Kimi Raikkonen and Diego Ioverno talk us through the challenges of the desert track
Ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, second round of the Formula One world championship, Scuderia Ferrari’s driver Kimi Raikkonen and Race Team Manager Diego Ioverno describe the main features of a track that’s quite unique. For Kimi, last year bring some bittersweet memories: “I enjoy Bahrain, obviously it’s good itself, not the most difficult corners but still hard to make a good lap there and obviously conditions can change a lot because of the wind, it’s hot at midday and cold enough in the evening, but it’s a good place. Maybe I could have won last year, but it’s pointless to start guessing things, we were second and that’s it. It was not too bad, but I guess it could have been better.”
Such a hard-braking circuit puts a premium on the brake-by-wire system: “In an ideal word when all works it’s fine although obviously sometimes you can have issues, but we have a good system so far- This circuit is quite hard for practice, so some cars might run into problems with their brakes, but it really depends how much you are willing to push on the brake cooling if you have issues or not.”
Now it’s Diego’s turn to give a technical outlook: “First time for Bahrain GP was in 2004. Since then the circuit has been a challenging environment for all the Formula1 team, including 15 corners and a long combination of straights, kinks and hairpins. The Bahrain circuit layout normally suits quite well to medium-to-low downforce car configuration. The circuit is very challenging also for Power Units and for brakes because of the heavy braking points. So, it is really important to look after the cooling of the car, as it is important also to give particular attention to the mechanical setup for the kerb driving”.
Sand and darkness also make this venue quite unique: “The circuit of Bahrain is in the middle of the desert. The sand in the past was a fact and we have been experiencing sessions heavily affected by the sand. More than this, in the last few years, Bahrain race was in night time, while free practice session were in the day. This has given another variable to the race weekend format, forcing teams to face cooling level changing during the whole weekend. So, this is another factor that makes the Bahrain race really challenging”.