F1 2015 Bahrain Grand Prix: Hamilton looking to win desert duel
PUBLISHED: 17:49 15 April 2015 | UPDATED: 11:27 28 April 2015
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton bids for this third victory of the season at the 2015 Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.
F1: Pictures of 2015 Chinese Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton driving in the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
Lewis Hamilton on the podium after winning the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
Lewis Hamilton on the podium with Nico Rosberg after winning the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
The 2015 Chinese Grand Prix podium, with race winner Lewis Hamilton second from the right [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
The start of the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
Lewis Hamilton ahead of Nico Rosberg in the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
Lewis Hamilton takes the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix chequered flag [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
The fourth race of the 2015 F1 World Championship season will be held at the Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday.
Hamilton, the 30-year-old Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire, took the chequered flag in Bahrain last year.
And following his victory in Sunday’s Chinese GP, the two-time world champion is “buzzing” and looking forward to racing in the Middle East.
Hamilton said: “I was really buzzing after the result in China and I have to say a big thank you to the team for the amazing job they did all weekend.
“As always, though, my thoughts have been completely focused on the next race from the moment we left the circuit on Sunday.
“It’s been a great start – but for me last season showed that you can never feel too comfortable and that’s even more the case this time around with Ferrari right there with us.”
Despite winning at the desert track last year, Hamilton has enjoyed mixed fortunes in Bahrain.
He said: “I don’t actually have the best record in Bahrain compared to other circuits.
"The momentum is with me, so the target is to carry that on and hopefully repeat last year’s performance."
“Last year was my first win here and it was definitely one I’ll remember after a great fight with Nico [Rosberg].
“That’s what I love about racing and it’s a special feeling to come out on top in a battle like that.
“I’m in a good place right now. The momentum is with me, so the target is to carry that on and hopefully repeat last year’s performance.”
One man trying to stop that is Hamilton’s Silver Arrows rival Rosberg.
Bahrain International Circuit facts
* Start time: 1800 (local) / 1600 (BST)
* Race distance: 57 laps (full World Championship points awarded after 75% distance / 43 laps)
* 2014 winner: Lewis Hamilton
* 2014 pole position: Nico Rosberg 1m33.185s 209.080km/h
* 2014 fastest lap: Nico Rosberg 1m37.020s 200.816km/h
* Chances of a Safety Car: Low, due to the vast expanse of run-off. Having said that, there was a late-race Safety Car in 2014 after Esteban Gutierrez flipped his Sauber.
* Don’t put the kettle on: Between laps 13-18 and 35-41. Last year’s race was won using a two-stop strategy, but there were different ideas about when to use the Soft and the Medium compounds. The same could well be true this year.
* Weather forecast: After the relative cool of Shanghai, Bahrain will feel hot. Ambient and track temperatures have been much reduced since the race was given a 6pm start time last year, but the teams can still expect some of the highest ambient temperatures of the year.
The runner-up in Shanghai said: “China was a frustrating weekend for me and I’m glad we have another race right away to get straight back to work.
“The team has made a great start to the season and, with this incredible car they have built, I know I just need to find a little bit more in myself to get back to the top step.
“I’ve never won in Bahrain but I’ve taken the last two pole positions here and also set the fastest lap at this circuit on my Formula One debut, so I know I have the pace.”
Looking back to his 2014 Bahrain tussle with Hamilton, Rosberg, who took pole by finished second, said: “Of course, everyone remembers the race last year and it would be great for the fans if we can put on another great show for them this time.
Bahrain Grand Prix facts
* First race: 2004
* Circuit length: 5.412km/3.639 miles
* Run to Turn One: 265 metres
* Longest straight: 1.09km, on the approach to Turn One
* Top speed: 330km/h on the approach to Turn One
* DRS zones: Two – the first on the approach to Turn One, the second on the approach to Turn 11
* Key corner: Turn 10. This is a tricky downhill left-hander. It’s off-camber, so it’s very easy to lock the left-front tyre – and it’s vital to make a clean exit because the second DRS zone is located along the ensuing straight
* Pitlane length: 480 metres
* Major changes for 2015: None
“If we can do that but with the two top steps in a different order it would be fantastic!
“It won’t be so easy with the competition breathing down our necks. But that makes for even more exciting racing, so I’m looking forward to a great battle and I’m determined to come out on top.”
Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was delighted to claim a one-two in China last weekend and is looking for more of the same in Bahrain.
Wolff said: “After the wake-up call in Malaysia, it was satisfying to see how the team pulled together for the race in China.
Did you know?
A loop was added to the layout of the Bahrain International Circuit in 2010. It extended the length of the track by 0.848km, but was considered too bumpy and the original design was subsequently reinstated.
“We did our homework, made improvements and scored a strong one-two finish.
“But China also confirmed that Ferrari will be a threat in all conditions this year, not just when it’s very hot, and that we will have new challenges to face as a team, with another competitor who is much closer to our level of performance.”
Rosberg accused Hamilton of driving too slow whilst leading in China. But Wolff said clear-the-air talks have been held between the Mercedes rivals.
Wolff revealed: “We saw tensions between Nico and Lewis in the race and we tackled them directly on Sunday night to stop anything carrying over to this weekend.
“When you have intense competition, it’s normal that it causes emotions to run high – and that’s not something we want to change.
“But both drivers are now very focused on delivering maximum performance in Bahrain and our package should cope well with the demands of the circuit.
“We maintain our philosophy of letting the drivers race – but they both know that the number one priority for the team is to win for Mercedes-Benz.”
Looking to the Bahrain GP, Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe added: “Last year saw arguably the best race of the season at this circuit – something we very much hope to see once again.
“It was the first night race in Bahrain and the two battling Silver Arrows looked spectacular under the floodlights. This is an event where our paint shop team show off their great work to best effect.
“Qualifying and the race both take place in darkness, where track temperature is very similar to ambient, while practice takes place in far hotter track temperatures earlier in the day – presenting a particular challenge to optimise the car.
“The circuit is also hard on both fuel consumption and brakes, so it will be an interesting weekend and no doubt another tough contest on track with the team from Maranello.”
Overtaking is possible at the Bahrain International Circuit, a point proven by the fact that fewer than half of the races have been won from pole position.