Five Things To Look Out For During The Bahrain GP
The 15th race of this shortened 2020 season is upon us, here are my top five things to keep an eye out for going into the Bahrain GP.
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Heading into the 15th race of the season, both championships are already wrapped up. But with three rounds of the season to go, what are my five things to look out for going into the Bahrain race weekend.
#1 The Battle For Third In The Constructors Championship
After an unpredictable weekend in Turkey, somehow another team has come into contention for the third position in the constructors championship. Racing Point lead the way on 154 points, McLaren are behind on 149 points, ahead of Renault and Ferrari on 136 and 130 points respectively.
With a 24 point gap, and seemingly regular opportunities to fight for fourth or even podium positions on track it is certainly something to be keeping an eye on with three rounds to go. Each of the teams have taken podiums this year and all drivers, apart from Renault’s Esteban Ocon have managed to do so this season. It’s been a long time since we have had 12 different podium finishers in a season!
This battle has been incredibly close, and the race in Turkey seems to have broken Renaults recent run of good form. However, anything can happen and a good performance with any one of these teams could see them taking that coveted 3rd position and the huge difference in the prize money that goes with that. At the same time anything could go wrong, and as we reach the final races of this shortened season, will any of the teams face grid drops with engine penalties – more on that later though.
The Constructor Championship Standings
#2 The Inter Team Battles
There are a couple of pretty close inter-team battles up and down the grid in terms of both the qualifying battles and the race results. Some of my key highlights to look out for are at McLaren, where as well as fighting for the third position in the constructors championship, the two drivers are also locked in battle for position in the drivers championship. Currently Carlos Sainz is ahead on 75 points with Lando Norris just one point behind on 74. Both drivers will be looking to end ahead of the other before their team mate partnership comes to an end this season. The qualifying battle is 7 a piece with the three remaining rounds to go. Similar to last season, the pair have been consistent which has been a huge benefit to the team as it looks to regain its status after becoming a fallen giant recently.
Other inter-team battles to keep an eye on are at Alfa Romeo, where both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi are on 4 points for the season. In a year where points have been difficult to come by for the team, any opportunity at sneaking a point would be an ideal result as they are set to continue their partnership for 2021. Raikkonen leads the qualifying battle 8-6 but this could all change heading in the final races.
Finally, it is always worth keeping an eye on the pair at the back of the grid at Williams. Both drivers sit on 0 points so far but George Russell has had a great season, in qualifying at least, proving that the car has come on since last season and has caught up somewhat to the other teams. Russell’s qualifying masterclass has continued this season beating Nicholas Latifi 14 times in a row (extending Russells overall run of out qualifying his team mate to 35 times in a row), will George be able to maintain this form and have two perfect seasons in a row?
#3 Can Hamilton Get Closer To Matching Another Record?
So, talking about Hamilton once again after he has already won the world championship is one thing. But after a season where he has matched Schumacher’s record of seven world championship titles and beaten his record for race wins, Hamilton is also on track to match Schumacher’s record of 13 race wins in a season which the German achieved in 2004. This is a record that is tied with Sebastian Vettel from 2013.
However it is widely accepted that Schumacher completing the feat in an 18 round season vs Vettel’s 19 round season means he comes out on top in terms of the win percentage. Given the 2020 season is a 17 round season, if Hamilton continues to keep up his form and win each of the final three races this year he would match the record and take the record of the largest win percentage.
#4 Will There Be Any Engine Penalties?
As mentioned earlier, the teams have restrictions on the key power unit elements. With most being restricted to three across the season. All drivers have taken their third elements of most parts – apart from Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi who has taken two of each element. George Russell took an engine penalty for using his 4th combustion engine, turbo charger and MGU-H at the Turkish Grand Prix.
It will be interesting to see whether any other teams need to take the hit of an additional power unit going into the final few races particularly with the ‘almost oval’ track next weekend for the Sakir GP and in preparation for one of the longest straights on the calendar in Abu Dhabi.
Lando Norris, Mugello Crash
With the engine penalties, Lando Norris lost an engine at the Nurburgring earlier this season, mentioning after the race that he expects to take a penalty before the end of the year. Similarly, Lance Stroll lost a power unit in his crash at Mugello after which he moved onto his third and final engine for the final eight races. The Bahrain GP will be the 6th race on this engine and since the race in Italy, he has retired at Portimao in order to protect his engine and I would expect a similar situation if he finds himself outside of the points on Sunday unless he takes the grid drop that comes with taking the new power unit.
#5 My Predictions
The final element of my things to look out for at the Bahrain Grand Prix will be my predictions for this weekend.
In terms of the qualifying results it is difficult to look past Lewis Hamilton, it is almost guaranteed to be a dry weekend given the fact that the race is in a Desert and so it is unlikely to throw up any shock results. Lewis is in form and is always striving to win, and may have that record in sight.
So following on from this, I am going to predict that Lewis will go on to win the race, with Max Verstappen in second place and then Bottas taking the third step on the podium. Bottas has had a rough time of late after finishing in 14th position and more than a lap behind his world champion teammate. But I can see Verstappen being keen to cause an upset once again.
Finally, I am going to predict a driver of the day performance from Carlos Sainz. So many of his races go unnoticed, take last time out in Turkey where he finished fifth for example, but I can see the Spanish driver doing well in the mid-field once again and outperforming his car. McLaren were strong at Bahrain last year so I expect them to repeat that this year.
So, there you have it my five things to look out for at the Bahrain Grand Prix? What do you think of my predictions, what are yours? Let me know in the comments!