-day testing sessions over the winter break, so all the teams will arrive with a good idea of how their cars will behave.
Will that knowledge be enough for someone to step up and take the fight to Mercedes?
Read on for current standings, circuit guide, tyre and DRS information, weather forecast, odds, session and TV times.
Nico Rosberg heads the drivers' championship after winning the opening race and coming second in the next.
The current Top 10 are (information from Formula1.com):
Mercedes' dominant one-two finish in Malaysia moved them ahead of McLaren. Williams have four times more points than they scored in the whole of 2013, and Red Bull are off the mark in sixth.
Bahrain International Circuit Guide
The Bahrain International Circuit is one of Hermann Tilke's better tracks. It features a number of genuine passing opportunities and several interesting corners.
The main problem is the location. Situated in a desert, the circuit is vulnerable to having sand blown onto the surface.
This can affect grip levels and prevent predictable track evolution from taking place.
Turns 1, 2 and 3
A lap begins with a fairly long run down to Turn 1. It should be noted the timing line for qualifying laps is much closer to the final corner than the race start line.
Turn 1 is a very tight right-hand hairpin, and the braking zone is often affected by wind. It's the most obvious overtaking spot on the track, and often the scene of an incident or two on the opening lap.
As soon as they exit the first corner, the drivers have to get back across to the right-hand side of the circuit for the left-hand Turn 2. This was relatively straightforward in 2013 but should prove more challenging this year due to the less-benign power delivery of the new engines.
Turn 3 is a flat-out right-hand kink immediately after Turn 2.
A medium-length straight follows.
Turn 4 is a tight right-hander at the end of the straight, and perhaps just as good an overtaking spot as the first corner.
The Turns 1, 2 and 3 section is excellent for bunching up cars. Any driver defending into Turn 1 will probably be severely compromised through the next two corners, allowing his rival a second attempt on the straight towards Turn 4.
In addition, Turn 2 will put a lot of cars out of shape, reducing their speed as they enter the straight.
Overtaking on the exit of Turn 4 is also possible.
Turns 5, 6, 7 and 8
After a short straight comes this fast, downhill section which is probably the most exciting part of the circuit from the driver's point of view.
The left of Turn 5 is flat, then the drivers scrub off pace as the track heads downhill. Turn 6 is slower but still quick, and Turn 7 was flat in 2013 but may need some delicate throttle work this time around.
The downhill slope continues to the very slow right-hand hairpin Turn 8. Someone could try a move up the inside here, but it isn't really an overtaking spot.
Turns 9 and 10
There's a small uphill straight next, before the track dives back downhill through the very tricky Turn 9. On its own it would be easy, but the braking zone for Turn 10 (a slow left-hand hairpin) starts midway through the corner.
The drivers have to brake while still turning, and try to balance the car into the apex of Turn 10. Getting it right here is crucial, because the corner leads onto the back straight.
This straight runs parallel to the pit straight. It's shorter, but the nature of Turn 10 can make it a decent overtaking opportunity.
Turns 11, 12 and 13
At the end of the straight is the medium-speed left-hander of Turn 11. The track slopes downhill at the entry and it's not uncommon to see drivers get it wrong.
The exit is very long, and the circuit heads uphill and into Turn 12, a long, fast, uphill right-hander. This was easy flat-out in 2013, but a small lift might be needed this year.
The drivers have a few seconds to straighten the car out before braking for Turn 14. This is a slightly downhill medium-speed right, which sends the cars out onto a fairly long straight.
Turns 14 and 15
The straight has a brief rise and a slightly longer fall, and then comes Turn 14, another medium-speed right. It's slightly downhill but mostly straightforward.
Getting it right is very important, because this is the last proper corner on the circuit and it leads onto the 1090-metre long pit straight and the end of the lap.
Turn 15? Blink and you'll miss it. It's more an extension of the exit of Turn 14 than a corner in its own right—if it didn't have a number, you probably wouldn't know it was there.
Maybe Tilke gets paid by the corner?
The pit lane entry is on the right-hand side of the track shortly after the final corner, and the exit is just before Turn 1.
Tyres and DRS
Tyres have a tough time in Bahrain.
There are only a few quick corners putting high lateral loads through the rubber, but the circuit features a number of heavy braking and acceleration zones, so wear can be quite high.
But with the often dirty, sandy surface, hard tyres aren't ideal. A compromise between durability and grip is needed, and that seems to be what we're getting.
Pirelli are bringing the yellow-marked soft and white-marked medium tyres. This is a departure from 2013, when the medium and hard compounds were used.
Three stops was the winning strategy last year, and three again for 2014 might be a safe bet. But the tyres and cars are different this time around, so we'll get a clearer idea after the first two practice sessions.
There will be two DRS zones at the Bahrain Grand Prix. They'll be the same as those used last year.
The first will have a detection point just before Turn 14, and it will run for most of the pit straight, starting 270 metres after Turn 15 and ending with braking for Turn 1.
The detection point for the second zone will be in Turn 9, and the zone will run on the back straight between Turns 10 and 11.
Weather forecasters looking for an easy life should consider relocating to Bahrain.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday have the same forecast—hot, with unbroken sunshine. Wind is the major variable at this time of the year, and that's expected to be moderate and from the north, meaning a headwind into Turn 1.
BBC Weather will have the latest for the Bahraini capital Manama, which is around 20 kilometres away.
Unsurprisingly, Lewis Hamilton has been installed as the bookies' favourite for the race win at best odds of 11-10. Nico Rosberg is 5-2, with Sebastian Vettel 8-1.
The Top 10 favourites are:
For the first time this season, a safety car is considered unlikely. It's 1-2 to make no appearance (13-8 it does).
Despite finishing at Sepang, Romain Grosjean is equal-favourite to be the first retirement. Pastor Maldonado is the other.
Despite Hamilton's dominant victory at the last race, a winning margin of fewer than six seconds is considered the most likely (6-4). The Brit won by 17.3 seconds in Malaysia—the range including that margin (16-20.999 seconds) is 6-1.
All odds taken from Oddschecker.com, and correct at the time of publication.
Session and TV Times
As always, the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend will consist of three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race. The session times are as follows:
|Practice One||Friday||2 p.m.|
|Practice Two||Friday||6 p.m.|
|Practice Three||Saturday||3 p.m.|
All are given in Bahrain local time. Formula1.com has a handy one-click tool to convert them to your own timezone.
In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports F1 is providing full live coverage of all the sessions.
|Show Starts||Session Starts|
|Practice One||11:45 a.m.||noon|
|Practice Two||3:45 p.m.||4 p.m.|
|Practice Three||12:45 p.m.||1 p.m.|
|Qualifying||3 p.m.||4 p.m.|
|Race||2:30 p.m.||4 p.m.|
The BBC is showing qualifying highlights at 9 p.m. on Saturday night, and race highlights at 10 p.m. on Sunday.
In the United States, NBC is showing live coverage of selected sessions across two channels. Practice Two is live on NBCSN at 11 a.m. on Friday, with qualifying on CNBC at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Race coverage begins on NBCSN at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
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