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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2024 BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

Formula 1 kicks off its 2024 season with the Bahrain Grand Prix, held at the Bahrain International Circuit from February 29 to March 2. The schedule is adjusted due to Ramadan, with practice and qualifying preceding the race. Teams arrive armed with knowledge from pre-season testing, particularly on the abrasive track that demands traction and braking stability for optimal performance.

Bahrain Grand Prix Circuit
 

Track Evolution and Weather:

Limited track evolution is observed throughout the weekend, primarily influenced by temperature changes. With two out of three practice sessions held in the heat of the day, obtaining accurate race data becomes challenging. Additionally, wind conditions, especially the intensity of the wind and the direction of it can affect braking points.

Braking:

One of the key factors in Bahrain is braking stability. The track features several heavy braking zones, such as Turn 1, Turn 4 and Turn 14, where the drivers decelerate from over 300 km/h to around 60 km/h in a matter of seconds. This puts a lot of stress on the brakes and the tyres, and requires a lot of precision and confidence from the drivers. Any mistake or lock-up can compromise the lap time or even lead to a spin or a crash.

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix Pole Lap Brake
 

Another crucial aspect in Bahrain is traction. The track has many slow-speed corners that require good acceleration out of them, such as Turn 1, Turn 4, Turn 10, and Turn 14. Drivers need to have a car that can deliver a strong rear grip and minimize wheelspin, as this can affect the tyre performance and wear.

One of the most difficult corners on the track is Turn 10, a long, combined corner entry that tightens before dropping away at the apex. The drivers have to brake while completing the wide corner arc of Turn 9, which makes the front-left tyre go light and increases the risk of a lock-up. This corner can make or break a lap time, as well as a race result.

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix Pole Lap Longitudinal Acceleration
 

In the final sector, it is vital not to make the slightest error: you need to exit Turn 15 just right so as not to allow those behind to close up, because on the main straight, the DRS means an attack is always a possibility. A total of 18% of lap time is spent under braking.

The race will start after sunset and therefore it will be held under artificial lights that create a spectacular atmosphere. However, one thing that we will not be able to see are the incandescent carbon discs that used to glow in the dark, as they have been replaced by lenticular wheel covers that were introduced in 2022 to improve aerodynamics and safety.

Car Setup:

The focus for car set-up is on optimizing low and medium-speed corner performance. Mechanical grip is crucial out of the slower corners, whilst the high-speed sections are easily taken flat-out.

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix Pole Lap Speed
 

Tyre Degradation and strategy:

Owing to the abrasiveness of the track, which is one of the roughest of the season, tyre degradation tends to be amongst the highest seen at any race across the calendar. The rear tyres are especially important in Bahrain, as they are exposed to high temperatures and degradation due to the longitudinal forces and the rough asphalt.

Bahrain Grand Prix Tyre Selection and Circuit characteristics
 

To preserve the rear tyres in the race, the drivers have to be very smooth and gentle with the throttle application. Any excessive or unnecessary wheelspin can increase the tyre temperature and wear, and compromise the race pace and strategy. Drivers have to find the right balance between pushing hard and saving tyres especially when accelerating out of the corners, and always drive a bit below the limit of the rear tyre slip.

The track also has some high-speed corners that challenge the aerodynamic performance of the car, such as Turn 6, Turn 7 and Turn 12. These corners put lateral forces on the tyres and can also cause overheating and thermal degradation. Drivers have to be careful not to overdrive these corners and lose time or damage the tyres.

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix Pole Lap Lateral Acceleration
 

Last year, a two-stopper using the C1 and the C3 was the favoured strategy, with the C2 used by only one team (McLaren).

Overtaking Opportunities:

The Sakhir circuit is not only fast and technical, but also offers plenty of opportunities for overtaking and duels. There are three main spots where drivers can try to pass their rivals: Turns 1, 4, and 11. These corners are also equipped with DRS zones, which give an extra boost to the cars behind. According to the data, 65% of all overtakes in Bahrain have used DRS. The most popular spot is Turn One, where drivers can brake late and dive inside. However, this also opens the door for a counterattack into Turn Four, which is another tight corner.

Key Statistics:

The Bahrain Grand Prix has been held since 2004, and it has seen some of the best drivers in history battle for glory. The most successful driver is Lewis Hamilton, who has won five times, followed by Sebastian Vettel with four wins and Fernando Alonso with three. Alonso is also the only driver on the grid who participated in the inaugural race in 2004. Last year, Max Verstappen broke the dominance of Mercedes and Ferrari by taking his first win in Bahrain, ending a 10-year drought for Red Bull.

2024 Bahrain Grand Prix Stats
 

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