New season takes center stage in Bahrain

New season takes center stage in Bahrain

2010 Bahrain preview Round one of the 2010 FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship takes place at the Bahrain International Circuit located in Manama, Bahrain. It will be the 7th time the Kingdom of Bahrain...


2010 Bahrain preview

Round one of the 2010 FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship takes place at the Bahrain International Circuit located in Manama, Bahrain. It will be the 7th time the Kingdom of Bahrain hosts the third-most popular sporting event in the World.

Bahrain is ready for the first race of the year.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, who also designed the circuits of Sepang, Shanghai, Istanbul and Valencia. The Bahrain Grand Prix, with its desert climate and desert setting, presents competitors with a unique challenge: all must cope with heat, dehydration and dust and sand.

There have been some changes to the circuit: early in 2010 a new loop with eight new corners over dramatic elevation changes was added. The new part starts just after the old Turn 4 with a fast flowing corner, leading into a sequence of five bends followed by a fast kink and then a challenging hairpin. The track has now 23 turns, 13 right and 10 left, and a total length of 6.299 km, making it the second longest circuit on the calendar. According to the Bahrain circuit, the new track extension will bring exciting overtaking opportunities as well as a fresh challenge to the drivers.

All living Formula One champions

As a part of the 60th anniversary Formula One celebrations, all 20 still living Formula One champions will be present at Bahrain. Circuit manager Martin Whitaker: "This will be a truly special occasion, especially for all those who love F1 and who have been following the sport for many years. This promises to be something spectacular, Bahrain will be the focal point of the sporting world during the week of the Grand Prix. We are the first race of the season, and we have a lot to offer."

Among the champions are Sir Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Sir Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, Mario Andretti, Jody Scheckter, Alan Jones, Nelson Piquet, Keke Rosberg, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen. The list of the 20 champions is completed with the four world champions who take part in the 2010 season; Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and current title defender Jenson Button. To see all these truly great Formula One champions together is of course an unique opportunity, and in addition, almost 20 title winning cars driven by some of those champions will also be on display for the fans during the weekend.

New teams, fresh blood

After Honda, Toyota and BMW decided to leave Formula One, three new teams have now joined: Lotus Racing, Virgin Racing and Hispania Racing Team (HRT) F1. Peter Sauber, who thought his team was in good hands when BMW took over in 2005, had to rescue his own team and will now be competing under the official name BMW Sauber Ferrari. According to Sauber, they have heavily reduced the team's budget in order to survive, but the team still needs more sponsors to safeguard the future of the Swiss team beyond 2010. On the FIA official 2010 entry list are the names of 12 teams and 24 drivers; there is a link to the entry list at the end of this article.

Five rookies this season

Nico Hulkenberg - Williams

German Nico Hulkenberg (born August 19, 1987 in Emmerich am Rhein, Germany) is a promising young driver who already won many championships. He won the Formula BMW ADAC series in 2005, the A1GP championship and the Masters of Formula 3 in 2007, the Formula 3 Euroseries in 2008 and the GP2 series in 2009.

Nico Hulkenberg, Williams F1 Team.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Hulkenberg described his relationship with his teammate Rubens Barrichello: "He is incredibly experienced and I will learn a lot from him. We get along well and we are always fair with each other. But at the end of they day I want to be ahead of him and so does he. I want to improve over the season, and want to take out the maximum from each race, as well as fulfilling the expectations of the team. And with the Williams team, I think we're in with a chance to win races."

Bruno Senna - HRT F1

Brazilian Bruno Senna (born October 15, 1983 in Sao Paulo, Brazil) is the nephew of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna. It will surely be difficult for him to find his own place in Formula One with the achievements of his legendary uncle still in the back of the minds of so many older race fans. Senna already tested for the Honda team and signed a contract with the team for 2009, but the demise of the team (which later became Brawn GP and is now Mercedes GP) left him without a race seat for 2009.

This year it looked like history would repeat itself, as shortly after Senna had signed with the Campos-Meta team it became clear the Spanish outfit was in financial problems, and his contract was once again in doubt. Lucky for him the team was taken over by Spanish businessman Jose Ramon Carabante, who also wished to retain the services of the young Brazilian.

Senna commented on the team's chances this year: "Obviously, it's not going to be easy for us, for example, we'll be starting out with suspension components made of metal instead of carbon fiber, so the car will weigh 20 kilos more than we would have liked."

Karun Chandhok - HRT F1

Indian Karun Chandhok (born January 19, 1984 in Chennai, India) will be Senna's team mate at the HRT F1 team this year. He has competed in the British Formula 3 series, the World Series by Nissan, has driven in A1GP for team India, and from 2006 to 2009 he was active in the GP2 and GP2 Asia series.

Like Senna, he is also convinced it will be a tough year for him and his team: "While it is true that we will be at a disadvantage to the other teams with regard to testing time, I have a lot of faith in Dallara who are building the car. I have met a lot of the engineers and senior people who all seem very motivated and I'm looking forward to working with them at the circuit this week."

Vitaly Petrov - Renault

Vitaly Petrov, Renault F1 Team.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Russian Vitaly Petrov (born September 8, 1984 in Vyborg, Russia) will join Robert Kubica at the Renault team this year. From 2006 to 2009 he was active in the GP2 and GP2 Asia series, and took the second place in the GP2 championship last year, 25 points behind Hulkenberg. Petrov will be the first Russian driver in Formula One, and has the backing of Russian sponsors who brought a massive 15 million Euros to the Renault team.

