The Bahrain International Circuit has hosted the Bahrain Grand Prix since the event’s inception in 2004. The layout of the track has remained the same for all but one year when its infamous “endurance” configuration was used. Sakhir is a power circuit, meaning that low downforce is key down its multiple long DRS straights, but it also has some very tricky corners that require higher wing angles to optimise. There’s plenty of run-off areas around the circuit but harsh kerbs and the sand-dusted surface makes these dangerous to use.
The arrival into Turn 1 is the fastest spot on the track. Depending on setup, you’ll be travelling at nearly 210mph (338kph) and almost maxing out eighth gear. Braking here is tricky, the wide track can lure you into breaking too late and in the race, that makes this a good overtaking spot. However, be careful of attempting a move on your opponent, as there’s another DRS straight directly after this series of corners.
Brake between the 150 and 100m boards, just after the bump on the track and down to second gear for the best exit out of the corner. Hitting the apex is best but not crucial, as any contact with the kerb will unsettle the car when you’re trying to plant the power down for Turns 2 and 3. Be brave through the kink that is Turn 2 and go flat out over the edge of the inside kerb, this one is more forgiving.
Don’t be afraid of using the kerb on the outside of the corner if you have to either, but do avoid it for the best possible run onto the straight. Turn 3 is a corner only in name and the second DRS zone starts immediately once you’ve powered through it.
This is probably the best overtaking spot on the course, as it precedes two DRS zones and there are corners where you can’t run side-by-side through after it. You’ll be doing 200 mph going into this one, so brake just before the 100m board (it’s the yellow tyre).
The serrated surface of the inside kerbing makes this a no-go area, any contact will cost you time by throwing you off the apex. This is almost a 90 degree right hander, but it goes back on itself a little, meaning you can accelerate half-throttle mid-corner. On exit, be sure to avoid the red and white kerbing but don’t be afraid to go over the white line if you need to.
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The downforce you put on the car comes into play in the second sector, beginning with this left-right-left complex. For each turn, run the inside wheel over the edge of the kerb for the best line but whatever you do, don’t go over them, as this will end in a spin. You don’t need to brake for Turn 5 but dab the brakes on and go down to fifth gear for T6. Accelerate as hard as you dare through Turn 7 and avoid the kerbing on the outside, it’s grooved and will cost you time for running over it.
Turn 8 is tricky because it’s a downhill and the tyres are hot because of the sequence of corners that precedes it. Like Turn 1, it’s easy to outbreak yourself and run wide and with the wide road surface, that leaves you vulnerable to an overtake. Unless the car ahead makes a mistake, though, I wouldn’t recommend a move here, as the apex closes up space fast.
After Turn 7 you need to swing immediately to the left and brake just before you top out sixth gear. Slow down to second gear and be gentle with the throttle on exit, you don’t want to go wide here. Like most of the corners around here, avoid the inside kerbing because of its rough surface. Lock-ups are common here, but not as common as the next corners…
Turns 9 & 10
These corners are arguably the most difficult not only on this circuit but on the entire F1 calendar. You have to brake downhill while turning, something that’s extremely hard to do when the apex is blind. You need to brake as close to the inside kerbing of Turn 9 for Turn 10 and while you’re in seventh gear.
A reference is difficult to find here, but you’ll be slowing when you reach around 150mph (242kph). Be gentle with the brakes, if you apply them fully, you will lock-up and run wide if you don’t have ABS. Kiss the kerbing on the outside of Turn 9 to give you the best possible line for 10. You’ll be braking all the way down the hill andaim for the inside kerb of T10. Running wide of the exit is very common here, but as long as you avoid the outside kerbing on exit, you’ll be all right.
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The third and final DRS zone sends you into Turn 11 at almost 200mph once again. Brake in a straight line just after the 100m board and as close to the kerbing on the outside of the entry as possible.
Running over the inside kerbing is fine here, you need to get a good line to avoid running off the circuit on the outside of the corner. Apply the throttle up the hill gently to avoid wheel spin and floor it once you see a clear line. Clip the kerbs on the left going up the hill to prepare you for Turn 12.
Turn 12 is flat out in qualifying, although I would recommend feathering the throttle in the race to save your front-left tyre. Ideally, you should be kissing the kerbing on the inside, but any significant contact with the kerbs will spin you out, so I’d avoid it to be safe.
Also avoid the kerbing on the outside, there’s a nasty ridge on it which will unsettle the car going into Turn 13.
Except for Turns 9 and 10, this is the most understeery corner on the circuit. If you’re feeling brave, run the left front over the edge of the outside kerb on entry to get the best angle of attack. There aren’t many references here, so break when the orange railing on the left is out of view (when in T-cam) or when the red rev lights start appear on your steering wheel in seventh gear.
You’ll have to break a little while turning here and down to fourth gear. Missing the inside kerbing is common here, but not a huge issue, as a wide line sets you up for the final straight well. Avoid the kerbing on the outside too, they’ll ruin your traction on exit.
Turns 14 & 15
Turns 14 and 15 are effectively one corner, a 90-degree right-hander. You’ll be travelling at almost 200mph once again here and need to brake as soon as the 100m board disappears from view. Go down into third gear for the best exit and clip the kerb on the inside of 14.
No more than a clip, though, it’s very steep and will ruin your run onto the start/ finish straight. Use a little of the outside kerbing on your left wheel if you need to and put the peddle to metal to finish your lap. The outside kerbing is also deadly if you put more than a wheel onto it, it’ll suck you into the brown concrete run-off on the outside if you let it.
READ MORE: All F1 2019 track guides
Aero is a tricky balance around here, but I went with 4 on the front and 6 on the rear, that will give you plenty of straight-line speed and decent grip through the corners. On-throttle transmission as high as possible, around 90%, off throttle around 70%. Camber as high and possible, toe as low as possible, remember this directly affects tyre wear! Rear springs need to be very soft (around 2) to allow you to use the high kerbs when making a mistake and not spin, front should be more firm at 7. Ride height should be low because of the long straights, I used 3 for front and rear. The front anti-roll bar should be high at around 8, the rear at 4. I used 75% brake pressure, it comes in handy for the big braking zones at the end of the straight but any more will produce lock-ups into Turns 8 and 10. Tyre wear isn’t a big issue here, a 1-stop with mediums and hards is possible, so I went a little higher than default at 24.2 and 22.7 psi.
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