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Preview GP Bahrain 2020: Four teams, a third place

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Preview GP Bahrain 2020
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M With three packs of three, Formula 1 started the Corona season . She concluded the most unusual year in her history with another three-pack in the desert states of Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. The last three races within three weeks each take place under floodlights.

It all starts on the usual route variant of the Bahrain International Circuit, before Formula 1 takes on the so-called 'Outer Circuit' presents a new challenge. The tension at the top is gone. Lewis Hamilton is world champion for the seventh time and Mercedes, as usual since 2014, is constructor world champion.

Racing Point wants preliminary decision

But that doesn't mean that it's all about individual victories. The fight for third place in the World Championship behind Mercedes and Red Bull is too nerve-wracking and costly for that. Racing Point, McLaren, Renault and Ferrari duel in the tenths of a second. They all want to run behind the two top teams. It's about prestige and a double-digit million sum for the team budget.

Racing Point has the best cards. With 154 points, the Silverstone team is five points ahead of McLaren, 18 in front of Renault and 24 in front of Ferrari - and also has the best car from the midfield group. Another top result, and Racing Point could already bring about a preliminary decision. Without the point deduction from the Styrian GP, ​​the pink racing cars would have hurried anyway.

But the mix of four long straights, hard braking zones and mostly slow and medium-fast corners should be particularly suitable for Renault. McLaren recently weakened in qualifying, but was mostly on the spot on race Sundays. The traditional racing team wants to counter this with its team spirit. Ferrari must find ways and means to compensate for the engine disadvantage in Bahrain.

Spectators at the racetrack will not be allowed in the Kingdom either. The ruling family only wants to release a limited number of seats for families of health workers and first aiders in order to honor their work in the corona pandemic.

Pirelli
Tire supplier Pirelli summarizes the requirements in Bahrain in an infographic.

The track: Bahrain International Circuit

After the Nürburgring, Portimao, Imola and Istanbul, the ten teams meet again on a well-known race track that has been on the racing calendar since 2004 with one exception. In 2011 the GP Bahrain fell victim to political unrest. A year earlier, Formula 1 had tried an extended version with a total of 6.3 kilometers, but returned to the old layout.

On the 5.412 kilometer racetrack, traction, engine power and braking stability count. Measured against the lap distance, the drivers are fully on the gas for 75 percent of the lap. They accelerate to over 300 km /h four times per lap. Many slow bends slow the cars down between the long straights. Accelerating, braking: This mainly affects the rear tires. Especially since the track surface is one of the roughest there is. Anyone who has built a tire-friendly chassis has an advantage here. The driver can also use his driving style to protect the tires to a certain extent.

The first and third training sessions take place under daylight in the heat. This means that the air and track temperatures are higher. The conditions are therefore only representative for qualifying and the race in the second practice session. Here 495 floodlights illuminate the route. The warm-up and wear behavior of the tires changes with lower temperatures. Engineers and drivers should be careful not to get bogged down with the setup.

Bahrain is particularly interested in the material. The high proportion of full throttle affects the engines. Seven braking zones, three of which were identified by the engineers as strong deceleration points, also push the brakes to the limit. The gearbox is also pushed harder. The driver shifts 58 times per lap - only Sochi is more demanding in this respect.

The rather rough sand does not pose any major difficulties for the cars. The route is made relative by the thin layer applied by the wind cleared quickly. In addition to the ideal line, it remains a bit slippery, which makes the hunt for the perfect lap in qualifying and overtaking difficult. Like last year, the FIA ​​is announcing three DRS zones.

Fast facts about the Bahrain GP:

  • Track length: 5.412 km
  • Number of laps: 57
  • Race distance: 308.238 km
  • Number of corners: 15 (6 left /9 right)
  • Lap record in the race: 1: 31.447 min. (Pedro de la Rosa, 2005)
  • Absolute lap record: 1: 27.866 min. (Charles Leclerc in Q3, 2019)
  • Distance from pole to first braking zone: 352 meters
  • Length of pit lane: 418 meters (loss of time at 80 km /h: approx. 18.8 seconds)
  • DRS- Zones: between T15-T1, T3-T4, T10-11
  • Safety car probability: 40 percent
  • Tires: C2 /C3 /C4
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    Racing Point has the best cards in the battle for third place.

    The setup

    In Bahrain, a good compromise is required. On the long straights, the car should build up as little air resistance as possible, which, conversely, would speak for small wings. But in the 15 corners, the rear axle in particular has to stick to the asphalt - when braking, turning in and accelerating. So the wings shouldn't be too small. Otherwise you lose too much time, especially in the technical middle sector, where almost half of the curves are. And one more thing: if the contact pressure is too low, the cars will start to slide. If you slip, your tires overheat.

    In the past, the brake scoops had to be made slightly larger due to the high temperatures. By moving the start time to the evening, the heat problem is much more relaxed. The asphalt is not quite as level as it was in the first few years. Bahrain has been on the racing calendar since 2004. But there are still relatively few bumps. The engineers can set the cars low.

