|2015 winner||Lewis Hamilton, 57 laps, 1:35:05.809s|
|2015 pole position||Lewis Hamilton, 1m32.571s|
|2015 fastest lap||Kimi Räikkönen 1m36.311s (lap 42)|
|Name||Bahrain International Circuit|
|Circuit length||5.412km/3.363-mile (11th longest track of the year)|
|Distance to Turn One||400m/0.249 miles (longest of season: Barcelona, 730m/0.454 miles)|
|Longest straight||1.09km/0.677 miles (longest of season: China, 1.17km/0.727 miles)|
|Top speed||335km/h/208mph, on the approach to Turn One (fastest of season: Monza, 350km/h/217mph)|
|Pitlane length||420m/0.261 miles, estimated time loss 21s (longest of season: Silverstone, 457m/0.283 miles)|
|Full throttle||64 per cent (highest of season: Monza, 75 per cent)|
|DRS zones||Two, on the approaches to Turns One and 11|
|Key corner||Turn 10, a tricky off-camber, downhill left-hander. It’s important to make a clean exit because the second DRS zone follows.|
|Fastest corner||185km/h (115mph), Turn 13|
|Slowest corner||80km/h (50mph), Turn 10|
|Major changes for 2016||None|
|Fuel consumption||1.8kg per lap, making it one of the most fuel-critical races of the season. It’s one of the longest races of the season and there are lots of bursts of acceleration from low speed.|
|Brake wear||High. There are eight big stops from high speed, the biggest coming at Turns One and 14|
|Gear changes||52 per lap /2964 per race|
|History lesson||Bahrain was the first Middle Eastern nation to host a grand prix. The $150 million Bahrain International Circuit took 18 months to build and, coincidentally, McLaren-Honda’s Jenson Button was the first F1 driver to visit the facility during the build process in 2003. The start time of the race was moved back to 18:00pm (local time) in 2014, thereby becoming F1’s second night race.|
|What makes the track unique||The combination of long straights and slow corners. Car set-up is a delicate compromise between straight-line speed and slow-corner grip, and special consideration has to be given to cooling because this is the first hot race of the year.|
|Grip levels||Low. The track isn’t used much during the year and when you combine that fact with the circuit’s desert location, grip levels can be very low early in the weekend. The asphalt is initially very dusty and slippery, but lap times improve dramatically once the cars start to circulate.|
|Run-off||Substantial, which is why track limits are a factor here. At no point around the racetrack is a driver permitted to place all four wheels beyond the white lines lining the edge of the asphalt, or they risk punishment from the FIA.|
|Watch out for…||The track temperature. The race starts just after sunset, which means the asphalt cools dramatically during the course of the race.|
“Firstly, I’m very pleased to be heading to Bahrain after the crash in Australia. I’ve spent some time resting and I can’t wait to get back in the car. Although on paper Melbourne wasn’t a great race for us, before the crash I’d been having some good battles and the car felt pretty promising, so I hope in Bahrain we can experience more of the same.
“I really enjoy racing in Bahrain. It’s been a good circuit for me in the past – I’ve had three victories there – and there are quite a few good opportunities to overtake. There are lots of variables to think about and it’s one of the longest races, which usually produces some kind of drama. Hopefully we can enjoy some close racing and keep ourselves out of trouble
“Bahrain is a fun track to drive on and very different from Albert Park in its configuration. It’s tough on brakes and fuel, and good balance is key to putting together a lap, as you need downforce on the long, fast straights and then stability and traction through the lower-speed corners. It’s a more extreme version of Australia in many ways, with the track starting off very dirty and rubbering in over the weekend. While that makes the track faster, we also have to juggle the rapidly cooling temperatures on race day after the sun sets.
