A lap of Bahrain with Hondas Alexander Wurz 01 Apr 2008
As his Japanese team prepares for the third race of the 2008 Formula One season, Honda reserve Alexander Wurz finds time to talk us round a flying lap of the Bahrain International Circuit, host of this weekends Grand Prix
The Formula One circus likes visiting Bahrain. Everyone's looking for more than just another paddock and there's a lively city near to the Bahrain International Circuit, where there are good places to eat and go out.
It's usually quite windy in the afternoons, which results in sand getting blown onto the track. The knock-on effect of this is felt most in qualifying, when everyone wants to be the last person on the track, when the circuit is at its cleanest. Therefore there's usually a lot of traffic to negotiate.
The BIC is one of the slower tracks that Hermann Tilke has designed, but it's still quite interesting. From a technical point of view, braking and traction are crucial, and you break very hard into Turn One, from seventh gear - more than 300km/h - down to first gear. This provides the best overtaking opportunity on the lap.
Turn Two is a left kink, which, without traction control, is going to be quite challenging because you're going to have a lot of slip. We might see some snap oversteer here as a result. Turn Three is easy flat and leads to the right-hander Turn Four, which is taken in third gear. It's off-camber and could pose quite a traction problem without TC.
Then you come to a very interesting part of the track, the fast right-left chicane. It's enjoyable, but it can be frustrating from a car set-up point of view because if it wasn't for this section you'd soften up the car. As it is, you have to keep some roll stiffness in the car for this quick change of direction.
You then come to the hairpin, which picks up a lot of grip throughout the weekend. The exit goes uphill, into a long left-hander, which tightens up into a sharp left. Everyone locks up a bit because it's off-camber and over a crest, so the inside front is unloaded. Traction is really important on the exit because the back straight follows, where you get up to sixth gear before slowing for the third-gear left-hander. I would set up my car's aero balance - the amount of wing I carry - for this corner.
After this corner there's a long uphill stretch into a flat right-hander. The front left is loaded for a long time through here and then you come into another right-hander, which is an overtaking opportunity if the car in front is using its tyres too much. A very long straight leads to the last corner, where it's easy to out-brake yourself. You lose more than you can win through here because it's really important to have a clean exit onto the start-finish straight.