Gulf Air Bahrain GP Sakhir round 15.
Bahrain International circuit 57 laps @ 5.412km /3.363ml = 308.484km/191.688ml.
Lap record 1m 31.447s held by De la Rosa (2005).

Friday FP1 started with the temperature at 27ºC. Pirelli prototype tyres were tested by the teams on a very damp circuit after some rain earlier causing a lot of spins and offs with quite a few times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 4. Gro went off, narrowly missing the barriers but made it back to the pits with a puncture. Ver spent some time in the garage with floor damage. FP2 was a little cooler with the prototype tyre in use again. With floodlights on, Alb crashed heavily into the barriers – red flag and another red flag when a dog was spotted on the circuit! FP3, Ham stopped in the pit lane with an electrical issue.

Qualifying started under floodlights. Out went both Haas & Alfa Romeo cars along with Lat. Q2 out went both Ferrari cars along with Sai, Rus & Str. Q3 was the usual fast and furious 12 minutes. Ham got his 3rd pole position at this circuit, 10th of the season and 98th of his career. Bot, Ver, Alb & Per completed the top five.

Racing began with the sun setting and the temperature at 26ºC. They all got away well with a lot of scraps in the midfield and towards the back with some drivers going off avoiding others. Gro cut across to avoid Mag, but clipped Kvy, crashing into and over the barrier splitting his car in half and bursting into flames. He was helped to safety, but race stopped to remove car and replace the barrier which took 1hour 20 minutes. All 19 cars back to the grid for the re-start, then Kvy hit Str who spun and barrel-rolled landing upside down on the track. Another red flag to clear the car and debris. The pit stops started at the end of lap 16 causing a lot of position changes. Kvy was given a 10 second penalty for causing an accident. Per retired from 3rd place with flames bellowing out of the back of his car with only 4 laps remaining. The safety car was deployed making it a safety car finish. Ham took the win with Ver & Alb joining him on the podium, the first time for Red Bull with both drivers on the podium since Japan 2017.

2020 Formula 1 Gulf Air Sakhir GP Sakhir round 16.
Bahrain Outer circuit 87 laps @ 3.543km = 308.241km.
Ham was absent after being tested positive for Covid. Rus was promoted from Williams with reserve driver Jack Aitken taking his place and Pietro Fittipaldi (Grandson of Emerson a double World Champion 1972 & ’74) in the Haas replacing Gro.

FP1 had a few minor problems. Gas had a loose mirror and Bot suffered with a damaged floor. There were a lot of lock ups, spins & offs around the very fast lap. Rus adapted to the Mercedes very quickly by topping the time sheets. FP2 saw track limits imposed at turn 8 and the drivers were told to keep off of the ‘unforgiving’ kerbs to avoid damage. Lec had a driveshaft issue. Bot and Vet both suffered with a loose back end which caused spins. There were more lock ups, spins & offs and some times deleted. FP3 on Saturday was another good session but not without more spins and offs.

Qualifying in the afternoon went very well apart from a few spins and offs and a few times deleted. Out went both Williams & Haas drivers along with Räi. Q2 was trouble-free with an exciting 15 minutes ending. Q3 was fast and furious especially the final couple of minutes. Bot ended on pole.

Race day in the desert! A great start from Rus as he passed Bot for the lead with a lot of action behind between Bot, Ver, Lec & Per who was clipped by Lec, sending the Mexican into a spin and breaking the nose of his Ferrari and crashing. Ver went off into the barrier trying to avoid the scuffle causing a safety car situation. Per had to pit for repairs which dropped him down to 18th place. There was a restart on lap 7, VSC, when Lat hit the wall leaving his front wing on the circuit. Safety car again to clear the debris. Mercedes pitted both cars which went completely wrong as they fitted the wrong tyres to Rus with no new ones for Bot. Rus had to pit again which allowed Per to take the lead. Rus fought his way back up to 2nd then had a puncture dropping him back to 15th place. After an exciting & action-packed race Per took the chequered flag for the first time in his career with Oco getting his first-ever podium and Str giving Racing Point their first double podium finish. Rus posted the fastest lap of 55.404s on lap 80. Lec was given a 3 place grid penalty for Abu Dhabi for causing an accident.
2020 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi GP Yas Marina Round 17.
55 laps @ 5.554km/3.451ml = 305.470km/189.819ml.

Lap record 1m 39.283s held by Hamilton Mercedes (2019).

After only 5 months of travelling north, east, south & west visiting 12 different countries and successfully cramming in 17 races incorporating some great new venues and some revisited circuits, the teams arrived at Abu Dhabi for the final race of the shortened World Championship.

Ham was back in his Mercedes and Rus back to his Williams. Fittipaldi again replaced Gro & Mick Schumacher (F2 Champion) was in the other Haas of Mag for FP1.

It was a glorious sunny start to the final GP weekend with the temperature at 25ºC for FP1. Ric pulled off the circuit with a fuel pressure problem – VSC for a brief period. Ham had a problem with his master cylinder. Lots of spins, lock-ups and offs with a lot of times deleted for exceeding track limits mainly at turn 21. FP2 saw the sun setting and the spotlights coming on with the teams testing next year’s tyres during the session. Räi pulled off the circuit with a flaming Alfa causing a red flag situation for 6 minutes. Ham came to a halt in the pit lane having no gears & Rus had a PU problem. Saturday was hot and sunny with no action for the first 15 minutes. Ver, Alb, Ric, Oco & Nor, were the top five.

Qualifying started with the sun setting and the floodlights coming on. Apart from a few minor offs, running wide with times deleted, it was a good 18 minute session. Both Williams & Haas drivers went out along with Räi. Q2 under full floodlights was a trouble free 15 minutes. Per only did an install lap as he was starting at the back due to having new PU elements fitted. Out with him went both Renault drivers Vet & Gio. The top ten shoot out was its usual fast and furious 12 minutes. Ver got his first pole position since Brazil 2019 with Bot, Ham, Nor & Alb making up the top five, Sai.

The race started with the sun setting still with an ambient temperature of 24ºC. Ver, after his brilliant qualifying, held on to his lead leaving the rest to fight among themselves. Per pulled off the circuit after completing 8 laps with an oil pressure problem and showing his frustration by thumping the steering wheel. VSC period and the leaders pitted. The safety car was then deployed to clear the oil left on the track. The race restarted on lap 14. Vet pitted on lap 35 only to have another disastrous stop losing him time again. Lec was shown the black & white flag for exceeding the track limits five times. There were a lot of close battles and some good overtaking manoeuvres throughout, making it a very exciting finale. Ver won his 2nd GP of the season. Bot & Ham joined him on the podium. Ric posted the fastest lap of 1m 40.926s on lap 55.

Mercedes AMG team have dominated the season by getting 16 of the 17 pole positions and 13 of the 17 wins; Red Bull with 1 pole position & 2 wins, plus surprise wins for Alpha Tauri & Racing Point. Ferrari had a bad season ending up in 6th position in the Championship.

Season’s Review next month.