Bahrain Grand Prix Preview
Sparks flying from skid blocks and fireworks exploding in the night sky. These are some of the first things that come to mind when you think of F1’s night race in the Bahrain desert.
This race is expected to be another battle at the front of the grid between Mercedes and Ferrari.
Despite finishing second to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the last four races, Lewis Hamilton has won the last two Bahrain Grands Prix.
Rosberg made his Formula One debut at Bahrain with Williams in 2006. The German has yet to win at the Sakhir circuit, but has recorded back-to-back podium finishes. A win would be the perfect celebration of his 10th anniversary.
However, we will have to pay attention to whether the race sees another poor start for the Mercedes team as drivers continue to get used to a start procedure with only one clutch paddle.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen will look to get back on track after retiring from the race in Melbourne. Last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix was part of a strange trio of podiums for the Finn, where he only finished in the top three in twilight or night races at Sakhir, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi.
Raikkonen was very quick in Bahrain last year and another strong performance alongside teammate Sebastian Vettel could see Ferrari pressure Mercedes and potentially cut into their 28-point deficit in the Constructors’ Championship.
It will be interesting to see what strategies Mercedes and Ferrari can develop with the continuation of the new tire rules. For example, Mercedes only have one set of medium tires, while Ferrari has three, so if the track presents an unexpected condition, the team could indeed jump on the Silver Arrows.
Meanwhile, further down the grid, Red Bull is expected to have another strong race. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat are looking for a strong points-scoring finish after Ricciardo finished fourth in Australia. At this point, it looks like Williams may have fallen back into the hands of the Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams.
Toro Rosso will continue their battle of the youngsters between Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz in what is the 10th anniversary of their grand prix debut in Bahrain.
After an impressive debut in Australia, all eyes will again be on the eyes of Haas. A lot of experts could describe their sixth-place debut an anomaly created by a red flag, but the team will have high hopes to prove the doubters wrong.
Finally, one of the most intriguing stories of the weekend is the call up of Stoffel Vandoorne, who will substitute for Fernando Alonso at McLaren. The 2015 GP2 champion will make his Formula One debut and perhaps more importantly, a chance to show what he’s capable of. The young Belgian has a plethora of supporters who believe he is a future world champion.
These are just some of the possible highlights ahead of the 12th running of the popular night-time race.
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