“I’m really keen to get back behind the wheel, as, although it didn’t show in our results from Australia, our package felt very good to drive and the team worked really hard to bring a step forward in driveability from testing to the first race. Bahrain is definitely a tricky track for us as it’s high-speed, but we have a solid platform and improved deployment, so there are some positives to look forward to.”
|Start time||18:00hrs local/15:00hrs GMT|
|Race distance||57 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/43 laps)|
|Safety Car likelihood||20 per cent, which is low. There have been only two Safety Car deployments in the history of the race, most recently in 2014.|
|When to press record||The long run to Turn One usually creates excitement, but why not check out the sunset? When the pitlane opens 30 minutes before the start, the sun is still going down and it can be spectacularly beautiful in the desert.|
|Don’t put the kettle on||When the race reaches laps in the mid-teens and mid-30s. These were the two pitstop windows for the top four cars home in last year’s race. Sebastian Vettel was the first three-stopper to finish, in fifth place.|
|Weather conditions now||29 degrees and sunny|
|Race forecast||26 degrees, but the temperature will drop quickly once the sun has set|
|Tyre choices Supersoft/Soft/Medium, which are the same as at the season-opener in Australia||Supersoft/Soft/Medium, which are the same as at the season-opener in Australia|
|First Bahrain Grand Prix||2004|
|Slogan||“On the edge of action.”|
|Bahrain’s F1 heritage||This is the 11th Bahrain Grand Prix, which makes it a relative newcomer to the World Championship. The BIC was the second F1 track to be designed in its entirety by Hermann Tilke, the first being Sepang in Malaysia, and it moved the goalposts in terms of safety because the amount of run-off was unprecedented at the time.|
|Smallest winning margin||1.085s, in 2014. A late-race Safety Car period bunched up the field and the Mercedes drivers tripped over each other all the way to the flag, Lewis Hamilton coming home just ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg.|
|Sporting legacy||Bahrain has a growing sporting infrastructure. The Bahraini Premier League features 10 professional football clubs; there’s also a professional basketball league, and Endurance Horse Racing is a favourite pastime of the Crown Prince. However, the popularity of motorsport is growing thanks to the presence of the Bahrain International Circuit, the Kingdom’s only permanent racetrack.|
|Did you know?||The first oil well in the Middle East was discovered in Bahrain, in 1931.|
|Don’t forget||McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso has won the Bahrain Grand Prix three times, which is more than any other driver.|
|Fan zone||Jonathan, aged nine, from Melbourne, Australia asks: “How do the cars travel from Australia to Bahrain?” McLaren’s answer: “All of our trackside equipment, including the cars raced by Fernando and Jenson, travelled by plane from Melbourne to Bahrain. It amounts to a total of 40 tonnes of air freight.”|
“In testing and in Melbourne we’ve had good reliability, which proves how hard the team has worked to make our package stronger. There’s also been a massive effort from the teams in Woking and Sakura, who have been flat-out manufacturing parts for this race to ensure we can get back up to speed after the chassis was damaged, and I’m hugely impressed with how quickly they’ve managed to turn it around. We’re still pushing to bring upgrades to each race, so providing we can get everything to the car in time we’ll be aiming to get as much track time as possible with the new chassis from the start of free practice.
“Living in Dubai, I’m used to the climate in the Middle East, and racing in different temperatures over the weekend, as well as managing the car’s performance over a long race distance in tough conditions, brings another level to the challenge for the drivers. I’m looking forward to seeing what our package is capable of at what has previously been a pretty challenging circuit for us.”
“We made a couple of misjudgements on the strategy side in Melbourne, but it’s all part of the learning curve with the new tyre compound rules. Together with the engineers we’ve studied the data and hopefully we can make some good calls in Bahrain, pull together the various stages of the race and achieve a more representative result.
“The landscape of racing in the desert after sunset is always really special and brings a new dimension to the spectacle. Everything in Bahrain is always very slick and it’s an impressive place to be. My win there in 2009 is still a great memory and the wide track and run-off areas mean it’s a fun circuit on which to battle. I hope we can mix it with the midfield pack – it’s a very competitive area of the field – so we’ll be pushing hard to get the maximum from our package as soon as we can.”
