Category Archives: Bahrain

Formula One: 9 Different Strategies from the top 10

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Two wins from two races in 2016 for Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, using a three-stop strategy in Bahrain that alternated stints on the P Zero Red supersoft with P Zero Yellow soft: exactly the same strategy used by Kimi Raikkonen, who was second for Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton finished third after using the medium tyre for his second stint, following contact with another competitor at the start. In total, there were nine different strategies used throughout the top 10, including a two-stopper for Williams driver Felipe Massa.

Paul Hembery: Pirelli motorsport director: “We’re only in the second race of the 2016 tyre regulations but already we’re seeing a massive variety of strategies throughout the field, as we particularly expected to be the case this weekend. Tyre strategy started already in qualifying, as we saw from Romain Grosjean who made the most of his starting position to score more points. Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen finished just 10 seconds apart at the finish, using exactly the same strategy as each other. As well as the performance of the softer compounds, the adaptability of the product was demonstrated by Felipe Massa, who completed the race with just two pit stops despite the high wear and degradation traditionally associated with the Sakhir track.”

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Formula One: Stoffel out-qualifies veteran Button on his début

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Qualifying in Bahrain was almost a carbon copy of Mclaren’s qualifying performance in Australia a fortnight ago.

Both drivers conducted two runs on the Option tyre in Q1, comfortably edging through into Q2. In the second session, without a second set of tyres to take the fight to the cars at the front, each driver completed a single run, establishing us on the fringes of the top 10, just as in Melbourne.

Stoffel will start his first grand prix 12th; Jenson, who wasn’t entirely happy with his car’s balance during his Q2 lap, will line up directly behind him in 14th.

Stoffel Vandoorne

I think I can be pretty happy with today’s result. I didn’t really know what to expect, but from yesterday onwards I’ve felt quite confident in the car and today was all about fine-tuning it.

“Free practice earlier today was quite good; I still knew there was a bit more time to come, and I think we more or less maximised everything in qualifying today. It was a close call in Q1, but then in Q2 I had a clean lap without mistakes. We could see it was very close in front of us, and if we’d gained one or two tenths we could maybe have got into Q3. So unless you’re on pole there’s always some margin for improvement, but overall I’m very happy with the qualifying I just had.

“I knew after yesterday and this morning that I had quite similar pace to Jenson, and that if I improved a little bit I could maybe therefore challenge him. He’s a world champion, and an excellent driver obviously, so he’s been a really good benchmark for me this weekend. I have a lot of respect for him.

“I’ve won here in Bahrain before, and I like the circuit. I know it well – and it definitely helps if you know a circuit before you make your grand prix debut there. Obviously I didn’t know the car before getting here this weekend, but it helped that I knew the circuit.

“It’s a good feeling to have done a decent job, but now our focus in only on tomorrow: to try to have a good race. It’s not really sunk in yet that tomorrow I’ll drive my first grand prix – I’ve just been focusing on qualifying so far – but now I’ve got some time to think, prepare for the race and do my very best to make a good job of it.

“There’s lots to analyse before tomorrow, lots of different strategies to go through, but I feel confident I can do an okay job. What it will bring us, I think it’s still too early to say, and I don’t want to make any predictions. So we’ll see.”

Jenson Button

“The car has been really good all weekend: I’ve been mostly struggling with a bit of understeer, but, for my Q2 run, we came up a tiny bit on the front wing, and the car was the complete opposite – big oversteer.

“Oversteer is not something I particularly like – so I wasn’t very happy with my Q2 lap. Having said that, Stoffel did a good job today, and I didn’t do such a good job. He’s very competitive, he’s quick, he’s won here before, and I think he’s proven how good he is around a place like this. We knew how quick he could be – especially over one lap. He’s been a big part of this team for the past couple of years, and as I say he did a really good job.

“Still, we know the pace is in the car, so hopefully tomorrow will be a bit better. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen in the race. It’s a tricky one – we’ve got three different tyres to work with, and I think we have a reasonable understanding of what to do, but you never know until the race starts. There are so many options – and we fell foul of that at the last race, so hopefully we won’t do that here and we’ll have a stronger performance on Sunday.

“There’s definitely more to come from the full package.”

Eric Boullier

“Although we’ll never be exultant about 12th and 14th place on the grid, undoubtedly Stoffel’s qualifying performance on his first ever grand prix Saturday was pretty special.

