Recovered from the shock of Romain Grosjean’s heart-clenching accident
in Bahrain, the World Championship arrives at its penultimate round in one of the strangest seasons in history. With the Drivers and Constructors titles already decided, expectations were low for this weekend’s Sakhir F1 Grand Prix
Russell’s seat in Williams will in turn, be filled by reserve driver Jack Aitken, for whom this will be his first F1 race. The other rookie to have his maiden run in Sakhir will be Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Haas has decided to reward the loyalty of its reserve pilot since 2018 by letting him take the place of the convalescent Grosjean.
And there is still one last and exciting turn of events. The second consecutive race at the Bahrain International Circuit, will take place on an ‘outer’ track, adding extra uncertainty with a layout completely unknown to all drivers.
Who´s the favourite to win the Sakhir F1 Grand Prix ?
At a purely competitive level, the absence of Hamilton leaves the door wide open for another favourite to come forward at the Sakhir Grand Prix. The proven superiority of the W11, nonetheless, puts teammate Valtteri Bottas as the top candidate for victory.
After his disappointing performances in Turkey and Bahrain, this is the Finn’s chance to assert his authority. The presence of Russell at the Mercedes box, however, might be slightly unnerving for Bottas as he could become a candidate to replace him in the German team from 2022.
Another key contender for victory should, in theory at least, be Max Verstappen. In the absence of the English dictator, who has repeatedly blocked his way to victory during 2020, he will want to take advantage of the circumstances and snatch his second victory of the year after winning the 70th Anniversary GP.
His good state of form, with four podiums over the last six races, make him one of the preferred candidates to uncork the champagne. And even if he doesn’t admit it, the prospect of hunting Bottas down, currently 12 points above in the standings, is sure to bring satisfaction to the Dutch driver. Only the power deficit of the RB16, essential in this layout, could come between him and the glory.
Perez: A candidate to the podium?
The Mexican Checo Perez, for whom this has been one of his best F1 seasons so far, could also be one to climb up the podium this weekend. After losing third place at the Bahrain GP, he is eager to turn things around.
In addition, Perez is immersed in a stimulating fight for fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship, currently only two points away. The driver from Guadalajara treasures 100 points compared to the 102 of Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), but at the same time, he is only two ahead of Charles Leclerc (98).
Just one place down in the standings, there is another exciting contest looming. Lando Norris is sixth with 86 points, one more than his teammate in McLaren
and Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
Regarding the Constructors’ Championship, the battle for third place continues. McLaren has now regained the coveted position after the Racing Point no scored points at this very track a week ago. The good performance of Lando Norris, fourth, and Carlos Sainz, fifth, bumped Wokin´s team up to lead the pink team by 17 points and Renault by 27 in the standings.
A final note on the layout for the Sakhir F1 Grand Prix: it will be just 87 laps and 307.995 km long, given the small size of the ‘oval’ track, with just 3,543 m and 11 curves per lap.
Images of Sakhir F1 Grand Prix: Mercedes AMG F1.