“The race in Australia was certainly an eventful one for McLaren-Honda. First of all, I was very happy to see Fernando walk away after such a heart-stopping incident. In addition, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all our McLaren and Honda employees for the incredible efforts going on behind the scenes to get the spare chassis built and ready to race next weekend. It’s a truly remarkable achievement in between flyaway races, and a testament to our incredibly strong teamwork.
“We’re certainly hoping for a less dramatic race in Bahrain, and will be aiming to build on the promising initial data we’ve collected from our car, which shows a definite improvement in pace from last year’s package. There’s still much more potential to unlock and performance to find, but the encouraging leap made from testing to Melbourne has shown what’s possible, and we will keep pushing to improve our pace and develop our strengths by continuing to bring updates to the car at every race.
“The Bahrain Grand Prix has become something of a home race for us, and we’re very proud to be racing in front of our shareholders and enthusiastic fans. The spectacle of the Bahrain International Circuit is something very special. Racing under floodlights always creates a unique atmosphere and the fans get to enjoy action on track in completely different settings over the course of the weekend. For the engineers, it’s a battle to juggle many different constraints – temperatures, track surfaces, brake wear, tyres, fuel consumption – and we’ve already learned a lot about how our car performs in different conditions from Melbourne, which we’ll be putting to good use. In Bahrain we’ll be looking to discover our true pace and put our package to work in the tough desert conditions.”
"After a chaotic Australian weekend, we head off to our first night race of the season in Bahrain.
“We have recovered the power unit from Fernando’s car used in Melbourne, which we will continue to perform full checks on all parts affected. For now, considering that the drivers’ safety is our utmost priority, we will not be reusing the damaged power unit in Bahrain, as the impact of the accident was just too great. The matter is out of our hands now, but obviously we will be massively disappointed that we have lost a power unit in the first race of the season.
“Looking forward, Bahrain’s sunny and dry weather will hopefully ensure us that we have plenty of clean running. The two long front and back straights of the track will be strenuous on the power units so we will make most of the practice sessions to set-up the car. It is evident that we still need to increase our performance, but thankfully we were able to learn more about where we are and how to progress from the data collected in Melbourne.”
Strong winds made for tricky conditions in the desert during the first free practice session, although a dry day on track was welcome after a few days of uncharacteristically wet weather and cooler temperatures in Bahrain.
Following yesterday’s decision by the FIA doctors to rest Fernando for the weekend, the team did a fantastic job to ready chassis #02 for Stoffel Vandoorne, who deputises for Fernando this weekend. Stoffel quickly got to work on a busy aero and mechanical set-up programme. Jenson too, focused on aero and balance work, with both drivers running competitively during both sessions while undertaking a number of different set-up configurations.
As dusk fell and the floodlights were illuminated, the drivers spent time evaluating tyre compounds on different fuel loads, while continuing car set-up work, focusing on both aerodynamic and mechanical balance work. Temperatures remained relatively consistent for most of the day, and we were able to complete a positive day’s programme and perform the necessary work to ready ourselves for FP3 and another unpredictable qualifying session tomorrow.
|FP1:||1m36.392s (+4.098s)||25 laps||18th|
|FP2:||1m32.999s (+1.998s)||30 laps||11th|
“I turned 24 on Saturday so this is a very good birthday present! Today has been great – I wasn’t expecting to drive this weekend, but I’m very happy for this opportunity. I’m going to try and do as good a job as possible for the team. I feel 100 per cent ready for this and today was a very good day for me. I haven’t driven this car before but I quickly felt comfortable in the car, progressed quite a lot through FP1 and then had quite a good feeling through FP2 as well.
“The most important thing for us was to do a lot of laps; we did a lot of pit stops, practice starts, the operational stuff, really, to cover all the things I have to learn. During my trip here from Japan I had a lot of preparation work and learning to do – the engineers sent me a lot of stuff and I’ve been through it all – I spent my time well on the plane! There’s still a lot of things we have to go through tomorrow and definitely before the race, but so far everything has been very good.
