Le Mans Ultimate: Bahrain Track Guide

The definitive track guide for the Bahrain International Circuit in Le Mans Ultimate.

The Bahrain International Circuit, located in Sakhir, Bahrain, is a renowned motorsport venue in the Middle East. Here are some key facts and historical highlights about the circuit:

  • Location: The Bahrain International Circuit is situated in Sakhir, a desert area in the Kingdom of Bahrain. It’s approximately 30 kilometres southwest of the capital city, Manama.
  • Inauguration: The circuit was inaugurated in 2004 and hosted its first Formula 1 Grand Prix the same year, becoming the first Formula 1 race to be held in the Middle East.
  • Layout: The circuit features a modern design with 15 turns, including several long straights and tight corners. It has both fast and technical sections, offering a challenging mix for drivers.
  • Length: The Bahrain International Circuit has a total length of approximately 5.412 kilometres (3.363 miles).
  • Facilities: The circuit boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including a grandstand with a capacity of over 50,000 spectators, VIP lounges, corporate suites, hospitality areas, and a media centre.
  • Night Racing: In 2014, the Bahrain Grand Prix became the first Formula 1 race to be held entirely under floodlights in the Middle East. The switch to night racing was aimed at enhancing the spectacle of the event and improving viewing opportunities for fans worldwide.
  • Bahrain Grand Prix: The circuit hosts the annual Bahrain Grand Prix, which is part of the Formula 1 World Championship. The race has become a popular fixture on the Formula 1 calendar, attracting fans and teams from around the world.
  • Other Events: In addition to Formula 1, the Bahrain International Circuit hosts various other motorsport events, including rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the FIA GT Championship, and the GP2 Series (now known as FIA Formula 2 Championship).
  • Sakhir Grand Prix: In December 2020, the Bahrain International Circuit hosted the Sakhir Grand Prix, which was added to the revised Formula 1 calendar as a replacement for the Australian Grand Prix. The race took place on a modified version of the circuit’s outer layout and was won by Sergio Perez of Racing Point.
  • Significance: The Bahrain International Circuit is considered one of the leading motorsport venues in the Middle East and has played a significant role in promoting motorsport in the region. Its modern facilities and commitment to hosting world-class events have made it a favourite among fans and competitors alike.

Turn 1,2 and 3

Turn 1 is a very tight right-hander that feeds into a sequence of corners that lead onto a long straight. It’s a hotspot for overtaking as well as setting up a potential overtake heading to Turn 4.

On the run down to Turn 1 keep to the left-hand side. It’s important when going at a high speed into a heavy braking zone, to always keep your focus as far ahead as possible. Having reference points is crucial for you to consistently brake at the same point so that you hit your apex at the optimal speed. 

The braking reference for T1 is just after the 150m board. Look for where the grass ends on the left and the access road starts. Hit the brakes really hard initially to maximize the braking while going in a straight line. Keep the car straight and only start to trail brake and turn in as you pass the 50m on the left. You will also need to have shifted down to 1st gear before turning in.

Aim to cut the inside kerb while keeping your outside wheels inside of the white line. Get back on the throttle just after the kerb to avoid upsetting the traction of the car. On the exit bring the car slightly back over to the right to open the entry of Turn 2 which is a flat-out left-hand kink. Again aim to cut the inside kerb, while keeping your outside wheels inside the white line. 

The kink feeds into a gentle curve of Turn 3 which bends to the right. You will find that immediately your car will drift to the kerbing on the outside due to the speed taken through T2. 

While going through T3 make sure not to allow the car to go over the white line completely. It’s very easy to get a silly track cut here.

Let the car run out to the exit kerb of T3 and make sure to keep your steering inputs smooth to not scrub off excess speed. This will allow you to reach higher top speeds down the following straight and potentially line up an overtake going into Turn 4 in race conditions.

Turn 4

Turn 4 is a tricky right-hand turn. It’s slow to medium speed, involving the track raising up and dipping away on both entry and exit. 

On the run into the corner stay to the left. Spot your braking reference which is between the access road and the 100m board, roughly halfway between these 2 points. Brake hard initially and use the engine braking as you shift down to 2nd gear. Start to trail brake as the 50m approaches on your left and as you pass the board start to turn into the corner.

Aim for the inside kerb but be smooth with the steering input. As mentioned earlier the track dips away just before the apex so aggressive steering here will likely cause the car to oversteer. Use the inside kerb just slightly with your inside wheels. Once at the apex, you must balance your throttle and steering inputs to get the best exit. On the exit, the track begins to rise and the car will get loose over the crest if you don’t balance your inputs correctly. Carry your momentum through this section and run the car out to the exit kerb. Always keep at least 2 wheels inside the white line. Don’t hang out wide for too long and come back onto the track gently for the upcoming corner sequence of Turns 5,6 and 7.

Turns 5,6,7 and 8

A sequence which starts with some fast to medium speed esses and ends with a tight U-shaped hairpin. Precision and calculated inputs are important to maximize laptime time here.

Starting with Turn 5 which is a small left-hand kink which feeds into the first proper right-hand turn. Stay as far left as possible through T5 and look for the bollard on the left which is your braking reference. As you pass the bollard brake relatively hard while shifting down to 3rd gear. Come off the brakes as soon as you feel the car is carrying the right speed to get to the inside apex kerb of Turn 6.

Aim to cut the inside apex kerb of T6. It’s all about keeping 2 wheels inside the white line. If you cut it properly it will shorten your line and open the entry for the left-hand bend of Turn 7. Get hard back onto the power just after the apex of T6 and move the car back over to the right slightly. 

