Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: Bahrain is a circuit that has some key characteristics that will present new challenges for the teams. It’s a high braking circuit so brake wear will be a factor, it is tough on rear tyres and it has a high ambient temperature. We feel that the current car, whilst not as competitive as we would like, will be more competitive in Bahrain because of these factors. For engines it is a high power, high efficiency circuit that places a premium on straight line speed and the Renault engine should be robust at this sort of circuit. It’s been disappointing not to score points in our first three races, but we can be pleased with the fact that Valtteri has managed to bring the car home in every race so far with very solid drives.
Pastor Maldonado: Because the Sakhir Circuit is in the desert the track conditions can change quite a lot during the weekend, especially with the sand being blown across the surface, so the teams will have to be ready to react to the different conditions. The temperatures in the cockpit are also going to be very high so as a driver you have to be prepared both physically and mentally to deal with that and I’m expecting to lose between 2 and 3kg during the race. Tyre degradation is also expected to be quite high at this race which can always throw up some interesting challenges for the teams.
Valtteri Bottas: It’s been a very busy start to my career with two back to back races in a row, but it has meant that I have had a lot of time in the car and the chance to try and understand its characteristics. The track in Bahrain isn’t used much throughout the year so can be quite green and the dusty surface means that the conditions can change quite a lot from one session to another, so it will be important to keep searching for the best grip on each lap. The tyres also tend to drop off quite a lot at this circuit so in Friday practice we need to try and find a good car setup to maximise the long run performance for the race so we can keep the tyres alive longer than others.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations: Sakhir sits in the middle of the table for the demands put on the engine, with drivers at full throttle for 50% of the lap in the race and 57% in qualifying. However the high ambient temperatures and low humidity are the main challenges for engines in Bahrain. The hot conditions mean that the bodywork may have to be slightly opened to aid the cooling configuration, while the aridity increases pressure within the cylinder chamber, which can cause internal failure. We can counteract this by tuning the engine.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: Bahrain is one of the few circuits on which we will be competing for only the second time and we’re bringing the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium: the two hardest tyres in the range, which was a combination last used in Malaysia. The big challenge in Bahrain is normally the heat, which can be in the region of 30 degrees ambient and 45 degrees on track, and this accentuates the amount of energy going through the tyres. The grip in Bahrain can be very variable, due to the sand that gets blown onto the surface from the surrounding desert and this makes track evolution quite hard to predict. Traction and braking are the two key aspects of Bahrain, both of which are very demanding on the tyres, and I would expect to see a three-stop race from most teams, as was the case last year. Degradation rather than actual wear will decide the strategy.