“I really want to enjoy this opportunity and I’m very excited about the chance I’m getting. Fernando has been around all day beside me and with the engineers, and has been giving me some great advice. We have a great team and I know a lot of the guys around here, so it makes my life a little bit easier to come and work with them. It’s definitely not an ideal situation to just jump in the car without any testing, but so far this Friday has been very good during both practice sessions. I've been feeling more and more comfortable, and tomorrow I think that progression is going to continue. I felt very prepared today – I’ve done a lot of simulator work over the last few months at the factory. Since I got the call, I’ve done a lot of learning with the engineers, about how to set up the car, and also how to operationally bring the car home during the race. It’s been a busy day, but everything went fine. Bahrain is a track I really enjoy and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
|FP1:||1m35.440s (+3.146s)||28 laps||14th|
|FP2:||1m32.281s (+1.280s)||32 laps||3rd|
“Today was good – FP1 and FP2 were both competitive, and it’s nice to have a car that feels good beneath me, one we can really work with and see good gains. It was only practice today, but it was a lot more fun than normal! High-fuel runs weren’t too bad either – overall it’s been a positive day. There’s still a lot of work to do tomorrow on long runs, especially on the harder compounds, when I’m sure the other cars will be more competitive tomorrow. But, we were third quickest today, and that’s a positive. There are certain areas where we need to improve, and I think we still can improve. We have to do a good job as a team tomorrow and make sure we don’t make any mistakes.
“We had no problems today reliability-wise, everything was good. It’s fun to have a car that’s enjoyable to drive. The balance is reasonable and the car is feeling nice around here, which is definitely better than Melbourne. I think when you’re third in FP2 and it’s not because of changeable conditions or anything, you’ve got to be thinking about getting into Q3 – it has to be the aim.
“Stoffel has done a really good job today – he’s fitted in as you would expect, he’s a very talented driver, so we’ll see what we can do as a team tomorrow. I think there’ll be cars that slip in between us, but it’s a positive start, we didn’t do anything unusual, and hopefully we’ll continue to improve tomorrow.”
“Today has been a largely satisfying and successful day. After the decision was made by the FIA medical team yesterday that Fernando could not race, the team quickly and professionally managed the situation and performed the relevant changes required to ready Fernando’s side of the garage for Stoffel’s debut in the MP4-31 as reserve driver.
“Stoffel demonstrated his professionalism by getting straight into the car and settling into free practice very quickly. Both he and Jenson had a positive day of running, and Stoffel fitted in seamlessly with the programme as we knew he would, providing excellent feedback and performing valuable set-up and aero tests. Although our pace looks very encouraging, it’s still only Friday and as always there’s a lot of work to do overnight.
"As in Australia, we have brought upgrades to Bahrain and spent time evaluating the new parts and bedding them in to the package. Reliability-wise we’ve enjoyed another strong day, completing a good number of laps which enabled us to gather a lot of useful data that we will take into tomorrow’s sessions.
“Qualifying, once again, is likely to be tricky to manage; and unpredictable – especially in the midfield positions, but today’s running has been encouraging and we hope to carry this momentum into tomorrow, where we hope to demonstrate the potential in our package.”
"First of all, we are very disappointed that Fernando cannot race this weekend, but our first concern is for his health and it is important that he takes time to recover properly.
"On the other hand, we are excited to see Stoffel in the car for the first time, and we are looking forward to watching his performance over the weekend. All of the team will do as much as possible to back him up and to help him get the best out of the car.
"The weather on the first day of running in Bahrain was rather chilly and therefore there was no anxiety about the car overheating, which we usually find at this circuit. In both FP1 and FP2 sessions, the power units ran smoothly, which enabled the team and drivers to do consistent running to progress the car's set-up for tomorrow onwards."
