Formula One moves from the Far East to the Middle East this week as Bahrain's state-of-the-art Sakhir circuit hosts the third round of the 2008 Formula One World Championship and the last of the season-opening long haul races this Sunday, 6th ...
Formula One moves from the Far East to the Middle East this week as Bahrain's state-of-the-art Sakhir circuit hosts the third round of the 2008 Formula One World Championship and the last of the season-opening long haul races this Sunday, 6th April.
Located on the only island within the Persian Gulf, and thirty kilometres from the state's capital, Manama, the Sakhir track cuts right through the desert and is therefore one of the most unique, but challenging, venues on the calendar. After not scoring points in Malaysia, the AT&T Williams team travel to the fifth Bahrain Grand Prix in pursuit of a more competitive weekend of racing.
I'm really looking forward to this weekend. Bahrain is one of my favourite tracks and I've had some great results there. Last year, we didn't get the best out of the weekend, but we've learnt from that and we'll be better this year, and we will come back stronger after the struggles in Malaysia. The track and asphalt surface of the Sakhir circuit are more suited to our car so we shouldn't encounter the same problems again.
As a whole, it's been quite an extreme start to the season. We had a very strong start and then a bit of a down, but that's the way it is in racing and you just have to get on with it. We've already learnt a lot from the past two races and we will make progress going into these next few races. I'll be at home in between Malaysia and Bahrain so I can relax and do some training.
We've had a bit of a mixed start to our season. The race in Melbourne was obviously very good, and then Malaysia was not so good for us. We've learnt lessons from both Grands Prix and I'll be doing my best to help get the team back to where we think we should be.
Personally, I think that the track in Bahrain is really good. It's a great circuit for racing because there are a few opportunities to overtake, so I'm looking forward to having a good race there.
Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1
Set against the desert, Bahrain's track is normally quite dusty and it's always hot. Ambient temperatures hover around the mid 30s and the chance of rainfall is low. The track's layout is dominated by long straights and slow and medium speed corners. There is only really one high speed section, but it doesn't bear much influence over the set-up direction of the car.
Bridgestone will bring the medium and soft tyre compounds to this race. Most teams opt for a two stop pitstop strategy, although a one stop option has been employed there before.
We have two targets for the Bahrain Grand Prix; firstly to improve upon the reliability which caused us problems during practice at the previous two races and, secondly, to build on our Constructors' position by scoring more points.
Bahrain International Circuit
One of the most unique destinations on the calendar, Bahrain's imposing desert backdrop significantly influences track conditions and car set-up over the Grand Prix weekend at Sakhir. Regional winds intermittently blow desert sands onto the 5.412km circuit which inevitably pose certain challenges for all but the leading driver as they pursue their counterparts and their cars are blasted with air infused with damaging sand particles. The sandy conditions therefore dictate the need for heavy duty air filters to prevent the air cooling inlets becoming blocked. An essential requirement, but one which mustn't compromise aerodynamic efficiency. Grip levels are another casualty of the sand and can be considerably reduced when it settles on the track making all but the racing line dangerously slippery.
The track is a complex mix of 15 slow and medium speed corners connected by three high speed straights, the fastest of which will see the cars peak at 320kph at the end of the pit straight going into turn one. With the lowest cornering speed registered at just above 100kph at Sakhir's turn five, and taken in first gear, the number of extreme braking events is high so brake preservation is paramount. Due to the long, high speed stretches, each lap will demand a full throttle percentage of 62%; combined with the braking, cooling and sand variables, engine reliability will be a considerable factor in the race's outcome. A circuit built to house 50,000 spectators, the third race of the season will undoubtedly deliver another exciting Formula One Grand Prix.