Technical and Sporting news from the Sakhir Grand Prix

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Drivers will be busy behind the wheel at the Outer Loop Bahrain Circuit as not only the traffic could turn out to be a big issue in today's qualifying session, but they will also need to respect the track limit at Turn 8 which has been a challenging task so far this weekend.

New gearboxes

Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez and Pietro Fittipaldi started the weekend with a new gearbox. The Belgian-Canadian driver used his previous gearbox for six consecutive weekends which allowed his Racing Point team to install a new unit in his car for the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez failed to see the chequered flag at last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix which gave him the chance to kick off the penultimate race weekend of the 2020 season with a fresh gearbox. The Miami-born Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi will also compete with a fresh Ferrari gearbox this weekend after taking over Romain Grosjean’s car. The latter change was possible as the Sporting Regulations permit a gearbox change in case when a driver fails to finish the previous event.

Minimum lap time

In order to ensure that cars are not driven unnecessarily slowly on in laps during and after the end of qualifying or during reconnaissance laps when the pit exit is opened for the race, the FIA Race Director defines a certaim minimum time at every race weekend.

At the Sakhir Grand Prix, Michael Masi defined that drivers must stay below 1:04.0 between the Safety Car lines shown on the pit lane map.

Track limit infringements

FIA will strictly monitor the track limits at Turn 8. Ahead of the weekend, Race Director Michael Masi revealed in his notes that: „A lap time achieved during any practice session or the race by leaving the track and cutting behind the red and white kerb on the exit of Turn 8, will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards.”

During yesterday’s practice sessions, a total of 21 lap times were deleted due to track limit infringements. Just as it was the case at Imola, it was once again Valtteri Bottas and Alexander Albon who found it particularly difficult to find the limits set by the FIA at Turn 8. The Finn lost six of his timed laps in total while the Thai driver had four lap times deleted as a consequence of track limit infringements.

Multiple changes to the track

Michael Masi confirmed in the Race Director’s notes that some changes have been implemented to the track following Romain Grosjean’s horrific crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix: “The tyre barrier on the right hand side of T9 will be extended and increased in depth to four rows of tyres with conveyor belt.

“The right hand kerb between T8 and T9 will be removed to reduce the risk of a car becoming airborne while the Outer circuit layout is being used.

“These changes are in accordance with Article 5 of the FIA Circuit Licence conditions of issue, and as such the current FIA Grade 1 licence for all configurations of Bahrain International circuit remains valid.”

At Turn 3 where Grosjean had his crash, the steel structure have been rebuilt and two rows of tyres have also been placed in front of it for this weekend’s Grand Prix in order to avoid a repeat of the incident that saw the Frenchman’s Haas car split apart.

Same tyre compounds as last weekend

Pirelli supplied teams with the same tyre allocation as last weekend: C2 as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as the P Zero Red soft.

The Milan-based tyre manufacturer expects that the Outer Circuit will be a bit less demanding on tyres than the standard circuit. The minimum starting pressure will be 23.5 psi for the front tyres and 21.5 psi for the rear tyres. The camber limit will be -3.50° for the fronts and -2.00° for the rears.