Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers can't wait to get back in the car at Bahrain GP
Formula One heads straight from Shanghai in China to the Middle East this week with Round Four, the Bahrain Grand Prix, taking place at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on Sunday 21 April.
The Bahrain International Circuit sees the cars exceed 300 km/h on four separate occasions
11 of the circuit's 15 corners are taken at 200 km/h or less, in fourth gear or lower
There are eight braking events around the lap, with five of them classed as heavy braking zones
I'll be really happy to get back in the car again on Friday after a tough weekend in Shanghai. The first three races haven't quite worked out as we had hoped on my side but the positive is that we have a car that we can really work with. So I'm looking forward to getting on with this weekend and the circuit at Sakhir is one that I like very much. It's going to be very tough on the rear tyres and our biggest challenge will be to make the most out of the situation. We're better prepared than we were last year and we have shown that the car is much stronger so I really hope that we can achieve a great result in Bahrain.
The weekend in China was really positive for both me and the team. With each race, I am becoming more settled in the team and more comfortable in my car, and we were very happy with the pole and podium finish. There are some areas where we need to improve to close that gap to the fastest cars and we're working hard to identify and develop those. There's a limit to what we can do before Bahrain but I'll be talking to my engineers before we arrive at the circuit and seeing where we can improve in the short term. The Bahrain circuit is a real challenge, particularly for the tyres with overheating and also the sand on the track, but this helps to make it unique. The layout has a great combination of fast, slow and medium corners which make it tough for the drivers and the car, so it will be a true test for us. I can't wait to get back in the car and see what we can do."
With three race weekends under our belts, Bahrain will be the final race of the season-opening quartet. With very different track conditions at each venue, this should give us a good understanding of the car that we have to work with for the rest of the season. The performances so far have been pleasing and perhaps even beyond our pre-season expectations however there is work to be done. We have two main areas to focus on; we must improve the reliability and we have to lift our performance to find that extra couple of tenths to our fastest competitors. And of course, that's a moving target to make the challenge even tougher. A strong two car finish will be our target this weekend, and we want to see both Nico and Lewis in a position to score not only points but podiums regularly. We've had a taste of success already this season and the slight feeling of disappointment with third place in China is our motivation.
After three races, we have an equal balance of reasons to be pleased and areas we need to improve. Two podium finishes in two races for Lewis represent a strong start to the season. That shows our car is competitive in different conditions and on different types of circuit. But two technical retirements for Nico in three races are not acceptable, and everybody is working flat out at the factory to make sure we hit our target of bringing both cars to the finish at every race. Inside the team, the atmosphere is calm and motivated, with Nico and Lewis pushing everybody forward with their strong performances. Bahrain will provide another new challenge, with the combination of high temperatures, dust conditions and heavy demands on the rear tyres. We will need a smooth and reliable weekend to collect the required data for making the right decisions on Sunday.
Mercedes AMG Petronas