Bahrain led Formula One’s expansion into the Middle East back in 2004 and, despite the ongoing political strife in the country, will this year hold its 11th Grand Prix. Starting last season, the Bahrain Grand Prix became a twilight race, providing some much-needed relief from the heat for all involved but this tends to bring up new issues.
Twilight races, which start in low light and end in the dark, tend to see track and air temperatures fall as the race proceeds, which is the opposite to most day events. Teams will need to account for this with respect to car setup, especially when it comes to tires as significant temperature drops can affect grip levels.
And as the Bahrain International Circuit is surrounded by desert, sand often blows onto the surface, further decreasing grip levels. Tire supplier Pirelli has nominated its medium and soft compounds for the race.
The weather forecast for Sunday’s race is dry and warm conditions, with the skies cloudy. Temperatures are expected to start in the region of 84 degrees F (29 degrees C) ambient and drop down to 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) or lower by the end of the race.
After the first practice session earlier today, Ferrari drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel were the fastest, followed closely by Williams' Valtteri Bottas and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz. However, as most teams were still setting up their cars, things should be very different come qualifying tomorrow.
Going into tomorrow’s session and Sunday’s eventual race, Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton remains on top of the 2015 Drivers’ Championship standings with 68 points versus Vettel in second with 55 points and fellow Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg in third with 51 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 119 points versus the 79 of Ferrari and 48 of Williams.