Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Bahrain, 2017

Bahrain heat will tax F1’s seven-race engines

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix weather

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Teams will have to cope with hot track temperatures for the first time this year at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The usual very warm conditions are forecast at the desert circuit. Air temperatures will reach 30C on all three days. Qualifying and the race take place after nightfall, but even then the track should be warmer than it was during the last race in Australia.

However this also means the first and third practice sessions, which take place during the daytime, tend to be particularly poor guides to qualifying and race form.

Australia gave us some indications about the temperature sensitivity of this year’s cars. Valtteri Bottas suspected Mercedes did not get its cooling calculations right in Melbourne which meant his engine temperatures rose too high when he followed other cars closely.

Lewis Hamilton reported the same problem, as did fellow Mercedes user Lance Stroll. In Stroll’s case, his engine was over-stressed during practice which compromised how he was allowed to use it in the race.

As the teams have little to learn during the first and third practice sessions, and will not want to risk damaging engines which have to last seven races, we may see less practice running than usual. Last year drivers did around 20 laps each in first practice and around a dozen in the third session.

Track temperatures were on the cool side in qualifying at Melbourne and the warmer weather expected on Saturday should give a better guide to the cars’ performance. In particular Romain Grosjean believes Haas will perform better in warmer conditions.

Another weather factor which could play a role this weekend is the wind, which can come on in stiff gusts around the desert course. In Melbourne both Renault drivers reported their car felt particularly sensitive to changes in wind.

For more updates on the track conditions during each session keep an eye on RaceFans Live and the RaceFans Twitter account.

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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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22 comments on “Bahrain heat will tax F1’s seven-race engines”

  1. STR might be in trouble with this heat as Honda is still having problem. Mclaren might be in trouble too, they needed to cut holes for cooling in Barcelona, and that hole is still in AUS

  2. I cant imagine 10c difference is gonna have a large impact on the cooling. Mercedes generally getting the finetuning wrong is a bigger problem.

    1. 10c is a massive difference. Cooling can only work to a certain point if you raise the ambient temperature a few degrees when cooling is at its limit everything will be a few degrees hotter. You will see lots more vent in the bodywork of cars to try to get more airflow and enable the cooling to work but when the air temperature is at boiling point or above where is the cooling coming from? Bahrain temperatures have the potential of being extreme. So how do you keep cool if your running around in a sauna cause that is what they are going to be doing!

    2. @rethla, you are right that, when it comes down to it, the ambient temperature is less of a factor – most of the problem comes from the fact that the teams have chosen to intentionally run extremely close to the limit in terms of cooling, coupled to the fact that you’ve got a 900ºC stream of hot gas coming out of the exhaust of the car in front.

  3. What we really need is these hopes that Bahrain will suit Ferrari and Hass well ti come to fruition. Good qualifying, good starts, get ahead of the Mercedes rather than letting them run clear. If this gives more chance of them overheating, it may give them less chance of meeting the 3 engine requirement this season as well which again should help keep the season open for longer.

    Hope Hass do well. It would be nice to see a return of certain midfield teams suddenly being amazing at particular tracks. Like Force India used to be at Spa.

  4. It would be great to see the drivers managing their own races with good old fashioned Temp and Fuel gauges.
    Instead of,
    Pit Computers > Engineers > Radio > Driver > Buttons > On board computer settings

  5. Chirag Sharma
    5th April 2018, 10:51

    Why don’t you go back to using landline and fax huh? Why are you using internet? Wouldn’t it be good?

  6. I bet everybody will eventually take the penalty for a fourth engine, so why not race like they have 4 or 5 engines and not worry about it, in the long run it might be the best choice just by the amount of extra points they will make against teams worrying about heat and engines.

    1. Yeah.. I agree. I expect every driver to take an engine penalty at some point in time this season. I think it’s interesting how teams strategically use their engines at different circuits before they decide which race they will take the hit. I don’t think Honda will be using a lot of strategy though, as I think they’ll be up for penalties before the midpoint of the season.

      1. Before the midpoint? You mean Spain.

    2. angelic (@angelicdarkness)
      6th April 2018, 7:04

      I think the teams already run it at the maximum performance they can get from the engine without any disaster happening. The thing is you really cant predict when the engine will break if you go beyond that performance bound, thats why teams have to do so much meticulous planning. Even after all this planning, they must have already planned for at least one penalty per driver throughout the season. What would happen if they went all guns blazing at every race? Well as far as i can say at least Honda would have company.

  7. Great, more managing again. Already looking forward to it.

    1. There has always been ‘managing’ and there always will be.
      Even if a PU only has to last 1 race, then they still need to manage it to get to the finish line.

      It’s more that journalists and we like to discuss these items during the time between races (or grid girls, halo, etc.)

      1. But managing even during practice and qualifying aint exactly fun to watch.

        People like to say Mercedes is sandbagging but what they really do is keeping theit raceengines from derating or blowing up.

      2. @Egonovi Spot on.

  8. I wonder the impact this will have for the fans that will Bevin racetrack during practice, paying to see an empty track! This is going too far.

  9. Sure some management is always neccesairy. But if you have to manage a psu for 1 race it feels more on the limit.

    Now they are managing the tyres because it’s always a one stop race with mandatory pitstop, the PSU because it should last 7 races, the fuel because it’s limited to a max without refueling.

    The cars go really fast and are amazingly high-tech. I love that. But they are also very heavy, unable to follow close, and the teams are not enabled to get on the limit against each other. That’s probably why reliability is so high nowadays.

    1. The high level of airodymanics involved in the front wing controls the airflow over the rest of the car to promote extra downforce and also has a part in funneling air for cooling when you get closer to a car in front none of that works as designed. So then you have less cooling and less downforce. Maybe a less sofisticated front wing so the disturbed air from another car has less effect???

  10. The daytime sessions for this race (and the Abu Dhabi GP as well) are basically nothing but a waste of time, so why don’t they just drop them altogether, so that FP2 would be the only one before qualifying as it’s the only useful session for these two particular races anyway?

    1. They will still learn from these sessions I think you might see less laps but the drivers need to learn the track and how the car is going to handle they will play with settings but fp2 will be more relevant to race pace

  11. Jonathan Parkin
    5th April 2018, 14:12

    Isn’t there any way of reducing the cost of engines so we can stop this nonsense

  12. I wonder the impact this will have for the fans that will Bevin racetrack during practice, paying to see an empty track! This is going too far. That’s how we engage fans.:)

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