    In order to improve traction out of the slow corners and limit tire wear, however, a little travel on the rear axle is recommended. In Bahrain, mechanical grip decides the lap time, because the few fast corners are driven at full throttle anyway.

    Since the temperatures from start to finish can drop by up to 20 ° C, there are shifts in the balance of power in the course of the race, depending on which temperature window the setup fits better. The engineers have to be careful in the first and third free practice in daylight,that you won't be fooled by the hotter temperatures. With more rubber and less sand, the grip on the racing line improves a lot over the course of the weekend. The weather forecast, which initially assumed rain for Saturday and Sunday, should have caused a little shock. In the meantime, however, the meteorologists are talking about a dry qualifying and Grand Prix.

    Pirelli opts for the tire compound C2 to C4 - the middle tier from the range. The tires are softer than last year, as the majority made two pit stops over the 57 laps, but limited themselves to the two softer of the three types. With his selection, Pirelli hopes that all three tire types will be in demand this time - and that this creates a strategic variety.

    Technology updates

    The first and third training sessions do not provide much information the race. However, the teams can use the time to familiarize themselves with the tires and carry out possible experiments with a view to 2021. Each driver receives two additional sets of tires for the Friday training session. It is a new tire for the next season of the C3 compound.

    It could well be that some teams misuse part of the training time and do test runs with parts for the 2021 car. The basis of the cars remains the same, but changes to the underbody, the rear brake ventilation and diffuser are more serious than you might initially think. If you take the wrong countermeasure here, you lose massive downforce and slide far back in the sequence. Therefore, one or the other could compare the findings from the wind tunnel and CFD with reality in order to save negative surprises. Williams has already announced that it will carry out a few series of tests on Friday that will serve future development.

    Red Bull and McLaren are among the teams that have gradually upgraded their cars over the past few weeks and months. Red Bull last with changes to the front wing, hood wing under the nose and modifications around the exhaust. Red Bull relocated the wastegate pipes under the upper wishbone. In the rainy Turkey, the World Cup runner-up was not yet able to record all the data. They should want to catch up on that in Bahrain.

    The favorites

    There is much to be said for Mercedes' 13th win of the season. Both titles have come in, the pressure is gone, the drivers can take off. Even if the world champions stopped developing the W11 for some time, the black Silver Arrow is still the fastest car in the field with the fewest weak points. The engine is the yardstick of what will help on the long straights. Bahrain is a racetrack that goes on the rear tires. Those who have designed their car to protect tires have an advantage. Just like Mercedes.

    Red Bullshould be number two with Max Verstappen. The latest rework has made the RB16 faster and more predictable. The mostly slow and medium-fast corners should accommodate Red Bull. Verstappen will look ahead, but should also look in the rearview mirror. If you can compare a track with Bahrain this season, it is most likely Monza. And there Red Bull lined up behind McLaren and Racing Point in qualifying. Renault was only a few thousandths slower.

    In the midfield, predictions are practically impossible. Racing Point and Renault recently had the best package there on Saturday. On race Sunday, however, McLaren drives at eye level. A surprise can always be expected from Monza winners Pierre Gasly and Alpha Tauri. Ferrari should have more trouble than last. Bahrain is an engine route. In this regard, the Italians have a performance disadvantage compared to the other engine manufacturers. Haas and Alfa Romeo will also feel this in the fight of the backbenchers against Williams-Mercedes.

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    Charles Leclerc dominated the Bahrain weekend 2019, but was behind the Mercedes still only third.

    This is how the race went last year - GP Bahrain 2019:

    It was Charles Leclerc's big show, which a technical defect brought about the first career success. The young Monegasse stormed into pole position for the first time in his second race for Ferrari. Three tenths ahead of teammates Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. At the start, Leclerc fell behind for the moment, overtook irresistibly and easily pulled away from his pursuers.

    Ferrari won the lap time on the long straights. Mercedes geared its race solely to the second Ferrari until a short circuit in a control unit in Leclerc's car struck, robbed the six-cylinder turbo of a combustion chamber and made the Monegasque a defenseless victim. The Mercedes flew past him on the straights without any problems. A late safety car saved the winner, who was believed to be safe, at least one place on the podium.

    The second double win of the season was a given for Mercedes. This time turnedHamilton changed the order compared to the opening race in Australia. The future world champion prevailed against Valtteri Bottas, who struggled with balance problems. In the second half of the race, Hamilton maneuvered past Vettel, who spun in a duel and flat braked a tire. This caused strong vibrations, which shook the front wing of the Ferrari on the straight. The Heppenheimer finished the race only in fifth place behind Max Verstappen. Red Bull had no chance in Bahrain.

    In midfield, McLaren and Lando Norris beat Kimi Räikkönen in an Alfa Romeo. The Englishman finished sixth. Renault went double knockout within a short time. A few laps before the end of the race, Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo said goodbye with a technical defect.

    Schedule GP Bahrain 2020

    Qualifying and races start at dusk and end at night. The viewers in Germany hardly have to adjust. The crucial sessions of the race weekend will take place in the afternoon from 3 p.m.

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