A scintillating season opener in SakhirA scintillating season opener in Sakhir
Fernando fought his way to the podium – the 99th of his career – on his debut with the team and Lance put in a determined drive to sixth under the lights in Bahrain to secure AMF1's biggest F1 points haul to date.
Need to Know: Bahrain
"I am excited for the first race of the season with Aston Martin and the start of this new journey. The car felt good across the three days of the Test, but it is only testing and everyone will reveal their true pace this weekend.
"It is very early days but I think there is a lot of potential to unlock in the car and we will see what we can do here in Bahrain.
"It is great to have Lance back in the car after he missed the Test. His input and experience of the 2022 car is invaluable for us to learn more about this year's car and hopefully he can get up to speed quickly."
"The start of a new season is always interesting and, having missed pre-season testing due to my cycling accident, I am even more excited to get going.
"The team looked to run well in the test and both Fernando and Felipe were pleased with developments that have been made, so I am hoping we can continue that positive momentum this week and put in a performance that we can feel proud of.
"As we have seen in previous years, the circuit is often windy, sandy and hot, which are tricky conditions to contend with. There are some great opportunities for racing though, and that is what we are all looking forward to after a long winter break."
Insight and Speed
Bahrain is traditionally one of the easier circuits to overtake on, with an average of 60 passes per race over the past five years. The trio of DRS zones are key: historically, 65% of all overtakes have used DRS. Turn One is the most popular overtaking location, with moves into T1 also setting up a counterattack into Turn Four.
Like last year, Pirelli is bringing the C1, C2 and C3 compounds to Bahrain. Unlike last year, the C1 is no longer the hardest tyre available this season, instead being a new, softer compound between C0 and C2. Despite a long pit delta, this has traditionally been a two- or three-stop race due to high tyre wear.
Four of the last five races have featured a Safety Car (SC), while the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) also has a strong likelihood of making an appearance, meaning teams need to factor it into strategy. With the long pit delta, an SC or VSC period can provide an opportune moment to make a pitstop.
Unlocking the Lap
At the end of the long pit straight, which spans more than one kilometre, is the heaviest braking zone on the circuit. Cars will rapidly decelerate from more than 200mph for the tight right-hander that feeds immediately into Turns Two and Three. Compromising the exit of Turn One is necessary to maximise T2 and T3 and the full-throttle run up the hill.
Turns Nine and 10 make up one of the trickiest sequences on the entire F1 calendar. This double left-hander requires drivers to brake and turn simultaneously, and it is very easy to lock up a tyre. Doing so puts you at risk of running wide onto the sand, costing lap time and potentially damaging tyres.
Turn 14 is another tricky braking zone that leads onto the main straight. This corner concludes the lap therefore a good exit is pivotal for a strong end to the lap but also to maximise speed down the long straight on the next lap. The approach is downhill, and the apex can be tricky to spot. It is easy to run wide onto the sand on the exit, which can dirty the tyres and leave you vulnerable when battling others on the run to Turn One.
Unsurprisingly, with its desert setting, rain is unlikely to dampen proceedings at Sakhir. This has traditionally been a hot, dry race. Since becoming a night race in 2014, heat has become less of a factor, but it still tests the limits of the engines and brakes.
Temperatures can hover around 35°C during the day, but this will drop slightly during the night, making the First and Third Free Practice sessions less representative than they are at other circuits due to the time of day they are run.
One variable to keep an eye on is the wind. The wind speed and direction can heavily influence braking distances into the key braking zones, while crosswinds across the fast corners at the top of the hills can cause instability for the cars. It also brings sand onto the track overnight, which will also affect grip levels.
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How do you manage tyre life?
With lots of slow corners leading onto long straights, rather than high-energy corners, it is often the rear tyres that suffer the most at Bahrain International Circuit. However, locking the front tyres in the heavy braking zones, such as Turns One and 10, is also a frequent occurrence here.
To minimise rear tyre wear, drivers will adopt a gentler approach to throttle application, making sure they do not spin the wheels up. Front tyre life can be preserved by driving with a less aggressive style in the fast corners, easing off slightly.
The team can also make setup changes to try to reduce tyre wear, namely via adjusting the toe, camber angles and suspension geometry.
This all helps keep the tyres within the narrow operating window in terms of temperature, which is key to prolonging tyre life and maintaining performance over a longer stint. Too hot or too cold, and tyres will not operate at their best and can degrade more quickly.
Fernando Alonso becomes the first driver to embark on his 20th Formula One season. He's won the Bahrain Grand Prix three times (2005, ‘06 and ‘10), is one of only three back-to-back winners of the race and holds the record for the biggest winning margin at the event: 16.099s (‘10).
The number of overtakes in the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix – one of the highest tallies of any race last season. With three long DRS zones, Bahrain International Circuit provides plenty of opportunity for overtaking and therefore a realistic chance of gaining positions on track rather than just through pitstops.
Laps completed by AMF1 at Bahrain International Circuit in pre-season testing last week ahead of the Grand Prix. That's more than six complete race distances, which included performing race and qualifying simulations on the C1, C2, and C3 compounds to be used at this event.
"There's a lot under the skin that you can't see" – top team quotes from launchRead Now
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