Again aim to cut the inside kerb to shorten your line and shift up to 4th gear. T7 can be taken flat-out but might require a small lift on entry to get the front end of the car to respond so that you don’t exceed track limits on the exit. Your turn-in point is crucial in such a high-speed corner. It will take practice to get the car to exit perfectly to set up the following right-hand hairpin of Turn 8.

As you come out of T7 immediately get the car back over to the left as much as possible. Keep an eye out for your braking reference which is the start of the red and white kerbing on the left-hand side. From 4th gear brake down to 1st gear and keep your car parallel to the outside kerbing. Turn in so that you are aiming for a mid to late apex on the inside kerb. A good reference of where to apex is just after the bollard on the inside. Trail brake in and only release just before the car gets to the apex. Cut the inside kerb after the bollard and be progressive on the throttle. Any eagerness here on power will cause you to lose traction and the car will snap into oversteer.

On exit run the car out to the exit kerb but keep in mind to keep 2 wheels inside the white line. The exit kerb is bumpy so it’s fine to initially carry your momentum out onto the kerb but try to come off of it early.

Turn 9 and 10

Turn 9 is a fast left-hand bend which leads into Turn 10 which is a very tight left-hand hairpin. It’s an important sequence that can cost you lots of lap time as the hairpin leads onto a straight.

Heading into T9, position the car over to the right and start to turn in just past the crest. A solid white line runs across the track, so as a reference turn in approximately two car lengths before the line. It’s one of the hardest braking zones on the track, so to minimize locking up as the track falls away, you need to try straight-line braking as much as possible. Start to brake as the red and white kerbing starts on the inside. Come close to the inside kerb but don’t apex it. Shift down from 4th gear into 2nd for the first part. Always aim to finish off your braking on the outside as you need to open up the entry for the hairpin as much as possible.

Continue to trail brake into the tight left-hand apex. Only just before the inside kerb do you come off the brake and start to find the throttle. Shift down to first gear as you reach the closest point to the outside kerb. It’s key to do the final downshift before you really start to turn in for the corner. Turn earlier than you think and cut the inside kerb. Don’t cut beyond the red and white kerb. With the steering turned hard gently get back on the power and feed it progressively to maximize traction. The car might fight you all the way to the exit kerb. As always around Bahrain, do not let your inside wheels pass the white line.

Turn 11

Turn 11 is a medium to fast-speed uphill left-hander. It’s directly after a straight and can be an overtaking spot in race conditions.

Stay to the right and keep your eye out for your baking marker. The reference here is a dark blue patch of paint that’s to the right of the red and white kerbing. It’s roughly 60-70m before the corner. 

Brake hard initially and only start to turn in after the 50m board on the inside. Trail brake in and aim to have the brake released just as you reach the inside apex kerb. You’ll need to downshift from 5th gear into 2nd gear. Carry speed into the apex and the kerb so that you are apexing with your outside wheels. If you cut more than the kerb you probably aren’t carrying enough speed in. 

Get back on the power at the apex using the momentum to carry you to the outside of the track but don’t use the exit kerb. It tends to want to pull the car out wide and cost you time as you try to move back over to the left for Turn 12.

Turn 12

Turn 12 is a flat-out right-hand bend which requires some precision and good reference points so you don’t run out wide on the exit.

Being back on the left, look out for the light pole just before the marshall point on the left-hand side. This is your turn in reference. Starting to turn in at this point, feeding the car in so that you are apexing the inside kerb around where the fencing ends on the inside armco barrier. There is a marshall point at the same location which you can use as a marker. Missing the turn-in point can cause you to lift slightly to get the car through the corner.

Again use the momentum of the car to drift wide and use the exit kerb. Keep two wheels inside the white line.

Turn 13

Turn 13 is a medium-speed right-handler which can be deceiving with its wide entry which tightens up on the apex and exit. Generally, the mistake here is to carry too much apex speed in, which compromises your drive out the corner and onto the following straight.

Keeping left from the exit of T12, hit the brakes roughly 4 car lengths before the Avis signage board on the inside of the track. Brake hard initially and start trailing as you start to apply steering. Shift down from 5th gear into 2nd gear. Aim to keep the car nice and tight on the apex and use the inside kerb to open up the exit. You should be able to get back on the power before you actually apex.

Let the car run out wide and use all of the exit kerb available while keeping 2 wheels inside the white line.

Turn 14 and 15

The last 2 corners on the circuit are double right-handers, although it can be argued that it is one corner.

Heading down the straight, stay to the left and look far ahead to spot your braking point. Just before the 100m and before the solid white line is where you’ll be aiming to brake. From 5th gear downshift down to 2nd. While in a straight line maximize hard braking, only start to trail brake at the 50m board. After the 50m start to turn in, aiming to cut the inside kerb. Apex with your outside wheels which need to remain just inside the white line. Get back on the throttle just before you cut the kerb. With the right momentum, your outside wheels will drift wide of the white line allowing you to float the inside kerb correctly. Get on the power as soon as the car allows you to without drifting too wide on the exit. Don’t get onto the exit kerb too early, as it does tend to pull the car out which comprises your exit speed and line.

Aim to run the car out wide where the track bends back inwards which is considered as Turn 15. This will allow you to maximize your speed as you head down to the start-finish line to complete your lap.

That now concludes a fast lap around the deserts of Bahrain.

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