George Russell is looking forward to the challenge of Bahrain’s “exciting” Outer Track, predicting: “It’s definitely going to be bonkers.”
Formula 1 is readying itself for the sport’s fastest ever lap times on the Sakhir Grand Prix weekend around a circuit that has been described as an oval, although it’s actually more like a square with one wiggly side.
Based on the Bahrain International Circuit, the Outer Track misses out the twisty ‘infield’ section and so the usual 15-turn 5.4km layout is reduced to a 3.5km blast on December 6 over 87 laps that are likely to take less than a minute each.
It will make for a more congested track during qualifying and the race – and Williams driver Russell thinks any small errors could have major consequences on the Saturday.
“It’s exciting because the lap times will be so close, I reckon everyone will probably be within a second in qualifying,” said Russell – who has acquired the nickname of Mr Saturday for consistently reaching Q2 this season – quoted by RaceFans.
“It means if you make one small mistake, you can be losing loads of positions on Saturday.
“So it’s going to be about giving it absolutely everything you’ve got, making sure you nail the lap because there, more than anywhere, if you do make a mistake, you don’t have enough corners to make that lap time back up. So it will be exciting.”
Simulations have indicated lap times could be under 54 seconds if three DRS zones are used.
“It will probably be a bit of a mess on the Saturday because everyone will be looking for slipstream,” added Russell.
“I don’t know how short it is but there’s probably not enough space to fit 20 cars on there and the racing will be pretty wacky.”
Lando Norris, meanwhile, said the Bahrain Outer Track reminded him of British circuit Thruxton.
“It’s not many corners – small, sharp corners, the ones we have in Bahrain – but at the same time it’s a very small, oval-kind-of-shape track and very short as well,” said Norris.
His McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz added: “It will be a challenge to find the right compromise on the set-up because it’s not a typical track for Formula 1. You never go to this kind of circuit with only long straights and two or three corners to really drive around.
“It will be a bit of an experiment for Formula 1, I think it will generate some different kind of racing.
“There will be a lot of talk regarding rear wings, what downforce level you run and all that. That obviously has our input, as drivers, but it’s more simulation work, more engineering work that the team needs to figure out how to arrive there as well-prepared as possible.”