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 provides a good mix of low and medium-speed sections with four high-speed straights. Let’s take a look at how to master this technical circuit on F1 2020.
Sector 2 is the track's longest and most technical with a variety of fast and slow corners. It also includes a short yet important DRS zone out of Bahrain's (in)famous Turn 10.
T5 is a left-hand kink that is critical as you position the car for the following fast T6-7 combination. Widen your entry into T6 by running over the connector road and the kerb in T5.
The moment you turn in quickly into T6, shift down to 5th to suddenly slow down the rear axle which will help you rotate the car more towards T6's apex.
T6 is rapid and you will just about hit the rev limiter in 5th gear. Do stay in 5th gear before changing direction into the following T7.
Make sure to make the most of the track by running the inside kerb but only up until the edge, not beyond it. Unsettling car at this point will kill your downforce which is so desperately needed through this section of the track.
Turn 7: Apex
As you swiftly change direction from T6 into T7, you can already open your steering slightly to carry more speed out of T7.
Since T7 is easy flat with the additional downforce generated, stay away from the inside kerb and focus on gently straightening up the wheel as you pass the corner's apex.
Turn 7: Exit
You might be tempted to use the extra space on the right and run the kerb. However, this will negatively impact your braking phase into T8.
The key is to have the car as straight as possible and all the way to the left as you hit the brakes into T8.
In order to make that happen, sacrifice T7's exit ever so slightly. As you are on full throttle anyway, this doesn't cost you much time and positions you better for T8.
Turn 8: Apex
Another one of Bahrain's slow corners. As usual, the inside kerb is slightly elevated which unsettles modern F1 cars a lot at such low speeds and with so much steering lock.
Do aim for the white line to position the car for a good exit but stay away from the kerb itself.
Turn 8: Exit
A slow corner means the exit is all about traction.
Even though the exit kerb seems inviting by giving you more space to open up the steering, you have much more traction on the tarmac which is why you should only run along the white line with the left side of your car.
Short-shifting to fourth can help with traction here. Once the rear tyres have enough grip, gently bring the car over to the right in anticipation of the next left-hand T9.
Turn 9: Approach
We are entering Bahrain's perhaps most famous section: T9 and T10.
T9 is a left-hand kink which would be fine if you wouldn't have to hit the brakes in the middle of the corner.
As we want to brake as late as possible for the following T10, sacrifice T9's apex, take a wider line and still try to stay flat out for as long as possible as you turn in.
Widening your track on the entry helps to make this move stick.
Turn 9: Mid-corner
This is the part of the corner that separates the good from the great as you see drivers locking up over and over again.
It is virtually impossible to have the steering wheel completely straight but you need to brake, meaning the car only handle a reduced amount of brake pressure.
Make sure your eyes are already focused on T10's apex.
Once you have made it through T10's painful braking phase without ruining your front left tyre, it's all about getting a good exit for the following DRS straight.
Avoid the inside kerb for more stability and shift back up to third before you get on the throttle.
Then, straighten up the wheel quickly without running onto the exit kerb and put your foot down for the best possible run down the following straight.
Turn 11: Approach
Turn 11 often catches drivers out by turning in too early and then running wide on the exit.
Widen your entry by running beyond the white line on the right, thereby keeping your minimum speed and therefore your downforce levels as high as possible.
Turn 11: Apex
Once you have made it into T11, try to hit the white line without actually getting on neither the apex- nor the exit-kerb.
Try to keep your steering angle constant as you run flat out towards the exit before bringing the car over to the left for T12.
Turn 12: Approach
More space means less turning - which means more speed!
Get all the way over to the left before turning into the flat-out T12 in order to scrub off as little speed as possible. Be gentle on the steering wheel for the same reason.
Turn 12: Apex
T12 is easy flat in F1 but you can still lose quite a bit of time here.
This ultra-high-speed section is all about downforce and gentle movements in the car. Because of this, avoid the inside kerb which will just unsettle your car.
Take all the kerb on the exit but watch out for track limits.