Petrov reflects on his first race: "I need to be realistic in Bahrain because it's my first race and it will be a big learning experience. So my first aim is to build my confidence through the weekend, to finish the race and try to be as close to my teammate as possible."

Lucas di Grassi - Virgin Racing

Brazilian Lucas di Grassi (born August 11, 1984 in Sao Paulo, Brazil) will be racing alongside Timo Glock for the Virgin Racing team. Di Grassi was like the other four rookies, active in the GP2 series from 2006 until 2009, in 2007 he ended in second place (just behind Timo Glock who won the championship, Glock is his team mate now) and in 2008 and 2009 in third place of the championship.

"I believe I am ready for Formula 1," Di Grassi said. "I have worked a lot during these years to get here and I believe it happened just in time. I should thank everyone who was with me all these years. I am ready to work 24/7 and I am sure I will be able to contribute with the team efforts in every stage of our evolution in 2010."

Bahrain International Circuit, Manama, Bahrain
Circuit length:6.299 km
Direction:Clockwise
Corners:23 turns (13 right and 10 left)
Longest straight:1090 m
Total number of race laps:49
Total race distance:308.405 km
Estimated Top speed:300 km/h
Tyre usage:Medium
Tyre compounds:Super soft/Medium
Brake wear:Low to medium
Downforce level:Medium to high
Lap record:M. Schumacher - Ferrari - 1:30.252 (2004)
Speed limits in the pit lane:60 km/h during practice sessions;
100 km/h during qualifying and race

Bahrain weather forecast
Friday:Dry and sunny, slight early morning haze, min 19C, max 31C
Saturday:Dry and sunny, min 20C, max 33C
Sunday:Dry and sunny, slight early morning haze, min 20C, max 33C

Qualifying

With now 24 drivers during qualifying on track, after Q1, which will last twenty minutes, the slowest seven drivers will be excluded, and after Q2 (fifteen minutes) the next-slowest seven drivers will be excluded, so only the ten fastest drivers will take part in the final qualifying session also known as Q3 (ten minutes). Any driver whose car stops on the circuit during the qualifying session will not be permitted to take any further part in the session. Any car which stops on the circuit during the qualifying session, and which is returned to the pits before the end of the session, will be held in parc ferm? until the end of the session.

Again like last year all drivers eliminated in Q1 or Q2 will have to be available for media interviews immediately after the end of each session, as well as the drivers who participated in Q3, and who are not required to take part in the post-qualifying press conference.

Pit stops

Expected pit stop schedule for Bahrain:
For 1 stop - between laps 27-33
For 2 stops - between laps 12-15 and 33-37
For 3 stops - between laps 6-12, 20-27 and 37-45

Toro Rosso has been practicing pit stops during testing in Barcelona.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Bridgestone has allocated the Medium and Super Soft tyres for Bahrain. Drivers who make it to the top ten during qualifying, will have to start on the same tyres they qualified on. Teams will be facing a dilemma during Q3; qualify on the softer tyre compound to get the highest possible start grid position and at the same time take the risk the softer tyre will be worn out before the first pit stop during the race, which will cost them valuable time, or qualify on the harder tyre compound, which will result in a lower start place, and hope those tyres will last longer during the race, which will give them an advantage over the teams who started on the softer tyres.

A possible strategy for a one-stopper could be: start on the hard compound, because the car is heavy during the first stint, and finish on the softer compound, when the car is much lighter, the advantage of a one-stopper is obviously the time you gain when you only stop once. For a two-stop strategy: start on the soft tyres, which makes the car considerably faster than the competitors on the harder tyres, pit early to change to the harder compound, and finish on the softer tyres. The advantage is the time you gain during the first stint, and during the last stint the soft tyres will be in better shape (fresher) than the soft tyres of a team on a 1 stop strategy. Of course there are many strategies possible, but when the softer tyres won't last long enough in the desert heat of Bahrain, or when a driver doesn't take care of his tyres, it could cost him an extra pit stop.

The first race of the season

During testing in Spain last month, the weather was cold and wet, but in Bahrain it will be very hot and dusty, and cars, tyres, engines and drivers will be tested to the limit. For the rookies who never have completed a Grand Prix before, these conditions will present a huge challenge, their main goal will be finishing the race.

From what we have sofar seen during testing, it seems the top three teams, McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull, are almost evenly matched, and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has predicted a 'titanic title fight' this season. And there's of course the return of Michael Schumacher, many race fans expect him to be right on the pace, but whether Schumacher can keep up with Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber or Nico Rosberg, we will only know at the end of Sunday afternoon, when the winner of the race will climb onto the podium to celebrate the first victory of the season. Enjoy it.


See also: 2010 Formula One entry list

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Nigel Mansell , Jackie Stewart , Mario Andretti , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Niki Lauda , Alain Prost , Alan Jones , Ayrton Senna , Damon Hill , Nelson Piquet , Keke Rosberg , Peter Sauber , Emerson Fittipaldi , Nico Rosberg , Jack Brabham , Karun Chandhok , Robert Kubica , Timo Glock , Lucas di Grassi , Jody Scheckter , John Surtees , Bruno Senna , Vitaly Petrov , Nico Hulkenberg
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams , Virgin Racing , Renault F1 Team , Brawn GP