All info you need to see before next Bahrain GP starts
The much-awaited 2021 Formula 1 World Championships season will finally get underway on Sunday with the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit.
|2021 Bahrain GP Facts & Figures|
|Bahrain International Circuit|
|Bahrain GP Tyre Compounds|
|Bahrain Weather Forecast|
|Bahrain Podium Prediction|
Apart from the common excitement from fans and the entire Formula 1 world for the season-opener, it seems that the race will present some unknowns, given the performances from various teams, including Mercedes, in the 2021 pre-season testing at the same track.
The pre-season test was not easy for Mercedes, the seven-time defending champions who will go for their eighth consecutive World Constructors’ Championship, and for Lewis Hamilton, who will look to establish a new all-time record with his eighth title and his fifth in a row.
While performing well or struggling in winter testing is not always an example of what the actual Formula 1 season will look like, having the test on the same track of the season-opening race can actually give some reliable information for teams and for the media to analyse.
Mercedes’ W12 had some gearbox issues on the first day of testing, and the team ended up last on laps completed, with 304. Not only reliability was an issue for Mercedes in the pre-season test, as both Hamilton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas struggled with the car’s handling, even though the Finnish driver did say he felt “confident” in the car.
On Red Bull’s side, the team’s new line-up, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez seems to be heading into the 2021 Bahrain GP weekend as the favourites, given Mercedes’ issues and Red Bull’s pace. Verstappen drove the fastest lap of the three-day pre-season testing, with a 1:28.960 min lap.
Mercedes appeared to struggle on low fuel, which will make the Q3 of the qualifying session a pretty interesting session.
Interesting stories were coming out of the rest of the teams too, as the much-awaited Aston Martin car, the AMR21, made its debut. It was not smooth sailing for the new Aston Martin team, with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll in the car, but having to endure reliability issues. Aston Martin completed 314 laps in testing.
Ferrari was a nice story on pre-season testing, as the new car, the SF21, is not lacking straight-line speed and was consistent in testing. Despite Charles Leclerc stopping on track on the first day of tests, Ferrari racked up 404 laps, and the best time was at 1:29.611 by Ferrari’s new driver, Carlos Sainz.
McLaren had a smooth test and it was highly needed for the Woking team, as it was testing the packaging of the new Mercedes engine on the back of the MCL35M. Daniel Ricciardo put up the fastest lap for McLaren in testing with a 1:30.144 min lap.
AlphaTauri’s lineup of drivers, with Pierre Gasly and rookie Yuki Tsunoda, racked up 422 laps (tied for most in testing), with Tsunoda taking the fastest lap for the Faenza-based squad, though it was a controversial one.
From the rest of the grid, the lovely blue-colored Alpine A521 showed some variations in its engine cover, but did not impress on track. Still, the car was consistent with 396 laps and two-time champ Fernando Alonso leading the charge with a 1.30.318 min lap.
Between Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams, the Alfas seemed more impressive than their rivals. Alfa Romeo drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, racked up the most laps among all teams in testing, with 422 (tied with AlphaTauri).
2021 Bahrain GP Facts & Figures
The first Bahrain Grand Prix in Formula 1 history came in 2004, with Michael Schumacher winning the race for Ferrari. The Bahrain round will host the season-opener of a Formula 1 season for the third time, after hosting the first race of the 2006 and 2010 seasons.
Fernando Alonso followed Schumacher’s win in 2004 with two straight triumphs in 2005 and 2006 for Renault. Ferrari returned to victory at Bahrain, with Felipe Massa taking consecutive wins in 2007 and 2008.
Jenson Button won for Brawn GP in 2009, while Alonso won in his Ferrari debut in 2010, in the Endurance layout of the circuit. The 2011 race was cancelled due to social issues, before Vettel and Red Bull took wins in 2012 and 2013.
Hamilton won in Bahrain in 2014 after a stunning fight with his then Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton won again in 2015, while Rosberg succeeded in 2016.
Vettel won for Ferrari in 2017 and 2018 before Hamilton and Mercedes struck back in 2019 and 2020.
In last year’s race, Haas’ former driver, Romain Grosjean, had a miraculous escape after a crash in the first lap of the race that luckily ended with the Frenchman suffering only burns in his hands and not something worse.
Among drivers, Vettel and Hamilton lead the drivers’ table in victories at Bahrain with four, while Ferrari has taken six wins with four different drivers.
Bahrain International Circuit
The Bahrain International Circuit is a facility with six different layouts. Four of those have received Grade One recognition by the FIA. Since 2004, 15 races have taken place in the Grand Prix layout, and the 2010 event was held in the Endurance, 6.299 km layout.
The Grand Prix layout has 15 corners and is 5.412-km long. The track will have three DRS zones. The zones will be in the main straight, the straight that unites turns three and four, and the back straight between turns 10 and 11.
The track has given us some exciting races in the past and last year’s DRS zones allowed defending drivers to enter corners mostly alongside the DRS-powered cars, which is a perfect situation for close, wheel-to-wheel racing.
The fastest lap around the Bahrain International Circuit was 1:31.447 min in the 2005 race, by Pedro de la Rosa in the McLaren MP4-20, while the fastest lap in any session took place in the 2020 qualifying session, when Hamilton did a 1:27.264 min lap.
2021 Bahrain Grand Prix - Tyres
The dry tyres for the 57 laps of the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix will be the C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C4 as P Zero Red soft. The same tyre names from last year, but with the new 2021 compounds.
Pirelli explained their choice to go with the medium option with a statement in a press release: “This is the same nomination as last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix four months ago, but there is a new tyre construction this year for the latest cars. The 2021 cars in fact have reduced downforce compared to last year, under the most recent technical rules..”
The tyre allocation for this Grand Prix will be two sets of hard, three sets of medium, and eight sets of the soft tyres.
2021 Bahrain Grand Prix - Weather Forecast
Friday, Mar 26th - FP1 & FP2
Max. temperature: 32°C
Chance of rain: 0%
Wind: East at 16 kph
Sunday, Mar 28th - Race
Conditions: Clear and breezy
Max. temperature: 23°C
Chance of rain: 0%
Wind: NNW at 37 kph
Who will be on the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix podium?
It will always be difficult to predict an outcome for the first race of the season after such results in pre-season testing. Everyone’s favourites, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, did not enjoy their time on pre-season testing at Bahrain, but discarding them could be a too drastic approach.
Of course, we mentioned how winter testing’s results do not always show what would happen in the first race of the year, but the trend could be a nice sample when the test was celebrated in the same venue where the inaugural round will take place.
Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen desperately need a charge for the World Drivers’ Championship and starting with a solid result in the inaugural race will be essential for them. Mercedes will surely be competitive at the first outing, we just need to see if they’ll compete with Red Bull and other teams or their drivers will fight it out between them at the front. Other teams, like McLaren or Aston Martin could be a surprise for the first race, and a podium in the inaugural round wouldn’t be anything new for McLaren, as they did so last year.
Ferrari could be another team that can contend for something big at Bahrain. If the team has regained its level and its engine power, then performing well at Bahrain should be a given for them. Look out for the red cars if they can be competitive and take advantage of a solid straight-line speed.
For those expecting another Mercedes’ dominance, we need to remember that when new tyre compounds were displayed in the 2017 and 2018 season, Mercedes had struggles related to tyres in the early part of those two seasons. Between 2019 and 2020, the transition was smooth for the German brand because the tyres were the same for both seasons. It should be noted.
The prediction for the top three of the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix is 1. Max Verstappen, 2. Charles Leclerc, 3. Lewis Hamilton.
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