Skip to content

Bahrain recap: Tire tests, rare DRS failure, hot/cold temps made for wild race

Apr 22, 2013, 11:59 AM EDT

Mechanics work on the car of Ferrari Formula One driver Alonso during the qualifying session for the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit Reuters

Amid a backdrop of complaints and concerns about this seasons Pirelli tire compounds, the Bahrain Grand Prix delivered one of its most exciting yet.

Whereas the Chinese GP used the soft and medium compound tires in cooler conditions, giving a delta of nearly one and a half seconds per lap between the two, Pirelli’s choices for this race were a lot closer in performance and durability levels.

The medium and hard tires worked well here and, in the extreme heat of the desert, seemed to be the perfect selection.

The two compounds offered a choice of strategy, though of the top 10, only Ferrari’s Filipe Massa opted to start on the hard tire. It could’ve been an inspired move by the team to cover both scenarios, but we’ll never really know as a disastrous race for both drivers ended their hopes.

A rare DRS failure while running second on lap seven meant an emergency pitstop for Alonso. The DRS rear wing flap is designed to stay closed if the system should fail, but on this occasion the hydraulic actuator managed to push the flap beyond its normal 50-millimeter opening limit. This meant that, whereas the airflow over the wing would normally force the flap shut, being ‘over-center’, the aerodynamics had the opposite effect and held it in an open position.

Mechanics were able to push the wing back into its closed state at the stop, fit new tires and send him out without major time loss, but inexplicably appeared to fail to tell Alonso not to use the system and the same thing happened a lap later. Another stop to close the wing and the loss of DRS meant the predicted challenge for the win was effectively over. He did well to salvage eighth.

After a slightly strange looking tire failure for Hamilton on Saturday morning, Filipe Massa suffered a similar looking delamination to his right rear in the race, followed by a major blow out on the next set not long after. Pirelli were quick to suggest debris on the track had caused all three issues, but will investigate further in the coming days. One thing’s for sure, following much recent criticism, the last thing the Italian tire manufacturer needs is the perception that the rears weren’t capable of withstanding the heat and demands of the Bahrain circuit.

The ambient temperature, always pretty warm, did fluctuate this weekend, as did the wind speed and direction and the effect on different teams cars was notable.

Kimi Raikkonen was ominously quick in Friday practice, yet in the cooler temperatures of Saturdays qualifying struggled considerably more. The high race day temperatures meant the car came back to him and teammate Romain Grosjean and both managed brilliant podiums from lowly grid slots. Conversely, the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg worked well on Saturday to gain pole position, but found himself with a different car altogether in the hot race. Teams are still learning about the critical relationship between tire temperature and their performance levels and more importantly, how to manage them through driving styles or technical developments. Most teams now use adjustable brake duct slots to allow some of the enormous heat from the brakes to escape and soak into the wheels and tires when needed. Many of the leading teams also use a passive, hydraulically linked suspension arrangement to control the cars pitch and, or roll during braking and cornering, allowing the car to be more aerodynamically stable and less aggressive on its tires.

Kimi showed in the race that the ability to make the tires last and do one less stop than the rest can be a huge advantage.

McLaren found strong headwinds on the main straight for the race a help as they were running a shorter top gear and would’ve otherwise been held back by the rev limiter and therefore vulnerable in the DRS zone. As ever setup is always a compromise and this is something Red Bull have used in the past to aid qualifying, whilst they work on the basis that they can get so far out in front that they won’t be under attack by DRS.

Others found the strong cross winds at the higher points of the circuit unsettling the cars on turn in.

With Barcelona three weeks away (May 12) and closer to home for the teams, we can expect some significant upgrades and developments on the way.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Marc Priestley can be found on Twitter @f1elvis.

Latest Posts
  1. In re-released interview, Brad Keselowski recalls how Rick Hendrick left him heartbroken

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    keselowski

    In a just-released video interview, 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski – looking perhaps as somber as we’ve ever seen him, at times seemingly ready to break into tears – discusses how heartbroken, if not potentially betrayed he felt in 2009 when team owner Rick Hendrick picked Mark Martin to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet instead of giving Keselowski the opportunity, even though Bad Brad insists Hendrick had previously promised him that ride in 2010.

  2. FIA WEC: Mark Webber preparing for possible wet WEC debut

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone Getty Images

    The former Red Bull F1 competitor will start sixth on tomorrow’s grid at Silverstone.

