A bad quali means I can go forwards in the race.
- Mar 15, 2011
Four into Three Does not go!
We approach the Bahrain Grand Prix and its 57 laps of the HermanTilke designed circuit with 4 drivers starting to move away from the chasing pack.
First on 51 points is Petar Brljak. Pro Champion in 2012, Ace Champion in 2013. He is fast and consistent. If you have beaten Petar you have had a pretty good day.
In second , Greek driver Jim Parisis. His 50 points have come from 2 wins from his only two finishes. The third race (Melbourne) he was leading when technical issues caused his non-finish. Need we say more?
Third is held by Polish driver Kuba Brzezinski with 36 points. After dominance in late 2014 in Pro and narrowly missing the winter series title Kuba took second place on debut in Melbourne. A fourth in Sepang and a seventh in China even after a 30 sec penalty spells out pace.
Then the fourth in this quartet and only due to engine failure in China when in a seemingly unassailble lead is Englishman Muhammed Patel with 27 points. The win would have meant 52 points and the drivers championship lead! Patel has shown he will not settle for podiums. His front row start in China also spells pure speed.
Who can start to bridge the gap to this seeming break-away of drivers?
The TrackWe asked Martin O'Brundle to walk us around this track.
"The Tilke designed Sakhir circuit pack quite a lot of skill into what seems at first glance a simple layout.
It also tends to close up the pack a little on pace, if not on tyre management.
Turn one is a massive braking zone that can surprise you especially if you have had DRS. It is a bottle neck and can be a worry on lap one. It's not simple as you accellerate out en route to T2 as you are trying to turn and accelerate simultaneously.
The exit of turn two is often the scene of tears as a nasty depression will unsettle the cars rear end. Teams will have the "damper guy" hard at work on that one. The rear needs to be compliant but too much of a heavy hand in the workshop fettling the slow bump adjustments at the rear will give you unwanted understeer eleswhere!
Exit of three and a sigh of relief and a brief respite in the long run to four.
Big braking zone and a 2nd gear corner that requires careful throttle management. Run wide and you can be attacked. Possibly the biggest overtaking spot outside of DRS zones.
T5-6. Hard to spot the turn in point as the apex of T6 is hidden utill after you are committed. Get it wrong and it's both hairy and costly to the front left as you lift and load it even more.
Turn 8 can be tricky on exit as you start to power up the hill. Too much wheel spin and your rear tyres are not in great shape for the very complicated braking zone into turn 10. Braking, steering, throttle and downshifts, possibly a brake balance change. All needed to get this one done well.
A brief respite unless you messed up T10 and are being attacked with DRS as you approach T11. It requires committment on exit as you build speed up the hill but its possible to oversteer too much.
The T11-12 combination on the map look very similar to Sepangs T T5-6 combination and some wags suggest that Tilke simply had his cardboard shapes out again. However they drive totally differently. It's an uphill entry vs Sepangs downhill entry means its full throttle so long as you are on a good line/good rubber. If not judgement is needed and its often the scene of a big slide and some ruined tyres as the car gets light on the crest.
Entry to T13 requires you trail off the brakes just as they are feeling quite comforting, to get a good line and apex. Another bump on exit to manage and you can draw breath on the long back straight. A big bump just before the braking zone to T14, the exit of which sets up your attack or defence for the long pit straight.
Then you can start all over again.
Like Sepang the Tilke touch is hurting the front left a lot.
Teams are reporting that set up can help or hinder in this regard."
Depending on ambient temperature teams might get a little more conservative on cooling after Patels China DNF due to engine failure. But you know what, this is FSR and I reckon they wont!
ConclusionWe expect to see a very close qualifying and close race pace between the teams. We think that the gaps will start to appear late in the stints when the drivers that have their management under control can pull a gap or even drop a stop. Can someone else challenge the dominant four? Lets see on Sunday!
For detailed standings and results please check HERE