The Sakhir Grand Prix Promises To Be The Most Exciting Race of this Decade
New Track, New Faces and A Missing World Champion should Produce a Great Race
There is a lot to look forward to in this weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix and it is not just the usual hype about a new track or who will finish P3 in the Constructors' Championship. Here is a look at the reasons why the Sakhir Grand Prix on Sunday could be a thriller.
The Outer Track is Nearly an Oval. Photo: Tom Bowker/Formula 1
The second of the two races in Bahrain will take place on a different layout to the first. The Outer Track has eleven turns but is essentially an oval. The track should promote high-speed racing and overtaking with two long straights leading into the heavy braking zones of Turn 1 and Turn 11.
We could see lap times drop below the one minute mark for only the second time in history with a predicted lap time of around 55 seconds. The race on Sunday will also have the most number of laps, 87 to meet the minimum distance stipulated by the FIA.
The new layout itself is one of the things fans and teams have been looking forward to since the calendar came out and it is finally time to see it in action.
A Missing World Champion
Lewis Hamilton will Miss This Weekend's Race. Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
With the track layout promoting cars suited for high speed and the form Lewis Hamilton has been in, it looked like a certain win for Lewis in Sakhir. The recently crowned seven-time World Champion was aiming to win the remaining three races and would have done so had he not been tested positive for Coronavirus on Monday. The test means that Lewis will miss at least one of the last two races.
This will mix things up and would bring both Valterri Bottas and Max Verstappen in the running for the win in Bahrain. However, with Bottas' poor form and Red Bull's weakness at high speed tracks, it could bring a new driver to the top step on the podium and it could be Hamilton's replacement.
George Russell in a Mercedes
George Russell is Going to Replace Lewis Hamilton for the Next Race. Photo: JOHANNA GERON/REUTERS
George Russell was in the top 5 drivers with the most races without a point in their careers. With another season at struggling Williams in 2021, he seemed to be heading to the top of that list. However, Hamilton's positive Covid test has handed Russell the unexpected opportunity to drive the fastest car on the grid. He would not only be aiming for a points finish but for a win on a track that should suit the Mercedes.
Depending on how quickly he gets to terms with the Mercedes, Russell should be able to challenge a struggling Bottas for a win and is definitely on for at least a podium. He should take this opportunity and show Mercedes why he is the right driver to replace Hamilton not just when is out with Covid but when he eventually leaves the sport for good.
New Faces at Haas and Williams
Jack Aitken replaces Mercedes bound Russell in Sakhir. Photo: Autosport-https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/153890/russell-joins-mercedes-for-sakhir-gp
Russell to Mercedes is not the only driver change for the Sakhir Grand Prix. There are new faces at Williams and Haas too. Jack Aitken gets his debut in the Williams to fill in Russell's seat as Pietro Fittipaldi gets a first F1 drive as a replacement for Romain Grosjean who was injured in a massive crash in the first race at Bahrain.
These new faces will freshen up the grid and would throw in a bit of unexpected to a race already full of unknowns. The weekend is going to be extremely exciting and it would definitely be worth tracking the progress of these youngsters who are the future of the sport.
Fight for the Podium
Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll on the Podium at Monza. Photo: XPB Images/James Moy Photography
Everyone thought that the podium in this year's Italian Grand Prix at Monza was the most unexpected Top 3 we would see for a long time. However, the Sakhir Grand Prix on Sunday could throw up something more unexpected within the same season.
With Hamilton out, Bottas's poor form and Red Bull tipped to struggle, the Top 3 spots are up for grabs and anyone from the Top 6 teams could get a driver onto the podium on a track layout that is making its debut. Don't be surprised to see a podium consisting of Lando Norris, George Russell and Charles Leclerc on Sunday.
Battle for P3 in The Constructors' Championship
Mclaren, Racing Point and Renault are still fighting over P3. Photo: Tass/PA Images
Mclaren achieved a monumental result in the Bahrain Grand Prix. They capitalised on Racing Point's double DNF and snatched the momentum with a fourth and fifth in Bahrain. They moved back into P3 as Renault couldn't get a big points haul and Ferrari's pointless finish meant that they are probably out of the running for third. With two races left, any of the three teams in the running could take the title of Best of the Rest.
The Sakhir Grand Prix on December 6 is bound to be a cracker. There are a lot of questions to be answered and the race would surely be worth watching for new and old fans.