Slow testing lap times expected as winds and sandstorms loom in Bahrain

Kimi Raikkonen drives through sand in the pitlane during testing in 2009

Kimi Raikkonen drives through sand in the pitlane during testing in 2009

Typical temperatures and climatic conditions during February and March in the Gulf region tend to be moderate and idyllic most of the time, however dust storms are common, and are looking likely to impact testing in Bahrain this week.

For the past couple of days the region, from Dubai in the south through to Kuwait in the north and Bahrain in the middle, is experiencing strong winds, dust storms and even rain.

Thus F1 teams setting up in the Sakhir paddock are expecting a very ‘green’ track, exacerbated by sand being blown on to the surface. This is sure to negatively impact lap times around the grand prix venue, especially early on in proceedings.

Normally the weather in Bahrain in February is idyllic

Normally the weather in Bahrain in February is idyllic

The Ferrari team explained on their website, “With the track located on the edge of the desert, temperatures are ideal for testing, currently hovering around the 20 degree mark. Less pleasant is the wind which is blowing hard today [Tuesday], bringing quite a bit of sand onto the track.”

“One cannot therefore expect to see any particularly fast times on the first day, as the surface will be rather dirty,” the team added.

Last year, at the end of FP1 during the Bahrain GP weekend, Felipe Massa (Ferrari) ended the session fastest of all with the best time of 1:34.487 – on a ‘green’ track. By qualifying the next day Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) had found two seconds and was down to 1:32.330.

Sandstorm in Bahrain back in 2009

Sandstorm in Bahrain back in 2009

At Jerez last month, the current V6 turbo powered cars were five seconds slower than their V8 normally aspirated ancestors were a year earlier. Thus the expected lap times during testing, in ideal conditions around Bahrain International Circuit, should be in the 97 seconds to 100 seconds zone.

However early on few drivers are likely to dip below 1:40.000 mark, which is about the same lap times GP2 cars manage around the venue.

In February 2009, during testing in Bahrain, strong winds and a subsequent sandstorm forced officials to cancel a day’s running. (GP247)

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Bahrain Test 1 schedule:

Team Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Red Bull Racing Sebastian Vettel Sebastian Vettel Daniel Ricciardo Daniel Ricciardo
McLaren Kevin Magnussen Kevin Magnussen Jenson Button Jenson Button
Force India Nico Hulkenberg Nico Hulkenberg Sergio Perez Sergio Perez
Marussia Jules Bianchi Max Chilton Max Chilton Jules Bianchi
Caterham Robin Frijns Kamui Kobayashi Kamui Kobayashi Marcus Ericsson
Toro Rosso Daniil Kvyat Jean Eric Vergne Daniil Kvyat Jean Eric Vergne
Lotus Romain Grosjean Romain Grosjean Pastor Madonado Pastor Madonado
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton Nico Rosberg Lewis Hamilton Nico Rosberg
Ferrari Fernando Alonso Fernando Alonso Kimi Raikkonen Kimi Raikkonen
  • KevinW

    Can’t help but notice how much nicer looking that 2009 car is compared to the screwed up mess of 2014. Faster too. The cars of 2009 through 2011 cars will hold a place in record books as the apex of F1 performance, and modern car appearance. Faster and better looking… those were the days.

  • Forza Ferrari

    You can thank FIA for the way F1 cars look this year.