The Bahrain International Circuit is a technical circuit sculpted from the sand dunes in Sakir. Bahrain has played host to multiple spectacular duels in the past. It is typically one of the first races on the F1 calendar and provides a good mix of low and medium-speed sections with four high-speed straights. For 2022 it is set to take the place of Melbourne as the season opener as well as hosting the pre-season test. Let’s take a look at how to master this technical circuit on F1 2021.
Sector 1 starts with a tight right-hander off the back of the long main straight. The track then kinks through the tricky T2 and T3 and up the hill to the right-hander of T4. The first few corners are all about setting up to carry as much speed as possible onto the uphill straight. Let’s look at each corner in more detail to find out where the time lies.
Turn 1: Entry
Turn 1 at Bahrain International Circuit is one of the biggest stops on the calendar so it is important to get it right.
Align the car with the left of the track but keep off the kerb for the best braking performance. Hit the brakes as hard as you can with the steering dead straight. Reduce the brake pressure as you decelerate to avoid locking. This maximises the braking performance as you have the most downforce at high speed.
Shift smoothly from 8th gear to 3rd gear whilst you are travelling straight.
Turn 1: Apex
As you rotate towards the apex of Turn 1, come off the brakes and shift from 3rd gear down to 1st to help pivot the car.
Aim to run over the white line at the apex but not over the high kerb as this will unsettle the rear of the car as you try to get on the power with little downforce. This is not wise as the exit and run through T2 is critical to extract time out of this sector.
You can use the throttle application to help rotate the car but be careful not to overdo it.
Turn 1: Exit
When exiting Turn 1 it is critical that you avoid running out towards the left of the track. This is because T2 is virtually flat out, but not by much. Therefore, if you go wide it will tighten the run through T2 and T3 and be impossible to carry the ideal speed up the hill. The centre of the track is a good compromise.
As you pass the apex kerb, short-shift immediately to 3rd gear to settle the rear and patiently apply the throttle as the steering becomes straight to avoid losing the rear. Be aware the downforce is not working much at low speed.
Approach Turn 2 from the middle of the track, making the widest entry you need to so you can take the corner virtually flat out. A small lift is okay be careful not to cause lift-off oversteer. Do this by picking a throttle level and holding it constant whilst running over the kerb.
Similarly, choose 4th gear before reaching the kerb and hold it... you don't want to shift whilst on the kerb.
Take all of the flat kerb you can without invalidating the lap to maximise the corner radius and minimum speed. Run out wide onto the exit kerb (T3) to continue this momentum up the hill.
Turn 3 is just the exit kerb of T2 but plays an important role in the momentum you carry up the hill.
You want to allow most of the car to run over the kerb to keep the momentum and flow out of T2 but going too far up the kerb can scrub too much speed or even invalidate your lap.
Keep the throttle pinned and minimise the steering movement to maintain a smooth flow towards the DRS zone. Shift up to 6th as you come off the kerb.
Turn 4: Entry
Approaching Turn 4, straddle the entry kerb with a wheel on either side. This helps to widen the entry and keep the braking stable.
You can brake slightly later than normal into this corner because it's uphill. Continue to straddle the kerb deep into the braking phase.
Shift down to 4th gear before rotating the car towards the apex, making a very wide line in.
Turn 4: Apex
As you rotate the car towards Turn 4, gradually fade off the brake and either stay in 4th or shift down once more to 3rd for additional rotation.
At the apex, miss the kerb slightly to maintain downforce and stability before picking up the throttle early to carry the speed out of the corner.
Focus on going slow in and fast out, not the other way around.
Turn 4: Exit
Continue to carry the momentum out of the corner by opening up the steering early, building power and using the service road available to you. Exit whilst straddling the kerb but be careful not to go all four wheels over the line. Be warned, the exit kerb can be bumpy.
Stay in gear or short-shift so that you are in 4th gear from apex to the exit kerb and only shift up to 5th once you have straightened out the steering.