Having conducted two four-day test sessions at the Bahrain International Circuit in February and March, the Kingdom feels like a second home for the teams in 2014. The weather is always good, but that won’t be especially relevant come the race because this event is F1’s latest night race. It will start at 18:00 local time, so just as in Singapore and Abu Dhabi the drivers will race under floodlights.
The layout is defined by four relatively long straights, leading into heavy braking zones. As a result, stability under braking and good traction are vital to a good lap time, as is an efficient DRS system. If it’s windy, sand from the surrounding desert sometimes gets blown onto the track and that can adversely affect grip levels. But most of the drivers will be aware of that after 10 races at this venue.
Rod Nelson: “Sakhir is well known to all of the teams as we spent eight days testing there in February and March with our new cars this year. It’s the circuit with the highest brake energy, and common issues are high brake wear combined with high brake temperatures. Due to a high track roughness and some of the highest track temperatures of the year, tyre wear and thermal degradation could both be issues here. We expect daytime temperatures to be several degrees higher than when we were here last. However for the first time in the race’s history we are to have a night race. This can present its own problems, with temperatures dropping after the start which is almost the same time as the sun sets. Whilst rain isn’t generally an issue here we often have quite high winds from the Gulf and not only can this affect car balance it means that sand on the track can be an issue, particularly at the start of the day.”
Felipe Massa: “Bahrain will be different from last season, normally it’s a very hot race but it’s not humid like Malaysia, it’s really dry which helps from a driver’s physical point of view. It will be a change this year as it’s a night race so we expect the temperatures to be cooler. We’ve been testing there in the winter so all the teams will have an idea about what set-up to use; we know what we have to focus on and where we can improve as well. Bahrain is a really nice place; I’ve won there twice in the past so I’m looking forward to getting back there.
Valtteri Bottas: “We have had a lot of testing in Bahrain so we have more of an idea about our set-up which makes things easier. Obviously the weather will be different, as it will be night, but I think it’s going to be a great sight to see the cars under the lights, so I’m looking forward to that. We didn’t look too bad in testing in Bahrain, so we are looking to the race as a potential for some good points.”