PRIXVIEW – Bahrain Grand Prix

Prixview Testing & Race Reports

The second race of the season sees Formula One head to the Middle East for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Gulf kingdom became the first country in the region to host a Formula One race in 2004, at a circuit in the desert area called Sakhir in the southern part of the state.

The circuit was built near the countries main airport and features long straights with an infield section. The circuit was built from desert land which gave the designers a chance to build a technically demanding circuit. The first race in Bahrain was won by Michael Schumacher.

Designed by Hermann Tilke, the circuit cost £112 million to build and features six different layouts, two which have been used for F1. The track surface is made from graywacke aggregate, shipped to Bahrain from Bayston Hill quarry in Shropshire, England.

A characteristic of the circuit is the giant run-off areas, which have been criticised for not punishing drivers who stray off the track. However, they tend to prevent sand from getting onto the track and make Bahrain one of the safest tracks in the world

The race in Bahrain takes place at the countries International Circuit which is 3.3 miles and has been one which has seen drivers battle both in daylight and at night. This has created some challenges for the teams as two of the practice sessions take place in the heat of the day, while qualifying and the race takes place at night.

However, the circuit has a mixture of long straights and a tight infield section which creates opportunities for overtaking. But its high speed that matters on the three straights and that means that good downforce and speed are very important, as well as breaking at the end of the straights.

The track’s most challenging point is the tight, downhill, off-camber Turn 10 left-hander, while the fast run through Turn 12 is another highlight, allowing the drivers to really feel their cars coming alive.

Bahrain is also known for its abrasive nature, the circuit is exposed to the desert sands which means that the track evolution through the weekend is massive. Another big factor is the change from day to night, the race begins at sunset meaning that the cooler temperatures in the evening. This has created some interesting races.

Bahrain really came of age in 2014, a wheel to wheel battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg gripped the sport as they battled each other for the win. However, the race has become controversial as the Arab Spring and the government’s treatment of anti-government protesters has been criticised.

The racing in Bahrain has improved in recent years as we have seen more on track battles when the two Mercedes drivers fought hard. Hamilton took two of the wins during the three battles, with Rosberg beating him in 2016.

Sebastian Vettel has won the race for the last two years, beating Hamilton despite losing tyre life in last years race he hung on to take the win.

Facts and figures

Round 02 of 21
Race Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2019
Venue Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain
Circuit Length 5.412km (3.363 mi)
Laps 57
Race Distance 308.238 km (191.530 mi)
Lap Record 01:31.447 (Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 2005)
Most wins drivers Sebastian Vettel (4)
Most wins manufacture Ferrari (6)

Fast facts

  • Bahrain is one of only three current F1 circuits where McLaren have not recorded a victory (the others being Sochi and Baku)
  • Despite never having won the Bahrain Grand Prix, Kimi Räikkönen has more podium appearances at this race than any other driver. His eight podiums comprise three third places and five seconds.
  • Starting from pole hasn’t been very useful in Bahrain: only five times has the pole position driver converted the advantage into victory, with Hamilton being the most recent to do so in 2015.
  • The average peak deceleration is 4.1 G overall, despite the braking at turn 6 is only 2.3 G. From the start of the race to the chequered flag, the amount of energy dissipated by each single-seater is over 228 kWh.​
  • Bahrain’s flag used to be the largest flag in the world, setting a Guinness world record in 2004 at 169.5m long and 97.1m wide. The five red points signify the five pillars of Islam. The oldest known Bahraini flags were plain red.
  • The grand Al Fateh Mosque is both Bahrain’s largest place of worship and among one of the largest mosques in the world. It was built under the patronage of the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa in 1987 and was named after Ahmed Al Fateh

Event timetable





P1 14:00-15:30 11:00-12:30
P2 18:00-19:30 15:00-16:30


P3 15:00-16:00 12:00-13:00
Qualifying 18:00-19:00 15:00-16:00


(Note daylight saving in UK and Europe forward one hour)

Race 18:10 16:10

What happened in 2018?

