Use of the supersoft Pirelli tires proved to be the key decision in Bahrain. The trend was set early on by the Haas F1 Team, who scored a remarkable fifth place. Nico Rosberg and Kimi Räikkönen also followed this tire strategy as they battled at the front. As predicted, a lack of new soft tires hurt Williams Martini Racing and they duly squandered Felipe Massa’s strong second position after the start, ending up in eighth.
James Allen on F1, UBS F1 Expert
Force India to shine - What is the midfield team’s winning strategy in Bahrain?
The return to Bahrain brings happy memories for the Sahara Force India F1 Team, who scored a podium in 2014 and has scored points in every race here with no retirements. In a tight midfield battle this year, they can score big if they qualify well and make use of the soft tires in the race by extending the stints. With three tire compound options allowed this year, it’s more of a chess game than ever.
Disappointment for Force India – How did they perform in Bahrain?
Before the weekend we looked at the Sahara Force India F1 Team, who have been strong in Bahrain previously. Qualifying went to plan for Nico Hülkenberg, who lined up 8th, but a lap one collision damaged his hopes of a result similar to Romain Grosjean's 5th for the Haas F1 Team, which would have been in Hülkenberg’s reach with a clean race. A two stop recovery strategy did not work, as the medium tires failed to perform. Sergio Perez qualified poorly and collided with another car at the start.
Race Strategy Briefing
Bahrain is a power circuit with four straights and an abrasive surface.
Medium, Soft, Supersoft: Ferrari has chosen fewer soft tires than Mercedes again.
The rear tires are the limitation around this track due to wheelspin out of slow corners.
One of the toughest circuits on brakes, with four major stops per lap down from over 300km/h.
With a wide track and huge run-off areas the Safety Car risk is low.
April 03 | 18:00 local time, 17:00 CET
F1’s first step into the Middle East region came in 2004 when Bahrain’s Sakhir International circuit was added to the calendar. Set in the desert, the first day of practice is spent sweeping off the layers of dust and developing a racing line on the Hermann Tilke designed track. The track features a good deal of undulation as well as Tilke’s characteristic long straights that head into tight corners, which produce some overtaking. High temperatures can contribute to increased tire degradation. Ferrari have won four out of the ten races at this track including a memorable 1-2 headed by Fernando Alonso in 2010, his first win for the Scuderia.
Circuit length 5.303 km
Race distance 307.574 km
2015 race winner Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Pirelli allocation supersoft, soft, medium
Bahrain could be a similar kind of race to China, which comes next in the 2016 season. The Pirelli tire choices are the same (soft and medium, plus the supersoft as per the new regulations) and although Bahrain is more abrasive, the temperatures will be slightly cooler, as the race will be held at night. Therefore, we are likely to see a similar pattern of two stops with soft/soft/ medium as the default strategy. This season MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS is less able to take risks with strategy due to Scuderia Ferrari being closer behind them. In Bahrain in 2014 Mercedes was able to give the second placed car a chance of winning the race with an alternative strategy, which made for a brilliant race. This won’t be possible this year and so qualifying and the start of the race will be critical.
In collaboration with James Allen