2013 Bahrain GP Preview

Last week’s race in China was filled with excitement for some teams and dissapointment for others. The drivers, once again, treated us to some incredibly close racing, but in the end it was Fernando Alonso who finished comfortably ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso’s win last weekend makes him the third different winner in three races. Will we have a fourth different winner this weekend in Bahrain?

Tires, tires, tires!!! Like China, the Bahrain International Circuit is extremely demanding on the tires, so it is of the utmost importance to get an early grip on how fast the tires degrade in the desert heat on Friday. The Pirelli P-Zero tires are designed to degrade fast in order to promote more pit stops. Pirelli will be bringing their hardest compounds that they have on offer, the P-Zero Orange (hard) and P-Zero White (medium). Sakhir has a particularly abrasive surface due the sand around the track which blows onto the circuit, so expect at least 2 stops this weekend even with the hard compounds.
The weather in the Bahrain is usually clear so the most important thing to worry about is not if it will be hot, its how hot will it be. The hotter the air temperature the hotter the track temperature which will mean faster degradation. We will have to see what happens during FP1 and 2 to see how long the tires will last. 

There are only two noticeable changes to the circuit. The first is the replacement of uneven kerbs on turn 12. Second is the addition of an extra DRS zone. The first is on the pit straight with the detection point before turn 14 and the second one is on the straight between turns 10 and 11 with the detection point just after turn 9.

My Prediction
1. L. Hamilton
2. S. Vettel (from Pole)
3. K. Raikkonen
I think a win for Mercedes is due and I think Hamilton will be the man to get it for them. We know that the Merc has good straight line speed, but it is also reasonably light on its tires. A strong race last weekend will give him a bit more confidence as well. Vettel made a very good attempt in the dying moments of last week’s race to snatch the last spot on the podium, but unfortunately left his pit stop a bit too late and had to settle for 4th. I think he will be the man to beat on Saturday, but I think his tires will cost him during the race. Kimi is a good bet on this race because his car is very light on its tires and he is very strong in Bahrain, as he showed us last year by nearly pipping Vettel in the closing stages of the race. He is the most consistent driver on the grid so I expect another solid finish from the Finn. The McLarens seem to be making good progress with their MP4-28, so I think we can expect a season best finish from both drivers on Sunday. 
Enjoy the race everyone. 
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