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:

Red Bull RacingSebastian VettelSebastian VettelDaniel RicciardoDaniel Ricciardo
McLarenKevin MagnussenKevin MagnussenJenson ButtonJenson Button
Force IndiaNico HulkenbergNico HulkenbergSergio PerezSergio Perez
MarussiaJules BianchiMax ChiltonMax ChiltonJules Bianchi
CaterhamRobin FrijnsKamui KobayashiKamui KobayashiMarcus Ericsson
Toro RossoDaniil KvyatJean Eric VergneDaniil KvyatJean Eric Vergne
LotusRomain GrosjeanRomain GrosjeanPastor MadonadoPastor Madonado
MercedesLewis HamiltonNico RosbergLewis HamiltonNico Rosberg
FerrariFernando AlonsoFernando AlonsoKimi RaikkonenKimi Raikkonen