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Bahrain International Circuit facts & stats

The Bahrain International Circuit was the first Formula 1-spec track to be built in the Middle East. Located at Sakhir, 30km south west of Bahrain’s capital city Manama, the track was completed in 2003 and it’s one of seven circuits on this year’s calendar to have been designed by German architect Hermann Tilke.

The 5.4km layout is made up of four long straights, all of which funnel into heavy braking zones and clear overtaking places. There are also some tricky medium-speed corners that require a good car balance, and a demanding off-camber second-gear left-hander (Turn 10), where it’s easy to lock the loaded inside front wheel. Car set-up is a compromise between straight-line speed and cornering grip, and with ambient temperatures expected to exceed 35 degrees this weekend, teams will also need to be mindful of cooling.

The abrasive asphalt, which is made from granite imported from Wales, has prompted Pirelli to take its Medium and Hard compounds to the race – the same specifications that were used at the Malaysian Grand Prix last month, at which Sergio Perez scored his first World Championship points for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.


Race distance       57 laps (308.238km/191.539 miles)

Start time               15:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)

Circuit length        5.412km/3.363 miles

2012 winner           Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing RB8) 57 laps in 1hr35m10.990s (202.151km/h)

2012 pole               Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing RB8) 1m32.422s (198.739km/h)

Lap record             Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m30.252s (216.074km/h)


McLaren at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Wins                       0

Poles                      0

Fastest laps           2 (2005, ’08)

Car 5: Jenson Button

Age                         33 (January 19 1980)

GPs                         231

Wins                       15

Poles                      8

FLs                          8

“The Sakhir circuit requires a good overall car balance. There are some tricky and technical low-speed changes of direction; you need to place the car really precisely at the corner entry in order to maximise traction at the exit. And there are also some high-speed sweeps – Turns Six and Seven, for example – and some fast corners, such as the uphill left-hander at Turn 11. You need a good front-end, but also good traction, to get the best from those corners.

“It’s a place where the grip levels can be quite hard to anticipate, and where the wind direction can play quite an important part in determining the car’s balance. The wind can affect top speed and cornering performance, so practice will be more important than ever in enabling us to take the best overall package into qualifying and the race.”

Car 6: Sergio Perez

Age                         23 (January 26 1990)

GPs                         40

Wins                       –

Poles                      –

FLs                          2

“The Bahrain Grand Prix circuit has plenty of run-off and a good combination of high- and low-speed corners. The challenge for the drivers comes from the constantly evolving nature of the corners, and dealing with the sand – which gets blown onto different areas of the track from the surrounding desert.

“With two DRS zones, I think we should see some decent racing: the two best overtaking opportunities are into the Turn One and Turn Four hairpins. They’re both good places to attack – you can force another driver onto the inside line and then attack on the exit, when they’re more vulnerable. The second DRS zone will mainly be used to close the gap down to the car in front, before attacking again along the pits straight.”

Martin Whitmarsh

Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Bahrain marks the end of the opening fly-away leg of the 2013 world championship. That being the case, following on in quick succession from last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, we’ll look to consolidate our achievements in Shanghai with further solid points finishes this weekend.

“While the first three races haven’t been the easiest for us, there’s been a little progress at every round, and we’ll be looking for another improved showing, as well as the opportunity to increase our understanding of MP4-28, in Bahrain this weekend.

“The work that goes on at the track is only the tip of the iceberg, though. There’s been an incredible amount of effort expended back at the McLaren Technology Centre [Woking, UK], so as to ensure that the delivery of new parts, and the evaluation of fresh ideas, remain constant.

“I therefore want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s contributed to that work. Your efforts never go unnoticed, and the development trend is in the right direction.”

A McLaren 50 classic moment

Bahrain Grand Prix, 15 April 2007

Lewis Hamilton finishes second to become the first driver in history to finish on the podium in his opening three Formula 1 races.

He qualifies second and makes a strong start to hold off team-mate Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen into the first corner. As he starts to line up pole-sitter Felipe Massa, the Safety Car is deployed following a first-lap collision between Jenson Button and Scott Speed. At the restart, Massa holds off Lewis into Turn One and that’s how the order remains during the early laps.

The first round of pitstops produces no change at the front and when Massa makes his second stop, Lewis stays out for four more laps. He finds himself seven seconds behind the Brazilian when he emerges from his pitstop and an exciting climax to the race follows as he reels in the Ferrari every lap.

In the end, Lewis runs out of time to challenge for the lead and he crosses the line 2.3s behind the Brazilian. This is his second consecutive second-place finish and leaves him equal on points with Alonso and Raikkonen at the top of the drivers’ championship.