The Sakhir circuit, outside Bahrain's capital city of Manama, hosts its second ever Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend. Last year, Bahrain became the twenty fourth country to host a GP. The circuit is one of the most modern on the calendar, its ...
The Sakhir circuit, outside Bahrain's capital city of Manama, hosts its second ever Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend. Last year, Bahrain became the twenty fourth country to host a GP. The circuit is one of the most modern on the calendar, its architecture reflecting Arabian themes.
Located in the desert, dealing with the sand surrounding the track is one of the main priorities for drivers and engineers. Only those with very long memories can recall coming up against this problem, when the F1 circus visited the coastal track of Zandvoort for the Dutch GP.
Christian Horner (Sporting Director):
"In Bahrain we will be aiming to continue our good form from Australia and Malaysia and our target is to complete a hat-trick of points scoring races. Malaysia proved the Australian result was no fluke and we demonstrated that our results have been obtained on merit. As we return to Europe, after this opening trio of races, we will be embarking on a testing and development programme to keep the momentum going over the next few races."
Gunther Steiner (Technical Director):
"Not surprisingly for a desert track, sand is the main story and you have to be aware that it can get in to every part of the car. It literally sandblasts the car every time it goes on track and gradually erodes all the surfaces and the cooling fins on the radiators. I gather there are some modifications to the track for this year, aimed at minimising the problem."
"The main challenge is to ensure you do not get fine sand into the engine and so we pay particular attention to the way the air is filtered before getting into the engine. It's especially important this year, given that the same engines have to last to the end of the following race."
"The sand also affects the track surface, which means that choosing the right tyre is a more difficult task and you have to be patient and wait for the track to be at its cleanest and least windy before making that decision."
"Last week we carried out a two day engine test programme, but this was aimed more at a future engine up-dates, rather than anything specific for Bahrain."
"My impressions of the track are that it is challenging due to several heavy braking corners which can gain or lose you a lot of time. The surface is high wear so tyre choice will be especially difficult as you juggle one lap performance over making them last for the whole race. It is very dusty off line and last year we experienced a short sand storm which made things tricky before the GP."
"I did not really have the chance to look around Bahrain itself but the welcome we got from the moment we reached Customs at the airport through to leaving on Sunday night was excellent and generally every one was impressed with the facilities."
"I like the track very much and last year, I adapted to it quite quickly. The track is surrounded by open spaces, so you miss the usual points of reference, for example when it comes to learning the braking points. Last year, there wasn't very much grip on the new track surface. Your driving has to be neat and tidy, as you only have grip on the ideal line and this makes it difficult to overtake, even if there are several points where passing is a possibility and you need a car with good balance."
"Last year, on the way to the race track we got caught in a sand storm, with visibility down to about 20 metres, which meant it was like driving into fog on an Austrian motorway! I look forward to racing in Bahrain as I think the track suits me quite well."
David Prigg (Cosworth):
"Both Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur engines have now been inspected at Cosworth. They were in excellent condition following their double points scoring finishes. Cosworth anticipate the combination of Bahrain and Imola circuits to be more demanding than Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur. The challenge is to run competitively and reliably at these events and ideally, to maintain Red Bull Racing's points scoring record."