Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - F1 set for high-speed race, days after fireball and Hamilton-less




F1 set for high-speed race, days after fireball and Hamilton-less

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Haas F1’s French driver Romain Grosjean spins out of track during the first practice session ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in the city of Sakhir on November 27. POOL/AFP

F1 set for high-speed race, days after fireball and Hamilton-less

Just days after Romain Grosjean’s fireball crash and miraculous escape at the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Formula One (F1) circus returns to the same venue besieged by breaking news, but set to deliver the fastest laps of the year.

This weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix may be raced at the same Bahrain International Circuit, but it will run on a different track – the high-speed outer loop – on which lap times are forecast to be around 55 seconds in qualifying and below 60 in the race.

After a fast-moving few days that have seen Grosjean understandably ruled out of action by Haas as he heals and rests, following his 245km/h crash, and newly-crowned seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton placed in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19, F1 offers an intriguing and unpredictable spectacle.

There will be much interest in how Haas reserve Pietro Fittipaldi fares on his debut in the Frenchman’s place and perhaps more in studying George Russell’s progress in Hamilton’s Mercedes after stepping up from stragglers Williams.

It is the first time Hamilton has missed a race since his debut at Melbourne in 2007.

Russell has two seasons’ experience, but has yet to score a point and his opportunity to run alongside Valtteri Bottas in the ‘black arrows’ is expected to end that sequence.

The Finn, who clocked the year’s briefest lap in taking pole in 1:02.939 on his way to victory at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix in July, will be seeking his first win in six races – and aiming for pole along the way.

Only one driver, Niki Lauda at the 1974 French Grand Prix, has previously recorded a sub-60 seconds pole position lap and his came on the outer track at Dijon, which had fewer corners than its alternative layout.

Bottas, resisting Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s challenge for runners-up place behind Hamilton, will hope to emulate that feat on a circuit dubbed “an almost oval track” by F1’s motorsports chief Ross Brawn. Lauda clocked 58.79 seconds.

While the inner track at Bahrain has 15 corners, the outer loop has only 11 and is almost 1km shorter, making it a novel challenge. It has never been used previously for an international race weekend – and, to add drama, both qualifying and the 87-lap race will take place at night under lights.

Additional intrigue will be added by seeing Mick Schumacher, who was confirmed on December 2 as joining Haas next season alongside Nikita Mazepin, bidding to seal the Formula Two title.

He is poised to make an early F1 appearance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a week later, in December 4 practice – and, if Grosjean fails in his bid to recover for a personal F1 finale at the Yas Marina circuit, in the final race of the season.

“Obviously, it would be a challenge, but definitely, I think I would be able to get to know the car more to be even better prepared for next year,” said Schumacher, the 21-year-old son of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher.

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner hopes Grosjean is fit enough to drive. “At the moment, I want to see where Romain is on Monday. I think he can finish his time with Haas in a race, that’s what I would like – and not just watching it.”

Hamilton still hopes to return for Abu Dhabi, the final part of a season-ending triple-header in the Middle East, but that depends on him passing a coronavirus test after 10 days’ hotel room isolation.

His absence means he cannot claim a record-equalling 13 wins in a season, but it is a golden chance for fellow-Briton Russell, a Mercedes academy driver, to impress team chief Toto Wolff.

“Obviously, nobody can replace Lewis, but I’ll give my all for the team in his absence from the moment I step in the car,” said Russell.

Grosjean, meanwhile, will rest at his Abu Dhabi hotel, watching and waiting. “If my left hand doesn’t work next week and I’m not able to do everything I have to do with it, I won’t take a risk,” he said on December 2.

He added that he had told his family: “I’m going to Abu Dhabi. I’m sorry for you, but I need it for myself. I need to know if I’m able to get back into a car, what I will feel, how it will go - and whether I’m still able to do it.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Courts’ decisions now published as reference source

    The Ministry of Justice has published 44 verdicts from civil litigation cases which can be used as models for court precedents and for study by the public and those who work in pertinent fields. Publication of the verdicts on December 31 came as the result of joint

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • China firm to develop Mondulkiri airport

    Tourism to the Kingdom’s northeast corridor could experience a remarkable metamorphosis after the government decided in principle of a Chinese company to study and develop a proposal to build a regional-level airport in Mondulkiri province, according to industry insiders. The Council of Ministers said