“We already knew he was quick – he’s shown that countless times in World Series by Renault 3.5, in GP2 and indeed in testing for McLaren – but what has been so particularly commendable these past two days has been his studious dedication to the complex procedural endeavour that constitutes getting the very best out of today’s state-of-the-art Formula 1 cars. He didn’t put a foot wrong. Chapeau!

“I also want to say ‘well done’ to the team, who have prepared him so well for his grand prix debut weekend, and who made sure that he was able to slide into Fernando’s car so seamlessly here at such short notice.

“Jenson did his usual very professional job, and may well have gone quicker still had we optimised his Q2 set-up. In Q1 he’d had a bit of understeer, so we’d attempted to dial it out in Q2 by giving him a little bit more front wing. But, as things turned out, we slightly over-compensated, and the result was oversteer.

“Having said all that, both our drivers are well positioned to mount a sustained attack on the Bahrain International Circuit tomorrow evening, in an effort to score points if possible, and to put on a good show for our Bahraini part-shareholders, who’ll be watching the race in our paddock hospitality units as avidly as always.”

Formula One: Hamilton SMASHES Bahrain Lap Record!

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Lewis Hamilton smashed the Bahrain International Circuit lap record earlier this evening setting a sensational pole position lap time 0.077 seconds faster than teammate Nico Rosberg. The previous lap record for the Bahrain International Circuit, held by Mark Webber, was set in 2005 during the V10 era of the sport. A time which many regard as the pinnacle of unconstrained design.  Hamilton’s Pole time was 0.034’s clear of the previous lap record, serves to add further weight to arguments that current F1 engine technology should be regarded as true works of excellence.

Also noteworthy is that Lewis’ 2016 pole time was 3.078’s faster than the 2015 pole lap.  Much of this improvement could be attributed to the super soft tyre being used for the first time in Bahrain, but such an step in performance over a 12 month period demonstrates the capabilities of both the Mercedes AMG Petronas team and the entire grid.

With performance evolving at this rate, perhaps the FIA and Strategy group should reconsider the need to fundamental regulation changes for the 2017 season.

Lewis Hamilton
I’m really happy with that – the last lap was so much fun! Throughout practice and most of qualifying my laps weren’t quite perfect and Nico would be ahead by a tenth here and a tenth there – whatever it might be. So, to finally put it all together when it counted was really satisfying – and quite a relief! There was big pressure too, as I went off on the previous lap and knew I had to make a big improvement. A massive thank you to everyone here at the track and also back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth for this car. It’s really very special. It will be important to get a good start tomorrow, like always, especially as there’s a longer run down to turn one here than in Melbourne. It’s something we’ve been working on – but we’ve only had a couple of weeks since the last race, so I don’t expect big improvements. Hopefully it’s better than last time – we’ll see.

Nico Rosberg
My lap felt good and I was sure that I had got pole when I crossed the line – but then the guys told me that Lewis was just a bit quicker. He did an incredible lap at the end, so a good job from him. The good news for me is that this is one of the tracks where pole position counts for the least. Strategy tomorrow will be important and maybe even quite messy, so there are still a lot of opportunities. You have a few more places to overtake here than at other tracks too, so I’m quite confident for tomorrow. Tyres are going to be a big issue. We have softer tyres here than last year and it will be interesting to see how long they last and when they will start graining. It should be an entertaining race, so I’m looking forward to it.

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
Leaving aside any comment on the qualifying format itself, the actual battle today between our two cars – and also between ourselves and Ferrari – was very close and really exciting. It was only in the final part of Q2 and Q3 that Lewis and Nico hooked everything up – and for Lewis it came down to his final Q3 lap after he ran wide on his first run. What he produced was a stunning lap, the fastest ever on this circuit – quicker even than the V10 era – and more than three seconds faster than last year’s pole. Really impressive. Nico came very close to beating it and fell less then a tenth short in the end after his fastest lap of the session. My feelings about this qualifying format haven’t changed and there is nothing to add to what I’ve already said about it. Now we focus on tomorrow’s race, on getting off the line well – and what I am sure will be a very tight battle with Ferrari.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
A fantastic competition between our two drivers and the two Ferraris – the result of having four cars very close in performance here. There was a lot of excitement building up to those second Q3 runs, with Lewis making a mistake in the final corner and adding extra pressure to his second lap. All four cars made it out for another run and it was a closely fought thing, with terrific laps from Lewis and Nico to lock out the front row. There’s a great sense of pride in seeing this car set an all-time lap record tonight. There’s a lot of negative talk around at the moment, with suggestions that these cars aren’t fast or exciting enough. In fact, they’re now proving to be quicker than those of the V10 era – previously the fastest machines in Formula One history. All credit to the men and women on both the chassis and Power Unit side of this project for their innovative, record-breaking work.

