Bahrain feels like a fixture on the F1 calendar, but it only joined the tour in 2004. Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver around the Sakhir circuit, winning twice with Red Bull Racing and twice with Ferrari.
With two enormous straights and two more medium straights, the Bahrain is one of the most power hungry circuits currently in use. As such, any car with a Ferrari or Mercedes engine gives you the best chance of a good lap time. The middle sector does require a responsive car, as does the tricky turn 10. The fast turn 12 means we need a stable rear end, so we can't trim down the wing too much either, otherwise we'll just end up in the barriers. So how should you set the car up for Bahrain?
You can find the F1 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix setup here.
We want to get rid of some wing, but we can't remove everything thanks to the tricky corners on the circuit. With turn 1, 4, 8, and 10 requiring a sharp turn in we need to maintain some front wing so we have the front grip required to get the nose in. On the rear we take the wing down to 5. We'd love to go to lower, but that runs the real risk of struggling to safely make it round the turn 11 and 12 sections.
After braking for turn 11 we aren't touching the brakes again until 13, and accelerating around there we need the rear downforce otherwise the car is heading into the wall in a hurry.
With the transmission we need to find a balance between outright traction and tyre life. The heavy braking zones together with the curved braking zone of turn 9/10 and the heavy wear at the end of the lap we can't just lock up the transmission to get out of the corners and down the straights. We lock it up a little, to 80 percent on throttle, so that we can improve traction a touch, but then take it down to 64 percent off throttle to allow the inside tyres to rotate freely and save us some tyre life for later in the race.
You have to compromise somewhere with your suspension geometry in Bahrain. The middle sector is slow and requires a responsive car to really get right, but the more toe and camber you add to hurl the car around the interior of the track, the slower you'll go down the straights.
We've taken some camber off the front end, but only a touch, this means we're scrubbing less speed in a straight line and don't lose too much responsiveness on turn-in. We've left the rear camber alone so that we can still get the back end into the corner and straighten out in time.
We have also taken some toe off both the front and rear tyres again so we aren't as compromised in a straight line. It means you won't be able to take corners like turn 4 and turn 11 quite as well, but you'll see the benefit on the straights.
Our suspension has a very middling front end connected to a loose rear. This means that weight can transfer rearward under acceleration, increasing traction, and can also roll laterally at the back to help get the back around in corners. This can lead to a touch of oversteer if you aren't careful, but it again helps to straighten out the car so we can get the power down.
Sakhir is frustratingly bumpy so we can't take away ride height too much, we also need to ride the kerbs at turn 2, 10, and 14, especially if you are going wheel-to-wheel through those corners. We have lowered front and rear ride height to 5. For a time trial you could perhaps get away with 4, but when heavy with fuel in a race it will just bottom out too much.
Despite a couple of heavy braking zones where the extra stopping power would be nice, you can't set the brake pressure too high in Bahrain. This is because of the tricky turn 9/10 section in which you are having to brake for the hairpin turn 10 while taking the gentle lefthander of turn 9. This massively increases the chances of a lock up, and with 10 being the last slow corner of the lap, locking up and running wide there will ruin your lap and leave you extremely vulnerable. As a result we have set the brake pressure to just 75 percent.
The brake bias is set extremely rearward to 52 percent so that the car is more prone to oversteer. This helps us get the nose in to all the slow corners, and it doesn't affect us in turn 12 since we aren't touching the brakes anyway.
By taking some pressure out of the tyres we have increased the contact patch of the tyre with the road, and so increased traction. This helps us get back some of the straight line speed we are leaving on the table with our rear wing height. It also helps reduce tyre temperature and reduce wear.
Finally, the weight distribution. This is set rearward at 8 to load up the rear of the car and help traction, but also aid in oversteer and getting the car into the corners. If you find the car is oversteering too much for you, then bringing the weight forward to 7 is the easiest way to solve the problem.
So there it is, our set up for the Bahrain Grand Prix and the power circuit of Sakhir. See you on the time sheets!
Bahrain Grand Prix Wet Lap Setup
Front Wing: 6
Rear Wing: 7
On Throttle: 65%
Off Throttle: 100%
Front Camber: -2.80
Rear Camber: -1.30
Front Toe: 0.08
Rear Toe: 0.29
Front Suspension: 5
Rear Suspension: 3
Front Anti-Roll Bar: 9
Rear Anti-Roll Bar: 7
Front Ride Height: 4
Rear Ride Height: 4
Brake Pressure: 85%
Front Brake Bias: 56%
Front Tyre Pressure: 23.8 psi
Rear Tyre Pressure: 21.1 psi