Bahrain marks the second round of this year’s 11-round GP2 season, after an exciting start in Sepang. Pirelli has nominated the P Zero Orange hard tyre and P Zero Yellow soft tyre for Bahrain, just as was the case in Malaysia three weeks ago. The track characteristics of Bahrain are reasonably similar to those of Malaysia, with some fast and technical corners, meaning that the same tyre nomination is just as suitable. Bahrain is very demanding in terms of longitudinal forces on the tyres (acceleration and braking) but not so challenging when it comes to lateral, or sideways, forces.
Pirelli’s racing manager says:
Mario Isola: “The first GP2 races of the season showed us that the changes we have made to the tyres this year – with more performance and deliberately increased degradation – have been very effective in providing even more entertaining races, which go a long way towards preparing young drivers for Formula One. The hard and soft tyre that we saw in Malaysia is once again a very good choice for Bahrain, as conditions should be quite similar and the severity of the track is also comparable. In Malaysia we saw exactly the degree of degradation that we had aimed for, which was enough to make the drivers think about strategy but not so much that it detracted from the racing. There was also a performance gap between the two compounds of about half a second – and we would expect the degradation and performance to be similar in Bahrain. Once again, there should be plenty of opportunity for teams to use different strategies: a bold choice can often pay off. We’d expect free practice to take place using the hard tyre, so the teams will probably go into qualifying using the soft tyre for the first time only. Depending on the data obtained, the teams should then be in a strong position to prepare an effective strategy.”
The challenge for the tyres:
Track evolution is quite hard to predict in Bahrain, mainly because of the sand that blows onto the circuit from the surrounding desert. This deprives the car of adhesion, although the track surface itself offers a lot of grip. As the weekend goes on, more rubber tends to get laid down on the circuit and lap times come down. Another measure used to keep sand off the track is a mild glue on the edges of the circuit, designed to trap sand before it blows onto the surface.
Turns five, six and seven are a key part of the 5.412-kilometre circuit. It is important not to stray off the racing line and to keep to the rubbered-in part of the track. Turns 11 and 12 are taken at high speed in quick succession and are also vital to a good lap time.
Pirelli has plenty of data on Bahrain as last year it was a double-header GP2 round, with two race meetings on consecutive weekends.
The race and the rules:
Every car will have five sets of dry tyres and three sets of wet weather tyres available for the GP2 race weekend.
The five sets of dry tyres comprise three sets of the harder compound (hard) and two sets of the softer compound (soft).
The drivers can use their tyre allocation in any way they like. One set of the hard compound must be returned after free practice.
Race One on Saturday is run over 170 kilometres or one hour and each driver must complete one compulsory pit stop during which a minimum of two tyres must be changed.
The grid for Race Two on Sunday is determined by the finishing order of the first race, with the top eight positions reversed.
Race Two is run over 120 kilometres or 45 minutes, with no compulsory pit stops.
About Malaysia:The Bahrain International Circuit was inaugurated in 2004 and used for GP2 right from the very beginning. In total there are 15 corners (six left and nine right) with eight braking events, five of which are heavy. The drivers spend around 70% of the lap on full throttle. Last year, the GP2 feature race was won by DAMS driver Davide Valsecchi, who would go on to become champion and is currently reserve driver for the Lotus Formula One team. The GP2 sprint race was won by Tom Dillman for Rapax. Of the 125 drivers who have taken part in GP2 over the years, 24 have graduated to Formula One.
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