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2024 Formula 1: Bahrain Grand Prix Preview

Winter testing at the Bahrain International Circuit produced few surprises as Red Bull was the fastest team. Thankfully, we’ll get a clearer picture in a few days.

Formula 1

Winter testing at the Bahrain International Circuit produced few surprises as Red Bull was the fastest team. Thankfully, we’ll get a clearer picture in a few days.

This Saturday’s opening race marks the sport’s biggest season yet, featuring an unprecedented 24 races. It’s also the 20th anniversary of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Track

The drivers know the circuit well enough, and it has produced several battles over the years, but what can expect from the 5.4km track?

Lots of overtaking. The GP in the desert brings with it exciting racing thanks to the technical circuit. There are long straights and slow corners that will test the brakes and the driver’s necks.
Racing at night under the lights means track temperature will be cooler and should help cars get into the optimum windows earlier.

There are three DRS zones and drivers will be at full throttle for 72% of the lap. The long straights will likely see the teams adopt a medium downforce setup. The longest flat-out section is 1.2km.

According to the tight, downhill, off-camber Turn 10 left-hander is the track’s most demanding corner.

Built on an old camel farm, the opening race promises to bring lots of sparks, fireworks, and let’s hope close racing.

Red Bull vs Ferrari?

As it’s the opening race of the season, we can only read from the data we saw in winter testing last week. It was evident that Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were happy with the RB20.
However, they weren’t the only duo beaming in Bahrain. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both said they felt more confident when pushing the car. The 2024 car was touted as much more predictable and compliant.

The Scarlet team has a lot to be confident about after finishing fastest on days two and three of testing. There’s a quiet confidence about the team that makes them a strong pick for the win if the Red Bulls trip over their hooves.

Two more drivers who are happier with their new car compared to last season are George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. The Brackley-based team is aware they don’t yet have the pace to battle Red Bull or even Ferrari, but they feel they have a solid base to work from.

Some of the teams we think are likely to perform well this weekend are RB. Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda will be happy with what they saw in testing and hopefully can get themselves into the points early on in 2024.

F1 info nugget: The cars with the highest top speed in testing were McLaren, Williams, and Haas. Red Bull was a lowly fourth.


Winner – Verstappen
Podium – Verstappen, Sainz, Leclerc
Fastest lap: Leclerc
Pole position: Leclerc
First to retire: Zhou Guanyu
Most Team Points: Ferrari
Both Cars Qualify for Q3 Shootout: McLaren
Practice 1/2/3 Winning Car: Verstappen/ Red Bull
Safety Car: Yes
Top 6: Alonso, Stroll, Ricciardo
Top 10: Tsunoda, Bottas, Hulkenberg

Sean Parker is a motorsport journalist and sports content creator at The South African. He has worked for the country's premier motoring publications, and is a Formula 1 contributor to, the Bet Central podcast, and Vision View Sports radio.

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