Formula One: Kvyat “There were a few surprises today”

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DANIIL KVYAT 
First Practice Session: Position: 5, Best Time: 1:34.541, Laps: 30
Second Practice Session: Position: 7, Best Time: 1:32.703, Laps: 34

“All in all it was a good Friday for us which was crucial after what was a pretty disastrous weekend in Melbourne.  We were aiming to do good mileage, which we achieved and we have a lot of data to go through tonight. We hope to continue this form into tomorrow and maybe make a couple of steps forward.  There were a few surprises today in terms of pace, obviously McLaren was one of them. There may be some more surprises tomorrow depending who makes it click overnight but I’m pretty confident we will be in good shape.”

DANIEL RICCIARDO 
First Practice Session: Position: 4, Best Time: 1:34.461, Laps: 27
Second Practice Session: Position: 9, Best Time: 1:32.870, Laps:  23
“Dany is probably happier with his Friday than I was with mine. This morning wasn’t too bad but from the very first lap this afternoon I locked the front into Turn 1 which killed that set of tyres. We couldn’t use that set for the long run which compromised our afternoon programme. With the super softs on the low fuel we still needed to find a bit more balance, and with the high fuel run, we were interrupted with the virtual safety cars. We still have some homework to do but we’ll see how tomorrow goes. I think Q3 will be on the edge for us, but the race will be better.”

Formula One: Stoffel selects #47

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Sources have confirmed that Stoffel Vandoorne will compete in the Bahrain Grand Prix using the number 47. At this time it has not been confirmed if Stoffel has selected 47 as his permanent racing number or if the number has been allocated to him by the FIA for the 2016 season.

Stoffel participated in the Pirelli wet weather test at Paul Ricard in earlier this year using the same number. (pictured)

To follow Stoffel on Twitter click here

To keep up to date on Mclaren through the weekend click here

 

 

Formula One: Confirmed -Vandoorne replaces Alonso in Bahrain

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Following FIA confirmation that Fernando Alonso has not been granted permission to participate in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Mclaren have confirmed through social media that Stoffel Vandoorne will make his début for this team in his place.

More information on this developing story will be published through the day.

 

Formula One: The rain in Bahrain falls mainly… before the race.

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As build up for the 2nd round of the 2016 Formula One World Championship continues, team and journalist social media channels were awash this morning with comments on the spectacle of rain in the dessert.

Whilst forecasts suggest the rain will more than likely have passed before cars hit the track on first practice on Friday, heavy rain storms in the build up to the race weekend have played havoc with teams preparation and set up. The impact of rain on the circuit is likely to be felt during free practice as early running from teams will involve reduced emphasis on clearing sand and debris from the track. This should prompt increased running from teams through Friday and may lead to faster lap times over the race weekend.

Current forecasts suggest a 20% chance of rain on Sunday.

 

Formula One: Wolff: “The sport is under scrutiny”

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Toto Wolff & Paddy Lowe preview the Bahrain Grand Prix, give comment on the current qualifying quandaries and talk tyre strategy:

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
We have made a solid start to the season. However, while our advantage in Melbourne was a healthy one, it was nevertheless close enough that those bad starts could easily have lost us the race. Bahrain is a track that should suit Ferrari, so we expect even smaller gaps and a very close match this weekend. After a successful debut for the new tyre regulations last time out, we can also expect an interesting strategy battle during the race – so there is plenty to look forward to. This weekend we will see the new qualifying system continue after a less-than-impressive debut in Australia. The teams were unanimous in their opinion of it on Sunday in Melbourne and it wasn’t a positive opinion. We haven’t found the right format with this change and it’s hard to see how it might be more entertaining for the fans this weekend in Bahrain. The sport is under scrutiny on this matter, so careful thought is required in order to make coordinated, intelligent steps forward from the position we are in right now. The fans want close racing, in a format they can understand, between the best drivers and cars in the world – in that order. We should be capable of delivering that to the people in the grandstands and watching around the world.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
Bahrain is quite a different track to Melbourne, so it will be interesting to see how we fare. One thing you can normally guarantee is that it will be dry. Unlike the rain-hit Melbourne weekend, this will provide plenty of opportunity for track time. Thanks to their evening timings, qualifying and the race in Bahrain see much cooler track temperatures than the mid-afternoon FP1 / FP3 sessions – making the latter somewhat unrepresentative. This potentially makes tyre selection even more of a factor. We know already that there is a marked difference between the allocations selected by competing teams for this race, so we could see a few surprises. A big positive from Melbourne was seeing how well the new tyre rules delivered in terms of strategy variation – and we expect to see more of the same here. We’ve seen close battles throughout the field in both years of twilight racing in Bahrain, so we look forward to hopefully providing another spectacular evening for the fans.

