Bahrain Grand Prix: Preview – Mercedes

Bahrain Grand Prix: Preview - Mercedes


Toto Wolff: A new season brings new opportunity and it’s exciting to be heading into a new campaign with all the drama it will inevitably bring.

Each of the last two seasons, we’ve headed to the first race of the year on the back foot. There was inherent goodness in the W13 and W14, but it often proved too difficult to unlock. They were inconsistent machines. Our main aim going into 2024 therefore was clear: create a consistent and stable platform. A car that would react as we expected. One that the drivers could consistently push. And one that we can develop throughout the year, in the knowledge that we are bringing real-world performance to the track.

Over these first two races, we will get a much better understanding of the job we have done. After pre-season testing though, we can draw some initial conclusions. The drivers are much happier with the overall balance. The basic platform is working as we expected. The correlation to our simulations looks to be accurate. This is all encouraging. It’s a good foundation that we can build on.

Our focus at the test was on learning about the car we have. Our attention can now turn to tuning performance for the Bahrain race weekend. Red Bull, as is to be expected, look to be at the head of the field. The chasing pack looks tight. We will soon get an idea of where we stack up in that. And the task that is ahead of us to close the gap to the front.

Wherever we net out though, the whole team is relishing the challenge ahead. There is a palpable sense of energy running through the factories and those trackside. The year ahead is long. There will be many ups, along with the inevitable downs. But this is why we love racing. And now, we can’t wait to get going.

Fact File

• Located in the middle of the desert, on what was formerly a camel farm, the Bahrain International Circuit features 1,120 palm trees.

• Being situated in a desert, you may expect sand to be an issue. However, the surrounding desert is sprayed with a sticky adhesive substance to minimize the amount of sand blowing on to the track.

• From the first breaking of the ground to build the Bahrain International Circuit to completion took just 496 days.

• The length of the tyre barriers is 4100 metres and a total of 82,000 tyres are used to do this.

• The total run-off area is 140,000 sq. metres.

• The Bahrain International Circuit has five FIA certified track layouts.

• Focus for car set-up is on optimising low and medium-speed corner performance. Mechanical grip is crucial out of the slower corners, whilst the high-speed sections are easily taken flat-out.

• The track surface is made from a special aggregate that was shipped from a quarry in England.

• Owing to the abrasiveness of the track, which is one of the roughest of the season, tyre degradation tends to be amongst the highest seen at any race across the calendar.

• One of the most challenging corners on the track is Turn 10. It’s long, combined corner entry that tightens before dropping away at the apex. Drivers must apply the brakes whilst completing the wide corner arc of Turn 9; this causes the front-left tyre to go light and increases the risk of a lock-up.

• The 5.412 km layout comprises seven braking events, including two classified as ‘heavy.’

• This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Bahrain Grand Prix and will be the 21st F1 Championship round at the Sakhir circuit. The race was cancelled in 2011 due to civil unrest, while the track hosted two races in 2020.

• This will be the sixth time that the Bahrain Grand Prix will serve as the opening round of an F1 season (2006, 2010, 2021, 2022, 2023).

• Four drivers have multiple wins at the event. Lewis Hamilton has the most with five.

• George Russell made his first start for Mercedes in Sakhir in 2020, deputising for Lewis.

• For the first time in its history, the race will take place on a Saturday.

• At least one Mercedes-engined car has finished in the points in each of the last 300 Grand Prix, dating back to the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix.


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