The Middle Eastern leg and final triple-header of this most unusual Formula 1 season begins this weekend with the Bahrain GP. Just seven days later and in the same country the F1 entourage will move on to dispute the penultimate race of the year at the Sakhir International Circuit before moving on to the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi for the grand finale.
and Lewis Hamilton would conquer their Drivers & Constructors’ titles
respectively, there is little left to be decided as we approach the fourteenth round of the year and as far as the top positions are concerned.
Bloody battle in the middle zone
Looking at the standings ahead of Bahrain GP, however, there are still a few bloody battles to be disputed in the middle zone. None less than four teams are head-to-head for third place as they stand only 24 points apart. Racing Point leads this battle with 154 points, five more than McLaren´s Carlo (149), eight more than Renault (136) and fourteen more than Ferrari (130), a last-minute bidder.
Judging by the last few appointments, however, everything points out to a two-horse race between the pink formation and the team from Woking. Racing Point has reaped some good results of late, thanks mainly to Checo Perez, ousting the Britons from third. Nonetheless, the disappointing performance of his teammate, Lance Stroll, has prevented the team from climbing further up in the team standings. In any case, McLaren is fighting fit and eager to put together a fierce counterattack to regain that third place.
The English have one of the most consistent and solid couples on the grid. It is true that Lando Norris seems to have lost momentum lately, but what his partner lacks Carlos Sainz has compensated by adding increasingly stronger performances. As far as Renault is concerned, it seems to have run out of steam and have been painfully inconsistent. Its leader, Daniel Ricciardo, has alternated two podiums with an eighth and a ninth place over the last four races.
Considering that the other yellow car, driven by Frenchman Esteban Ocon, has arrived outside of the point positions in three occasions over those same commitments, it is a miracle that the team of the diamond is still in the fight for third place.
Ferrari, to keep on recovering
Ferrari, on the other hand, has followed the opposite path. Their steady growth and regularity over the past appointments demonstrate they have finally found their way out of the tunnel. Sebastian Vettel‘s podium and Charles Leclerc‘s fourth place in Istanbul have been a long-awaited morale boost as well as having earned the team a good handful of points.
Driver´s standings battle
As for the individual competition, the fourth place, currently occupied by Checo Perez, is still at stake. Following one of the best seasons of his career, the Mexican driver has 100 points, three more than Leclerc and four more than Ricciardo.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz can only aspire to defend his seventh place being as he is 21 points away from the sixth place occupied by the Australian; a nearly impossible distance to overcome this far into the season. Also, the driver from Madrid is only one point ahead of his teammate, Lando Norris, and four ahead of Alex Albon (Red Bull).
Sakhir: A magical setting
The Bahrain circuit is made up of three long straights combined with some low and medium-speed corners and a few quick turns. The generous width of the track as well as its asphalted sides, are very forgiven to mistakes and encourage heavy braking.
All of these characteristics tend to encourage fantastic, hair-rising duels. With its fifteen bends, eight to the right and seven to the left; the 5,412-meter track is one of the most demanding for the brake systems on the calendar.
Images of Bahrain GP Preview: Sakhir Circuit.