2016 Tyre Allocation Regulations

When revised regulations governing race weekend tyre allocations were announced for the 2016 season, it’s fair to say that there was a reasonable degree of head scratching among both pundits and fans as to just how the new system would work. However, now the dust has settled from the opening race of the year in Melbourne, two things have become clear: first, that this latest tweak to the rules is not as complex in reality as it seems on paper; second, that it’s working…

Why does making a third tyre compound available lead to greater strategic variation?
It’s simple maths. If you pick three numbers, the quantity of different combinations in which they can be arranged is notably greater than if you had two to choose from. Likewise, having three tyres compounds available to each team over a race weekend has opened up two or three viable additional strategy options.

Did the availability of a third tyre compound have an effect on the race in Melbourne?
At the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, every driver was pushed into running a one-stop strategy – starting on the soft and finishing on the medium. And, had the same tyre choices been available in 2016, they would likely have done the same. The difference this year was that teams had the scope to run two or three different strategies that could potentially converge into a roughly similar solution at the end of the race, resulting in an interesting and unpredictable mix of one and two-stoppers. Even without the red flag, it would have been a very entertaining race.

What was the impact on the racing?
Melbourne saw more overtaking than in previous years – 40 overtakes compared to 13 in 2015 – and this is down in no small part to the new tyre regulations. At other circuits where it’s tough to pass such as Barcelona, Monaco, Budapest or Singapore, track position will again become potentially less of a factor. With three compounds, the difference between the tyres can now create overtaking scenarios.

Was Melbourne a one-off or will this trend continue at other circuits?
There are already signs that more options will open up strategy-wise at the next race in Bahrain – and China looks set to be yet more exciting again. It will create exciting races where one strategy initially appears better than the other – but then that could flip. Whether more cars choose to run one, two or three stops is not important. What creates variation and excitement is that offset strategies are now perfectly valid potential race-winning options, leading to more overtaking and more unknowns towards the end of the race.

Of course, there’s a fine line between interesting strategic differences and chaos. If teams had free choice of compounds for every race, there would be potential for someone to seriously distort the competitive order. The current concept, however, appears to have found the right balance between exciting but understandable racing.

What do the teams make of the change?
Pirelli have created a compound range that promotes excitement if deployed and promoted in the right way. The world wants to see teams and drivers trying to do things differently, and these regulations empower them to do so. Tyres are now a positive talking point before a race weekend. For example, the difference in Bahrain compound nominations between the Silver Arrows and Ferrari has attracted plenty of attention. What’s more, by bringing softer compounds to each event, the target of making the cars faster has already been achieved in large part. In qualifying, lap times will now be close to circuit records in the manner we saw in Melbourne. The current cars possess historic highs of chassis and engine performance – and this is now being translated into the headline times.

Is there room for improvement?
As is to be expected, there are a couple of teething problems. For example, teams were asked to nominate their compound choices for a different set of regulations to those under which the sport is now operating for qualifying. But this is a minor complaint. Arguably, the change to the tyre rules has had more of an effect than any other in recent memory. The vast majority of people appear rather excited about its impact – and long may that continue.

Formula One: Perez “The racing is never boring in Bahrain”

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Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Vijay Mallya preview the Bahrain Grand Prix:

Sergio on Bahrain
Sergio Perez is determined to shine again under the lights in Bahrain.
 
Sergio: “Australia didn’t bring the result I was hoping for so I am targeting a better outcome from Bahrain. Getting a bad start really compromised my race last time out because I got stuck in the middle of cars on different strategies and I couldn’t recover. However, it’s a long season and I have an opportunity to get back in the points in Bahrain.
 
“The racing is never boring in Bahrain so fans should enjoy some good entertainment. There are long straights and sharp braking zones so it’s great for overtaking, but the big tractions zones make this a tough track for the rear tyres. I think tyre degradation will be a key factor in the outcome of this race. The track evolves a lot as the race goes on, as the cars sweep away all the sand and dust that the wind has blown onto the track.
 
