The Bahrain International Circuit is holding its 12th round of the world championship this year. A typical modern circuit with wide run-off areas and frequent braking zones, it has nonetheless produced some memorable races in recent years.
Track data: Bahrain International Circuit
|5.412km (3.363 miles)
|Grand prix distance
|308.238km (191.53 miles)
|Lap record (race)
|1’31.447 (Pedro de la Rosa, 2005)
|Fastest lap (any session)
|1’29.527 (Mark Webber, 2005, fourth practice)
|See drivers’ choices
|2015 Rate the Race
|7.37 out of 10
|2015 Driver of the Weekend
The purpose-built venue was designed by Hermann Tilke and is characterised by long straights and slow corners. This puts a premium on top speed and traction.
When the lights go out the drivers face a 400-metre sprint to a slow right-hander which funnels into a pair of switchback corners. “Turn one is very tight at the start” says Carlos Sainz Jnr, “meaning that a lot of cars need to fit in a small space”.
“I remember having a tough moment through turns one and two at the start last year, with a lot of cars bunching up.”
The run through the first sequence of corners and up to turn four presents one of the best overtaking opportunities on the track, even without a DRS zone. The cars then fall into line for turns five, six and seven.
This is one of the few parts of the circuit which involves high-speed direction change, and the exposed nature of the venue can catch drivers out. “The wind can have a big influence at those corners,” notes Romain Grosjean.
Turns eight and ten are both hairpins – the latter made trickier by the downhill approach and slight kink of turn nine. This leads the drivers onto the long back straight and second DRS zone, though the high-speed entry to turn 11 means they need a good run on a rival to make a pass stick.
“I also remember turn 12 being a challenge because it’s always on the limit,” says Sainz. “You can go flat there one lap if the wind is okay, but then you try to do the same the following lap and it’s impossible because of the wind It’s tricky, but it gives the driver a lot of pleasure when you manage to do it well.”
After these two quick corners drivers suddenly find themselves bearing down on the slower turn 13 and having to pick out their braking point. The final corners are all about maximising traction at the exit to keep the speed up – particularly for those drivers who are at a power disadvantage.
“At the last corner you have to make sure you get a good exit,” Sainz explains. “Last year we struggled a bit with top speed, so it was all about getting a lot of traction out of there – I remember this straight being a bit too long for us. Maybe no longer that much this year!”