The Bahrain International Circuit is a technical circuit sculpted from the sand dunes in Sakir. It is typically one of the first races on the F1 calendar (though not for 2020) and actually features in two versions this year.
F1 has never raced on the track's outer "oval" configuration but one thing is clear from our own sim laps: it's going to be nuts. With lap times under a minute, let's dive into sector two's details right away as the first and last part of the track are identical to the usual configuration.
In Bahrain's normal version, the tightening T4 is always a bit awkward to get right.
As the exit is much more inviting in the outer version, you can safely go into T4 faster, turn in earlier and also get back on the throttle earlier.
Make sure not to run all the way to the left on the exit as you want to approach T5 from the middle of the track.
After lining up the car correctly out of T4, T5 can and must be taken flat out for the best possible lap times.
Take all of the available inside kerb with very little steering angle. As the exit kerb is flat, do use it for a brief moment before rapidly bringing the car back over to the middle of the track for T6.
Turn 6: Unfortunately another corner that leads into a very awkward braking zone whilst having to turn the wheel (similar to T9-10 on the GP version of the track).
T6 is easy flat so the focus is on the braking zone into T7; i.e. the end of this corner. You will have to change direction as you are slowing the car down so adjust your maximum brake pressure accordingly.
As your front tyres are already suffering, get off the kerb as you hit the brake pedal as you need as much grip as possible which you simply won't have whilst on the kerb.
Congrats, you have made it through T6 without locking up the wheels and binning it.
Now it's all about lots of inside kerb taking and a quick yet smooth change of direction through the T7-8 chicane.
T8 is followed by a long flat-out passage so sacrifice T7 slightly for a better exit out of T8.
Once again, a big, flat apex kerb which you should fully utilise.
From then on, it's all about putting the power down. Maximise your traction by opening up your steering as soon as possible and use plenty of exit kerb to help with that.
Turn 8: Exit and Turn 9
You should be flat out and stable by the time you get onto T8's exit kerb.
Change your vision to focus on T9, an easy flat right-hand kink which is simply about smooth steering in order to avoid scrubbing off too much speed.
Then it's back into the usual track configuration's third sector and therefore two long straights with great overtaking opportunities.