The penultimate round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship is on this weekend in Bahrain, where only a week ago the Bahrain Grand Prix took place.
This weekend's round is a special Sakhir Grand Prix, the last of the special races added to the 2020 calendar after it needed to be revised due to Covid-19 coronavirus interruptions.
The Sakhir Grand Prix draws its name from the Sakhir desert region of Bahrain, where the Bahrain International Circuit is located. However, to change things up a little, this weekend's race will be run on the high-speed Outer Track of the Bahrain International Circuit.
The layout matches the regular track up until Turn 4, after which it switches to a very fast section with five slight turns that rejoin the regular track on the straight after Turn 13, with the final sector being the same as usual here. At just 2.2 miles in length, it is only slightly longer than Monaco's street circuit, which has the shortest track (2.07 miles) of F1's modern era. As a result, drivers will be completing 87 laps during the race at an expected average speed of 143 mph.
Track surface is always a big topic with new tracks and while the surface on the new section in Bahrain is similar to the regular circuit and made from the same material, it’s not been used anywhere near as much, so is therefore less worn out. Pirelli has nominated the C2, C3 and C4 tires for the race, the same as last week, though tire pressures will be higher this time around.
The other difference between the Sakhir Grand Prix and last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix is that the timetable is different, with this weekend's race starting later in the night as opposed to twilight.
Going into Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race, Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton leads the 2020 Drivers' Championship with 332 points. Fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is second with 201 points and Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen is third with 189 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes sits on 533 points, versus the 274 of Red Bull and 171 of McLaren.
All eyes this weekend will be on George Russell who will be swapping his Williams for the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton, who has already been named the 2020 champion, will skip this weekend's race as he is still in self isolation after contracting the coronavirus during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Filling in for Norris at Williams will be Jack Aitken, while Pietro Fittipaldi will fill in for Romain Grosjean at Haas, who is still recovering from his fiery crash last weekend.