Valtteri Bottas has secured his fifth pole position of the 2020 Formula 1 season for the Sakhir Grand Prix. Here’s how and when you can watch the race.
The Mercedes driver edged stand-in team-mate George Russell by just 0.026s, with the British driver stepping in for Lewis Hamilton who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, as the Finn clinched pole despite not topping any of the practice sessions.
With Russell completing an all-Mercedes front row Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start from third place having initially held provisional pole from the first runs, after the Mercedes pair went out on used tyres.
Charles Leclerc produced an eye-catching lap on his only run in Q3 to take fourth place for Ferrari, ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, while AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat also impressed to take sixth place.
Further back, Alexander Albon underwhelmed when he missed out on Q3 for the third time this season for Red Bull and will start the race down in 12th place.
Jack Aitken will malke his F1 debut from 18th place for Williams, one place behind team-mate Nicholas Latifi, as he stands in for Russell due to his Mercedes call up.
Fellow F1 debutant Pietro Fittipaldi, replacing the injured Romain Grosjean as he recovers from his horrendous crash in last weekend’s Bahrain GP, will start from last place having qualified 20th, but was due to be relegated to the back of the grid because of power unit penalties.
Why is F1 racing in Bahrain again?
Due to the redrafted 2020 F1 calendar following the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent cancellation of 13 races, series bosses have scrambled to produce a campaign of a minimum of eight races to meet FIA world championship criteria along with reaching a minimum of 15 races to fulfil the TV broadcasting deal.
As well as hosting double-headers at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone, F1 has also visited venues not on the original 2020 calendar, with Istanbul Park having been the fifth of the new destinations last month, following on from Mugello, the Nurburgring, Portimao and Imola.
Bahrain’s second race becomes the final new addition to the 2020 F1 calendar, with the season wrapping up next weekend with the Abu Dhabi GP.
What is the Sakhir GP?
The previous ‘new’ races on the redrawn 2020 F1 calendar were either part of double-headers at the same circuit (Styrian GP at the Red Bull Ring and 70th Anniversary GP at Silverstone) or races taking a new name as the national race title was already used or unavailable.
With different races not allowed the same name in the same F1 world championship season, the Nurburging’s F1 race, Mugello’s F1 race, Imola’s F1 race and the Red Bull Ring’s second F1 race were named after the region the circuits are each situated in. The second Silverstone race was named as a way to celebrate the 70th year of the F1 grand prix world championship.
The final unique race name for the unconventional 2020 calendar is the second Bahrain race, which is called the Sakhir GP, which is also named after the region the track is based.
What is the Bahrain outer loop circuit?
The Sakhir GP will also be unique as it is being run on a different track layout to last weekend’s Bahrain GP, using the Bahrain International Circuit’s outer loop.
Taking advantage of the shaken-up 2020 calendar, F1 has seized the opportunity to try out new formats and ideas – including the two-day race weekend schedule at Imola – with the latest trial being Bahrain’s “almost oval track”, as called by F1 managing director for motorsports Ross Brawn.
The track configuration follows the current grand prix layout up to Turn 4, after which it turns left before a series of fast corners.
The cars then rejoin the existing circuit at the top of the hill leading onto the back straight before completing the lap as normal with the double-apex right-hander.
At just 2.277 miles, the outer loop is more than a mile shorter than the current grand prix circuit, but holds an FIA Grade 1 licence required to stage an F1 event.
When is the F1 Sakhir Grand Prix?
Date: Sunday 6th December 2020
Start time: 8:10pm local time, 5:10pm GMT
How can I watch the Sakhir GP?
In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports has exclusive live broadcasting rights (excluding the British GP), with the Sakhir GP race shown live on Sky Sports F1. Pre-race coverage will be starting at 3:30pm GMT ahead of the race start at 5:10pm GMT.
Channel 4 will be showing extended highlights of the race on Sunday evening, starting at 10:00pm GMT. Autosport is running a live text commentary for the Sakhir GP.
Weather forecast for the Sakhir GP?
Current weather forecasts predict cloudy and hazy conditions, and the possibility of strong winds in the late afternoon, but with a very small chance of rain at the Bahrain International Circuit on race day. The temperature is expected to be 21 degrees Celsius for the start of the race – four degrees cooler than last weekend’s Bahrain GP but that is due to the race starting three hours later.
How many laps is the Sakhir GP?
The race is scheduled to complete 87 laps of the Bahrain International Circuit outer loop track layout, covering a total race distance of 307.995km.
With the second Bahrain race using the shorter outer loop circuit, the race will cover 30 more laps than the Bahrain GP (57 laps) in order to reach the required total race distance of 305km.
It therefore becomes the race with the most amount of laps under the current F1 race regulations, beating the 78-lap Monaco GP – which covers only 260km as permitted under the race rules.
The longest-ever F1 race (excluding the Indianapolis 500) remains the 1951 French GP at Reims, won by Juan Manuel Fangio for Alfa Romeo, which covered 77 laps and a total distance of just over 600km.
Sakhir Grand Prix starting grid
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||0.056s|
|5||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||0.413s|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||0.633s|
|10||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||0.823s|
|12||Alexander Albon||Red Bull/Honda||0.649s|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1.000s|
|19||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1.586s|
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