Sebastian Vettel took victory despite the strong challenge from the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. The Ferrari driver pitted early on in the race, but neither Bottas or Lewis Hamilton were able to get close enough to make a move. But, Hamilton had started from ninth and a long first run had brought him into fourth.

He then inherited fourth from Kimi Raikkonen, when he was forced to retire after a botched pitstop. Ferrari struggled to attach the rear tyre on his second stop, when he collided and hit a mechanic and was forced to retire. The mechanic was taken to the medical centre with a broken leg.

It was a strong race for Honda, Pierre Gasly made a brilliant stat and steered clear of the battle Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, as they both clashed on the opening lap and escaped undamaged. While sister team Red Bull retired within the first six laps the teams first double retirement since Korea in 2010.

Race Result – 1) S. Vettel 01:32:01.940, 2) V. Bottas +0.699, 3) L. Hamilton +6.512

What to watch for?

Bahrain is our first chance to see how the cars perform on a circuit which has long straights and fast corners. Historically this has been a circuit which rewards downforce and speed, overtaking opportunities mainly come from the middle sector. The race can see close action between drivers into the race.

Bahrain should be an action-packed race and over the past few years, we have seen great battles throughout the race. You need to hope that Ferrari are closer to Mercedes again, as we have seen over the last two years Ferrari has beaten Mercedes here. Lewis Hamilton will want to reassert himself as the lead driver to avoid a repeat of 2016.

This race weekend will give us a better understanding of the running order, no one really believes that Ferrari are as far behind but this will become clear in Baku. Ferrari needs to have a strong weekend by Barcelona or it could end their championship challenge.

The midfield battle should be closer as we say Bahrain is a place where we should get an understanding of the cars. In recent years, the mid-pack scrap has provided some great action and close racing. The regulation changes are untested to a degree and Bahrain should give us a better understanding of the affects of the changes.

2017 vs 2018 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap


01:31.060 01:29.817 01:29.868 01:28.951 01:28.341 01:27.958 01:32:01.940 01:33.740


-01:05.637 -02:42.507 -03:21.943 -03:18.053 -01:02.194 -01:02.200 -01:52.630 -1.050


01:32.697 01:31.310 01:32.194 01:30.904 01:29.535 01:28.769 01:33:53.374 01:32.798

A lap of the Bahrain International Circuit

Valtteri Bottas comes out of the last corner builds speed and opens the DRS, then he crosses the start-finish line. Stays on the outside all the way along the straight before breaking in-between 150m and 100m boards. Turns in and get close to the kerb and then heads to the outside for two. He then runs to the inside kerb, building speed which he carries through three. Builds speed along the straight, before breaking at the 100m board for four. Hits the apex and runs the car to the exit.

Breaks slightly into five before building speed through the corner. Good through six and seven, breaks going into turn eight, hits the apex then runs to the outside. Crosses the track on entry to nine, goes through the centre and then begins to break. Hits both the outside and inside kerbs, before running to the inside. Runs along the support pits, breaks at 50ish metres running through the corner close to the apex then to the inside.

To the outside for thirteen, runs close to the kerb and then to the outside where he stays all the way along the strait. Breaks a 100m before fourteen where he takes the inside apex and then back to the outside where he stays until he crosses the line with a 1:28.789.





Hard (C?)

Yellow Medium (C?)


Soft (C?)

L. Hamilton

Mercedes 1 3 9

V. Bottas

1 3


S. Vettel

Ferrari 1 3 9

C. Leclerc

1 3 9

M. Verstappen

Red Bull – Honda 1 3 9
P. Gasly 1 3


D. Riccardo

Renault 2 1 10
N. Hulkenberg 1 2


K. Magnussen

Haas – Ferrari 1 3 9
R. Grosjean 2 2


C. Sainz Jr

McLaren – Renault 2 3 8
L. Norris 2 3


S. Perez

Racing Point –Mercedes 1 3 9
L. Stroll




K. Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo – Ferrari 1 3 9
A. Giovinazzi 1 3


D. Kvyat

Toro Rosso –Honda 1 2 10

A. Albon

1 2


G. Russell

Williams –Mercedes 2 3 8

R. Kubica

1 4



Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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