With both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships sealed, Formula 1 arrives in Bahrain for the 15th round of the 2020 calendar. Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton retained their titles, but the three races left in the calendar could still be thrilling.
Formula 1’s triple-header to close the year will begin with a race in the Bahrain International Circuit Grand Prix layout of 5.412 km and 15 corners.
Even though the 2020 Formula 1 season has been decided in Lewis Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ favor without a big fight from rivals, the 2020 Formula 1 season has been thrilling.
Granted, many fans are simply happy to have been able to see F1 cars hitting the track after such a long wait between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but the reality is that the racing has been nice.
Can Lewis Hamilton continue his roll?
In the first of three night races ahead of us, Mercedes and Hamilton should be favored to win. Last year’s main threat to the champions at Bahrain, Ferrari, will not be enjoying such competitiveness this year.
Ferrari had the best car around Bahrain last year, but Hamilton managed to get past Sebastian Vettel for second place and eventually take advantage of Charles Leclerc’s engine troubles.
Valtteri Bottas will need to bounce back after a horrible race with his Mercedes at Turkey.
Red Bull and their chances to win
Max Verstappen said the disappointing Turkish Grand Prix was his and Red Bull’s last chance to win another Grand Prix this year. Though it might be true due to Red Bull’s midfield level at Bahrain last year, it is not always a sure thing.
Last year, the Bahrain Grand Prix was only the second race with Honda powering Red Bull, which is why their performance on that day was reasonable. Now, Red Bull can be competitive in Bahrain with an established relationship with Honda.
Also, to Verstappen’s point about their last chance to win, there is the need to say that with the Sakhir Grand Prix in the new outer layout of the Bahrain International Circuit, mixed results can happen.
The battle for P3 continues
The fights for P3 in the World Constructors’ Championship and P4 in the WDC are coming to an end, and it is simply getting hot weekend after weekend.
Among teams, Racing Point pulled away from McLaren and Renault after Sergio Pérez’s podium in Istanbul. RP leads McLaren and Renault by five and 18 points, respectively. The Bahrain circuit could be well-suited for all three teams, and the fight could be massively close.
Regarding drivers, Sergio Pérez’s tremendous performance at Turkey was enough for him to reach P4 at the moment, even after missing a couple of rounds. Pérez has a three-point gap over Charles Leclerc and four points over Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.
2020 Bahrain GP Facts & Figures
The first Bahrain Grand Prix in Formula 1 history came in 2004, with Michael Schumacher winning the race for Ferrari.
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 canceled due to social issues, before Vettel and Red Bull took wins in 2012 and 2013.
Hamilton won at 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.
Among drivers, Vettel is the leader 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, 14 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, like in 2019. 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.
2020 Bahrain Grand Prix - Tyres
The dry tyres for the 2020 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.
Pirelli explained their choice to go with the hardest option with a statement in a press release: “This year’s nomination is a step softer than last year’s, where the vast majority of the drivers stopped twice at the Bahrain Grand Prix. This was because drivers focussed on only the two softer compounds nominated in 2019, feeling that the C1 was too hard. As a result, the softer nomination this year should bring all three compounds into play.”
The tyre allocation for this Grand Prix will be two sets of hard, three sets of medium, and eight sets of the soft tyres.
The teams will have the chance to test the 2021 C3 compound with both cars on Friday.
2020 Bahrain Grand Prix - Weather Forecast
Friday, Nov 27th - FP1 & FP2
Max. temperature: 21°C
Chance of rain: 25%
Sunday, Nov 29th - Race
Conditions: Mainly clear
Max. temperature: 21°C
Chance of rain: 3%
Who will be on the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix podium?
Last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix was thrilling, and it almost delivered the first Grand Prix win of Charles Leclerc’s career (which, of course, came later at Spa-Francorchamps).
It would not be unusual for this race to see a thrilling fight at the front, whether it is by the two Mercedes’ drivers or between Verstappen and Hamilton.
Still, the battle at the top might not get all the attention of the night, as the battle for P3 in the WCC and for P4 among the drivers is extremely tense and should be very competitive. It would be awesome to see Racing Point, McLaren, and Renault fighting even for podium spots on Sunday.
Early predictions for the weekend announced little rain for Sunday, which would arguably throw almost every analysis out of the window. However, that rain might not happen and we could see the usual suspects at the front (even if Hamilton remained there in the wet last race).
Out of the 21 drivers who started a race in 2020, 12 have achieved podiums, the highest number since 2012 (13). However, 25 drivers started a race during that year. It will be hard to see a new driver achieving a podium this year, but we have seen impressive results during this revised season.
The prediction for the top three of the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix is 1. Valtteri Bottas, 2. Max Verstappen, 3. Lewis Hamilton.
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