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Formula One will head around the rapid outer circuit in Bahrain this morning for the Sakhir Grand Prix. Join The Roar for live race updates from 4:10am (AEDT).
While the location stays the same for the Sakhir Grand Prix, there has been plenty of change in the world of Formula One in the few short days since Lewis Hamilton claimed victory and Romain Grosjean escaped that horrific fireball.
The seven-time world champion will miss the first-ever race on the outer circuit in Bahrain, after testing positive for Covid-19 the morning after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix. In his place will be Williams driver and Mercedes junior George Russell.
Grosjean, despite leaving hospital and returning to the scene of that fiery accident seven days ago, will also sit out with the burn injuries to his hands. Deputising for the Frenchman will be Haas test driver Pietro Fittipaldi – grandson of the legendary Emerson.
In Russell’s place at Williams, Formula 2 race winner and reserve driver Jack Aitken will make his Formula One debut, among a fairly changed up grid for this inaugural Sakhir Grand Prix.
The 3.5-kilometre outer layout of the popular Bahrain circuit will be the closest thing to Formula One has ever seen to an oval – with sub-60-second lap times being recorded and with extremely low levels of downforce.
This 87-lap race will be a voyage into the unknown, as plenty of overtaking is expected on the long straights and minimal areas for mistakes.
Russell impressed on Friday by being fastest overall in practice, though the battle for pole position saw the more experienced Valtteri Bottas outqualify the young Brit by 0.02 seconds.
It appears the race will be nip and tuck, though for Bottas this will be the opportunity to stamp his authority as a Mercedes driver – with the shadow of Russell large over the Finn.
A surprise addition to the second row of the grid was Charles Leclerc in the underpowered Ferrari, behind the third-placed Max Verstappen. Whether this result is flattering of the Prancing Horse or not, in the race it will be difficult to hold off the likes of Sergio Perez behind.
The fight for third in the constructor’s championship could see one of the three teams in the hunt vie for the podium also. Twenty-seven points cover McLaren, Racing Point and Renault, and as seen in the last race with McLaren, both drivers scoring a chunk of points can really swing this battle.
While it is unfortunate for Hamilton to miss this race due to Covid, the opportunity awaits for somebody to break his streak of victories in 2020. The question is, who will it be?
Tune in on The Roar for live blog coverage of the Sakhir Grand Prix from 4am (AEDT) for what should be another cracker of a race under the lights in Bahrain.
Lights out: 4:10am (AEDT)
Venue: Sakhir International Outer Circuit, Bahrain
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), 2. George Russell (Mercedes), 3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 5. Sergio Perez (Racing Point). 6. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri), 7. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), 8. Carlos Sainz (McLaren), 9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), 10. Lance Stroll (Racing Point), 11. Esteban Ocon (Renault), 12. Alexander Albon (Red Bull), 13. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), 14. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 15. Lando Norris (McLaren), 16. Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 17. Nicholas Latifi (Williams), 18. Jack Aitken (Williams), 19. Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo). 20. Pietro Fittipaldi (Haas)