After an eventful race one in Bahrain, largely for all the wrong reasons, Formula 1 now resets and goes again for the Sakhir Grand Prix but without Lewis Hamilton.
The Bahrain Grand Prix set the scene for Hamilton to win his 11th race of the season, but that is where his five-race winning streak will end.
The Mercedes driver woke up felling unwell on Monday morning and promptly took a Covid-19 test, which came back positive. He will miss the second of the two Bahrain races.
Mercedes struck a deal with Williams that saw George Russell confirmed as his replacement. From arguably the weakest car on the grid, Russell now shoots into the W11, perhaps the greatest Formula 1 car ever built.
The first Bahrain race was very much overshadowed by Romain Grosjean’s horror crash on the opening lap.
Somehow the Haas driver walked away with only minor burns from a crash which saw him spear into a barrier with his VF-20 splitting into two pieces with the fiery wreckage of the cockpit, still containing Grosjean inside, landing at the other side of the barrier.
Thanks to the lightning-fast response of the FIA and Formula 1 medical teams, and Grosjean’s instincts to get himself unstrapped to be pulled to safety, he survived one of the most frightening crashes seen in the sport for a long time.
Grosjean was of course up for the Sakhir Grand Prix, where for the first time drivers will race around Bahrain’s ‘Outer Circuit’, but quite rightly Haas have confirmed that Pietro Fittipaldi will take his place for the race weekend.
Here is everything you need to know ahead of the Sakhir Grand Prix…
When is the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix?
Practice 1: Friday December 4, 1630 local time (1330 British time)
Practice 2: Friday December 4, 2030 local time (1730 British time)
Practice 3: Saturday December 5, 1700 local time (1400 British time)
Qualifying: Saturday December 5, 2000 local time (1700 British time)
Race: Sunday December 6, 2010 local time (1710 British time)
Where does the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix take place?
The Bahrain International Circuit has played host to the Bahrain Grand Prix since 2004, but now the world of motorsport will be introduced to the Sakhir Grand Prix, held on the ‘Outer Circuit’.
The ‘Grand Prix Circuit’ layout has been used for all but one race at the Bahrain International Circuit, the exception being 2010 when the ‘Endurance Circuit’ was used, and now Formula 1 gets to see the third of six available layouts at the venue.
The ‘Outer Circuit’ features 11 turns, the opening four are the same as the Grand Prix Circuit, but from there drivers bare left into the dunes and sweep through a very fast left-to-right, before a slower and tighter repeat of that sequence.
From there drivers return to the traditional back straight used in the Bahrain Grand Prix before taking the main straight. All this is expected to be completed in under a minute.
Directions: How can I get to the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix?
Bahrain International Airport (BAH) is situated just east of Bahrain’s capital, Manama. Bahrain’s Gulf Air is based there and offers direct flights from the Middle East, Europe and parts of Asia.
From there, a taxi is the best option since public transport does not service the circuit.
But it’s Bahrain after all, so how does a private chauffeur-driven car or limo sound? Also, note that the race organisers put on a free shuttle bus from the airport to the circuit and to/from selected hotels during race week.
Where can I watch the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix?
Pay-TV broadcaster Sky Sports will show the entire race weekend on its dedicated Sky Sports F1 channel. You can also access a live stream of the coverage via Now TV.
Free-to-air broadcaster Channel 4 will show extended highlights from qualifying and the race.
Subscribers to F1’s own app can hear radio commentary on the race proper from the BBC and access live data throughout every session.
PlanetF1 will carry live timing and expert commentary on every session of the race weekend, from FP1 on Friday morning to the race on Sunday afternoon.
The Sakhir Grand Prix will be shown live on TV on the following outlets in other key markets:
United States: ESPN
Canada: RDS (French), TSN (English)
Australia: Fox Sports, One (Network Ten)
France: Canal + (pay TV) and TF1 (free-to-air)
Italy: Sky Italia, TV8
Germany: RTL and Sky Deutschland
Spain: Movistar F1
What are the odds for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix?
After sealing an 11th win of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix, the bookmakers were unsurprisingly expecting Lewis Hamilton to also come out on top around the fast and wild Outer Circuit.
Following his withdrawal, however, Max Verstappen is now the favourite.
Here were the most recent leading odds from bet365:
7/2 George Russell (Mercedes)
25/1 Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
33/1 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari
(Last updated Saturday December 5)
What is the weather forecast for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix?
Friday, December 4: 27c, cloudy with clear spells
Saturday, December 5: 27c, cloudy with clear spells
Sunday, December 6: 26c, light rain showers
Which drivers have won the Sakhir Grand Prix?
This will be the first time a race has been held around Bahrain’s Outer Circuit, so it’s an opportunity for one lucky driver to put their name in the history books.
What is the starting grid for the Sakhir Grand Prix?
With no Lewis Hamilton as part of the equation, Valtteri Bottas led the Mercedes charge with pole position but only just as George Russell and Max Verstappen both came oh so close to knocking him off top spot.
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
2 George Russell Mercedes
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point
6 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault
8 Carlos Sainz McLaren
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point
11 Esteban Ocon Renault
12 Alex Albon Red Bull
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams
17 Jack Aitken Williams
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing
19 Lando Norris McLaren*
20 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas*
* Engine penalties
What are the latest F1 Championship standings?
Lewis Hamilton stretched his already title-winning lead in the Drivers’ Championship with victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
But, heading into round 16 of 17 in the 2020 season, there is still a very important battle for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship to settle.
Lewis Hamilton – 332 points
Valtteri Bottas – 201 points
Max Verstappen – 189 points
Daniel Ricciardo – 102 points
Sergio Perez – 100 points
Mercedes – 533 points
Red Bull – 274 points
McLaren – 171 points
Racing Point – 154 points
Renault – 144 points
Tyre choices for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) September 9, 2020
To go with the fast, relentless nature of the Outer Circuit, Pirelli have gone slightly conservative with their choice of tyres, selecting the C2s, C3s and C4s.
The C2 tyres will be the hard compound, so one up from the hardest rubber in their range. The C3s have been selected as the mediums and the soft tyres will be the C4s.
Pirelli’s tyres range from C1 to C5 with the rubber getting softer and more grippy as the number increases.