Stoffel Vandoorne scored McLaren-Honda’s first world championship point of the season after a faultless drive to 10th place on his grand prix debut.
The young Belgian, deputising this weekend for Fernando Alonso, started 12th, stayed out of trouble on the opening lap as the field bunched up and collected one another on the approach to Turn One. Thereafter, he kept his nose clean throughout all four stints, pulled off some confident passing manoeuvres and drove cleanly and consistently to the chequered flag.
Jenson had a short-lived race. After running strongly inside the top 10, he encountered a sudden power unit issue and was forced to pull the car onto the run-off and retire on lap seven.
|Fastest lap:||1m36.121s on lap 44 (+1.639s, 12th)|
|Pit-stops:||Three: laps 9 (2.92s), 25 (2.78s) and 41 (3.62s) [Opt-Pri-Pri-Opt]|
“This result was more or less what I expected – I maximised the opportunity and I’m quite satisfied.
“The start was a little bit difficult. There was debris left and right – it was pretty hectic in fact – and there was a lot of fighting throughout that opening lap.
“Since the beginning of the weekend, I’ve felt very confident in the car, and pretty comfortable that I could do a good job. I’m pleased that I didn’t make any mistakes operationally – I was really focusing on that side of things – and I came away with a point, which was a nice bonus.
“This weekend was a big opportunity for me: I made the most of it, I showed what I’m capable of, and now I just need to wait and see what happens next. That’s not for me to decide – so let’s see what the future brings.”
|Finished:||DNF - (7 laps)|
|Fastest lap:||1m39.427s on lap 3 (+4.945s, 20th)|
|Pit-stops:||- [started on Opt]|
“We made some real progress with the car this weekend.
“Qualifying didn’t go fully to plan, but the pace was there – it’s just been a tough weekend because I think we could have scored a good amount of points. Still, I think we can take away some positives in terms of our outright pace.
“In the race I had a loss of power and then the car stopped. We don’t know yet exactly what the problem was – the car just cut out. I initially felt it out of Turn Two, and I eventually stopped at Turn 10.
“It’s a pity; I got a really good start, and made up lots of places, overtaking three cars at Turn 10 under braking, so I was pretty chuffed with that. So it’s a real shame, as I say: before I stopped, I was saving a lot of fuel, my tyres were in good condition, and I was just cruising behind the cars in front.
“We were going to try something a little bit different with the strategy; the cars we were sat behind finished fifth and sixth, and I felt like we could have had a good fight with them.
“Stoffel has done a solid job this weekend, getting our first point of the year. We were both helped out by the incidents on track, but, all said, he’s done a good job as I say.”
“This evening, under floodlights here in the Bahraini desert, over the twists and turns of the superb Bahrain International Circuit, Stoffel did that remarkable and noteworthy thing: he scored a world championship point on his Formula 1 debut.
“In so doing, he capped a very fine weekend, which began with a late call-up and a lengthy two-leg flight from Japan, and ended with what can only be described as a flawlessly mature performance.
“After a troubled qualifying yesterday, Jenson made an excellent start today, and was driving hard and well when his run was ended through no fault of his own. He was understandably disappointed, as we all were, but it’s fair to say that both he and Stoffel showed a decent turn of speed this evening, and for that reason we have reason to look ahead to the next grand prix, in Shanghai, with a degree of optimism.
“But, here in Bahrain, we scored our first world championship point of the year – and, although on its own that’s nothing to write home about, the fact that it was scored by a grand prix debutant is surely cause to uncork the Chandon! Well done, Stoff!”
“I am very happy for Stoffel to score a championship point in his first ever Formula 1 race. On the other hand, the disappointment over Jenson’s power unit issue and his early retirement is also great.
“We have been working hard on improving our reliability since last year, and will continue to do so.
“The overall performance of the package was very solid, and I think that is definitely a positive result we can take away from this weekend. Once the car returns, we will investigate the power unit and prepare it for the next race.”