2017 Bahrain Grand Prix track preview

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix

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With its long straights, heavy braking zones and generous run-off areas, the Bahrain International Circuit is more taxing on the cars than the drivers.

Track data: Bahrain International Circuit

Lap length 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) 1’29.493 (Lewis Hamilton, 2016, Q3)
2016 Rate the Race 7.38 out of 10
2016 Driver of the Weekend Romain Grosjean

Bahrain International Circuit track data in full

The 5.4 kilometre circuit is also punishing in terms of fuel consumption. However those braking zones keep the MGU-K well fed and the long flat-out sections gives the MGU-H plents of time to charge as well. This is vital to help drivers keep fuel saving to a minimum.

Since the event became a night race three years ago the drivers are spared the worst of the torrid heat of the desert. However the track has produced some dramatic races, notably that first night race which featured a thrilling showdown between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The track’s two DRS zone remain unchanged for this year’s race, as does the configuration of its run-off areas.

A lap of Bahrain

From the starting grid the run to turn one is 265 metres long and 22 metres wide, offering plenty of opportunity for first-lap action. The first turn is tight and slow, after which the drivers wind their way up to turn four where they often continue to swap positions.

“It’s easy to go too deep” at turn one, says Nico Hulkenberg. “It’s pretty traction-limited on exit so you’re fighting the rear end. It will be interesting to see how much difference there is with the new wider tyres and the greater downforce.”

Braking for turn ten can be tricky
The slightly off-camber turn four is another good passing point, but after that the drivers have a couple of quick corners where front-end balance is vital.

“Turn eight is a tight and slow hairpin and another place where it’s easy to out-brake yourself with front-locking,” says Hulkenberg, “especially if you get off-line.” Much the same is true of the next two bends.

The curving turn nine makes the approach to turn ten difficult. Any driver who fails to nail the braking point here will find themselves on the harsh, serrated kerb at the exit, and easy prey for rivals on the following straight. The shifting winds can also catch drivers out here.

This straight leads into a pair of rapid corners. The second of these, turn 12, is likely to be flat-out for a lot of drivers this year. Two more braking points follow: turn 13 leads the drivers onto another straight and 14 brings them around to start the next lap.

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2017 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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10 comments on “2017 Bahrain Grand Prix track preview”

  1. I feel like I shouldn’t like this track… but I kinda do! It just seems to throw up close racing. I love how an overtaking manoeuvre came be set up going into turn 1 and not get resolved until turn 5/6.

    1. I have to agree with that. It’s a very typical Tilkedrome but it does throw up good racing and the track has a couple of corners which are real gems (like the 9, 10 combo).

    2. It’s a good track. I just wish they hadn’t changed to a night race…

      1. @satchelcharge ”I just wish they hadn’t changed to a night race” – Why? Why? Personally, I prefer this GP to be a floodlit race rather than an afternoon race like it used to be.

  2. lovely article… gotta love how hulkenberg has described each of those corners.

  3. please accept my ignorance, can someone tell me what the orange octagons represent?… speed traps?

    1. Ferrari, Seb fan
      13th April 2017, 13:11

      Yes. They show the speed traps at the fastest points on the track

  4. I’ve always enjoyed racing at Sakhir on the F1 video games, could never quite get the braking from turn 9 into turn 10 just right though!

    Although it has the usual tilkedrome trait of too much flat run-off area, it does facilitate wheel-to-wheel racing with several overtaking opportunities throughout the lap and has some nice undulations. Would certainly place it alongside turkey/cota/malaysia as one of the best “modern” tracks. Just please don’t ever go back to that extended middle sector!!!

  5. Michael Brown (@)
    14th April 2017, 16:11

    Something about the 1-2-3 combination really works for racing. Anyone who takes an early apex in turn 1 compromises their line for 2 and 3, and this lasts all the way to turn 4. And then we get side by side action into the fast corners after 4, and this is a battle of who is the bravest.

    I believe it was 2014 that a poll was conducted on this site for the users’ favourite layout, and they chose the outer layout. I think this layout is the best, because it would lead to low downforce and lots of overtaking.

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