Just over three months after the two Grands Prix held on the Persian Gulf island last season and one week after the only winter test session, Formula 1 returns to Bahrain to kick off the championship 2021, a year that includes 23 races and will end in mid-December in Abu Dhabi. Thanks to the tests, all the teams have a lot of useful data for the development of their respective cars and the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow, which starts from the 403 laps completed by the SF21, is ready to verify the quality of the work carried out during the winter in the field. in which last year’s car – by regulation the basis of the 2021 single-seaters – has been improved in all areas, within the limits of what is allowed by the regulation.
The circuit. The Sakhir track is spread over 5,412 meters that will be covered 57 times on Sunday. Famous for its long straights and very demanding braking sections, the track features the two most difficult braking sections at turns 1 and 14. There are three areas for the use of the mobile wing (DRS): one on the finish straight, one between the Turns 3 and 4 and the third in the section between turns 10 and 11. It will be, as always, a night race, even if the track will be illuminated by a powerful system that will not make you regret the sunlight. As usual, as night falls over Bahrain, there will be a progressive drop in temperatures, a typical phenomenon of desert areas.
Announcements. At Ferrari the most important novelty is represented by the new line-up of drivers, the youngest since 1968: Charles Leclerc will be joined by Carlos Sainz – 118 Grands Prix under his belt with two podiums and one fastest lap – for an average age which on Sunday will be 25 years and three days. Another variation from the past, which affects all the teams, is the length of the two free practice sessions on Friday which go down from 90 to 60 minutes. The first is scheduled at 2.30pm local time (12.30pm CET), the second at 6pm (4pm CET). Saturday remains the same, with the last free sessions at 3pm (1pm CET) and qualifying at 6pm (4pm CET). On Sunday the start of the race will no longer be at 18.10 as in recent years, but at 18 (which will be 17 CET due to the time change in Europe).
Six wins. Scuderia Ferrari has won on six occasions in Bahrain: the first success came in the inaugural edition thanks to Michael Schumacher, in 2004, while in 2007 and 2008 it was Felipe Massa who triumphed. In 2010 the only edition of the GP was run on the Endurance track, 6,299 meters long: the winner was Fernando Alonso on his debut in red. In 2017 and 2018 Ferrari won with Sebastian Vettel, while in 2019 Sakhir saw the definitive blossom of Charles Leclerc who, after obtaining the pole position, led the race until a few laps from the end when, due to a problem with reliability, he had to settle for third place, his first podium in Formula 1.
Very hot weather welcomed drivers and teams to Bahrain, home to the first race of the 2021 season which is scheduled for Sunday. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz arrived on the track Thursday morning to start preparing for the Sakhir weekend together with the engineers. Before concluding the day with the usual track walk in the spotlight, the drivers of the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow met the media in the traditional press conference.
Want to get on the track. The first to speak was Charles who was asked how ready he feels for the new season: “We prepared in the best possible way: during the only pre-season test session we were among the teams that have turned more and the car behaved in the way we expected. But now is the time to get to know the real values on the pitch, something that we will begin to see on Saturday ”. According to Leclerc, the SF21 has improved in several respects compared to the SF1000 from which it derives: “In balance and cornering behavior, for example – he said -. I would say it is also a bit easier to drive. These are positive signs, but it is difficult to judge now ”.
Expected moment. Carlos Sainz also can’t wait to get in the car: “From the moment I arrived, I understood that Ferrari is something special and different from all the other teams – said the Spaniard – I want to enjoy this to the fullest. path and this experience that I have dreamed of since I was ten years old ”. Carlos has repeatedly said that he would have liked to have been able to count on a few more days of testing to get in tune with the SF21: “I am convinced that I can do well: I worked to be as ready as possible at the start of the season by maximizing the time I have. had on the track with the new single-seater, working hard with the engineers in analyzing the data and also driving a lot on the simulator ”. The Spaniard then added: “Switching from one team to another is by no means trivial in terms of the procedures and behavior of the cars on the track. It is incredible, in fact, how very different cars end up getting very similar times. It will probably not be easy to push the car to the limit of its potential in the first race, but it is also a question of feeling. This is why I can’t wait to get out on the track ”.
Program. Two free practice sessions are scheduled for Friday, both lasting 60 minutes, at 2.30pm and 6pm local time (12.30pm and 4pm CET). Qualifying will take place on Saturday at 6pm (4pm CET), preceded by the final hour of practice at 3pm (1pm CET). The Grand Prix will start at 6pm on Sunday (5pm CET).