“I have some very good memories from Bahrain – the race in 2014 was just fantastic when I celebrated my first podium with the team. I am confident we can be strong again this year and get back all the points I missed in Australia. Even in Melbourne, there were lots of positives we can build on, such as our strong qualifying speed and race pace. The team is doing a great job back at the factory and we should have some interesting new bits on the car, too, so I am feeling confident.”
Nico on Bahrain
Nico Hulkenberg hopes to build on solid start to the season with more points in Bahrain.
 
Nico: “We’ve started the season in the right way by getting some points on the board, even though we had the potential to come away from Australia with many more. The red flag came out at the worst possible moment for our strategy and that cost us some positions, but we still managed to fight back and come away with an important seventh place: I am happy with that.
 
“Next up is Bahrain, which is a special place. As a circuit, it’s very different to Melbourne: it’s not bumpy at all; it’s very smooth and it’s full of slow corners. There are a several overtaking spots and the whole track, with long straights and big braking zones, makes for some great wheel-to-wheel racing. It’s a track that rewards attacking, so hopefully we will see lots of action in the race. And of course, it’s a night race so the atmosphere of the whole event is very different!
 
“One of my favourite things about Bahrain is the paddock. It looks like it’s straight out of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, with the lights and buildings all adding to the atmosphere. It’s one of my favourite events of the season. We will arrive there in a good place and we have the potential to get another strong result.”
Vijay Mallya, Team Principal
Vijay Mallya expects another strong performance in Bahrain this weekend.
 
Vijay, did the team’s performance in Melbourne live up to expectations?
“After a race like Melbourne you always come away wondering what might have happened without the red flag, but I think we left Australia with our fair share of points. We had a mix of good and bad fortune, but I think that’s true for quite a few teams. Ahead of the season I said the team’s goal was to qualify and race in the top ten at every race, and we certainly achieved that in Melbourne.”
 
Were there any surprises?
“I think that the winter tests had already given us a good indication of what to expect. What is clear is that the grid is more competitive and closer together than it has ever been in the recent past. There are four or five teams who are all performing at a similar level, which made for a tight squabble in qualifying and the race. That can only be good for the fans; it’s what the sport needs and I think Melbourne showed that it’s the middle of the grid where most of the entertainment is being generated in terms of wheel-to-wheel racing.”
 
What can we expect from Bahrain?
“On paper Bahrain should be a strong track for us so I’m optimistic we can deliver a similar level of performance to that which we showed in Melbourne. We will have some new aerodynamic developments, which will add some performance to the front of the car, so we will work hard to optimise those during the weekend.”
 

OPINION: GP2 & WEC – Bahrain Rookie Test, the future of career development?

LMP1

With the size of your sponsorship portfolio rather than the success seen in your racing career continue to be a key determining factor in a driver stepping from junior racing category into F1, drivers whose skills are focused on keeping their car between the white lines are increasingly looking towards a career in endurance racing.

Owing to the cancellation of the German Formula One Grand Prix earlier in the season, in one month from now GP2 for the first time in the series history, take on the support race role for the World Endurance Championship in Bahrain. Following what promises to be a thrilling weekend of racing, the World Endurance Championship will run a series of rookie test sessions. These sessions will offer a selection of drivers from GP2, who may have otherwise lacked the budget to further advance their career, the opportunity to test championship winning LMP1 machines.

The test line-up will include Richie Stanaway, already competing the WEC with Aston Martin in the LMGTEPro category, who will be testing the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro. Mitch Evans, who has already discussed he ambition to move towards endurance racing, testing the currently dominant Porsche 919 Hybrid, and 2013 GP2 runner up, DS Virgin Racing Formula E, and LMP2 driver Sam Bird testing the Toyota TS040 Hybrid.

Does this test represent a seed change in the mind-set of drivers and promoters towards Endurance Racing? No longer should it be perceived exclusively as the place for retired Formula One drivers (although the Colombian variety of these will be represented and very welcome!) Endurance racing offers drivers a formidable racing challenge, arguably superior in many respects to Formula One. The World Endurance Championship is rapidly becoming the home of a driving elite. How long will it be before Formula One drivers don’t just dip their toe into the Le Man’s experience, but when it comes to contract negotiations consider a seat with an LMP1 team as a true alternative to an F1 team.

This event in Bahrain is a huge step forward for Motor Racing.