McLaren Mercedes ready for the race in the desert night

Formula 1 heads to the desert for a great race under floodlights.

Formula 1 heads to the desert for round three of the 2014 world championship, but there won’t be any sunshine during this weekend’s Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. The event is the latest night race to be added to the calendar, starting under floodlights at 18.00 local time. It’s sure to be an incredible spectacle.

Bahrain International Circuit facts & stats
The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) was the first Formula 1 venue to be built in the Middle East. It hosted its first grand prix in 2004, since when it has earned a reputation for fast and furious racing.

Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-29
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-29

Photo by: XPB Images

The 5.4km (3.4-mile) layout is essentially made up of four long straights. The cars exceed 300km/h (186mph) along each, at the end of which are large 5g braking events, where car stability and a faultless ERS (energy recovery system), which harvests energy under braking, are essential. Good traction is another important handling characteristic at this track, because the cars accelerate out of first- or second-gear corners on four occasions around the lap.

The middle sector provides some of the most challenging corners. Turn 10 is a tricky downhill off-camber left-hander, into which it’s easy to lock a front wheel. Turns 11 and 12 are the circuit’s only long corners, through which good car balance is important because the drivers are hard on the power.

The asphalt at the BIC is abrasive, but the absence of any high-speed corners makes it relatively easy on tyres. For that reason Pirelli are bringing their Soft (Option) and Medium (Prime) compounds to the race, which are the same as those used at the season-opener in Melbourne. Bahrain is extremely hot during the daytime, but lower track temperatures in the cool of the night will help limit thermal degradation of the tyres.

Jenson Button celebrates his 250th grand prix this weekend. He was the first Formula 1 driver ever to visit the US$150m track in 2003, while it was still under construction, and he has a good record in the event: he finished on the podium in 2004 and won the race in 2009.

Jenson’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen has never previously raced at the BIC, but he has plenty of experience there, following the recent winter test sessions in February.

Mclaren Mercedes

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Kevin Magnussen
Teams Mercedes , McLaren
Article type Preview
Tags bahrain, jenson button, kevin magnussen, mclaren mercedes