17.01.21 NL Blog
2020 in review, part 4: What’s next...?
After a week at home in London it’s back to race mode now for the last triple header of the season. Having experienced a lot of the gloomy autumn weather in Europe, it’ll be good to get to Bahrain this weekend, although my engineer reckons there is a chance of rain on race day!
Bahrain is a track I have a fair amount of experience on. Last year I won the Formula 2 Feature Race there and then made my Williams debut during Formula 1 testing, so it’s a place with a lot of happy memories. Fingers crossed that experience will help me hit the ground running this weekend.
The ‘original’ track layout is well-known by all the drivers on the grid, but the big difference for me will be racing on it at sunset. In Formula 2 we raced in the middle of the day – which is not fun for tyre degradation – and I’ve also raced at night-time before, but never in-between. So, in a year of new experiences, that’ll be another one to tick off.
We’ll all stay on in Bahrain after the race, but for the second event there will be a different ‘outer track’ layout – it’s a good decision by the race organisers that provides extra variety and intrigue.
I’ve tried the new layout on the sim already and my first impression is that it’s very short! You basically cut out the in-field and have just a few corners linking the straights. It will be tricky to get a good set-up compromise because while there’s a big emphasis on straight-line speed, the lap time margins will be small and getting those handful of corners spot on will be really important.
I think it will be an interesting challenge for everybody. There’s not been anything like it in F1 for years – if ever. The set-up will change quite a bit and we’ll all have to adapt. I expect it will be pretty hectic in qualifying, and even practice. I can’t wait to give it a go!
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