Haas F1 Bahrain and Sakhir Grand Prix preview and quotes

Haas F1 Bahrain and Sakhir Grand Prix preview and quotes

23.11.2020: Round 15/16: Bahrain & Sakhir Grand Prix Sakhir International Circuit 27-29 November and 4-6 December 2020 Formula 1 is beginning the final stretch of th

Round 15/16: Bahrain & Sakhir Grand Prix
Sakhir International Circuit
27-29 November and 4-6 December 2020

 

Formula 1 is beginning the final stretch of the 2020 campaign and the next two grands prix will take place in Bahrain – but on different circuit layouts.



The championship’s first voyage to the island nation, the name of which derives from the Arabic for ‘two seas’, took place in 2004 and since then the Bahrain International Circuit has twice held the honor of opening the season.



In 2014 it switched to a twilight event, with floodlights lining the complex, and for 2020 it was set to hold the season’s second round, just a week after the planned Australian opener. But the coronavirus pandemic forced a total restructure and Bahrain will instead host two events as Rounds 15 and 16 of the 17-event season.



First up is the Bahrain Grand Prix, which will take place on the usual grand prix layout at the Bahrain International Circuit. The 5.4km circuit features four long straights with heavy braking zones and slow-speed turns, allowing plentiful overtaking, but a set-up compromise is needed due to the medium and high-speed corners through the middle sector of the lap.



And for the third time this year Formula 1 will stay on in the same country for another grand prix. But in a deviation from the repeater rounds in Austria and Britain the track layout will been tweaked for Bahrain’s second event, titled the Sakhir Grand Prix – the district in which the venue is located – with Formula 1 set to utilize the ‘Outer Layout’ for the first time in history.



The circuit is characterized by three lengthy full-throttle sections and a smattering of heavy braking zones, and comes in at just 3.5km, making it the shortest track on the current calendar. Simulations predict that a hot lap during qualifying could take only 55 seconds, making it the shortest-timed lap in the 70-year history of the championship, with a whopping 87 laps needed to reach the race distance. Organizers have also thrown in another curveball by making the Sakhir Grand Prix a fully-fledged night race compared to the twilight Bahrain encounter.



Haas F1 Team and drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have previously thrived in Bahrain. Grosjean captured back-to-back podiums upon his first two visits to Bahrain as a Formula 1 driver and went on to claim a stunning fifth position in only Haas F1 Team’s second outing in the championship back in 2016. Magnussen repeated Grosjean’s fifth place two years later and last season Haas F1 Team got both drivers through to the top 10 shootout during qualifying.



The Bahrain Grand Prix will take place across November 27 to 29, with lights out for the 57-lap race at 17:10 local time (09:10 EST/14:10 GMT), while the Sakhir Grand Prix will run from December 4 to 6, the 87-lap encounter getting underway at 20:10 local time (12:10 EST/17:10 GMT).
    



Guenther Steiner, Team Principal



The Turkish Grand Prix raised many talking points, primarily centred around the lack of grip on the new track surface – exasperated by the subsequent wet conditions over the weekend. Did you feel those factors added to the challenge faced by teams and drivers, or did it detract from the potential of what might have been?




“I think it’s one of those things – it was a one-off. You just deal with it. The organizers there tried to do their best, I wouldn’t put any blame on them, they had everything working against them. Apparently when they resurfaced the track it rained, so they couldn’t run cars.



A lot of things happened which were not planned for. The same happened at the weekend. Not only was the surface slippery, it was also raining – which made it even worse. So, it was a one-off, we can take it as that and move on from there. I thought the race was pretty good, it wasn’t a bad result, but you don’t want to have this as the norm.”





Traditionally the Bahrain Grand Prix is an early season race with many teams still getting to grips with their new cars following pre-season testing and the Australian Grand Prix. Do you think that’s been a factor in the past for Haas F1 Team’s stronger results there – notably Romain Grosjean’s fifth place effort back in 2016 and Kevin Magnussen’s top-six qualifying performances in 2018 and 2019?




“I don’t think so, I think it’s more the Bahrain track has always suited our car – at least from 2016, 17 and 18. I think we were just at the right place at the right time at these races. There’s no special magic in it that we always seem to run quite strong there. The only thing I would say is, I would love to see it happen again this year.”





You have been a keen advocate of Formula 1 using this season as a test bed for new things. What excites you about racing on two very different layouts in Bahrain and specifically how much work has the team done to prepare for the Outer Track configuration – new to Formula 1 for the Sakhir Grand Prix.




“I obviously like different things done differently – just to spice things up and to present new challenges, just so we don’t have more of the same old all the time. I’m a big supporter of having two track layouts on the one racetrack. I think it shows smart thinking, so let’s see what it brings.



But when things don’t work, I’m also one of the first to say we shouldn’t go back and do this again. I’m really looking forward to Bahrain. Regarding the second layout, there’s nothing special that we’ve done. We do our normal stuff of gathering information on the new layout and try to do the best simulation we can.”





Formula 1 finishes its 2020 season with a triple header of races under the lights in the Middle East. While still a relatively new concept in Formula 1 racing, do you feel races such as Singapore, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are enhanced by the format?


“Yes, I think night races are very cool. Obviously, if the majority were night races then it wouldn’t be so cool anymore, but at the moment the races we do have – I really like them. They’re really enjoyable and it just changes it up a bit. It helps because during the day in those places it’s really hot. At least in the evening when the sun is down it’s a lot more comfortable to work in for all the teams. I think it’s a very good thing to have a few races on the calendar under the lights.”
    




Stuart Morrison- photo Haas F1

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23.11.2020 / MaP

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