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|
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.”
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.