Race starts 6:10 pm in Bahrain/11:10 pm in Malaysia tonight
The Bahrain International Circuit this weekend hosts Round Two of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, with teams and drivers tackling the first night race of the season. After the close confines of the season-opening race at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, the 5.41-km long track at Sakhir presents a very different set of challenges, not only because of the evening start under floodlights.
High temperatures and dust from the desert landscape make the racing tough on engines, and the problem of airborne sand can be worsened if the wind gets up across a circuit that features a relatively gentle elevation change of just 16.9 metres.
Toughest on brakes
The start-stop nature of the track also makes the race tough on both brakes and tyres. In fact, the circuit is ranked as one of the season’s toughest on brakes, with Turns 1, 4 and 14 being particularly severe.
Tyres, meanwhile, are stressed not just by the high loads under braking but also by the highly abrasive surface. To deal with the demands over 57 laps, Pirelli has brought the hardest compounds in its 2019 range. The C1 compound will feature as the white hard tyre, while the C2 and C3 compounds will be on offer as the yellow medium and red soft options.
The nighttime nature of the race brings its own challenges. FP2 is the only practice session held in conditions similar to the race, limiting the window in which teams can gather meaningful set-up data, and during the race the steadily falling track temperature can cause handling headaches.
Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow secured its 62nd Formula 1 front row lock-down for the race with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel first and second fastest in qualifying. It is Leclerc’s first F1 pole, making him the second youngest ever pole man after Vettel and the youngest ever Ferrari driver to claim the No.1 spot on the grid.
“This first pole position brings me a lot of emotions, even if I’m trying to stay as cool as possible, as there are no points for pole position. It has been a great day and a great weekend overall for the team so far, so I hope it will continue tomorrow,” said Leclerc after qualifying.
“Charles who did a very, very good job and nailed his laps in Q3 and he deserved to be on pole. He’s a good kid, actually, a good man, because once you get a pole in Formula 1 you are a man! It’s a big achievement and I am happy for him. Chapeau! Our one-lap pace was there the whole weekend and we were able to confirm this in qualifying. I’m a lot happier today and it’s good to see that we are back on the right track,” added Vettel.
Vettel and Ferrari top the list of number of wins in Bahrain. The German driver twice won this race with Red Bull Racing, in 2012 and 2013, and also won the two most recent GPs here, with Ferrari. The Italian team has a total of 6 wins, double that of closest rivals Mercedes-AMG. The drivers who brought those wins were Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa.