- Bahrain Grand Prix
Bumpy turn six presents set-up headache
- Bahrain Grand Prix
- FIA Formula One World Championship
A bump in the middle of turn six has caught the attention of a number of drivers after two sessions of free practice on Friday.
This year a different layout of the Bahrain International Circuit is being used to add an extra challenge and accommodate the expanded grid. However, the corner on the entry to the new section has a sizable bump on the apex where many of the cars bottomed out.
The ban on refuelling means the cars will have to start the race with 160 kilos of fuel on board, the weight of which physically lowers it. The teams always aim to run the cars as low as possible to get the maximum from the diffuser and under-body aerodynamics, however, running them too low causes the car to hit the ground and become unpredictable. What's more, as the fuel load is burnt off the ride height gets higher under less weight.
The bump in turn six is causing problems on heavy fuel, but by raising the ride height to accommodate for it, the drivers will compromise the low-fuel pace of the car.
"The overall grip level is very low out there and the new part is really bumpy," said Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa. "One bump especially before turn seven I find dangerous because the cars are bottoming there a lot."
Jenson Button added: "It is very bumpy. Trying to concentrate for the next corner is very tricky because you are going over those bumps through turn six and your head is bouncing all over the place, no matter how strong your neck is. It is pretty tricky, but that's what we have got and we will deal with it. The rest of the new section is pretty smooth, which is nice. It's slow but it is a good place to lose a lot of time, so you have to be careful through."
Sebastien Buemi also drew attention to the corner but added that the tight and twisty nature of all of the new section meant a compromise had to be found between high downforce and low downforce settings as well.
"The changes to the track were much as I expected and there is a big bump at turn six," he said. "There are no passing places in the new section, but it makes for a longer track which is more interesting to drive. You need to be competitive in sector two for a good lap time, which means you must compromise between needing high downforce for this slow part, while less downforce will make you quicker in sectors one and three [where straight line speed is more important].
Meanwhile Fernando Alonso said he rather enjoyed the new section.
"The new track is not bad," he said, "It is fun, even if there are a few too many bumps which I hadn't spotted when I inspected it by bicycle."