Formula 1’s inaugural running on the Bahraini outer circuit is the most anticipated race of the season with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton missing from the grid for the Sakhir Grand Prix following a positive Covid-19 test.
Williams driver George Russell has been handed a call-up to the factory Mercedes squad for at least this weekend, with the outlook for next weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi still murky.
The circuit layout, the second shortest on the Formula 1 calendar after Monaco, should favour the world champions with power expecting to dominate on a track with just four braking moments. Valtteri Bottas will enter the weekend as the clear favourite due to his experience over Russell with the all-conquering W11, although recent results would suggest a big change in fortune is needed should the Finn canter to victory.
Max Verstappen is not feeling optimistic ahead of the weekend, insisting the route to victory is no easier without Hamilton and expects the Mercedes-powered team to prosper over his Honda-powered Red Bull.
Following Sergio Perez’s late retirement at last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Racing Point have been given the challenge of re-catching McLaren in the fight for third position and of course, the multi-million dollar prize-money increase that comes with that position.Embed from Getty Images
With Russell moving up the grid, fellow Briton Jack Aitken is afforded a step up from Formula 2 to make his debut for Williams, whilst Pietro Fittipaldi – grandson of two-time champion Emerson – substitutes for Romain Grosjean at Haas after the Frenchman’s horrifying incident on lap one of the previous race.
Check out the race report from the Bahrain Grand Prix by clicking here.