Bahrain Grand Prix preview: SportPesa Racing Point
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE SECOND RACE OF THE FORMULA ONE CALENDAR THIS WEEKEND?
It was a surprising win from Valtteri Bottas in Australia who has shown a very different side of him from the past season. On his first race for SportPesa Racing Point, Lance Stroll qualified 16th to finishing in ninth place on Sunday.
Looking back at the Australian Grand Prix, Lance said: “It was great to pick up a couple of points at the first race of the season. It was one of those days were we had to fight from start to finish with no let up. Good fun and close racing. Our strategy really paid off and we had good race pace. Two points are important, but we came away from Melbourne knowing there’s lots of work to do. We knew the midfield had closed up, but there was just half a second covering about ten cars in qualifying. Every tenth is going to count this weekend as well.”
Now, looking ahead at the Bahrain GP, Lance had this to add: “I think Bahrain is one of the best of the modern F1 tracks with good overtaking opportunities in turns one and four, and even into turn 11. There’s a nice flow to the lap with a combination of long straights and some slow to medium-speed technical corners. We often see entertaining racing there. The weather is usually pretty consistent – dry and sunny, but there’s always a big temperature shift when the sun goes down. Because some of the practice sessions are run in the daytime, you need to adapt to a very different track for qualifying and the race in the evening. You also need to look out for sand getting blown onto the track which can make things quite slippery.”
Sergio Perez, who had a very good qualifying in Australia with a 10th place: “I’m very motivated to get back to racing in Bahrain. Missing out on points in Melbourne was disappointing for me, especially after the great job we did in qualifying, but I always say that it’s not how you start season, but how you finish it. It’s a long year and there are twenty more opportunities to score good points.
“I think most drivers enjoy the Bahrain circuit. I’ve had some great battles there over the years and I was on the podium in 2014, which was a special moment in my career.
“The weekend will be another close fight in the middle of the grid, but I think points are achievable. It’s going to be interesting to see how much overtaking happens in the race, because it wasn’t easy in Melbourne.”
For CEO and Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer, it was a positive result to end in the points but Bahrain will give the team a better indication of where they are in comparison to the others. “Our objective in Melbourne was to score points, so we were pleased to start the season with a ninth place. Lance drove a great race and really deserved this result on his first race for the team. He was unlucky in qualifying, but he kept working hard and bounced back on Sunday. Sergio was unlucky, losing some positions at the start and then being caught up in traffic. It’s very hard to overtake in Melbourne and there was no way to make up the lost ground.
“Melbourne confirmed that every tenth counts – both in qualifying and the race. We’ve got some improvements coming for Bahrain, but the main task will be extracting more from the new aero package we introduced in Melbourne. Bahrain will give us a better indication of where we stand because it’s a much more traditional circuit compared to the stop-start layout of Melbourne.
Image: SportPesa Racing Point