  3. Diesel pickup gives new meaning to ‘powering down the dragstrip’ (video)

    Apr 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    nhrda logo

    If it has wheels and tires, it typically can be raced down a dragstrip. But take a pickup truck, throw in a high-power diesel engine in it, and you have a rolling battering ram that will take down anything in its path – even guard rails that are supposed to prevent that very thing from happening.

  4. FIA WEC: Ex-F1 prospects Calado, Bird do well in qualifying

    Apr 19, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone Getty Images

    The former GP2 competitors qualify up the grid in their respective classes for tomorrow’s WEC opener at Silverstone.

  5. Watch radio controlled cars pay awesome homage to Fast and Furious series, late actor Paul Walker

    Apr 19, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT

    fast and furious RC2

    While we don’t condone street racing whatsoever, the video below is one of the best we’ve seen in a long time. Even better, it’s more of parking lot racing, with radio controlled cars burning up the asphalt and concrete — so no actual humans, animals or real-life vehicles were put in jeopardy. An added bonus is this is an outstanding homage to the Fast & Furious series, with particular emphasis on actor Paul Walker, who was killed last December in a tragic street racing crash.

  6. An eggs-cellent day at the Brickyard (PHOTOS)

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    IMS Pagoda Getty Images

    If the Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn’t *the* coolest place to hold an Easter egg hunt, we figure it’s at least one of them.

  7. Swan Racing struggles reportedly worsen, future uncertain

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:13 PM EDT

    Swan Racing minority owner Anthony Marlowe is trying to find a way to keep Cole Whitt racing. Where that leaves teammate Parker Kligerman is uncertain, at best. Getty Images

    The future of Swan Racing in Sprint Cup racing is not looking good.

  8. FIA WEC: Toyota, Ferrari score top class poles at Silverstone

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Toyota Getty Images

    Toyota takes the pole for Sunday’s FIA WEC opener in Silverstone.

  9. IMSA: New sponsors for Muehlner Motorsports America

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT

    IMSA Daytona 24 Hours Auto Racing AP

    Couple new sponsors for GTD team within TUDOR Championship.

  10. Magnussen downbeat after poor qualifying display

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Kevin Magnussen AP

    Danish driver can only manage P15, with teammate Jenson Button in 12th.

  11. Ricciardo gave his all, and is rewarded with front row start

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT

    Daniel Ricciardo AP

    All smiles for Daniel after qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

  12. Williams combats wet weather woes in Shanghai

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Qualifying Getty Images

    Massa and Bottas both make the top 10 despite wet conditions playing against them.

  13. Hamilton breaks 46-year-old British record for most poles

    Apr 19, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

    Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel AP

    Jim Clark’s record that has stood since 1968 has now been broken by Hamilton in China.

  14. Alonso upbeat about his chances in China (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 5:15 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Qualifying Getty Images

    He might be down in 5th, but the Spaniard believes that a podium finish is well within Ferrari’s reach in China.

  15. What went wrong for Rosberg in qualifying? (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Qualifying Getty Images

    P4 disappointing for the German driver, but where did it all go wrong for him?

  16. Lotus reaches top 10 for the first time in 2014 thanks to Grosjean

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice Getty Images

    Grosjean qualifies 10th to finally give the team something to smile about after a tough winter.

  17. Hamilton keeps his cool to claim pole for Chinese GP

    Apr 19, 2014, 3:04 AM EDT

    Mercedes Formula One driver Hamilton of Britain gestures while celebrating after taking pole position at qualifying session of Chinese F1 Grand Prix at Shanghai International circuit Reuters

    British driver secures wet weather pole in Shanghai ahead of Ricciardo and Vettel.

  18. WATCH LIVE: Rivals set to rain on Mercedes’ parade?

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:45 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Qualifying Getty Images

    Could Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel take advantage of the wet track to snatch pole position?

  19. FIA releases full findings in Red Bull fuel saga

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:45 AM EDT

    Ricciardo AP

    Report reveals that Red Bull failed to supply accurate data, and what was supplied actually undermined the team’s argument.

  20. Ricciardo fastest in rain-affected final practice in China

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:02 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice Getty Images

    Red Bull driver fastest in a quiet final session ahead of qualifying later today.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. McMurray (10025)
  2. K. Harvick (3857)
  3. M. McDowell (1985)
  4. A. Seuss (1754)
  5. B. Myers (1350)