5.4 kilometres in length, the track features 15 tough corners which, combined with the high temperatures in which the race is held, make this race one of the most demanding of the season. The track surface is particularly abrasive, while you need good traction out of the corners and a reasonable top speed to tackle the long straights. Therefore the cars are set up with a medium level of downforce, but it only takes the odd gust of wind, which is often a feature here and stability under braking is compromised on the entry to corners.
The track characteristics and the heat mean that every single component on the car has a hard time. At the exit to the corners, rear tyre temperatures can peak briefly at 130 degrees. Our drivers know they will have to be particularly careful not to lock the front wheels, which could catch them out on some parts of the circuit. Pirelli is supplying the same tyre compounds as seen in Melbourne: White Medium, Yellow Soft and Red SuperSoft. Carlos Sainz has opted for 2 sets of Medium, 6 of Soft and 6 of SuperSoft. Max Verstappen however has made a slightly different choice, with just one set of Medium, 7 of Soft and 5 of SuperSoft.
Our engineers will be keeping a close eye on the braking system, because the Sakhir circuit is one of the toughest of the year on this front. Even though the race is held in the evening, when the temperatures drop by around 10 degrees, managing the heat generated under braking is complicated. High wear for the friction material is the most important aspect to get under control in order to make it to the chequered flag. The hardest braking point? That’s Turn 1, named after Michael Schumacher. Cars arrive at around 320 km/h and in under 140 metres, they have to decelerate to 60 km/h before the right hand turn. To do that, drivers must really mash the brake pedal, generating a pressure of no less than 119 kg!