Tyre preview for the Bahrain Grand Prix

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Just a week after pre-season testing concluded, Formula 1 returns to Bahrain for the first round of the 2024 season, from Thursday February 29 to Saturday March 2. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó delivers his tyre preview for the Manama race.

This weekend sees the Formula One field race on the spectacular Bahrain International circuit that will feature a unique schedule. The programme has been brought forward by one day – as will be the case the following weekend in Saudi Arabia too – with two free practice sessions on Thursday, FP3 and qualifying on Friday, then the grand prix itself on Saturday. This move has been made by Formula 1 to accommodate the start of Ramadan on the second Sunday of March.

This weekend’s race will mark 20th Bahrain Grand Prix, although the total number of races that have been held at the track is 21: in 2020 the Sakhir Grand Prix was additionally run, won by Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

The driver to have triumphed most often is Lewis Hamilton with five wins, followed by Sebastian Vettel on four and Fernando Alonso on three. The Spaniard is the only driver this weekend to have also taken part in the very first race at Sakhir, back in 2004. Last year, Max Verstappen took his first Bahrain Grand Prix win, putting an end to a victory drought for Red Bull in Bahrain that had lasted for 10 years. Ferrari is the most successful team with seven wins at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Compounds and prescriptions

The teams come to Sakhir with plenty of information about how the car and tyre package works on this particularly abrasive track, where traction and braking stability are key to performance: both on a flying lap as well as on longer runs.

Track evolution is somewhat limited, with temperature being the biggest influence: two of the three free practice sessions take place in the heat of the day, making it harder to get a representative read on race data. Another factor often affecting the cars is wind, as it can blow sand onto the track and also make the balance unpredictable. Thermal degradation will be significant and can have a decisive impact on race performance, while wear is generally limited.

Pirelli has brought three compounds of the harder end of its five-compound range to Bahrain: the C1 will serve as the Hard, the C2 as the Medium and the C3 as the Soft compound. With teams having ordered a huge amount of C3 compounds for the pre-season testing that took place in Bahrain, they should have gained enough information of the behaviour of that compound that will be the tyre to use for a low-fuel qualifying lap. This compound provided a gain of around six tenths of a second compared to the C4 compound due to the higher grip level.

With the Bahrain International track dominated by low- and medium-speed corners, Pirelli has enforced relatively low minimum starting pressures. The limit for the front tyres is 22.0 psi while it is 19.0 psi for the rears. As far as the camber limits are concerned, the limit is -3.50° for the front and -2.00° for the rear tyres.


Drivers will need to complete 57 laps on the 5.412km Bahrain International Circuit to cover the race distance of 308.238km.

When it comes to strategy, the Bahrain Grand Prix is traditionally one of the most spectacular races of the year as it offers a number of different strategies. Tyre degradation, with all the resulting different race strategies, also creates interesting performance differentials with teams usually eager to gain advantage with different compounds and timing of their pit stops. Overtaking is usually not a problem in Bahrain with the long track offering various opportunities, particularly in Turns 1, 4, and 11.

Last year, a two-stopper using the C1 and the C3 was the favoured strategy, with the C2 used by only one team (McLaren).